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July 6, 2012 2:48 PM   Subscribe

'What Exactly Is '50 Shades of Grey (And What Can You Expect From The Movie?)': Fan-fiction is the written word equivalent of taking two naked dolls and mashing them together to make what you think sex looks like when you’re 10 years old. And it’s written at that level. posted by the man of twists and turns (252 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wish people would read better erotica like I kind I wrote
posted by The Whelk at 2:51 PM on July 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Bad fan-fiction is like that. There's plenty of well-written fanfic out there. Yes, even very well written NC17 slashfic.

But the stuff that becomes mainstream is always of the shitty variety, for some reason. (I'm also look at you, Cassie Claire.)
posted by kmz at 2:52 PM on July 6, 2012 [36 favorites]


"Movies are the visual equivalent of taking two puppets and mashing them together to make what you think sex looks like when you're 10 years old."

(Fanfiction != slash fiction. Slash fixtion != erotic slash fiction. Good fanfiction != bad fanfiction. Good erotic slash fiction != bad erotic slash fiction.)

That being said, I am continually surprised and heartened at the number of people I see reading this book openly (like the civilian technician at a military base I visited recently). They may have bad taste in erotica but maybe we can break some taboos and create a market for good erotica.
posted by muddgirl at 2:53 PM on July 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


NO

SURELY NO

NO THEY ARE NOT MAKING A MOVIE FROM THIS CRETINOUS FUCKING EXECRABLE DRIVEL

NO

DENIED

i do not want to live in this world anymore
posted by elizardbits at 2:55 PM on July 6, 2012 [60 favorites]


I was at JFK recently and finding out there are three of these ....products just soured my whole flight.
posted by The Whelk at 2:58 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


To me, fan fiction is the equivalent of a cover band.
posted by scratch at 2:58 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


(bad)
posted by scratch at 2:59 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Women can read Fifty Shades of Grey anywhere, but I whip out my copy of Readers Wives and all hell breaks loose...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:59 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


At The Mountains of Madness was canned but this gets the green light? This is really becoming a movie? The spawn of the thing I hate becomes something else I don't like?

Well, Team Kharn it is then.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:59 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


There is absolutely fan fiction out there that is awesome and well written and in some cases more compelling than the original source material.

THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. For something to be worse than Twilight it might as well be actual moose feces smeared on a page.
posted by elizardbits at 3:00 PM on July 6, 2012 [35 favorites]


I love blowing peeble's minds with the information that Fifty Shades of Grey was originally Twilight fan fiction.

Since it's a thread about fan fiction I feel I need to let know it's only a matter of time before PONY shows up here. Fair warning.
posted by JHarris at 3:00 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


my apologies to any moose mefites
posted by elizardbits at 3:00 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, someone I know, not me no way, was doing research for a possible character who is a fan fiction author and decided to read some well known and popular fan fiction and was pretty impressed with some of the offerings, AU fiction being just Trojan horse Orginal fiction. Not going to win a noble prize good but satisfyingly pulpy and readable.
posted by The Whelk at 3:01 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


As Dan Brown, Stephanie Meyer and now this have taught us, if you want to write a major blockbuster in this day and age it needs to be at about a 5th grade reading level.
posted by thecjm at 3:01 PM on July 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


BTW, fandom_wank just realized that the original fic was the center of a big wank (Cliff's Notes version) back in the day.
posted by kmz at 3:01 PM on July 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm going to write 50 Shades fanfic and then change the characters just enough to not get sued.

How much will I change them? I dunno. I'll make'm vampires or something.

HELLO MONEY PRESS!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:03 PM on July 6, 2012 [49 favorites]


NO THEY ARE NOT MAKING A MOVIE FROM THIS CRETINOUS FUCKING EXECRABLE DRIVEL

Of course they are. It's Hollywood. I'd be surprised if they didn't.
posted by axiom at 3:03 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


As much as I'm having trouble imagining how a movie based on this ...book could be even remotely watchable, I say with a mild degree of confidence that this could be one of those rare situations where the movie version is vastly better than the book.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:04 PM on July 6, 2012


Just cast Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson for the two leads, and BAM, you're golden.
posted by kmz at 3:04 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


tbh I support any further roles that make RPattz question his life choices/sanity/species because the promo interviews he does from the stygian depths of his existential darkness are HILARIOUS IN ALL POSSIBLE WAYS.
posted by elizardbits at 3:06 PM on July 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


I haven't read it, and by all accounts it's poorly written, but 50 Shades of Grey has managed to get a whole lot of women I know talking publicly about dirty, dirty sex.

I'm OK with this.
posted by lekvar at 3:06 PM on July 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


I've written the most incredibly obscene, disgusting, erotic book ever imagined. Warn people! It's bound to titillate, corrupt and the only people who can be seen reading it keep their Kindles safely sealed inside of a polystyrene container. (Needs an agent)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:06 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


</male_gaze>
posted by lekvar at 3:06 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


A friend of mine had these lying around to let another friend borrow over the weekend. We were talking about them, and she said that they were trashy but entertaining. I told her about how they are Twilight fanfic with the names changed through find-and-replace, and that really soured her on the whole series. Anyway, she said that I should read some of it out loud, and I complied, but on a whim changed Christian's voice to a 300 pound Bill Compton who's constantly out of breath, and Anastasia's voice to a 3-pack-a-day waitress at an Alabama Denny's. It's really more entertaining than it has any right to be, and I now find myself slipping in to my Christian Grey voice out of habit ("Oh Anastasia, let me dominate your inner goddess in my Dale Earnhardt themed helicopter," "Whatever you say, hunny, just let me take a crap first!").

This then lead me to brainstorm 50 Cents of Grey where Anastasia grows bored with the sulky manchild she's latched herself on to and seeks out a new beau in the high-stakes world of Rap Music production.

Basically the books are pretty bad (funny bad... I'd recommend reading at least 4-5 random paragraphs if you get a chance) - but then again porn for men is pretty bad too (with even worse moral subtexts), but no one ever raises a fuss about that, and it makes billions more than 50 Shades does.

Also, one of the names they're floating for the screenplay is Brett Easton Ellis, which I think would turn this from schlock in to something worth watching.
posted by codacorolla at 3:07 PM on July 6, 2012 [33 favorites]


Bad fan-fiction is like that. There's plenty of well-written fanfic out there. Yes, even very well written NC17 slashfic.

This is a thing I hear every time fan fiction comes up, and statistically speaking it must be true, just from the sheer volume alone it can't all be bad without exception. And yet, no one has ever linked to a piece of fan fiction that I could get past the first page of, erotic or otherwise. I mean, I know it's out there, it just has to be. And the fact that I haven't discovered any myself is evidence of nothing but my own complete lack of interest in fan fiction. But still, every time someone links to fan fiction, whether as a laughably bad thing to poke fun of, or as an example of good writing, it's just always bad.

Of course, this is often true of published fiction, as well. Anne McCaffrey, Anne Rice, Robert Jordan, the Gor books, Twilight, the entire Teen Supernatural Romance insta-section at bookstores, the list goes on and on and then continues on even further.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not surprised that 50 shades is so fucking popular. I'm disappointed that all the good smut and fiction out there that fans of these books would probably love get almost attention. There is, in fact, and entire little industry designed to sate these appetites already in existence, so why the hell aren't all these people reading anything from it?
posted by shmegegge at 3:08 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


So if you combine sub-par writing with unhealthy attitudes about relationships and paste all that over some previously popular crap, you'll make a gazillion dollars?

I can do that!

Coming Soon: Smokey and The Bandit LIKE YOU'VE NEVER SEEN THEM BEFORE
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:08 PM on July 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


Anyway, she said that I should read some of it out loud, and I complied, but on a whim changed Christian's voice to a 300 pound Bill Compton who's constantly out of breath, and Anastasia's voice to a 3-pack-a-day waitress at an Alabama Denny's.

Record, Internet, now. This is your destiny.
posted by The Whelk at 3:09 PM on July 6, 2012 [21 favorites]


get almost *NO attention
posted by shmegegge at 3:09 PM on July 6, 2012


and she said that they were trashy but entertaining.

In college I read a Mercedes Lackey novel after every exam, to clear my mind in order to cram for the next one. It only took an hour or so.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:09 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Just cast Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson for the two leads, and BAM, you're golden.

I heard an interview with the author and she mentioned that reading the Twilight series was the catalyst for 50 Shades. That the two main characters were even inspired by Edward and Bella.

Now I haven't read the book so I can't opine on its quality but I think it's just deliciously poetic that a rather blue S&M story was inspired by a series of books that are basically a Mormon Sunday School Object Lesson On Chastity gone horribly awry.

The above sentence may make sense to only a handful of people but every time I see someone reading 50 Shades it warms the cockles of my dark little heart.

Also on preview what Whelk said: I often wonder why some of the better fanfic writers don't just do some good 'ol search and replace on their oeuvres and submit them as original works. Some of them could really probably pull it off.
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:09 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


On preview:

Gay NASCAR driver fanfic would sell sell sell
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:09 PM on July 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I warned you

So does this mean they'll soon be making a movie about Fallout: Equestria next?

Except since they'll have to change the names it'll probably become something like Mad Max Beyond Ponydome.

Can't we just get beyond Ponydome?
posted by JHarris at 3:10 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dale, you drive around the racetrack OF MY HEART.
posted by The Whelk at 3:11 PM on July 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I heard an interview with the author and she mentioned that reading the Twilight series was the catalyst for 50 Shades. That the two main characters were even inspired by Edward and Bella.

Inspired, my goddamn ass. It is literally a fanfiction in which the author literally did a literal find-replace of the names Edward and Bella to change them to Christian and Anna.
posted by elizardbits at 3:11 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Do we know when the zombie version is coming out?
posted by tittergrrl at 3:11 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]



Can't we just get beyond Ponydome?


Goddamnit jharris now everyone is wondering why I'm cackling and there is no way I can explain myself
posted by The Whelk at 3:12 PM on July 6, 2012


And yet, no one has ever linked to a piece of fan fiction that I could get past the first page of, erotic or otherwise.

What are you into, fannish-media-wise? It helps to be into the source material.

Anway, even if 90% of fanfiction is bad, I still think it's important to acknowledge and celebrate fans who are creating rather than just consuming.
posted by muddgirl at 3:12 PM on July 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


Inspired, my goddamn ass. It is literally a fanfiction in which the author literally did a literal find-replace of the names Edward and Bella to change them to Christian and Anna.

Literally.
posted by lovecrafty at 3:13 PM on July 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Irish Shades of Gray is worth the minimal effort of looking at a twitter stream.
posted by stonepharisee at 3:13 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Meh, one more movie to list on your ok cupid profile so people know you like BDSM. Whatever. As long as I don't have to watch it. Also, this article is really stretching to be critical. I'm sure there's shit to be critical of, but some of this makes me actually want to defend the book because it's unfair.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:13 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read this book. I was having fun until I reached the end, and it said [SPOILER ALERT] "the end of part one" or something and I realized I was the sub and being tortured.
posted by chavenet at 3:14 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


It is literally a fanfiction in which the author literally did a literal find-replace of the names Edward and Bella to change them to Christian and Anna.

Seriously? You have no idea how happy this makes me! I'm totally going to lord this over my mother, who is a massive fan of Twilight but would never touch 50 Shades no not even with surgical gloves. Oh this is just too good...

*dances with glee in the streets*
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:14 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Moose make big poops, but for true smelly horribleness, you gotta go with carnivore feces. Smear your fanfic with cat poop!
posted by rtha at 3:15 PM on July 6, 2012


Also, there is very little (if any) good bdsm smut out there. I'm probably just saying this because like many kinksters who have been exposed to the internet for too long, I have stupidly idiosyncratic tastes. "Oh, they're using a thick cane instead of a thin one? Meh, not hot."
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:16 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


i seriously just read the first part of that comment in a boris badenov voice
posted by elizardbits at 3:16 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


i do not want to live in this world anymore

Don't let's start.
posted by Zerowensboring at 3:16 PM on July 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


Writer: I got a title!
Publisher: Let's hear it?
W: Flesh and blood!
P: Too violent.
W: Pink and red?
P: Not enough inclusive, think of something more encompassing.
W: From white to black.
P: Better, but too much racial undertones.
W: Light grey to dark grey?
P: Yes, I can feel it, but still, I don't want any of your readership to feel excluded.
W: Fifty shades of grey?
P: YOU GOT IT GIRL!
posted by surrendering monkey at 3:17 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was at JFK recently and finding out there are three of these ....products just soured my whole flight.

A Fear of Flying might just be the remedy.
posted by hal9k at 3:18 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the above article: So what’s this ’50 Shades of Grey’ thing you keep seeing everywhere? Women all around you are reading it — ladies on the bus, that khaki-pantsed woman clutching her pearls in the coffee shop, your mom. And now they’re making it into a movie.

