Category Archives: censorship

Goodreads; Badcensorship.

Some of you may know that as well as blogging about whatever the hell tickles my fancy over here, I also review books. Yes! It is true! To hell with you, all the kids that mocked me for reading too much in school; I’ve made a nice little lucrative (in a non-paying sense) career out of it on my beloved interwebs! I have two places that allow me to spew my book-related thoughts whenever I feel the need; Insatiable Booksluts and Snobbery. It’s the perfect gig for me; no deadlines, I get to read what I want, and I get to tell people about amazing (or, at times, NOT-amazing) books that I come across (and there’s nothing happier for a reader than when you recommend a book to the faceless masses and someone takes your recommendation, reads the book, and loves it as much as you do. It’s an amazing feeling.)

However, there are some books that I read that, for whatever reason, don’t make it to either site, Either I didn’t like them well enough to write a full review of them, or they just don’t fit either site. For those books, I write a quick review at Goodreads.

Goodreads is perfect for me; I can keep track of what I’m reading, I can socialize with other readers, and I can write quick reviews of books that don’t deserve the full-review treatment. This is as much for me as for everyone else. I read a lot, and I like to keep track of what I read. I used to have a spreadsheet, but I lost track of that when it got insanely long. I like the graphic aspect of Goodreads, as well – sometimes I don’t remember the title of a book, but I remember the cover. I can just scan through what I’ve read lately and pick it out of the list.

I’m not a rabble-rouser over there. I know there ARE rabble-rousers; trolls who do various things like bait authors into getting into fights, or bait other reviewers, or if – GASP! – you disagree with their evaluation of a book, call you names. NAMES! Can you even IMAGINE the HORROR!

I don’t get involved in the drama. I don’t care for that nonsense. I’m there to write reviews so people can make educated decisions of books before they purchase or read them, and for my own records. That’s all. That’s it.

Recently, Amazon purchased Goodreads. There was a LOT of uproar over this. Up until this point, Goodreads was an independent site for readers. How would the biggest online bookseller owning the site change things? People threatened to leave, and people left, and people moaned, and people groaned.

I’m a big Amazon fan (although I’m not blind to their issues; I just like their prices and convenience.) I decided to wait it out.

Well, Goodreads dropped the hammer last weekend. I assume only the first hammer. We are, I would guess, going to be nailed with so many hammers in the coming months that we’re going to want a platinum umbrella when we visit the site.

Right before leaving for the weekend, they put up the following announcement, but they didn’t make it obvious; they put it up in the forums, where as few people would see it as possible.

In case you don’t feel like clicking, here are some of the highlights:

“**Delete content focused on author behavior. We have had a policy of removing reviews that were created primarily to talk about author behavior from the community book page. Once removed, these reviews would remain on the member’s profile. Starting today, we will now delete these entirely from the site. We will also delete shelves and lists of books on Goodreads that are focused on author behavior. If you have questions about why a review was removed, send an email to support@goodreads.com. (And to answer the obvious question: of course, it’s appropriate to talk about an author within the context of a review as it relates to the book. If it’s an autobiography, then clearly you might end up talking about their lives. And often it’s relevant to understand an author’s background and how it influenced the story or the setting.)”

“To clarify, we haven’t deleted any book reviews in regard to this issue. The key word here is “book”. The reviews that have been deleted – and that we don’t think have a place on Goodreads – are reviews like “the author is an a**hole and you shouldn’t read this book because of that”. In other words, they are reviews of the author’s behavior and not relevant to the book. We believe books should stand on their own merit, and it seems to us that’s the best thing for readers.

“Someone used the word censorship to describe this. This is not censorship – this is setting an appropriate tone for a community site. We encourage members to review and shelve books in a way that makes sense for them, but reviews and shelves that focus primarily on author behavior do not belong on Goodreads. 

