Well friends, I am a really nice person. Like, the best person ever. Why, you ask? Because I read Fifty Shades of Grey, so you don’t have to. I mean, unless you wanna read really poorly written smut based on Twilight. Then, by all means, this is the book for you.
I’m not really sure where to begin. I guess with a little about the book. Written by some British lady named E.L. James, apparently the story began as Twilight fan fiction and then, with some name changes, an underground ebook hit. Oh and part of this new fad called “Mommy Porn,” and appeals, I guess, to all the Twi-hard mothers out there who got kicks out of Stephanie Meyer’s chastity-based series. The ‘Bella’ of Fifty Shades is a literature student named Anastasia who has is a virgin and has no idea that any boys have every liked her. Just like Bella in Twilight who cannot fathom why she’s worth existing or talking to until Edward likes her. Actually, until she becomes a vampire and awesomely sparkly. Christian (Edward), is a wealthy billionaire who is young and sexy and into BDSM. And so begins a true love story of our time, when klutzy brunette interviews sexypants Christian, make his dingle dangle point towards her like due north. By “true love story” I obviously mean kinda graphic sex scenes punctuated by really stupid plots about drug addict mothers, feelings, and vengeful bosses.
Anyhow, the positives of the book: It outlined BDSM quite well. As in, treated it as a respectful lifestyle that is between consensual adults, not a deviance. Except, of course, Christians first foray into BDSM with his mother’s friend, which is totes uncool. Everyone except Christian treats that “relationship” as what it is: rape. That was nice to see in a book that’s become so popular. That young men having sex with older women isn’t something to aspire to or give a nice “high five” about. It’s an adult using her power to have sex with a teenager, who is unable to truly give consent due to maturity and power dynamics. Finally, Anastasia is a much more actualized person than Bella is, with will and opinions of her own, and a drive to have things in her life that have nothing to do with her romantic partner. I’m not saying she’s a feminist role model or anything, but she’s sex-positive and career-minded and self-sufficient.
The negatives. Or at least a few, as there are so very many…. The sex scenes are only just graphic enough to titillate and get redundant after a while. There is much dirtier stuff out there on fanfiction.net and for Harry Potter or Firefly or whatever tickles your bits. ::smiles sheepishly:: Moving on…Without the fantasy strength and vampire-ness of Edward, Christian’s over-protectedness reads even more domestic violence-y than Twilight does. There are way too many sentences where Ana does something or says something and then worries what Christian’s reaction will be. Sometimes, it’s a sexy worry, part of the BDSM aspect of the relationship. But most of the time, it’s a fear of his anger, of his disproportionate emotional reactions, of his taking control over things in her life that are real warning signs. I mean, the dude buys the company she wants to work at! It’s just gross. Yes, it’s explained that he was abused as a child and is self-loathing and that he’s shifting into a relationship of equals for Ana, but lines like “Christian is going to freak, I know, but how much and how far, I have no idea,” are unsettling to me. Finally, and most annoyingly, Anastasia refers to herself in three parts: herself, her conscious, and her inner goddess. The later two do stuff, like strut or dance or fall off couches. It’s stupid, distracting, and just plain bad writing.
Overall, it’s not good reading by any stretch of the imagination. It’s super popular though and a quick read if you are curious what the fuss is about. I read all three books in about three days. It was like eating too much candy–my brain hurt from the stupid but I just couldn’t stop. A movie version is slated and currently being cast, though I’m not sure how they will film the only worthwhile parts of the book: the smut. Honestly, if you want to see a really great depiction of a BDSM relationship, and a film I consider one of the most romantic ever, rent Secretary. It’s only two hours and is a much better way to spend your time.
Or you can watch Ellen read from Fifty Shades of Grey to get a good idea of its content… and with sound effects!