Uhm, we are? I had no idea that I was to be reading it. Silly me. Let me drop that frivolous Calculus that I was studying, and jump on this important literary bandwagon before it completely drives out of my neighborhood.
posted by spinifex23 at 3:19 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh and finally, people don't put this much scrutiny onto man-directed porn. When was the last time someone did a snarky takedown of some Sasha Grey butt porn and implied that all the men watching it were going to hate their marriages due to their wife's butt's inability to look good while gaping? WHERE IS THAT ARTICLE? Oh, it doesn't exist. Women can't read crappy literature just for the sake of getting off or it's a national emergency where we must! judge! their! porn! GTFO, go judge a dude for once.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:20 PM on July 6, 2012 [63 favorites]


a general rule in the film industry: you can make a decent film from a bad book but can not make a very good film from a very great book. I scanned some 15 pages of Shades and it is bad writing. Period.
posted by Postroad at 3:21 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


No wonder women have held off buying porn until they could read it without people knowing, given the contempt in this thread. So it's trashy? So what? You're only allowed to find Jane Austen sexy?

Right, I'm off to buy it on Amazon. If you thrill-suckers hate it, I bet it's great!
posted by alasdair at 3:23 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Snowqueens Icedragon >>>> E L James
posted by book 'em dano at 3:24 PM on July 6, 2012


Yes, this whole "oooh, the fanfiction! It is so terrible! Its literary values, they are so low! I am shocked, shocked that women are not demanding higher literary values in their romantic pornography!" routine grows a little tiresome. Of course, you know that women are the keepers of the flame - Virtue, Culture, Literature, all that crap - so if some women, especially non-nubile ones 'cause that's not hot - are getting off to some tacky porn, well, can the decline of the west be far behind?

(Also, there authors, among them Ellen Kushner (who is pretty well respected in queer circles) who have gone from writing fanfic to writing regular fic. In addition, there is some hiLARious and non-porn fanfic out there, plus some pretty darn good non-comic fanfic. Fanfic is pretty much the equivalent of hearing local musicians perform at the coffeehouse - some are surprisingly good, some are godawful, some few will go on to stardom, but you can still enjoy the experience even if no one is, like, Yo La Tengo or something.)
posted by Frowner at 3:26 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I will read porn openly in a goddamn church so nice try. These books are painfully bad drivel and yes, I have read all three of them. Ghastly.
posted by elizardbits at 3:26 PM on July 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


I understand where you're coming from, the young rope-rider, and I think some of the negative response is because the book is directed to a female audience, but 50 Shades of Grey is really BAD BDSM. Like, I feel sorry for women who read that book and think they might want to explore "alternative" sex practices because of the complete lack of things like safe words and negotiation, and the idea that "dominant" means "complete asshole".
posted by jess at 3:26 PM on July 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


JHarris: "I love blowing peeble's minds with the information that Fifty Shades of Grey was originally Twilight fan fiction."

Yeah. Consider my mind blown. I've seen tons of people reading it during my commute, and was only vaguely aware of it being rather porny.

That is fucking hilarious.
posted by brundlefly at 3:27 PM on July 6, 2012


Also, one of the names they're floating for the screenplay is Brett Easton Ellis,

I believe Ellis is the one floating his name around.
posted by dobbs at 3:27 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have been linked to fanfiction which I have enjoyed. I have read BDSM porn which I have enjoyed. Sometimes they are excellently written, often they are competently written.

I read about 1.5 books of the trilogy and it had nothing going for it. I always finish books. Always. And I dropped this because it was very badly written, very badly plotted, very badly characterised, and not just not erotic, but actively anti-erotic.
posted by jeather at 3:28 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I will read porn openly in a goddamn church so nice try

Father Thor would like to see you in his private study. Now.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:30 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, anyone inexperienced with but interested in BDSM who thinks these books represent how BDSM relationships should be is going to be in for a world of trouble if god forbid they get into something with a creepy fucking predator like Christian Whatsit.
posted by elizardbits at 3:31 PM on July 6, 2012


Like, I feel sorry for women who read that book and think they might want to explore "alternative" sex practices because of the complete lack of things like safe words and negotiation, and the idea that "dominant" means "complete asshole".

But it's porn, the vast majority of which is absolutely not realistic. So why does this get singled out? A lot of the stuff on, say, kink.com would not be doable or desirable IRL by most people. I could go to youporn or porntube or whatever* and find a bunch of videos that no one in their right minds would try to recreate in a mutually loving relationship. In fact, the author of this piece specifically states that mainstream porn is better for women than this book, so I feel like I'm not going too far afield in comparing the two and asking what the difference is, besides one being aimed at women and the other being aimed at men.



*(I just google for "porn" because I am 80 yo)
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:32 PM on July 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's not just that it's so badly written and trashy--I dig a good trashy read now and then--it's seeing "I wish I had a man like Christian!" posts all over tumblr. If a friend of mine had a boyfriend like him, I'd want to stage an intervention. Except I'd never get the chance, since he'd have her completely isolated and under his thumb and worried to the point of crying that he'd be angry with her for talking to me. He makes my skin crawl. Here's a taste of what he's like (the rest of the read-along on that blog is hilarious, fyi).
posted by lovecrafty at 3:35 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I blame the Kindle and Amazon for 50 Shades of Gray. Vast swaths of the population who would never dream of downloading porn can get it without any human interaction on their Kindle or iPhone. And Amazon has made monetizing ebooks so simple, your grandmother can (and does) do it.
posted by crunchland at 3:38 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


But, like, Twilight is full of really fucked-up, abusive relationships. So, fer cryin' out loud, is every Orson Scott Card book, not that those are porn but they are really creepy about sexuality. In fact, I'd infinitely rather someone be a fan of trashy kitsch porn than Orson Scott Card. But there's no handwaving over the total sick grossness that is Speaker for the Dead or Lost Boys or Songmaster. Just over women reading trashy porn.

This fits neatly into the long, long tradition of handwringing over those stupid women who are too dumb to realize that fiction, or gothic fiction, or romance novels are all going to give them the wrong ideas and grown-ass women are going to make stupid decisions just because some book makes it sound fun. And those same women will be too stupid and spineless to decide "hey, this sounded hot when I read it, but actually it's icky, so I'll stop!" Because women are, ipso facto, dumb.
posted by Frowner at 3:40 PM on July 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


"When was the last time someone did a snarky takedown of some Sasha Grey butt porn and implied that all the men watching it were going to hate their marriages ..."

Don't really want to get to far into this issue, but I did feel I should mention that I have seen pretty much exactly such articles, multiple times. I could find you a few links, pretty easily, if you wanted.
posted by kyrademon at 3:41 PM on July 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Anastasia was bored. She let her eyes roam around the bar, taking in the professional decor, the smooth shiny surfaces, the overpriced drinks, and primping men in business suits all out for their next conquest. Her inner goddess sighed. Jeez, I'm so bored. All of these guys remind me of Christian. What had started off as a passionate love affair had, as of late, dwindled. Christian hadn't whipped her sex in months, and had recently been spending more and more time working in the nebulously understood world of high finance... or whatever it was that he did. She had grown since they'd first met, and what had once seemed like her entire world had shrunk to the size of a very confining gilded cage. She checked her Blackberry:
From: cgrey@bigbusiness.biz
To: annygirl@hotmail.com
Subject: Working Late

Hi Ana. Wont be able to mark it out to the bard. Working late. Feel freezer to take the helicopter for a spin. Plz don't change the channels on the TV. Changed your do not eat list to include broccoli will have paperwork for you to reflect this in am. peace. Christian. xoxo
Ana rolled her eyes and stuck out her lower lip. Typical. She motioned to the bartender, "Another baybreeze, hard, on the rocks, straight up, please," she said sultrily. The bartender nodded, and rushed to fix her drink. Her eyes took another trip around the bar, her chin resting on her palm, and her pout becoming more fixed by the moment. And then she saw him.

He walked in to the bar with a woman on each elbow. He was smiling, which shone brilliantly even in the dim, mood-lit, meat-market atmosphere of the room. The two women laughed at one of his jokes, and then walked back to the hotel lobby. He was fit, muscular where Christian was frail and willowy. He had a clean shaven head, an immaculately trimmed beard, and a jaw that could crush walnuts. The half unbuttoned white shirt that he was wearing showed just a twinkle of gold chain that pooled among the ripples of his pectoral muscles.

Anastasia was snapped out of reverie by the bartender returning with her drink. She sipped at it tentatively, still managing to sneak a few peeks as the man sat down a few seats to her left. "Vitamin Water XXX and vodka, please," he said with a voice that was at once playful and commanding. Their eyes met as he looked her way, and Ana nervously focused on her drink, spilling it in the process. He walked over to her.

"Hey, sorry about your drink, let me buy you another," He said.

Ana nodded mutely. Holy crap, she thought my inner goddess is going bonkers right now. "And another baybreeze for the lady," she heard him say.

"What's your name, baby?" he asked.

"A... Ana... Anastasia," she managed.

"Name's Curtis," he said, "Some people call me 'Fitty." He handed her a card with both names and a large G-UNIT beneath them.

"What's your game, baby?" he asked.

"I'm, ummm, I'm still in school," She said.

"That's ok," he said, "Personally, I get money," and laughed at his own joke.

Ana didn't understand, but felt herself nodding. She worked up the courage to look deep in to his eyes... "Will you take me to your red room of pain?" she managed to squeak.

"Girl, I don't know what that means, but I WILL take you to the candy shop."

Ana was in love.
posted by codacorolla at 3:43 PM on July 6, 2012 [98 favorites]


I also think these books will give shitty expectations to men who are interested in BDSM relationships who may think that this is how women want to be treated in BDSM relationships. Sorry if that doesn't fit into your worldview.
posted by elizardbits at 3:43 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


NO

SURELY NO

NO THEY ARE NOT MAKING A MOVIE FROM THIS CRETINOUS FUCKING EXECRABLE DRIVEL

NO

DENIED

i do not want to live in this world anymore


They made Twilight, four times. That ship has already sailed my friend.
posted by Malice at 3:44 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


But it's porn, the vast majority of which is absolutely not realistic. So why does this get singled out?

Because most porn isn't rammed down our throats the way this has been.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:44 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


The creepiest thing about these books isn't the porn, or that it's awful porn, or awful kinky porn - it's that the dom is a complete asshole and the way consent/safewords are handled creeps me right out.

Also the phrase 'laters, baby' is written in complete seriousness. Burn it with fire.
posted by zennish at 3:44 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


heh
posted by elizardbits at 3:45 PM on July 6, 2012


kmz, I am sure you will be thrilled to know that Cassie Clare also has a film in pre-production.

Anyway.

In my twenties I read a lot of fanfiction (hello X-Files). Some of it was crap. Some of it was a free alternative to the romance novels my mum kept in a box in the spare bedroom. Some of it was excellent: suspenseful, well-plotted and smart. I also enjoyed being part of the fanfiction community: a bunch of women hanging out in virtual space discussing gender, desire, and how to construct prose. I learned a lot about feminism from that crowd. Women were allowed to articulate desire and reject conventional gender notions. For a socially awkward 20-something girl, it was a pretty damn good community.

But 50 Shades of Gray is just awful. I read the first 100 pages of it and just couldn't manage any more. It is bottom-trawling fanfiction. And what gets me is that it just doesn't function on its own. The characters only make sense (well, just about) if you start the book knowing that they are supposed to be the Twilight characters.
posted by kariebookish at 3:47 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


kmz, I am sure you will be thrilled to know that Cassie Clare also has a film in pre-production.

That would be awesome if it was one of those Scary Movie-esque films that pokes fun at all the tropes it has blatantly, openly, and shamelessly stolen from other extremely popular media.
posted by elizardbits at 3:50 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


This fits neatly into the long, long tradition of handwringing over those stupid women who are too dumb to realize that fiction, or gothic fiction, or romance novels are all going to give them the wrong ideas and grown-ass women are going to make stupid decisions just because some book makes it sound fun

Yes, exactly. Or all the concern about how young women are talking wrong (remember all the articles a few months back about vocal fracking or whatever it is called?) and how that is going to break the English language. Poor women, always doing it wrong, won't they ever learn?

Because most porn isn't rammed down our throats the way this has been.

Most porn stays over in the porn section; it's comparatively rare to have a cross-over into a mass-market product like this. Anais Nin's stories have done that, as did Henry Miller's books, within the constraints of the censorship laws of their day. Sasha Grey as an actress, producer, and director is in the process of doing this, but her hardcore work is staying firmly (heh) in the porn ghetto.
posted by Forktine at 3:50 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have a personal theory that, with a background reading romance novels, there's actually this weird little bubble of sexual fetishism that wants non-consent/creepy/icky soooo bad, but also ties itself in narrative knots making unacceptable behaviour okay. It's not that Grey can't be written as being a sane, limit respecting dom its that the market doesn't want him. This shit got scraped off the internet and was propelled by audience desire- its very origins betray the bare psyche of at least one segment of its fans as wanting something that awful in their fiction.