“Some people are perhaps interpreting this as you can’t discuss the author at all. This couldn’t be further from the case. The author is a part of the book and can certainly be discussed in relation to the book. But it has to be in a way that’s relevant to the book. Again, let’s judge books based on what’s inside them.

“Some people are concerned about their “not-interested” shelf or variants of that. We are not deleting those; you are free to keep cataloging books that way. We are deleting shelves like “author-is-a-jerk”, as they don’t fit our guiding principle that the book page be about the book.”

“Thank you for all the comments so far. One concern that has come up in this thread is that the content was deleted without those members first being told that our moderation policy had been revised. 

“In retrospect, we absolutely should have given users notice that our policies were changing before taking action on the items that were flagged. To the 21 members who were impacted: we’d like to sincerely apologize for jumping the gun on this. It was a mistake on our part, and it should not have happened.

“Anyone else with reviews or shelves created prior to September 21, 2013 that will be deleted under the revised policy will be sent a notification first and given time to decide what to do.”

OK, so let’s see what’s up here.

  • We’re no longer allowed to discuss authors when reviewing books. I know this SAYS it’s ok if it’s relevant to the book; we’ll discuss that in a minute.
  • Any reviews violating this rule will be deleted.
  • Any shelves labeled offensively toward the author? Also deleted.
  • Goodreads will be making these decisions. How? Arbitrarily, it seems.

Goodreads went around deleting things before even telling anyone they were doing it. They say it was only 21 people; more than 21 people are reporting it happened to them. Who’s to say who’s telling the truth, here? The big, bad company, now owned by Amazon, or people who aren’t getting paid and just love to read and write reviews?

Here’s my issue.

I understand if you review a memoir or an autobiography or sometimes even a collection of personal essays you’re probably going to have to touch on the author. Goodreads states very clearly here they won’t censor that (HA HA IT’S NOT CENSORSHIP! says Goodreads! We’re just telling you what you can and can’t say or do, and what to think! IT WAS A PLEASURE TO BURN!) but who knows what they’ll do. If they find it offensive, it’s gone.

It’s a nice thing, to say the author and his or her behavior and personal beliefs have nothing to do with a book; that it’s easy, just judge a book on the content, not the author. It’s an easy thing to say. It must be nice to live in such a black-and-white world.

However, I just read Ender’s Game.

And I can’t, in good conscience, review Ender’s Game on Goodreads.

Because I cannot, utterly cannot, divorce Ender’s Game from the beliefs of its author, Orson Scott Card. It would be a betrayal of my own beliefs, and a betrayal of a number of people I care about a great deal.

Would my review, among a veritable sea of reviews for the book (which was written in 1985) be a drop in the ocean? No. Not at all. But I don’t betray myself, not if I can help it.

So I’m going to review Ender’s Game here, because this is a safe place, and no one’s muzzling me on my own blog.

And as for Goodreads? I’ll continue using it, unless someone creates something comparable. There’s not another site out there that has the same functionality. But I think they need to stop fooling themselves: this is censorship, pure and simple. Not telling us what the rules are – or telling us, but not playing by them – and arbitrarily deleting our hard work because it doesn’t fit your rules, whatever they might be – this is censorship. Whether or not this was dictated by Amazon – my guess is yes, because it’s not good for a bookseller to have someone give bad reviews of books or authors, now, is it? – is irrelevant. We’re no longer welcome to share our real thoughts on things.

This scares the hell out of me, to be honest. To just do something like this, and think it’s ok? And to say no, no, this is not censorship?

Such a pleasure to burn.

I just finished Ender’s Game. Ender’s Game was a really wonderful book. I immediately got caught up in the story. I didn’t know what was going to happen; somehow, a book that’s almost thirty years old wasn’t spoiled for me, even though it’s a cult classic. There were two points at which I had actual tears.

Then what’s the problem, Amy? I can hear you asking. It was a good book! Yay! The world needs more of these!

The problem is that the author is a loathsome homophobe, and I can’t reconcile that with this book. It was bothering me the entire time I was reading.

