50 Shades of STFU.

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So, the subject of 50 Shades of Grey keeps coming up in conversations… specifically, why I hate it as much as I do. I read the trilogy a few weeks ago, and I will say one positive thing about the books: they inspired me to read again. Why is that? Because if the world ended tomorrow, I didn’t want THAT tripe to be the last thing I read.

I know that there are already hundreds or thousands of blog posts that are similar to what I am going to say, many more eloquent than mine (like Jennifer Armintrout … She has an AWESOME blog. GO READ IT!!) but I just need to get the vitriol out. Basically, there are multiple points that I feel are important within the story that contribute to its horribleness, and then my issue with how it is regarded by the public. I should specify that most of the aspects I will be outlining have nothing to do with the fact that millions of people have read it (I will specifically address the issue of popularity later on). Also, I am not a writer… I will do my best here, just bear with me… I will also read through and edit out mistakes as I see them after I post.

It’s derivative of and dependent on Twilight

I’m not exactly a fan of Twilight. Vampires just aren’t my thing. Neither is the angst of some horrible two-dimensional character of a girl who ‘ doesn’t know how beautiful she is,’ or the glorification of emotional abuse. These main aspects (plus a few others) of the Twilight Saga were borrowed to create the masturbation fodder romance novel of Fifty Shades of Grey. Now, I understand that writers and artists often inspire each other, but this just seems way too much like a lazy writer appropriating a ridiculously popular story in order to milk the cash cow. Overall, the story seems like the basic skeleton of Twilight except it replaces the vampire with a sexual taboo.

I am not denying the power of the Fanfic, or finding inspiration in other’s work in general. There are millions (I’d say BILLIONS) of stories of fan fiction on the internet. Some of it might even be good. Also, an age old method of creation is using other’s stories or ideas. It was being used before the internet was even thought of. However, I would think that the work a writer or artist ultimately generates should be able to stand on their own. Would we be able to accept a story that glorifies an emotionally abusive relationship if Twilight didn’t already JUST do it? I doubt it.

Only E.L. James can copy from Stephanie Meyer! A case of MINE!

This is going to be a really short entry, because it speaks for itself.  A person was using 50SOG as a theme to sell lingerie, and E.L. James, who would have nothing without the work of Stephanie Meyer, sent her a cease and desist letter claiming, “You can’t just hijack something someone else owns.”

No. That argument is not at her disposal. The sheer method of her ‘suck-cess’ makes this argument invalid.

(Jennifer Armintrout featured this in her blog, and I thank her for it. I think it is a REALLY shitty thing for someone to do. It would be like Shepard Fairey suing over someone copying the Obama poster.)

The consistency is quite lumpy.

I can suspend belief and enjoy books that I know aren’t real. I love the Hitchhiker’s Guide Series (It’s my favorite!!!), and I love Harry Potter. I am FINE accepting things that aren’t true within a story unless a story is inconsistent to the universe that has been created. 50SOG is a HUGE perpetrator of not adhering to its own universe. It describes Ana as being smart, which her actions and inner monologues CONSTANTLY contradict. The setting of the book is in the modern world we all live in and the 27 year old Christian Grey is somehow a crackbaby multimillionaire college dropout entrepreneur … which CAN happen, I guess, (Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, etc), but they don’t even say what he actually DOES. Another part of this is that he’s a multimillionaire with the consumer taste of an upper middle class suburban woman (see my Product Placement entry below). Also, one particular instance in the book that was absolutely ridiculous was how Ana gets a really good internship, gets her boss fired (who happens to have a vendetta against Christian Grey in one of the most absurd story arcs I’ve ever read) and gets his EDITOR position. AFTER A WEEK OF BEING AN INTERN ASSISTANT.

NO. No. Absolutely not. That would NEVER happen. Especially since the only reason she got the job in the first place was because the gross boss (the one she got fired) wanted to play hide the salami with her. Because she’s so beautiful, you know.

Also, the concept of a family who adopted a child from a severely messed up situation (the circumstances of Christian Grey’s adoption), and a lifetime of obvious emotional issues being overjoyed at his engagement after knowing some bimbo for 5 weeks is preposterous.

Again, if you going to set your story in the real world, BE REALISTIC.

How many times can I use the word ‘suck’ before it becomes redundant?

The writing SUCKS. There are compound sentences that don’t make sense all over the place as well as other spots where I can’t even THINK of the grammar or sentence structure rule being broken, but I KNOW that grammar is going to be the next victim on Law and Order: SVU.

To be fair, Ernest Hemingway loved compound sentences as much as booze and avoided punctuation like sobriety (I don’t much care for Hemingway myself, but I understand his significance to literature… but seriously man, where was your editor??).

To be unfair, at least Hemingway’s writing wasn’t trite ‘written-to-be-sold’ garbage.

The conversations between the characters lack wit. Most of the time when characters were talking to each other it was a stream of WHO THE HELL CARES. It’s just petulant bullshit. She uses the same phrases so often that it sounds like James messed with the auto-replace function in her Microsoft Word. The phrase ‘Inner goddess’ now incites rage in me…I actually think the over use of the Inner Goddess would be one of the main hurdles in making a movie of this crap. Also, E.L. used Romantic Comedy cliches that, when combined with the initial Twilight plagiarism  inspiration make me question if James can REALLY claim these characters are her own.