For further example: all those old rape heavy 'bodice rippers' got analyzed under the supposition that the rape makes it all okay because it gets around the puritan feelings that you're not supposed want sex. And yet, as the books got steamier about regular sex and the culture at large more permissive, the rape never really went away, it just wriggled its way into weirder and weirder shapes.

One place it's gotten lodged into is the explosion of the paranormal romance genre. Whether sweetly creepy, like Twilight's stalker-rage-machine or outright rapey, like the Southern Vampire Novel series, it's pretty reliable that the same way that if I bought a romance novel based on the archetypes and setting I'd get particular fetishes indulged (Pirates- abduction, Irish women- bratty subs), that the tolerance for magic people having shit that would normally involve Mr. Policeman suggests that sometimes the vampire/werewolf/fairy/merman is just a beard for the actually fetish being dangled out on display. Some of the audience probably gets lady-boners for fangs, but reading some of these books the bits with fangs in seem to be secondary to the otherwise unacceptable social scenarios. Now she's not being raped by the Pirate/Sheik/Scottish Laird because she can't admit her passion elsewise, he's a tortured (whatever species) so it's okay for him to stalk and ravage, because the audience getting off on this, by and large would mace the shit out of a real guy who tried it.

And then there's wishful thinking. Among real life kinksters there is a never ending supply of both genders who think they're about to be initiated into a glamorous secret society, but also they're cuing up under the expectation they really will be put out of control. On fetlife I get regular requests from guys to enter into literally abusive relationships with them- but the expectations some of the fem subs bring to the table are so bizarre and self invented but also self harming (ie I have to do anything, any dominant says!) that it goes beyond buying everything porn tells you and into wilfully ignoring easily available educational information because They Want To Believe.

Of course my other theory is a lot darker, that the tendency for all women to experience some sort of real, non-consent type bullshit in their lives means that for some people sexual attraction is inseparable from rape risk: it's not that the rape excuses the sexuality, its that the rape is a normal part of it. Personally I hope that bit's not true.
posted by Phalene at 3:51 PM on July 6, 2012 [30 favorites]


To be more serious, the thing about Fifty Shades of Grey isn't that it's porn, or that it's women reading porn and we should be worried about that, it's that you have a completely unknown writer (being a big name fan in Twiligh fandom doesn't count) who self published her novel and it became a Dan Brown level bestseller.

Most porn doesn't do that, certainly not written porn.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:51 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


And, just because I cannot be articulate as why the 50SOG phenomenon disgusts me so, I leave that to the experts.

Dear Author's review of 50 Shades of Gray: "The best thing I can say about it is that vast majority of sentences are grammatical. "
posted by kariebookish at 3:51 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


elizardbits, I see what you are doing there. Snerk.
posted by kariebookish at 3:53 PM on July 6, 2012


Phalene: ... as the books got steamier about regular sex and the culture at large more permissive, the rape never really went away, it just wriggled its way into weirder and weirder shapes.

I've seen enough tentacle porn to know where this is going.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:57 PM on July 6, 2012


50 Sheds of gray: Christian's hair goes gray and starts to bald after crossing the wrong member of the Illuminanti's hair club for men

49 Shades of gray: Anastasia changes her career to computer programming.

50 Sheds of gray: Anastasia needs someplace to put all her lawn equipment, takes a visit to the home depot.

99 shades of gray: and a bitch ain't one (feat jay-z)

99 bottles of gray on the wall: Christian acquires a line of hair-care products, a defect in them causes everyone to lose hair color.

3.14 Shades of Gray: Anna and Christian cook a pie.

51 Shades of Gray: Electric boogaloo Christian uses his vast wealth to save a community center, thereby preventing a breakdancing competition.

Spirit of 76 shades of Gray. A stars and stripes themed BSDM novel centered around the bicentennial celebrations.
posted by hellojed at 4:00 PM on July 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I blame the Kindle and Amazon for 50 Shades of Gray. Vast swaths of the population who would never dream of downloading porn can get it without any human interaction on their Kindle or iPhone.

The 50 Shades books have topped the paperback best seller list for over 3 months, so.... let's not blame this turn of events on e-books.
posted by grapesaresour at 4:00 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


At The Mountains of Madness was canned but this gets the green light?

This is more blasphemous than anything ever imagined in the Elder texts.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:01 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


let's not blame this turn of events on e-books. -- tipping point?
posted by crunchland at 4:03 PM on July 6, 2012


20%, SAIT

wait what
posted by elizardbits at 4:08 PM on July 6, 2012


I mean, we don’t call the kitchen the “White Room of Yummy” or the living room the “TV Room of Couching.”

Don't? More like "didn't."
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:15 PM on July 6, 2012 [35 favorites]


My ex used to call the living room FARTOPIA.
posted by elizardbits at 4:18 PM on July 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


then again porn for men is pretty bad too (with even worse moral subtexts), but no one ever raises a fuss about that, and it makes billions more than 50 Shades does.

Yeah, this. I've only read a few paragraphs -- it makes me laugh too much to be seem particularly erotic -- but then again I feel the same way about a lot of mainstream male-targeted porn. Why should we suddenly expect porn targeted at women, which happens to be in a different format but is most definitely still porn, to be that much better? Seems suspiciously like a double standard. Nobody expects Butt Pirate Sex Party MXXXIV1 to get an Oscar, so why are people upset that 50 Shades lacks serious literary merit? It's pornography; literary merit isn't the primary reason for its existence, titillation is. And writing at a lower reading level opens it up to a lot more people than writing at a higher level would, so it's not exactly unexpected. People looking for classier, more erudite porn should be rooting for it, because its existence and popularity validates the market for mainstream (written) porn, particularly of the kinkier or non-Harlequin-Romance variety.

Personally, the fact that Twilight -- the epitome of frigid, covertly pious, anti-sex "abstinence porn" -- led directly to 50 Shades, is kinda awesome. I'd much rather see people reading the latter than the former on the subway, no matter how execrable the writing is. The uptick in kinky sex is possibly the only positive thing to come out of Stephenie Meyer's writing career.

1: I didn't google this, but I'm unwilling to take a bet that it doesn't actually exist.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:24 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fifty Shapes of Gary - Gary is a devout student of mime. Let him tell his life story to you in fifty erotic poses.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:25 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


elizardbits: I just woke up from a nap brought on by Chinese food and the outside being a pizza oven, and am a bit groggy, so..

you've seen movies, right?
posted by ninjew at 4:29 PM on July 6, 2012


Instead of reading FSoG I listened to the audiobook version. I think hearing it allowed me to pick up on things I might otherwise have glossed over. Without a doubt Ms. James' work could have used an editor to clean up the pedestrian language but what really struck me is how much she should have availed herself of a thesaurus. She used the word "murmured" so much that I a) questioned whether she knew what the word meant (i.e., it's not an automatic substitute for "said"), and b) imagined what a blackout-inducing drinking game could be made from the excessive use of the word.

Rumor has it that Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty series is being re-released in the wake of the FSoG phenomenon. I doubt it's going to be as successful with the mommy porn set since Rice actually demonstrates an ability to write.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:30 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


the phrase 'laters, baby' is written in complete seriousness.

I read that as 'taters, baby' at first and wondered which one of us had fallen to the dark side.
posted by mrbill at 4:43 PM on July 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm just waiting for the film version of my favorite erotic novel.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:45 PM on July 6, 2012


Also the phrase 'laters, baby' is written in complete seriousness. Burn it with fire.

I warn everyone to take care in using phrases like the above even in irony. When you start calling people baby as a joke for cheesy pretend you get to the point that saying laters, baby seems absolutely normal in a larping Miami vice kind of way. then people burn you with fire sadface.
posted by winna at 4:52 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's pornography; literary merit isn't the primary reason for its existence, titillation is

Yes, but -- my inner goddess read the books and thought "I never want to have sex again".
posted by jeather at 4:57 PM on July 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


50 Grades of Shea: The Mets' entire roster sits down for a standardized test.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:58 PM on July 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


Actually this will be a fewer movie. The plot is much better suited for a 80-110 minute film than a book. The movie will have the benefit of a better writer and an actual editor. It cannot be worse that Dragon Tatoo.
posted by humanfont at 5:03 PM on July 6, 2012


I'm so tired of fanfiction-bashing. I honestly am. I'm tired of it to the point that it makes me viscerally sad whenever I see it happen. I happily admit that 90% (if not 95%) is utter crap, but, Sturgeon's Fucking Law, you know?

It's an easy target (for various obvious reasons), and the "mainstream" people who mock it never actually know anything true about it, or the community from which is springs, other than what they read in pieces written by people who also don't know anything about the community (e.g. "the written word equivalent of taking two naked dolls and mashing them together to make what you think sex looks like when you’re 10 years old."). This makes it hard for me to shrug it off when people do it.

I've been involved in media fandom and fanfiction for 30 years now, and I can say without a moment's hesitation that there are several fanfiction stories, based on a variety of sources which, given the either/or question, I would choose to re-read instead of some of my favorite published novels.

Fandom is my community, and fanfiction is one of my community's art forms. It has a really rich and complex history, and is part of a larger picture than those who stand outside that world would imagine. Maybe the term itself causes some of the snobbery and disdain; I don't know. We could make up other words for it, but for me, fanfiction is the modern equivalent of the tellings and retellings of myths that has taken place throughout history, where each teller of the story brings his or her own framing to it--maybe adding a character here or changing an outcome there. The tales of King Arthur are fanfiction. The Robin Hood stories are fanfiction. One could even argue that the Talmud and the Midrash are fanfiction of the Torah.

I wish people would stop trying to make those of us who take part in this kind of creativity feel like we should be ashamed.
posted by tzikeh at 5:04 PM on July 6, 2012 [31 favorites]


I’ve only hate-watched those movies and even I know Jacob is Native American because he cries every time someone litters, and that whole movie series is trash.

BURN
posted by schroedinger at 5:05 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also I make fun of fanfiction because I used to read a lot of fanfiction and have yet to read any fanfiction that wasn't trash. Maybe things have changed.
posted by schroedinger at 5:06 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]




Fewer movie, arghhh. I meant "better movie.". When is 50 Shades of Autocorrect comming out?
posted by humanfont at 5:06 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


50 Grades of Shea: The Mets' entire roster sits down for a standardized test.

Wouldn't that be more accurately named "F Grade of Shea?
posted by Forktine at 5:06 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, I just checked, and there is, in fact, Fifty Shades of Grey fan-fiction. Which makes sense, of course: It's popular, so why wouldn't there be fan fiction? But it just seems weirdly Ouroboros-y to me.
posted by jcreigh at 5:08 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aside from possible sexism issues, without knowing porn sales figures, 50 Shades of Grey is leaving our store at a rate of 300+ a week. Is there any porn that has had sales on par with 50sog?

On the fan fic front, is there Father Ted fan fic and where can I find it?
posted by drezdn at 5:17 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


All I know is that when I went to the gas station to get my caffeine and I had my Kindle, the kindly tiny little grandmother-looking lady behind the counter said, "Oh, what are you reading?"

"M.R. James," I said. "Old ghost stories." (M.R. James is fun and they were free books.)

"I'm going to start reading that Fifty Shades of Gray book," she confided cheerily. "I've heard it's good!"

"Ah," I said. I'm fairly certain my smile became fixed, and I know I suddenly started darting my eyes around to avoid eye contact. "Well, that's good."

She seemed confused by my reaction. I don't know if that's because she just didn't know what the book was or if she thought that I looked like I'd be interested in bondage. We completed our business transaction in monosyllables.

So this book isn't exactly like porn because goddammit no one at a gas station has ever cheerfully announced to me which of the Butt Blasters series or whatever they intend to watch when they get home that evening. What the hell am I even supposed to say to that? I can barely talk about sex with my spouse, let alone a stranger.
posted by Scattercat at 5:22 PM on July 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


"I have a personal theory that, with a background reading romance novels, there's actually this weird little bubble of sexual fetishism that wants non-consent/creepy/icky soooo bad, but also ties itself in narrative knots making unacceptable behaviour okay. It's not that Grey can't be written as being a sane, limit respecting dom its that the market doesn't want him. This shit got scraped off the internet and was propelled by audience desire- its very origins betray the bare psyche of at least one segment of its fans as wanting something that awful in their fiction."

I strongly disagree with this. There's a fair amount of literature about rape fantasy by/for women and, as far as I know, the consensus is that it's not at all a desire for actual sexual violence (d'uh), but, rather, especially with fantasy, the woman fantasizing is literally in absolute control. It's just not the same thing at all as actual sexual violence and no one who fantasizes about it is confused about that.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:24 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okay, I just checked, and there is, in fact, Fifty Shades of Grey fan-fiction.