Orson Scott Card doesn’t just disapprove of same-sex marriage and homosexuality. Orson Scott Card wants to BRING DOWN ANY GOVERNMENT THAT ALLOWS SUCH AN ABOMINATION. I wish I was kidding.

He also:

    • is a member of the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), on whose agenda are things such as fighting against marriage equality, gay adoption, safe schools for LGBT students and the gay “lifestyle” as a whole;
    • has called same-sex attraction “reproductive dysfunction”
    • stated “Normalizing a dysfunction will only make ours into a society that corrodes any loyalty to it, as parents see that our laws and institutions now work against the reproductive success (not to mention happiness) of the next generation”
    • has equated homosexuality with pedophilia, and stated, “The dark secret of homosexual society — the one that dares not speak its name — is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally”
    • wrote a lengthy essay titled “The Hypocrites of Homosexuality” in which he admonishes gay people as nothing more than people who are giving in to sin and states that anti-sodomy laws should remain on the books, making homosexuality illegal in the U.S.

In 1985, he wrote a beautiful book about, among other things, a child forced to grow up far too quickly, and the grownups around him who use him as a blunt weapon for their own ends. Ironically, he also loaded it with homosexual subtext. But hey, it’s much easier to be shouty about the HORROR! the HORROR! of teh EVIL GAYZ! than to deal with whatever he has going on in his own closet.

I can’t reconcile this book with this hate speech. This really is a beautiful book. It’s full of huge thoughts and themes. It’s kind of groundbreaking; I could name a ton of books that have taken the lead from what happened in this book. The characters were fully-fleshed and relatable. I loved Ender. Utterly adored him.

But the man that wrote it hates some of the people I love more than anyone in the world. And he’s loud about it. And the last thing we need in this day and age is someone who had a podium and had the nation’s ear (the movie of this book is coming out in a couple of months) shouting hate-speech.

The book was about how we ill-use our children; I’d argue that teaching them hate from a young age is ill-using them, Mr. Card.

I won’t be reading the rest of the series. This book ended perfectly. I don’t need any more of his books. I just can’t divorce the author from the work. It hurts to do so.

I’m glad I met Ender. And, for what it’s worth? He’d find his creator’s views repulsive. The character you created, sir, has more compassion and character than you do. And he’s fictional. Do you see the problem here?

(For more on the Goodreads controversy, please read sj’s take, This is Me. Getting involved., Emma Wolf’s take, Where capitalism and art intersect, and Charleen’s take, Goodbye to Goodreads?)

Sources:

Orson Scott Card’s Anti-Gay Views Prompt ‘Ender’s Game’ Movie Protest (Huffington Post)
Ender’s Game, Superman and Anti-Gay Bigotry (Huffington Post)


When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.

Dad yells at me all the time about this.

“THAT BLOG IS SUCKING UP YOUR LIFE!” he says. “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE WORLD AROUND YOU!”

Mostly he’s yelling because I don’t know what’s happening on Fox News, but he has a point. I don’t usually know what’s up in the world. I mean, if it’s something HUGE, I do. Because it gets posted on Facebook or something. Or someone is talking about it at work. Or Dad yells at me about not knowing about it when I call him. (Listen, though, a lot of what he yells about are things like “DON’T YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU HAVE A LIBRARY CARD THE GOVERNMENT TRACKS YOUR EVERY MOVE?” This explains, in Dad’s mind, why he doesn’t have a library card. I said, “Dad, you don’t read books, I think this explains why you don’t have a library card, not the government thing…” and he was all “NO NO GOVERNMENT TRACKERS!!!” so I dropped it.)

Oh, look at the old-fashioned card! I like this. I would like a hundred of these. I'd make them into wallpaper. Think of the history!

Oh, look at the old-fashioned card! I like this. I would like a hundred of these. I’d make them into wallpaper. Think of the history!