Song Taking
Sidenote: Yep, that is Gandhi and JFK. This show was AWESOME. Clone High USA. Watch it.

Someone argued with me that ‘lots of people think 50SOG is written well.’ He was right… for example, a fan of the book (a middle aged woman) said “Well, it has lots of big words, so you know it’s a well written book.” You know, because big words make a book well written, not the actual quality of the sentences those words form. I hear that Webster has himself a masterpiece.

I’m pretty verbose and I didn’t notice too many of these golden ‘big words’. When I did come across a word that might fit into this ‘big word’ category, it was used in a way that caused this to flash into my mind:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk&w=420&h=315]

It glorifies an emotionally abusive relationship, and people act as if it’s a relationship to aspire to.

This same argument applied to Twilight. 50 Shades takes it a step farther, however, by mixing in a taboo lifestyle. Christian Grey is controlling to the max, stalks Anastasia and isolates her from her friends… three serious red flags of an abuser. THIS is the character that housewives without taste want their husband to be… though, of course the millions of dollars help too, right? I’m pretty sure if one’s husband was jealous, controlling and a stalker, his ass would be GONE pretty quickly… I would hope.

Admittedly, I find Ana’s twit-like tendencies and outright dumbassery put her on the level of a child, but Christian treats her like a child… a child he wants to spank… and do other dirty things to…I just puked in my mouth….

Though this seems like a natural transition to my next point.

For a spank bank romance novel, the attitude about sex is REALLY juvenile and repetitive and juvenile and repetitive, not to mention creepy.

Throughout the sex scenes that are so formulaic that I’m certain that James has an ‘Insert Sex Scene’ where her Lorem Ipsum button should be, there are numerous references to children, or being childlike… Do I really need to expound on this? IT’S CREEPY.

Also, the middle school references to genitals are irritating, considering the woman is 21 or 22. I don’t care if a girl has never had sex, by the time she is 21 SHE KNOWS WHAT HER VAGINA IS. It seems to reinforce the idea that Anna shouldn’t even be in a NORMAL sexual relationship, much less one that comes with an NDA.

And that’s another thing. People are making such a big fuss over the BDSM subject matter in the book, and it has to be some of the WEAKEST examples of the subculture I’ve ever seen. But hey, it has to be easily digested by the common reader, yet not go so far as to make them uncomfortable!

Why is it that whenever aspects of a subculture hit the mainstream, they do it in the most trite ways possible? You want taboo? Read works by the Marquis De Sade.

The product placements have all the subtlety of a tomahawk to the head.

I am convinced that the author generated extra money for herself with this book by selling a number of brand name mentions to Audi and Blackberry. For one, the book takes place in 2011. The Blackberry is declining in popularity under the superior iPhone. It is much more realistic for these characters to have iPhones, considering Christian Grey buys the most expensive crap simply because he can. But wait, we’re talking about a multibillionaire who drives… an Audi?

I mean Audi’s are nice enough, but seriously, if he has billions of dollars that he throws around like confetti, it isn’t realistic to be driving an Audi, he would more likely have a much higher end vehicle. Plus the constant references to their Blackberries and their Audis (always by the brand name) are extremely heavy handed, to the point of irritation. If product placement is done WELL, it isn’t noticeable.

Popularity does NOT equal quality.

Like I said before, a fan of the series used the popularity angle to defend the book. Specifically, what was said was “I don’t know why you hate on that series. Its outsold Harry Potter. Clearly people think it’s well written.” (Actually, it was this statement that prompted this blog entry…)

Ugh. First off, facts have to be true to win an argument. (I’m pretty sure they used Harry Potter as a point of reference because everyone knows I love it.) The story they are most likely referencing is this one. What happened was the Fifty Shades trilogy outsold Harry Potter on Amazon’s UK website. I’m not going to deny that happened. Also, it sold faster than the Harry Potter paperbacks. I do think one should keep in mind that much of 50SOG’s success lies in the e-book, and the Harry Potter Series wasn’t released for e-book until earlier this year… could you imagine how much faster it would have sold if Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was immediately available on e-book?

But point of fact is: The Harry Potter series has sold over 400 MILLION copies. 50SOG has sold 40 million… One tenth of what Harry Potter has sold. The first Harry Potter ALONE has sold over 100 million copies.

Second, (and more importantly) popularity is not an indicator of quality. You see it in music, you see it in film, and of course, we are seeing it in books. Jersey Shore is popular, it doesn’t mean it isn’t garbage!!

On the nose, Curry. On the nose.

People have different tastes…

…I get that. However, there is a difference between an subjective ‘like’ and  objective quality.

These are examples of literature. Go ahead and like 50SOG if you feel like it, but don’t pretend it is more than what it is, which is just a crappy romance novel… and don’t try to convince me otherwise.

Thank you for bearing with my stream of consciousness blog. I’m not a writer…. I’m working on my writing skills though.