Yes, and, hilariously, the author bitched and moaned about it.
posted by tzikeh at 5:31 PM on July 6, 2012 [20 favorites]


I always think that a major part of any really kinky fantasy is that you could do act X or have it done to you and have it be a generally positive and life affirming thing for all concerned, rather than being something that would be horrible and nasty and damaging.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:35 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh and finally, people don't put this much scrutiny onto man-directed porn. When was the last time someone did a snarky takedown of some Sasha Grey butt porn and implied that all the men watching it were going to hate their marriages due to their wife's butt's inability to look good while gaping? WHERE IS THAT ARTICLE? Oh, it doesn't exist. Women can't read crappy literature just for the sake of getting off or it's a national emergency where we must! judge! their! porn! GTFO, go judge a dude for once.

Aren't most of the articles about rape culture and the baneful influence of patriarchy judging dudes? I don't think this is being judged because it's by a woman, I think it's being judged because it's the fastest-selling paperback of all time despite widespread agreement that it's porn rather than any sort of serious literature, and which has caught the publishing world completely by surprise.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:37 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think this is being judged because it's by a woman, I think it's being judged because it's the fastest-selling paperback of all time despite widespread agreement that it's porn rather than any sort of serious literature, and which has caught the publishing world completely by surprise.

You understand that these are not mutually exclusive merits to judge the book on, right?
posted by tzikeh at 5:39 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


For people saying 50 Shades is better than Twilight... Talk about damning with faint praise. But then I remember people concern trolling Twilight too, saying nobody should critique it either, even though most of the trenchant criticisms were from feminists and romance novel readers themselves.

Also, last I checked Butt Pirate Party XXV or whatever isn't a breakout summer blockbuster.
posted by kmz at 5:42 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gay NASCAR driver fanfic would sell sell sell

It would have to feature a voiceover by Darrel Waltrip, who will scream BOOGITY BOOGITY BOOGITY when they start amooching.

Also someone will have to pull a rubber out of their left rear.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:45 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am a member of the target audience for 50SoG. Many of the women on my mom board have read it. (I haven't, I have plenty of BDSM porn already.) All the self-identified kinksters hated it, were bored with the sex, thought it was terribly written. All the self-identified non-kinksters read it breathlessly and wrigglingly, pouncing their husbands every night.

Make of that what you will.
posted by KathrynT at 5:45 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


People who read 50 Shades of Grey have as much interest in actually praciticing bdsm as people who read the Twilight series have an interest in actually being vampires.

Both are simply the female fantasy of a nice, normal girl taming the ultimate bad boy.
posted by flarbuse at 5:47 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I doubt it's going to be as successful with the mommy porn set since Rice actually demonstrates an ability to write.
Wow. That's the most misogynistic comment in the thread.
posted by Joh at 5:49 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anyway, she said that I should read some of it out loud, and I complied, but on a whim changed Christian's voice to a 300 pound Bill Compton who's constantly out of breath, and Anastasia's voice to a 3-pack-a-day waitress at an Alabama Denny's. It's really more entertaining than it has any right to be....

I used to enjoy reading "The Lady of Shalott" in the voice of Walter Brennan. Cracked me & my office-mates right the hell up. Then I got stuck like that. Now I can't read Tennyson any other way.

Could be worse. I read Emily Dickinson as Jimmy Stewart.
posted by lodurr at 5:51 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I cannot believe no one has linked to the Gilbert Gottfried rendition (SLYT, nsfw) yet. You're welcome.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 5:55 PM on July 6, 2012 [20 favorites]


I'm just going to leave this article, 50 Shades of hypocrisy by anti-porn crusaders, in case anyone wants to read it.

I really don't want to be associated with Twilight at all.
Also, watch that Gilbert Gottfried rendition just above. It will amuse.
posted by Mezentian at 5:58 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The model: Jane Eyre. Timid Jane meets commanding real man...he is blinded and ends up dependent upon her...she wins....romance books all like that and women get off on it.
posted by Postroad at 6:01 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


A. Very first thing I thought when I heard of this book was roughly "Some mainstream kinky porn, coo...." ...but before that thought was even complete, I remembered that any mainstream porn--especially kinky porn--must be f'ed up in order to make it clear that *sex is dirty and not in a good way*, and especially that *non-vanilla sex is sick and awful.* You can write kinky pr0n if you want, but you'd better make it clear that there's something wrong with anybody who likes it. (The movie *Secretary* is the exception that, as they say, proves the rule...)

B. Then I saw like two sentences from the book on the web. The first sentence made it clear that I would have no interest whatsoever in ever having sex with the protagonist even were she the proverbial last woman on Earth. The second sentence made it clear that I would desperately want to punch Christian in the head. Ergo it became clear that there was no way for this book to be even remotely hot.

C. As for the double standard charge against "men's porn." Oh, come on. 99% of video pr0n is so godawful that no one even deigns to make fun of it anymore. Heck, I think erotica is great, but I wouldn't watch most of that crap with your eyeballs. It's an embarrassing joke. 50SoG is a *mainstream* phenomenon. It's fair game. If an equally bad mainstream "male-oriented" book or movie showed up, it'd get the business too. I could tell that 50SoG was crap before the thought ever entered my mind that it was primarily enjoyed by/aimed at females.

Trying to wring sexism out of this mess is absurd. The well-known crapitude of male-oriented pr0n in no way mitigates the crapitude of 50SoG. If anything, women are getting off easy here. Feminist theory spews out stuff about men being inherently rapists on the basis of the crapitude of male-oriented pr0n. Women who enjoy 50SoG are merely being made fun of on the web for their bad taste.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:02 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


a general rule in the film industry: you can make a decent film from a bad book

Bridges of Madison County was borderline unreadable (though the prose was technically well-formed, in the same sense as a solid fudge wedding cake), but Eastwood made it into an actually pretty darn good movie. Similarly, Ron Howard's takes on the Dan Brown books actually didn't completely and utterly suck, shockingly enough. (The second one was almost justified by one exchange: "He called you a symbologist. Is that what you really are, or was he making fun of you?" "Both.")

I think if you manage to make a really good film out of a great book, you're doing the unexpected, but it has happened. Tarkovsky's Solaris and Stalker, arguably One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Deliverance, last year's adaptation of Tinker, Tailor...

Anyway, I should probably pivot and make this about fanfic somehow.

Erotic fanfic is better than straight fanfic IMO, because it doesn't have the baggage of trying to reinvent the world someone else already created. You have an agenda to start with, and by definition you're being up front about it: You want to add sex where it wasn't, or fix the sex that was there. So, at least, you've got an advantage as a writer.

I haven't read 50... yet -- I have the sample on my Nook, maybe I'll take a look -- but I'm positive I've seen poorer writng. Anything by Amanda Hocking, for example.*

And I've dipped into erotica recently (because my wife keeps telling me I should write it, on the probably mistaken premise that I could sell like Selina Kitt if I did), and some of it, while creepy as hell (see Selena Kitt) is actually not at all badly written.

--
*I'm chagrined to admit that for the first 20 pages or so of that one book of hers that I read -- just curious about the phenomenon, mind you, just curious -- I actually wrote it off as voice. Eventually I admitted to myself that she just really didn't know how to put together sentences very well.
posted by lodurr at 6:05 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm so tired of fanfiction-bashing. I honestly am. I'm tired of it to the point that it makes me viscerally sad whenever I see it happen. I happily admit that 90% (if not 95%) is utter crap, but, Sturgeon's Fucking Law, you know?
tzikeh

You're right to invoke Sturgeon's Law and that in general most of anything is bad, but I think fan fiction has unique issues that make the form particularly prone to low quality in ways that others aren't. A comment above by muddgirl gives the reason why:

What are you into, fannish-media-wise? It helps to be into the source material.

This is the problem. If a work is good, shouldn't it not matter whether I'm into or it already or not? I read new works all the time that have no fans because they are new. I don't need to already be into them. If they're good, they'll draw me in.

This is the issue. The aim of fan fiction isn't necessarily to produce good material, but to satisfy fan cravings for more of the source of their fandom. So writers will produce works that hit all the rights to make a fan happy, but that doesn't mean it will be a good work. It's pandering, and it aims to be.

I'm not saying I don't understand the urge. I like Adventure Time, and if you handed me a fan Adventure Time work I could say, "Yeah, this is awesome, Marceline rocks!" or "Ha ha, that's exactly what Jake would do, that's hilarious!" and feel good even with a badly-written story. It gives me what I want but doesn't have to be an actually good story (meaning quality writing, good plot, good dialogue, etc).

I think this handicap keeps the form necessarily hobbled. The aim is first to satisfy the fandom, second to be good, so it produces bad works even beyond Sturgeon's general rule for all works.

I'm an avid science fiction reader, and the accusations leveled at fan fiction remind me of the general opinion of science fiction outside of SF fans: it's not very good as literature, the writing is poor, etc. The thing is, I think these criticisms are right, and for similar reasons to why I think the ones against fan fiction are.

SF writing, like all genre writing, aims first to satisfy the conventions of the genre, second to be actually good writing. One of these conventions is having some interesting ideas. If your story has those, SF fans will excuse your bad writing, your poor dialogue, your wooden characters, your shitty helpings of sophomore philosophical bullshit (or even worse, political philosophy). The genre tends to produce crap at a greater level than regular fiction because the aim is to foremost produce SF genre works. So even the greatest and most respected SF authors tend not to really be very good writers (*cough* Asimov *cough*).

Also, and please don't take this as a personal attack, your post reminded me of how incredibly defensive and angry SF fans can get when someone criticizes the quality of SF, which doesn't really help. If you like fan fiction, it's not saying you're a bad person to say that fan fiction is largely very bad, just like someone saying SF produces largely bad genre fiction isn't an attack on the readers of SF.

I should probably stop here because I feel like I've invoked a shit storm on myself, but I also wanted to comment on the second part of muddgirl's above-linked comment:

Anway, even if 90% of fanfiction is bad, I still think it's important to acknowledge and celebrate fans who are creating rather than just consuming.

I don't know about this. This is another reason why fan fiction bothers me. I feel like it's just another form of media consumption, a step above the normal, passive mode, but still operating inside the space and cultural value of a pre-existing work. A "My Little Pony" story is still a "My Little Pony" work.

If someone can produce a work that's actually good, that isn't just pandering to fans, but is has real literary quality as a work on its own, and even non-fans could recognize the quality, then it's kind of a shame that they stick to writing in an existing work. It just seems like wasting talent, instead of bringing something new and great into the world. I love Batman, and could talk for hours about him and his world, but if I had the talent to write good stories, wouldn't it be better if I created something new, so that the world has Batman plus something else that's awesome?
posted by Sangermaine at 6:05 PM on July 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


Re. fanfic: I look on fanfic as being a lot like reading, in that you're most likely better off for doing it than you are for doing nothing.
posted by lodurr at 6:08 PM on July 6, 2012




> It helps to be into the source material

It helps but sometimes that's not enough, as I discovered when I attempted to read A new history of Captain John Sheppard, HM Aerial Corps, and M. Rodney McKay, Esq., FRS, with the Captains Emmagan and Dex, late of the West Indies.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:12 PM on July 6, 2012


Thems some long sentences there, corpse.
posted by lodurr at 6:15 PM on July 6, 2012


Sangermaine: This is the problem. If a work is good, shouldn't it not matter whether I'm into or it already or not?

In fanfiction, it absolutely matters. Appreciating fanfiction as an art form depends upon the reader coming to the story with comprehensive knowledge of the universe, much in the way appreciating certain types of jazz depends upon the listener coming to the music with comprehensive knowledge of the standard American songbook. The original universe is the melody; fanfiction is the riff.

Writing well in a previously built world requires a writing skill set that is overlooked and undervalued. To do it well is difficult, but to do anything well is difficult.
posted by tzikeh at 6:16 PM on July 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


Ack - addendum:

Sangermaine: This is the problem.

It's not a problem with fanfiction itself; it's a problem for the people for whom that prerequisite "lessens" fanfiction as valid fiction. This isn't a dig or an insult, for you or for anyone else for whom this is a barrier to enjoying fanfiction. Similar barriers exist to some people's enjoyment of various art forms.
posted by tzikeh at 6:23 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


All of what I've said being said - 50 Shades of Grey is utter, utter tripe.
posted by tzikeh at 6:25 PM on July 6, 2012


it's kind of a shame that they stick to writing in an existing work. It just seems like wasting talent, instead of bringing something new and great into the world.

Not being a fan-type person with only a TV Tropes level of understanding about fandom, I think it's kind of awesome seeing people so enthusiastic about stuff they care about. Derivative works are nothing new, after all - look at Sherlock Holmes and all the different adaptations and reimaginations of that work - you've got dinosaur-fighting Holmes, Downey Jr-Holmes, great big flappy coat-Holmes, tiny wee baby Holmes, Neil Gaiman's Lovecraftian Holmes: why not play in someone's sandbox for a while? It looks fun.

on the other hand, what kmz said. c'mon fandom get them good authors published
posted by zennish at 6:34 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


you've seen movies, right?