So we get to thank Mom for telling me about the news story I’m talking about today. Thank you, Mom, for understanding I don’t have time to watch the news. Well, I suppose I COULD watch the news. But it’s kind of depressing and if I do watch the news, I watch the local news. I like to know what’s happening around me, I guess. I used to keep up with the news on Twitter. I should probably get back into that someday. I miss you, Twitter, I’m sorry I’ve been ghosty. I’ll come back someday. I’ll put on a pretty dress and everything. Witty repartee. Sarcastic asides. It’ll be great.

Today, Mom said, “Did you hear someone got kicked out of school for poetry?” and NO, I had not heard that. (It was like a week ago. Probably you all know about this. I guess it was on the Today Show or something. Who watches the Today Show? People who work different shifts than I do. People who don’t work. I don’t know, I don’t watch the Today Show.)

So I looked it up on the internet. Which was kind of a difficult task because Mom was all, “It was a student from Vermont and it happened yesterday” and it was actually a student from California and it happened two days after Christmas…but it’s Mom, she has kind of a strange sense of reality at times. I don’t get it from the neighbors, you know.

So for those of you who aren’t in the world, like me, here’s the scoop.

A seventeen-year-old student in San Francisco wrote a poem about the school shooting in Connecticut. It wasn’t for an assignment. According to what I’ve read online, one of her teachers “found” it – I have no idea what that means, did she drop it? Leave it somewhere? Throw it away and the teacher pulled it out of the trash? I find this whole thing suspect – and was SO SHOCKED by the content she brought it to the administration. The student was promptly suspended, and it will be decided when school starts on Monday if she’s expelled or not.

What did she say, in this poem that wasn’t even turned in as part of an assignment?

“I understand the killings in Connecticut. I know why he pulled the trigger.”

The school said they have a “zero tolerance approach to violence, the threat of violence” and a “violation of any one of these rules can result in dismissal from school.”

They are also called the Life Learning Academy, so already I’m sure they’re some sort of crunchy granola hippie school, yo. They are also somewhere called “Treasure Island.” I feel like this is not a real school.

"We are often tossed, but we never sink." I feel like this is a euphemism for something.

“We are often tossed, but we never sink.” I feel like this is a euphemism for something.

OK, now, I’ve rambled a little bit. What thoughts have you got in your mind about this girl’s poem, hmm?

I don’t especially want to talk about the tragedy in Connecticut. I’ve avoided it up until now, for the most part.

Here’s the thing. Do you think everyone that writes not only believes everything they write, they act on everything they write? And do the school administrators believe that?

Even the seventeen-year-old girl was all, "It's like Stephen King. He doesn't act on everything HE writes." EVEN THE KID GETS THIS. COME ON, PEOPLE.

Even the seventeen-year-old girl was all, “It’s like Stephen King. He doesn’t act on everything HE writes.” EVEN THE KID GETS THIS. COME ON, PEOPLE.

The girl’s poem went on to talk about how we live in a society that causes such things to happen. It didn’t lionize a mentally-ill man who walked into a school and murdered people. It was a piece of creative writing. One, I think it is important to note (again), that she wrote for herself, not for a class assignment.

I write a lot of things I don’t publish. Things that aren’t for anyone’s eyes but mine. A lot of this stuff is so I can work out the twisty place that is my head. Some of it’s poetry, some of it’s diary-type stuff, some of it’s rambly shit, but it’s mine. And if anyone read it, I would ALSO probably be suspended. FROM ALL THE PLACES. And possibly LIFE.

Was she trying to work out in her mind how such a thing could have happened? Maybe.

Also, the girl was seventeen. The tortured poetry that came out of me when I was seventeen…well, I don’t know if anyone wants to talk about that. For the love of Pete, you all remember seventeen, right? EVERYTHING is doom and gloom and you push EVERYTHING to the edge and ALL THE THINGS SEEM SO SO SERIOUS AND DIRE. Seventeen! I wouldn’t go back there for all the money in the world. Or a date with Ewan McGregor, even.