DID SOMEONE MAKE A MOVIE CALLED FARTOPIA
posted by elizardbits at 6:42 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I WILL SUE
posted by elizardbits at 6:42 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd say you have yourself an elevator pitch, at least. by the way I totally read that as FARTopia.
posted by ninjew at 6:48 PM on July 6, 2012


that is precisely what it is. a farty utopia.
posted by elizardbits at 6:50 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I cannot believe no one has linked to the Gilbert Gottfried rendition yt (SLYT, nsfw) yet. You're welcome.

It's probably because it was FPP'd some time back.

Sangermaine:
I don't know about this. This is another reason why fan fiction bothers me. I feel like it's just another form of media consumption, a step above the normal, passive mode, but still operating inside the space and cultural value of a pre-existing work. A "My Little Pony" story is still a "My Little Pony" work.

So, you want to see good PONY fanfiction? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED
posted by JHarris at 6:53 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Missing-scene fan fiction.

At least Twilight wasn't written in present tense. Bleh.
posted by zennie at 6:54 PM on July 6, 2012


(Er, I didn't mean to imply that I wrote the thing linked.)
posted by JHarris at 6:54 PM on July 6, 2012


what am i reading

where are the ponies

where is fluttershy
posted by elizardbits at 6:54 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


The difference between "male-orientated porn" and 50SOG is that, unlike my aunt, when my uncle has finished with his porn, he doesn't announce on Facebook that his friends can borrow it now.
posted by rh at 6:58 PM on July 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


It's very much a slow burn kind of story, but good in a kind of classic sci-fi way. Flutters is actually the first pony encountered, but you really wouldn't expect her to get anywhere near a classic-scifi kind of space traveller, would you?

Rereading it, I was struck by this:
An interesting find when I approached my observation spot early this morning. There was a basket containing two ‘apples’, two bottles of some sweet smelling liquid (all of which had to be tested for safety reasons), a roll of some kind of dried up paper, a bottle of dark liquid which I assumed was ink, and a ‘quill’. An actual, feather pen.

It was interesting enough that I halted my observations before they started and returned to the Ravenstar. The paper itself had a simple, scraggly drawn image on it that looked like the ‘pony’ that had been observing me. I decided to reciprocate in kind, but in the spirit of one-upmanship, printed out a copy of the famous Vitruvian Man.


YEAH, TAKE THAT SPARKLY VAMPIRE LOVERS.
posted by JHarris at 7:03 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Since it's a thread about fan fiction I feel I need to let know it's only a matter of time before PONY shows up here.

So this would be the right time to bring up my Big Macintosh/Fluttershy BDSM-themed fanfic?

I'm calling it Fifty Shades of Yayyyyyy.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:13 PM on July 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


You guys, I have a teenager now, and so I now officially know that One Direction fanfiction exists.
posted by mothershock at 7:17 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


first, this thread is hilarious after a few glasses of wine.

second, last time I saw my mom, she had these lying around her house. I studiously tried to ignore them, but she pushed one in my face and said HAVE YOU HEARD OF THESE BOOKS? SOME PEOPLE CALL THEM MOMMY PORN.

third, what size needle do I jab in my ear so i never have to hear "mommy porn" from my actual mother again?
posted by desjardins at 7:17 PM on July 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


I now officially know that One Direction fanfiction exists.

LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU
posted by elizardbits at 7:18 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had to rigorously censor my mom's conversation after she started watching True Blood. There are just some things I don't want to discuss with my mother. And many if not all of the things on True Blood fall into the realm of things never to be mentioned with my mother.

She has a profound horror of anything that might be considered occult in her woolly way, though, so I'm thinking I should be safe from having to talk about BDSM with her. It probably counts as satanic in her book.

Also you guys I just fell down the fandomwank rabbit hole and it is a scary place full of scary things.
posted by winna at 7:26 PM on July 6, 2012



SF writing, like all genre writing, aims first to satisfy the conventions of the genre, second to be actually good writing. One of these conventions is having some interesting ideas. If your story has those, SF fans will excuse your bad writing, your poor dialogue, your wooden characters, your shitty helpings of sophomore philosophical bullshit (or even worse, political philosophy). The genre tends to produce crap at a greater level than regular fiction because the aim is to foremost produce SF genre works. So even the greatest and most respected SF authors tend not to really be very good writers (*cough* Asimov *cough*).


See, this line of reasoning really irritates me. I know it's mostly ignorance, and I know that history-of-SF classes and literature-as-genre classes are pretty specialized and thus aren't going to interest even all of the relatively small group that has access to them, but it's still frustrating.

Science fiction is not summed up by Golden Age pulps and Golden Age pulp imitations. Most people who don't know much about SF name-check Asimov, lasers, space babes, pointy rocket ships and libertarianism and maybe tentacled aliens, and that's pretty much it. They don't talk about Frankenstein, Bogdanov's Red Star and its followers, New Worlds, Dhalgren, Mother London, afrofuturism, James Tiptree, Aqueduct Press - or if they do, they handwave about how those things aren't real science fiction, everyone knows that real science fiction is, like, I, Robot, or Stranger In A Strange Land if you want to get freaky-deaky, and everyone knows that shit is stupid and kitschy.

Plus, of course, not mentioning any theories of genre, neither Darko Suvin nor Delany nor Frederic Jameson, nor nor nor...just handwave about "genre" as this sort of insulting, pathetic, stupid thing. Why read Dhalgren when you could read, oh, Norman Mailer? Totes.

I had this flash of insight about hip-hop the other day - that is, I realized that all my ideas about hip-hop were really stupid, and it was because all I knew about hip-hop was random pop radio crap and absolutely no history or theory. I would think to myself "why do these smart feminists of color keep listening to this misogynist genre?" And then suddenly I realized that this was about on the level of people saying "why does Frowner read all that lasers-and-space-babes crap when Frowner is all about the lit crit?" And then I felt kind of ignorant. But it's the same thing - if you see a genre that smart people are passionate about and it looks problematic or empty to you, the problem is probably you.
posted by Frowner at 7:32 PM on July 6, 2012 [36 favorites]


third, what size needle do I jab in my ear so i never have to hear "mommy porn" from my actual mother again?

This reminds me of when I was 26 or so and I was talking to my dad on the phone. Out of the blue, he mentioned that he was cleaning out my old room and found a sex manual which I had purchased when I was 16 or 17 and had long forgotten about. I blushed furiously, just like I did when I brought the fully-illustrated-in-color paperback to the register in the bookstore in the deeply Catholic west of Ireland town where I grew up and where I still can't understand how it got into the bookstore in the first place.

The incoherent excuse-making was bad enough, but then he asked me if he could hold onto it for a while, because he was in new relationship, and actually last week -

I never found out what happened last week (as it was then), because at that point I hung up the phone. I never got the damn book back either.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:38 PM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's interesting that we seem to have something like this only once a generation, and each time it seems amazingly new!! even though it's always kind of a tepid mainstream version of same-old erotica. My mom's generation had the Nancy Friday books, which were a sly 70s thing in which porn was disguised as sociology; we had Anne Rice's Beauty series , now this.
posted by Miko at 7:38 PM on July 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


There's a fair amount of literature about rape fantasy by/for women and, as far as I know, the consensus is that it's not at all a desire for actual sexual violence (d'uh), but, rather, especially with fantasy, the woman fantasizing is literally in absolute control.

I'm not sure you understood what I was saying, so I'll try to be careful with my inferences from what you said. My claim is that the audience want to think about being out of control and goes to elaborate lengths in their fiction to make it okay, and that they flail around a lot for situations that can make it okay in their books, ie vampires, badly written kink, etc... I'm saying they wouldn't tolerate it in real life but that they want Grey to be a bad Dom, or Edward to be a stalker, or the Sheik to forcibly take the proud Irish beauty in a sand dune. They're not running around holding signs saying "rape me plz!" but the otherwise not okay behaviour of the male leads is something that has proven really durable in romance.

What I'm saying is that, though not mandatory, romance, as a genre, has repeated themes of the male protagonist doing stuff that would get him resoundly flogged by the AskMe advice crew, and possibly the police called on the asker's behalf. Here are literally the first three books I grabbed from my romance shelf-

His For the Taking: Forced marriage/chases female lead down when she tries to escape repeatedly.

Pride & Passion: Ties the heroine up after forcefully telling her on several occasions that she will be his, despite her clear indication of dislike.

Devil's Bargain: Grooms her for high class prostitution including sending her to be degraded in a 'virgin' exam and not permitting her to resist him coming in the night to molest her in the name of sexually enlightening her and guilts her into staying with the old 'you owe me money for your upkeep!' con.

The reader probably is seated in their comfy chair laughing at how bad the writing is, but the reader evidently feels like shelling out a lot of money for this because it's really, really easy to find.
posted by Phalene at 7:46 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not mentioned in Miko's link, but Nancy Friday also interviewed men for a compilation : Men in Love.

All *I* need to know about 50SoG I found in the 50 shades of suck tumblr.
posted by brujita at 8:02 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sangermaine: It just seems like wasting talent, instead of bringing something new and great into the world.

Frank Sinatra--what a waste of talent, leaning on other peoples' words. And the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is a terrific cover band, amirite?

As I said, interpreting others' works is a skillset all its own. And it's not a lesser one.
posted by tzikeh at 8:14 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


At The Mountains of Madness was canned but this gets the green light?

It didn't get canned, it was released this year. It was called "Prometheus."
posted by hermitosis at 8:23 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Men! Are you tired of the women folk in your life being able to wantonly consume ribald tales in public. What's that I hear you say? 'Where is the smut that we can openly peruse on the bus, without weathering the whithering stares of Reverends, Matrons, and Dowagers? Without wearing the disapproving tut tutting of Teachers, Mothers, and Aldermen?'

Well listen up fellas, because have I got news for you. Coming soon to all good book shops near you, and not just the 'good' ones, if you know what I mean boys:

50 Shades of Sasha Grey.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:30 PM on July 6, 2012


I notice a lot of status updates in my Facebook newsfeed from women reading 50SOG, usually from the same women whose posts are frequently populated by motivational affirmations about how important it is to just be patient until just the right man comes along and trust that God has just the right mate for them in mind.

At least they're engaging with the written word, I suppose. Maybe it will be a gateway book to empowering literature.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:34 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's super trashy, comes from a questionable literary trend, gers really pory, and the author is something of a creep?

(Downloads to Kindle)

Ooh. It's almost as good as Flowers in the Attic!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:41 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Phalene: "Devil's Bargain"

I went to look this book up on Amazon and there are so many romance novels with that title so I couldn't find it and now I'm sad
posted by subbes at 8:48 PM on July 6, 2012


I'm calling dibs on "Fifty Shades of Crochet," a new fanfic exploring the seedy underbelly of the world of yarn arts. The first chapter takes place in a basement of a Hobby Lobby managed by one Smithson May, a manipulative thousandaire who lures Fantasia Oatmeal into surrendering her knitting needles for a single crochet hook. At some point in the book, it is revealed that Smithson May was severely damaged by an abusive childhood in which he never learned to bind off properly. SPOILER ALERT: There will be amigurumi.

Welcome to my craft room.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:04 PM on July 6, 2012 [28 favorites]


It'll get ravelry reviews



(Ravelry! Get it? Ravelry? Rave?
Awww yeah.)
posted by subbes at 9:11 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I'm looking for a pair of addi Turbo 16" circulars, size 7." Fantasia blushed as the words tripped from her tongue; she was ashamed to ask for such an indulgence.
Smithson met her eyes and his face betrayed a knowing look that made Fantasia feel as though she'd been caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
"I've seen you in here before. Let me ask you something; do you want a regular vanilla project with no kinky fuckery at all? Or do you want to experience what it feels like to own something...to control it...using the power of only one hand."
Fantasia could feel her mysterious ladybits burn hot as Smithson's gaze joined hers.
"Show me." Fantasia pleaded. "Show me your magic wand."
"Not yet. You have to earn it."
"GIVE ME THE HOOK" Fantasia begged desperately.
"Miss Oatmeal, I do believe you are making my palm twitch." With those words, Smithson let Fantasia into his craft room, and locked the door. Her surrender was complete.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:38 PM on July 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


I don't even know what you people are arguing about. Who cares about sexuality? The book sounds hilariously bad, and I gleefully read its critical takedown just as I would read a takedown on the works of Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, or Adam Sandler.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:37 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am late to this thread, but: As someone who slogged through the first book (not for leisure, let the record show), I actually think a film adaptation will be radically superior to the book for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that films have editors.

A lot of what's terrible about the writing is how repetitive it is. The phrase "his lips quirk up" occurs 12 times, "my lips quirk up" occurs once, "his mouth quirks up" occurs 4 times, "my mouth quirks up" once, and there's a bonus "he quirks an eyebrow." Even Zooey Deschanel would say that is too much quirking. Lips "twitch" eight times. "He shakes his head" 20 times. Someone acknowledges that Ana is biting her lip 31 times. There are 39 instances of "holy crap" and 19 instances of "holy cow." Ana mentions her "inner goddess" 52 times and her "subconscious" 80 times. "Christian Grey" (the name, not the rakish billionaire) appears 279 times.