"Not even for ME, Amy?" "No, not even you, my beloved Ewan. Not even you."

“Not even for ME, Amy?” “No, not even you, my beloved Ewan. Not even you.”

I don’t think she was saying she understood how someone could walk into a school and start shooting children. I think she was saying she understood how things could get to that point.

And I don’t think that’s any different from how hard it is for me, all these years later, to think or talk about what happened at Columbine, because as bad as I feel for everyone who died (and I do, oh, how I do, please don’t think I don’t) I feel bad for the two boys who were pushed far enough that one day they decided that the only way to make that stop was to take guns to school.

Because I’ve been pushed that far. I spend eight years of my life being pushed that far. I never brought a gun to school, but I’m not going to tell you I didn’t have some severely violent fantasies. You get pushed, you know? You just get pushed and pushed and pushed and you can’t do anything about it and you can’t get out of the situation and you start thinking thoughts that aren’t even your own. Crazy thoughts. Thoughts about self-harm and thoughts about harming others. And some people do that, and some don’t, and I’m not passing judgement on those of us who made it through that and those of us who didn’t. And the people that find it so easy to vilify bullied students who handle it in a violent way – well, I have to assume they’ve never been in that situation.

So could I have written a similar poem about Columbine? Yes. Absolutely.

Should this kid be kicked out of school for this? No. She should not. She didn’t walk around inciting violence. She had no history of violence. She wrote a poem. For (from what I can tell from these articles, although it’s strange and vague) herself. And now she’s facing expulsion.

Where do we draw the line? What are we teaching our kids with things like this? That censorship is ok? That they should keep things all bottled up inside? That certain things are ok and certain things are art and certain things aren’t? Not to create? Not to have feelings? That some feelings are valid and some are wrong?

Let's let her decide big questions like this for herself in college, ok? That's where big questions belong.

Let’s let her decide big questions like this for herself in college, ok? That’s where big questions belong.

I don’t know. I don’t know what to even say about this. She didn’t say people deserved to die; she didn’t celebrate death. She simply empathized. She said she understood how such things could happen in our society.

And in certain situations, I understand it as well. I think anyone who was bullied can’t help but put themselves in this situation.

She seems to be handling it well. She’s a self-possessed kiddo. Good for her. At seventeen, I would have been curled up in a little ball of weepery on the floor. (Or shouting at someone in charge. I randomly had rabble-rouser moments in my teens. Once I staged a huge sit-in because I thought something was unfair. Looking back, it was a ridiculous thing – they cancelled our class trip because of the misbehavior of the class before us, and I thought that was unfair to us, because WE weren’t the ones that misbehaved – but I was very good at leading people, apparently. Or people just wanted to not go to class. Or when I’m on a tear, I’m all kinds of charismatic. Because almost the entire class participated in that. And I was totally the one who got in trouble for organizing it. I’m still kind of proud of that.)

There was a lot of grown-up Amy hiding out in wee-Amy, waiting to get out and play. I like to think back on that and smile.

There was a lot of grown-up Amy hiding out in wee-Amy, waiting to get out and play. I like to think back on that and smile.

There are a lot of things wrong here in this country. We’re broken in a lot of ways. Let’s not compound that by stifling our artists, ok? Let’s not kill the dreamers and the thinkers and the creators. Let’s not do that. Because if we do that, if we take that step, we’re lost. If we  stifle all that is beautiful in the world, what’s left? A world I don’t want to live in. A world with nothing left to look forward to. A world with no hope left in it, like Pandora’s box if she didn’t close it quickly enough.

Let’s close the box before the hope gets out. We don’t have much left, we need to hang onto something.

(Title is a quote by Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Thought we should have a poet for the title today.)


“Truly, I am a marionette and he is a master puppeteer.”

Today we have to discuss something VERY SERIOUS. That affects ALL OF US. Are you ready? Are you ready for something very serious that affects all of us? 

What is it, Amy? What affects all of us? 

Bad porn, is what. 

Listen, I just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey, and people who purchased this and are reading this and are all het up about this, we need to have a discussion about why this is a VERY BIG MISTAKE ON YOUR PART. 

I’m not giving you the Amazon link to this because I DO NOT THINK YOU SHOULD BUY OR READ THIS.

Now, I am not a porn connoisseur. I couldn’t honestly care less about porn. I know it exists. As long as it’s not being waggled in children’s faces or the cause of crime against women or whatever, porn, you keep on keeping on. Everything has its place. Even porn. I’m a firm (heh, firm) believer that everyone has their kink, as as long as no one gets hurt, you do your thing. 

However, there’s PORN, then there’s Fifty Shades of Grey. 

Oh, don’t even get all technical with me and say it’s erotica, or even literotica. What it is, my little cauliflower florets, is one of the worst books I’ve ever read in my entire life. And I have read a LOT of books. A LOT a lot. 

First, can I just explain, please, why I read this book. It was on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and I didn’t even read the article and I was like, huh, must be interesting or something, and I put it on reserve at the library. Then I heard it was getting banned all over and I thought, well, NOW we KNOW it must be interesting! If someone tells me I’m not ALLOWED to read something, then I REALLY want to read it. Then people started telling me what it was about, and I thought, huh. Well, who cares, I don’t mind erotica. I read all of those stupid Ann Rice Sleeping Beauty books. Those were pretty steamy. 

Oh, in case you live under a rock or maybe in the outback or something, Fifty Shades of Grey is about two people in a consensual BDSM relationship. Plus some other stuff. We’ll go more into that later. Also, do I have to tell you that a., there are going to be spoilers here, and b., WE’RE TALKING ABOUT SEX STUFF TODAY? So kids, go watch a Disney movie, or something, and people who want to remain unspoiled for the book (I think most anyone who wanted to read it have by now, though) you can go read my archives or something, I suppose. 

See? Nice. Go watch this, kiddos. Don’t keep reading, you’ll get a complex.

Moving on. I was not at all comfortable with the older women in my office who decided to have a conversation about it with me in the lunchroom before I’d even read it, though. I’m not friends with these people. I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT SEX WITH YOU.

OIder lady 1: Amy, you like to read. Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey?
Me: Nope.
Older lady 1: You should. It’s about…(whispers) SEX.
Me: I’ve heard. I have it on reserve at the library. I’ll read it someday.
Older lady 1: All KINDS of sex. KINKY sex.
Me: Mmm-hmm. (Frantically reading book, eating sandwich, trying to look busy so the conversation would stop)
Older lady 1: SO MUCH SEX. I was wondering, where’s the plot? Because there was SO MUCH KINKY SEX. People were TYING PEOPLE UP!
Me: Oh? Huh. (Reading! Eating! READING!)
Older lady 2, walking in: Hey, ladies! What are we talking about?
Older lady 1: Fifty Shades of Grey! It’s a book about ALL THE SEX!
Older lady 2: Oh! Wow! (sits, settles in for a long discussion)
Me: I…um…have to get a thing from the place. (leaves in a hurry) 

(SIDE NOTE: I don’t MIND discussing sex, just not with women old enough to be my mom that I don’t know very well and don’t like all that much. And not in the work lunchroom. That seems unsanitary. That’s where the FOOD is.) 

OK. So. Fifty Shades of Grey. Why’s it so bad, Amy? Is it the sex? No. The sex is fine. Is it the subject matter? Nope, like I said, whatever, there’s a place for porn (or erotica, or literotica, whatever) and great, good, you go, book, you go. 

Here’s the problem. 

IT IS ONE OF THE MOST POORLY-WRITTEN THINGS I HAVE EVER READ. 