Even if the screenplay only fixed the repetition, that would push it from egregious to just regular bad. Cast Alexander Skarsgård and, oh, Elizabeth Olsen in there, and maybe we're approaching tolerability.

Yes, I know film editors don't edit the scripts.
posted by Charity Garfein at 10:38 PM on July 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Okay, so, I read all three of these stupid, stupid books.

Also, I am kinky.

Here's why I think the books are stupid, not worth reading, and deserve all the derision that they get: because now uninformed people think that this is what BDSM is all about, and that the things in these books are the things that get me off, and that I must be a childhood abuse victim just like Christian Grey because only abuse victims get off on this stuff. Because publishers will assume that all women get moist for this tripe, and more of it will be produced (which is already happening, there are weird spinoffs of this shit showing up on shelves already), and the ladyporn market will be just iterations of this sad, 5th grader level "erotica". Because if I say I don't like it, people will flip me shit for being sexist because I don't require the same high standards for "male" porn. (Bullshit, how can you say that if you aren't living inside my head and reading my thoughts?).

If you haven't read it, don't bother defending it until you finish the third book. And then, if you still feel like there is anything there worth defending, have at it. But until then, maybe don't flail around claiming that people are being anti-feminist or whatever by not liking this shit, because that's what it is. It is shit.
posted by palomar at 10:49 PM on July 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


All the girls at work are reading this. It's one of those unbroachable topics, "Hey, what's my coworker's taste in pornography? No doubt our ten year age difference will make this conversation so much less awkward!"
posted by klangklangston at 10:51 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ooooh, generalized fanfiction hate! I read the article and first few comments, and started to formulate a long defense of my tastes. Because a few fanfics I've read have stuck with me for years afterwards, even after I no longer care about the works they were based on, and it sorta hurts to see them roundly dismissed just because they're (omigod) fanfics.

But other people have already made the Sturgeon's Law point better than I could. I want to focus instead on the 90+%, the stuff that, when I started typing this, I felt I had to shit on too in order to gain credibility.

Yeah, crappy work is almost by definition not worth reading. But do people really deserve ridicule for WRITING it, or for enjoying it if they have a different definition of "crap" than you do? It's a HOBBY. It really sucks that our society considers people who engage in active hobbies they're not good at to be losers. I think it's a major reason Americans are so unhealthy: after middle school, most of us who aren't good enough to make a team stop playing sports entirely. It's even worse for creative pursuits, because it's somehow inconceivable that people might make things for the joy of doing so, and/or to connect with their communities (fandom or otherwise). No, they must be churning out crap because they think they're GREAT ARTISTS. And that delusion needs to be CORRECTED with ridicule. That way they can go back to passively consuming their media, and we can get back to lower-level shaming them for being lazy.
posted by randomname25 at 11:04 PM on July 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


I just wish more people would pick up Kushiel's Dart. Or just go download some good fanfiction porn. I've always had a fair amount of success finding it. Maybe it's just that my genres are usually video games? Do those have better writing? Or maybe I have low standards. Or maybe it's just that the JRPGs I like usually have decent doujinshi, which works as sort of supplementary fanfic.
posted by NoraReed at 11:23 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's plenty of comments as to how and why this is being singled out due to its themes in a way other works weren't, but I don't think it is really. It's a broad-selling new and sudden cultural phenomenon, and so it's going to be talked about. That having been said, the examinations of BDSM and feminism by most of its reviewers no more marks any real concern or interest in those topics than the discussions of Catholicism and conspiracy did when Dan Brown ruled the earth.
posted by Palindromedary at 11:36 PM on July 6, 2012


Is this a good time to mention the other Shades of Gray--written by one of the guys who invented the digital camouflage currently used by the U.S. military?

Aaah, maybe not . . .
posted by flug at 11:56 PM on July 6, 2012


All the girls at work are reading this. It's one of those unbroachable topics, "Hey, what's my coworker's taste in pornography? No doubt our ten year age difference will make this conversation so much less awkward!"

You should sue for a hostile work environment. Given the advance of e-readers, you may never have another such opportunity. Here are some tips!

Seriously, hostile work environments are typically a way bigger problem for women than for men, and you don't seem terribly bothered by this; all the same, you could make a case that having these books being visibly consumed all over the workplace makes you feel uncomfortable, and you have a right to a workplace free of sexual tension. So perhaps you could bend your employers over a desk and punish them. In a sexy, sexy fashion, of course.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:24 AM on July 7, 2012


Well, Dr. Zira, I am pretty sure parts of Ravelry count as fan communities. The language used is certainly startlingly similar at times.

I remember seeing a project page going "When I’m knitting a [famous male knitting designer & photographer] pattern, I feel like he’s making love to me. When I finish a [famous male knitting designer & photographer] pattern, I feel like I just gave birth to his child."

(I'd suggest she'd been doing love-making all wrong, but there you go)

Next step would be to make tiny crochet versions of [famous male knitting designer & photographer] and other craft celebrities, then write stories about what the dolls get up to. Oh god, this is way too easy to imagine. It is already happening somewhere, isn't it?
posted by kariebookish at 1:11 AM on July 7, 2012


I picked it up in a book store and read a few randomly selected pages. I could not believe how bad the writing was. It's really, really execrably terrible. And it got published. And it sells like crazy. I hate people.
posted by Decani at 2:07 AM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know about this. This is another reason why fan fiction bothers me. I feel like it's just another form of media consumption, a step above the normal, passive mode, but still operating inside the space and cultural value of a pre-existing work. A "My Little Pony" story is still a "My Little Pony" work.

That only matters if you believe that only content (make me sic) sanctioned by the rights holders is real. But of course that's not the way actually existing culture has ever operated. Writers, artists, creative people have always worked with other people's settings and characters, from Gilgamish on onwards all the way to the latest MLP/ Twilight crossover.

Quality is a red herring in this.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:19 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


That only matters if you believe that only content (make me sic) sanctioned by the rights holders is real.

Which is also no promise of quality. I have two bookcases filled with Dr Who novels that attest to that.

Writers, artists, creative people have always worked with other people's settings and characters, from Gilgamish on onwards all the way to the latest MLP/ Twilight crossover.

And Alan Moore. Don't forget LXG!
posted by Mezentian at 2:34 AM on July 7, 2012


Science fiction is not summed up by Golden Age pulps and Golden Age pulp imitations. Most people who don't know much about SF name-check Asimov, lasers, space babes, pointy rocket ships and libertarianism and maybe tentacled aliens, and that's pretty much it.

To be honest, there is a large and vocal minority of sf fans for whome science fiction should be all about that and who are still angry about how the New Wave betrayed science fiction, even though they were born twenty years afterwards.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:35 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll comment on this, even if I couldn't care less, because everybody else is doing it (and everybody else is reading the book so I want to fit in otherwise I'll be miserable because being contrarian sucks anyway, it's conformity switched).

I'll take some parts of the book and comment it, from the very first line:

"I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Damn my hair" : mirror, enemy of the females, and second enemy, hair.

"it just won’t behave, and damn Katherine Kavanagh for being ill and subjecting me to this ordeal" : it's not my fault I am miserable, damn bitch. That makes me feel less miserable of an anxious trainweck, actually!

"I should be studying for my final exams, which are next week, yet here I am trying to brush my hair into submission. I must not sleep with it wet. I must not sleep with it wet. Reciting this mantra several times, I attempt, once more, to bring it under control with the brush" Keyword: submission, "it wet"", control, pop psy analysis.

Nough already.
posted by elpapacito at 3:22 AM on July 7, 2012


A lot of what's terrible about the writing is how repetitive it is. The phrase "his lips quirk up" occurs 12 times, "my lips quirk up" occurs once, "his mouth quirks up" occurs 4 times, "my mouth quirks up" once, and there's a bonus "he quirks an eyebrow." Even Zooey Deschanel would say that is too much quirking. Lips "twitch" eight times. "He shakes his head" 20 times. Someone acknowledges that Ana is biting her lip 31 times. There are 39 instances of "holy crap" and 19 instances of "holy cow." Ana mentions her "inner goddess" 52 times and her "subconscious" 80 times. "Christian Grey" (the name, not the rakish billionaire) appears 279 times

Some years back a friend did an automated style analysis of the novel he'd just finished, and sent out the results. He learned, among other things, that he'd used "tower[ed/ing]" and "darkly" far too often, and far, far too often they'd been combined as "tower[ed/ing] darkly".

Ever since then, every new project he or anyone in our circle of friends embarks upon has a darkly towering phase....

Also, this is one of the funnier threads in my recent mefi memory.
posted by lodurr at 4:32 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm calling it Fifty Shades of Yayyyyyy.

Fifty Shades of Neigh, surely.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 4:39 AM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember seeing a project page going "When I’m knitting a [famous male knitting designer & photographer] pattern, I feel like he’s making love to me. When I finish a [famous male knitting designer & photographer] pattern, I feel like I just gave birth to his child."

Whaaaat oh holy crap what is this.

(Especially because if it's the famous male knitting designer and photographer I'm thinking of, he's openly gay. Which probably shouldn't matter if she's stuck on knitting as making love, but somehow it does.)
posted by kalimac at 5:01 AM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Science fiction is not summed up by Golden Age pulps and Golden Age pulp imitations. Most people who don't know much about SF name-check Asimov, lasers, space babes, pointy rocket ships and libertarianism and maybe tentacled aliens, and that's pretty much it."

They are just jealous of our jetpacks.

Hal Duncan has written a good defense of "genre fiction" in general on his blog, in response to this Guardian article.
The avant-garde tradition was at the heart of "genre fiction" long before magical realism snuck its scrummy sandwich of strangeness up onto that ascetic's pillar of privilege and began sating appetites disregarded by contemporary realism. Funny enough, while some intransigent blowhards maintain the delusion that to be truly serious as a writer one just must write contemporary realism, the public starved by that thin gruel, lacking not plot per se but rather viscerality, has slowly made it quite clear that they'd really quite like something different now, please. Not more of the same. That's a demand "genre fiction" has been supplying from the outset, not just in the superficial novelty of fresh conceits that is a selling point for science fiction and fantasy, but in the innovations of form that happen as an idiom argues with its history.

There's only so long you can feed people melodrama muted to a low drone before they drift away.
Of course it is absolutely ridiculous to say that SciFi is inherently inferior to '

China Mieville also has some interesting things to say about writing genre fiction in this interview (starts at 17:40), and the advantages this can have - genre restrictions as 'engines' that can drive a novel.
posted by ts;dr at 5:09 AM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


(oops, apparently I did not totally remove this sentence. An edit-option would surely be nice!)
posted by ts;dr at 5:12 AM on July 7, 2012


I really enjoy reading Hal Duncan's rants, but by his example "literary fiction" is a tautology, not an oxymoron.
posted by lodurr at 5:23 AM on July 7, 2012


... btw, if you ever have trouble explaining the concept of marked categories to someone, you could do worse than pointing them to that Hal Duncan piece ts;dr linked/quoted.
posted by lodurr at 5:37 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If it hasn't already been posted (couldn't see it above): One Shade Of Grey.
posted by ZsigE at 6:06 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm plenty kinky, but I think that the criticisms of 50 Shades for being unrealistic in its portrayals of BDSM are just silly. Erotica is always unrealistic. In the real world people have to worry about STIs and condoms, guys can't get it up, people fart while having oral sex or just plain smell bad that day.

In fiction, you can work out all afternoon in the blazing sun, jump in the sack with a total stranger without needing to shower first, have bareback sex with mutual orgasms, and then adjust your clothes and go to the dinner party with no concern about spooge dribbling down your leg. Everyone is hard and/or wet at the right moment, no one queefs, and things are hawt hawt hawt.

It's fantasy, it's not supposed to be realistic, any more than it is realistic in the spy novel to have the hero know how to climb a building, pick a lock, crack a computer code, and not get his tuxedo wrinkled. Realism is the wrong metric to measure this kind of genre fiction against, and I would say doing so seriously misses the point. There's a huge demand for semi-erotic fiction with rapey sex written for women that goes back many, many decades (maybe thousands of years, depending on how you look at the classics, I guess); it's entire point is about non-realism.
posted by Forktine at 6:16 AM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think a big part of this phenomenon was literary success porn. Everyone dreams of drooling on a piece of paper and having this kind of success. When the books were first coming out in the US, most of the people I talked to really had no idea what they were about-- just that they had something to do with Twilight and were the next big thing. Then they actually read it and felt like, "Any ding-dong could write that. I could write that." You may not be able to mentally insert yourself into the BDSM part of the story, but the fantasy of being that writer going that far on such a kid-like idea is a different story.

I also think it's hilarious that the main character's name in Secretary is also Mr. Grey.
posted by BibiRose at 6:42 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I doubt it's going to be as successful with the mommy porn set since Rice actually demonstrates an ability to write.

Wow. That's the most misogynistic comment in the thread.

Thanks, but I'm about as far from being a misogynist as E. L. James is from being a writer. The term "mommy porn" is probably demeaning to some women in the same way "chick flick" is, but it's the term that the FSoG books seem to have popularized. I'm hardly a connoisseur of erotica but I can recognize that there is a major qualitative difference between the two works. While there may be some intersection between ardent fans of FSoG and admirers of Rice's work, I stand by my belief that it's probably a relatively small group.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:43 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jane Eyre is being slandered in this thread!
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:50 AM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I haven't read the books- I have less than no interest- but aren't they just modern versions of "the Story of O", or The Sleeping Beauty Series? Women being dominated by men is nothing new... and, considering the current status of women in the western world, I'm actually a little concerned about the popularity of male-Dom BDSM this seems to be trying to evoke- call me paranoid, but it seems more in keeping with the status quo that breaking out of it.

But like I said, I didn't read the books
posted by windykites at 6:58 AM on July 7, 2012


This is another reason why fan fiction bothers me. I feel like it's just another form of media consumption, a step above the normal, passive mode, but still operating inside the space and cultural value of a pre-existing work. A "My Little Pony" story is still a "My Little Pony" work.

This is true for all of human-created everything. Nothing exists without context. You don't get protest songs without the context of political frustration. You don't get Ulysses without the Odyssey or Finnegans Wake without a bunch of Irish drinking songs.

In a nutshell, what you've just described is culture: this is how it forms, when people gather around something, anything, doesn't matter, and create something new together. And what you've also just described is cultural elitism, which is to say whatever yooooou do with yoooooour time is so much better than those people whose culture is Twilight and Ponies and don't these people realize they could be doing so much better with their time?

What you've missed is that culture is about the people in it rather than the origins. Just like you can start with "everybody be nice to everybody" and end up with fundamentalist Christianity, you can too start with a media product and end with a loving, caring, close-knit community of people who found a way to come together around a passion. There is a question somewhere of what it says that so many people come together over media rather than philosophy or whatever, but it's a stupid question asked by stupid people and the answer is most people don't feel the need to do more than have fun with friends and that's perfectly all right.

Also, I apparently know jack shit about sci-fi and I'm okay with that but Orson Scott Card and Isaac Asimov both wrote fantastic books and are among my favorite authors, and all this condescension aimed their way makes me want to start stranglin' things in a non-BDSM kind of way.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:01 AM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


The model: Jane Eyre. Timid Jane meets commanding real man...he is blinded and ends up dependent upon her...she wins....romance books all like that and women get off on it.

Jane isn't timid. She's actually really ballsy and stands up for what she believes in. She strives to be independent of Mr. Rochester even at the height of their romance.

Seriously, you are slandering poor Jane and I won't have it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:25 AM on July 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


Also:
The model: Jane Eyre. Timid Jane meets commanding real man...he is blinded and ends up dependent upon her...she wins....romance books all like that and women get off on it.


AAAAAAAUGH NO NO NO!!!


Have you actually read Jane Eyre? She's an incredibly strong, self-determined, even contrary person who, throughout her life, refuses to do anything not in line with her value system- so much so that she leaves Mr. Rochester, the man she loves enough that SHE proposed to HIM, when he asked her to be his mistress (which was against her values) and overcomes homelessness and all sorts of trials!

Jane was a lot of things, but "timid" is not one of them! Did you see the way that she stood up to that awful aunt of hers?

The reason that Mr. Rochester fell in love with her was that she had character enough to stand up to him when he was being a tool! Please don't talk about my Jane that way!
posted by windykites at 7:30 AM on July 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


whoops: what the young rope-rider said
posted by windykites at 7:31 AM on July 7, 2012


Ha, it's worth saying twice. I've gathered from the forewords/author notes in the beginning of the book that Jane Eyre was quite controversial in its time as well, although I haven't done more research than that.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:57 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Writers, artists, creative people have always worked with other people's settings and characters, from Gilgamish on onwards all the way to the latest MLP/ Twilight crossover.

and i had thought my Gilgamesh Goes to Blow Buddies had safely fallen off the internet archive
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:21 AM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do we know when the zombie version is coming out?

50 Shades of Grey Matter?
posted by Foosnark at 8:28 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


>>I'm calling it Fifty Shades of Yayyyyyy.

>Fifty Shades of Neigh, surely.


No, the reference is to an episode in which Fluttershy is trying to learn how to cheer properly, but can only manage a very quiet "yayyy."

This is part of the appeal of fan fiction. Both the author and reader come to the table already knowing a great deal about the characters and the universe, so a lot of shorthand can be used (as in that proposed title.)

The flip side of that is when those preconceptions are subverted, as in the infamous MLP fanfic "Cupcakes," where the author takes the party animal Pinkie Pie from "wacky crazy" to "psychotic crazy." You need to know the original universe to even see what the author has done. (That one has spawned several fan works itself.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:05 AM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


The characterization of Jane as "timid" did disservice to the work, but if you correct the characterization the correspondence is even stronger. The "better" female-oriented BDSM erotica generally involves a fairly strong heroine whose nevertheless dominated and likes it. Then you get the reversal of fortune that puts her on top.

(Compare of course to male-oriented BDSM erotica which just eliminates the reversal part of the plot.)

So, Jane Eyre is not itself the template; the template is what it seems to immediately inspire people to create, which is a sort of latent-image version of it that includes Jane's proxy giving in to Rochester.
posted by lodurr at 9:35 AM on July 7, 2012


I was going to stick up for Jane Eyre as well, but the young rope-rider and windykites beat me to it.

I'll just add that Adrienne Rich has a great essay on why Jane Eyre is actually a feminist work. Rich rightly points out that the book is so much more than Jane's encounters with Rochester. The Thornfield section is only a little over a third of the book, and its treated as the only part that matters.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 9:40 AM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Thornfield section is only a little over a third of the book, and its treated as the only part that matters.

Right. This is really important. When people get down on Jane Eyre they're really not getting down on the work, but on the way that the work is presented. There are ways that it seems to resonate in popular culture that are more or less antithetical to what seems to be its intended reading. Which is really kind of fascinating.
posted by lodurr at 9:44 AM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks, but I'm about as far from being a misogynist as E. L. James is from being a writer. The term "mommy porn" is probably demeaning to some women in the same way "chick flick" is, but it's the term that the FSoG books seem to have popularized. I'm hardly a connoisseur of erotica but I can recognize that there is a major qualitative difference between the two works. While there may be some intersection between ardent fans of FSoG and admirers of Rice's work, I stand by my belief that it's probably a relatively small group.

I'm not complaining specifically about the use of "mommy porn set" although it is incredibly condescending. I'm taking issue with your implication that once a woman has birthed a child, she can't possibly understand a book with good writing.
posted by Joh at 9:57 AM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


to beat up on Jane a little more: If you think for a minute about films as fanfic for the work they're adapting (considering the degree of modification that's often involved, I think it's a fair exercise, at least), then consider what they mean w.r.t. what people take away from the book. The film is generally going to be a male product, but it has to be marketable to a presumptively female audience, so it's going to pick up the parts that are deemed most important to its presumptive audience, and shed the parts that most offend or threaten (or bore) the male developer.
posted by lodurr at 10:00 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is part of the appeal of fan fiction. Both the author and reader come to the table already knowing a great deal about the characters and the universe, so a lot of shorthand can be used (as in that proposed title.)

I think this gets at the question of whether you are trying to reach a broad audience (which includes those who don't know the source material) or not. I'm sure one could call the movie Clueless Jane Austen fan fiction, but it can be seen and enjoyed (or not, depending on one's taste in movies) by someone who has never even heard of Jane Austen. Someone who knows Austen is going to "get" the movie at another level, but the movie doesn't require that.

The small amount of capital-F-fan fiction I have read doesn't do that. If you don't know the source material, you aren't going to get what's going on.
posted by Forktine at 10:05 AM on July 7, 2012


Arguably Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine" is little more than Bowie fanfiction: Haynes takes key elements from Bowie's life and career, sprinkles in Oscar Wilde, borrows structure from Citizen Kane, adds a touch of Orwell and - hey presto - a film that never mentions Bowie but is a fictional taleabout David Bowie. Haynes even adds two little girls re-enacting scenes with dolls, in case anybody wonders.

Just thought I'd throw that one into the fanfiction debate: sometimes fanfiction is done by pros too. Incidentally I know the film is flawed, but I love the hell out of it.
posted by kariebookish at 10:37 AM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Obviously the film would've been a huge success if only Curt Wild had creeped on Brian Slade while he was sleeping and then stolen the engine out of his car so he couldn't go hang out with friends.
posted by elizardbits at 11:12 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obviously the film would've been a huge success if only Curt Wild had creeped on Brian Slade while he was sleeping and then stolen the engine out of his car so he couldn't go hang out with friends.

Whatever leads to more fucking on rooftops is fine by me.
posted by The Whelk at 11:16 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no fucking because Curt wants Brian to wait til they are married but Brian won't marry Curt until Curt makes him a vampire but Curt won't make Brian a vampire until they are married but Brian doesn't want to get married at 18 because he's afraid everyone will think he is pregnant and that offends him because they haven't even had sex yet because Curt wants to wait until they are married.
posted by elizardbits at 11:33 AM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


wait, at some point do they team up to fight aliens?
posted by The Whelk at 11:37 AM on July 7, 2012


Alastair Campbell, Jenny Colgan, AL Kennedy, Will Self and Jeanette Winterson have had a go at writing an erotic scene for the bestseller lists.
posted by adamvasco at 11:43 AM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


LA Review of Books:Gioconda Belli on Fifty Shades of Grey: The Illusion of Sex
The history of sex is also a literary history. From Catulo and Sappho to Candy and Fanny Hill or the Marquis de Sade and Story of O, the way we make love owes a lot to our curiosity, to the voyeuristic side of our nature and the many forms of artistic representation that allow us to peek into the forbidden or daring practices of others. Clothes, movies, porn sites and the like do their part, but books are still unrivaled in their capacity to evoke fantasies and fuel the erotic imagination. A book does not allow the reader to be just an observer; it requires the intrinsic complicity of the mind, which stages a mental production based on the often sparse notes of the author, fantasies woven by words forcing the reader to bring into play his or her own desires or experiences.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:46 AM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sorry to harp on the Jane Eyre topic, but she did not give in to Mr. Rochester. She never gave in to Mr. Rochester. He gave in to her. Their entire relationship was almost completely on her terms. I think people are mistaking Mr. Rochester's curmudgeonly nature for something else. Jane enjoyed engaging in battle with him, but she rarely took a submissive position in their relationship.
posted by windykites at 11:47 AM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


wait, at some point do they team up to fight aliens?

no but toni colette is a werewolf and eddie izzard is a middle aged native american man in a wheelchair.
posted by elizardbits at 11:51 AM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


windykites, I understand your interpretation; that's a good literal interpretation. But I'd raise 2 points in response:

First, one of the common feminist readings of the ending, though, is that it perpetuates the woman-as-caregiver / helpless-male trope: She ends up responsible for everything. Yes, she's in-power, but she's not really empowered because now she's his mommy.

Second, is that when people talk about the Jane:Rochester relationship, they often emphasize his dominance, and there's something of a tradition of appealing to Jane Eyre in the plot of female-sub dominance narratives.
posted by lodurr at 11:59 AM on July 7, 2012


wait, is Toni Colette Curt or Brian?
posted by lodurr at 12:00 PM on July 7, 2012




Fifty Shades of Neigh, surely.

No

The Internets: Serious Business.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Seriously, hostile work environments are typically a way bigger problem for women than for men, and you don't seem terribly bothered by this; all the same, you could make a case that having these books being visibly consumed all over the workplace makes you feel uncomfortable, and you have a right to a workplace free of sexual tension. So perhaps you could bend your employers over a desk and punish them. In a sexy, sexy fashion, of course."

I'm mostly bothered by the snobbish impulse to point out that I have better taste in porn, which I can't act upon because they've shown no interest in asking me what kind of porn I like. At least with my superior taste in music, I can shoehorn in discussions of Wire and Can without being quite as gauche.
posted by klangklangston at 12:25 PM on July 7, 2012


Lodurr, I find myself intrigued by these unfamiliar perspectives. Might I trouble you for some links?
posted by windykites at 12:48 PM on July 7, 2012


As for the first, I'd have to dig to find something -- that's based on my discussions over the years with various friends, girlfriends, wife, etc. Lit is not my field. (I'd say it's a common reading, not the dominant one. The dominant one, I think, is yours.)

As for the second, I'm really talking about when people have name-checked Jane Eyre in other works, or in reviews of movies that involve a female-sub plotline. So I'd have to dig up links on those, too.

Guess I'm saying I'm not prepared to push this point further if it means that much work on my part. Sorry.....
posted by lodurr at 1:19 PM on July 7, 2012


I'm not complaining specifically about the use of "mommy porn set" although it is incredibly condescending. I'm taking issue with your implication that once a woman has birthed a child, she can't possibly understand a book with good writing.

I'm sorry if it came across that way. That wasn't my intent.
posted by fuse theorem at 2:23 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's ok. I rarely have a chance to discuss lit with anyone, but I'm sure I can do some digging.
posted by windykites at 6:16 PM on July 7, 2012


Gay NASCAR driver fanfic would sell sell sell

We're halfway there already.
posted by Evilspork at 6:45 PM on July 7, 2012


I haven't read this, I'm not going to because I suspect it to be retrogressive crap, but I don't really see the point in railing against other people's tastes in art. The Unwashed Masses have spoken after all.
posted by biochemicle at 7:10 PM on July 7, 2012


my apologies to any moose mefites

Møøfites
posted by zippy at 7:51 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gay NASCAR driver fanfic would sell sell sell

We're halfway there already.


I'm not going to name names but someone sent me this.
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read all 3 of the 50 shade books. Under duress. Seriously, my inner goddess was tied to a chair and my inner Christopher Walken was reading fairy tales to her...I had to do what I was told to do.

I began my journey into suburban erotica hopeful, ebullient that the puritanical nation had embraced the wild side; that soon copies of Henry Miller and Aubrey Beardsley would be seen on the park benches, lovers of Reage and Sade would find fellowship with lovers of Drake and Burroughs...but mostly; I just wondered what word E.L.James had found to describe the vagina that didn't make suburbanites get all "ooh, now it's icky!" about the porn.

And do you know how she did it? But not really mentioning it at all. I think "vagina" might appear a few times; but most of the time it is "her sex" or "where her thighs join"... And her expressions of blissful orgasm? "Holy Moses". No. Really. I swear to you, I didn't make that up.

By the second book; I skipped through the sex scenes. Not, as one might imagine, because they were too prurient for my gentle heart; but because they were "anti-sex"...in that they had the direct and opposite reaction of making me want the beast with two backs. In fact, I think I may have contemplated the nunnery.

By the third book; I was begging for people to put me out of my misery. I prayed to the ascended spirits of Sherwood and Farniente that the burden be lifted from my shoulders...but it was not to be. Sad and hopeless; I slogged through to the end. But wait? An epilogue? Oh dear god, a prequel? No. No. Just NO. It would take a Clockwork Orange Device to make me read any more.


The plot...yeah; it had one...in the loosest sense of the word. Hopeless, bad fashion sense, beautiful but doesn't know it klutz falls (literally) into the office and life of gorgeous, cruel, sexual predator stalker who thinks he's a Dom.

Stalker stalks. Sobbing no-self-esteem girl knows it's love. Signs a non-disclosure agreement, agrees to become a sub...THEN mentions that she's a virgin. Because, of course she is.

Blah, blah blah, helicopter, obsession, rich stalker does rich stalker things; she believes him when he says she deserves to be punished for thinking, or dressing, or talking to anyone without permission. She asks him to whip her, he does, she runs away...end book one.

Book Two: Everyone is miserable. Stalker dude does stalker things. Girl misses stalker. Stalker stalks girl. Stalker and Girl get back together, because that's what you do with stalkers, right? Then Stalker's ex subs come back, tension! Older woman who originally beat Stalker...tension! Turns out, Stalker likes to beat women who look like his dead drug addict birth mother. Well, that's alright then. Girl agrees to marry stalker, since she looks just like his dead drug addict mother.

Book three: Oh dear god, in the name of Lady Chatterley, why? Ok...Gazillionaire Stalker and HotMessGirl are married and on their honeymoon. GS gets mad because HMG falls asleep without her top on a topless beach. To punish her, he covers her in bruises so she can't wear a bathing suit for the rest of their honeymoon. To apologize for making him that mad, she goes and buys him a camera so he can take pictures of her shame. Lovely. And that's just the first 20 pages or so. There's another 500 to go, god help us.

So; yeah; fighting, HMG weeps a lot, then she turns up pregnant. Bad guy from book two reappears, kidnaps GS's sister, is rescued by HMG who SHOOTS him...yeah, don't even...just...yeah...she's in a coma or something, I dunno..in the end; he flogs her while she's pregnant; they buy a big house, pop out a couple of kids, and live happily ever after, under the thumb of GS.

I really, really, really don't understand the appeal of these books. I really don't. The plotting is tedious, the sex is laughable, the characters are people you would cross the street to avoid...mostly because they're one dimensional cardboard cutouts, and those are never any fun at cocktail parties.

I read them in the hopes that I would understand what it is that readers of modern porn are looking for; and I came away depressed and saddened. I could not have imagined a more 3-ring binder, plastic fast-food approach to erotica. May Maurice Girodias have mercy on the souls of those who promulgated this nonsense.
posted by dejah420 at 9:58 AM on July 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


If it's any consolation, we've profited from your sacrifice.
posted by lodurr at 10:13 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


That sounds horrendous.
posted by Miko at 10:15 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now I feel like I need to scrub my brain just from reading your description, dejah420.
posted by rtha at 10:34 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm going to plunge into some of the recommend fan fiction from the ask me thread to help cleanse myself after that dejah420 oh tony you have to be slower with steve he's an old fashioned guy
posted by The Whelk at 11:15 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


OMG, I totally forgot: HotMessGirl gets hired as an intern at a publishing company; the editor of which turns out to the be the bad guy in book three. Anyway, he aggressively presses his claims upon our heroine, who kicks him in the balls, then runs into the waiting arms and security crew of Gazillionaire Stalker.

Who...as it turns out...just purchased the publishing company. Because...yeah. So HMG naturally gets promoted from intern to Editor when EvilEditor is roughed up and thrown out by GS's security team of exmilitary power rangers.

Because, that's the career path when you give in to your stalker. He buys you a company, makes you the Editor even though you have no experience or business knowledge, and then has a giant snitty fit and storms over to terrorize your staff when you don't change your last name on the email system from your maiden name to your married name.

Because...love is terror and conceding to big bullying babies, am I right?
posted by dejah420 at 12:27 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am a member of the target audience for 50SoG. Many of the women on my mom board have read it. (I haven't, I have plenty of BDSM porn already.) All the self-identified kinksters hated it, were bored with the sex, thought it was terribly written. All the self-identified non-kinksters read it breathlessly and wrigglingly, pouncing their husbands every night.

Sounds like everyone comes out ahead, either snarking hilariously, or finally getting some decent sex. Win-win, right?
posted by msalt at 12:55 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why should we suddenly expect porn targeted at women, which happens to be in a different format but is most definitely still porn, to be that much better? Seems suspiciously like a double standard. Nobody expects Butt Pirate Sex Party MXXXIV1 to get an Oscar, so why are people upset that 50 Shades lacks serious literary merit?

It's the crossover to the mainstream market, and the implicit claim to respectability as literature. I think a better analogy on the male side would be "Deep Throat" or "Last Tango in Paris," which were championed as legit, free-thinking works of art that only prudes would object to. But probably no one here is old enough to remember when those were current.

Nancy Friday's books of sexual fantasies are an interesting comparison. Kind of the ultimate fan-fiction really, or even folk-art like Yeats' collections of leprechaun tales from around Ireland, since she just printed actual sexual fantasies that women (and then some men) mailed to her. Much more interesting and human than bad fiction, and much sexier. I'm sure they were incredibly empowering in their (pre-Internet) day, when there was no other way to know what regular people were thinking about sexually.
posted by msalt at 1:03 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Speaking of pony fan fiction, have a Jill Thompson mashup sketch of MLP and Death off off Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:07 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


But probably no one here is old enough to remember when those were current..
I´ll see your Deep Throat and raise you Behind the Green Door.
posted by adamvasco at 3:06 PM on July 8, 2012


MartinWisse, funny you should post that, just last night I was reading a pretty good story involving the Ponyworld Death. It starts out concerning the death of the drummer of a band called... wait for it... SPINAL CLOP.
posted by JHarris at 5:46 PM on July 8, 2012


Wait is Bad Guy from Book Three supposed to be the werewolf or the vampire with an uncanny resemblance to Tony Blair? I haz a confuse.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:35 PM on July 8, 2012


Speaking of MLP and Death, Binky Pie, my favorite MLPratchett fanfic.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:31 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


on the rocks, straight up

I'm pretty sure this is how I would order a drink if I were 15 and pretending to know what I was doing. Oh dear me.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:24 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I´ll see your Deep Throat and raise you Behind the Green Door.

Exactly. Just saying, I don't think anyone was being prudish to say that was a crap movie, and I don't think people are (necessarily) misogynist to say the 50 Shades series are crap books.
posted by msalt at 10:25 PM on July 8, 2012


Those of you who claim no one makes this much a fuss about mainstream porn: Raunch culture, anyone? Anti-porn/sex-negative feminists? Second wavers? :P
posted by divabat at 5:01 AM on July 9, 2012


My microphone died while I was trying to record my deep south 50 Shades voices. I tried, at least.
posted by codacorolla at 8:54 AM on July 9, 2012


Anti-porn/sex-negative feminists?

Metafilter is not necessarily the place to raise this kind of point, but being critical of porn as she is spoke is not in any way equivalent to being "sex-negative."

Lest you think this is just the middle-aged guy talking, this very subject came up in discussion between myself, my my wife, my queer-identified stepdaughter, and her lesbian-identified girlfriend. Daughter's words, more or less accurate: "There is a sex-positive position in favor of pornography, and it's well-founded and well-argued, but it totally runs aground when it comes to real porn."
posted by lodurr at 10:48 AM on July 9, 2012


The New Statesman - In defence of 'Fifty Shades of Grey'
That's it. That's all. Fifty Shades of Grey is porn, and porn can be quite fun. With the publishing industry in such choppy waters, I fail to understand why this record-pounding paperback has come in for extra-special derision all over the world, other than the fact that some people are appalled at the idea that somewhere out there, well over ten million women might be – whisper it – masturbating.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:45 PM on July 9, 2012


Gazillionaire Stalker and HotMessGirl

With names like this I can only say one thing:

Bring on the comic book version!
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:56 PM on July 9, 2012


HotMessGirl
You look so wild
HotMessGirl
Let's have a child
We'll name her Minnie Pearl
Just you and me, HotMessGirl
posted by lodurr at 12:58 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


With the publishing industry in such choppy waters, I fail to understand why this record-pounding paperback has come in for extra-special derision all over the world, other than the fact that some people are appalled at the idea that somewhere out there, well over ten million women might be – whisper it – masturbating.

I'm so glad women have finally found masturbation.
posted by Summer at 1:08 PM on July 9, 2012


meanwhile elsewhere on mefi...texts from Jane Eyre!
posted by lodurr at 1:22 PM on July 9, 2012


"I'm so glad women have finally found masturbation."

I think you're being ironic, but women in the US really have finally "found masturbation" in the last fifty years. It's a big and important cultural change and has had a huge impact on the rate of female anorgasmia.

Mind you, I'd not frame it as "finding masturbation" but, rather, reclaiming female sexuality in a way that had been systematically, culturally, and institutionally suppressed for a very long time.

And, even so, female masturbation still has a whiff of unacceptability (or even perversion) in our culture.

Yeah, it's been a long time since Single White Female, where the masturbation scene and its creepy soundtrack was a very strong signal that "this woman is a scary, perverted psycho" but it's still extraordinarily rare to ever get a reference to female masturbation in popular narratives as anything other than a signal for maladjustment or dissatisfaction — but, rather, such as just something that any random horny person might do (as is the case with men). Even Girls, of all shows, which I think is feminist in orientation, uses female masturbation as a signal for "something wrong with the relationship".

It's almost never portrayed as something normal women ever do, even when we live in a time when it's more and more the case that it is something that normal women often do. The cultural message against it is still pretty strongly present.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:56 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


lodurr: define "real porn". Also there are plenty of sex-positive people who critique porn in its various permutations (including porn producers & performers themselves!) and sex-negative feminists who think any porn whatsoever is terrible & the end of feminism blah blah. Heard them all.
posted by divabat at 4:13 PM on July 9, 2012


"I think a better analogy on the male side would be "Deep Throat" or "Last Tango in Paris," which were championed as legit, free-thinking works of art that only prudes would object to."

I remember trying to watch Last Tango In Paris and pretty much just forcing myself from the ass rape scene onward, and I remember remarking to my dad that for a famous, "important" work of art, it sure was shitty and self-indulgent. He said that he had only seen it once, on acid, and thought it was a comedy.
posted by klangklangston at 4:23 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


define "real porn"

What she meant by it was the majority of the pornography product that is manufactured for sale to men, which (according to her research) is generally produced by exploiting the labor of young women for a limited period of time, pandering to their desire for re-enactment of abuse trauma, and producing wildly inaccurate models for sexual performance and physical & emotional tolerance for abuse. Not to mention her analysis of key texts such as How to Make Love Like a Porn Star.

As I said, Metafilter is a bad place to raise this subject. I've learned that from experience. So that's as far as I'm going with it.
posted by lodurr at 6:22 PM on July 9, 2012




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