Here’s a quick rundown. Anastasia Steele, a very, very clumsy girl about to graduate college, is roped into interviewing Christian Grey, a very rich businessman. They dig each other. They get together. He’s into being a dominant! He wants her to be his submissive! He has ISSUES! In his own words, he is “fifty shades of fucked up!” Plus, his last name is GREY! HENCE THE TITLE YO! 

Will these two crazy kids make it work? Oh, will they? I CAN’T WAIT TO FIND OUT! Oh, wait, yes. Yes, I can. I can wait. I can SO WAIT. I can wait FOREVER. 

I assure you this single photo is a billion times sexier than the entire series. And I didn’t even read books two and three.

So I got the book from the library. I was a little worried it would be sticky. You don’t know what people do with library books that are NORMAL, I don’t want to know what they do with PORN. 

I read about thirty pages and was in tears of laughter about how badly it was written. I scared the cat. I was talking to the damn book. OUT LOUD. 

First, I was only a little way in before I said, “Huh. What’s going on here? Ana seems a lot like Bella from Twilight, with the self-doubt and the clumsiness. Is clumsiness the new black? If so, I am on the CUTTING EDGE OF COOL since I fall down ALL THE DAMN TIME. Where’s my knight in shining armor, I wonder?”

Oh my NOOO! Look at poor clumsy helpless BELLA! (Man, did I hope this truck was going to hit her. It didn’t. I had sadface.)

Then someone on Twitter pointed out that the book started as Twilight fan fiction, and the Twi-hards were all, “Um…naughty! But titillating!” so the author just changed the names and published it. 

Listen, had I known that, I would NOT have read this book. I hate Twilight. HATE. With the fire of a thousand suns HATE. 

Also, it says something that even Stephenie Meyer was all, “Um…yeah. No. No, this isn’t…good for her, but…no.” 

So even though it was the worst book ever, based on one of my least-favorite series ever, I kept reading. Why? To be honest, I wanted to blog about it. It’s the main reason I do anything hilariously awful lately. 

Here are some (and there are many) issues I have with this book. 

Argh 

One of the only times that “argh” is permissible. Plus, it’s Joss, he can do whatever he wants.

At least twice that I counted, in the middle of some very “hot” sex (the sarcastic quotes are because there’s nothing hot about the sex Ana and Christian had, ever, except, I suppose, the temperature when they were having it in a bathtub) Ana made the noise “argh.” Now, I’m pretty sure if you make the noise “argh,” you are a., a pirate, b., tripped over an ottoman, c., foiled again, curses, d. doing the Mutant Enemy Joss Whedon credits and saying “grr, argh.” You’re not in the throes of passion. (She also made the noise “Aaaaah!” and “Aaaaagh.”) An easy fix? “Ana moaned.” See? See how much more sexy that is? NO ONE WOULD SAY ARGH DURING SEX. If I was having sex with a guy and he broke out the “argh” I would laugh so hard one of us would roll off the bed, I’m not even kidding. Oh, you want an example? HAPPY TO OBLIGE. Let’s take this. The Bloggess had her laptop stolen. So she wrote a post entitled Aaaaaaargh. THIS IS AN APPROPRIATE USE OF ARGH. Not during SEX. Not during something you’re ENJOYING. (Well, I guess unless you have a charley horse. Not that this has ever happened to me. OK FINE ONCE IN COLLEGE. And it was the WORST. Talk about something that took me by surprise. GOOD GRAVY.) I don’t take a bite of cereal in the morning and go “ARGH!” unless  the milk’s gone bad. Who does this? The answer is no one. No one does this.

Euphemism 

Oh, I’m pretty sure this was utilized in the writing of this book.

I’m not saying I needed a clinical textbook or anything, but the only body part that was referred to by its proper name (I’m of course referring to our swimsuit area body parts, don’t be ridiculous, of course she said “arms and legs” or whatever) were breasts. Everything else was all “throbbing member” and “the juncture of my thighs” and “the place where he was both velvety and hard, what a titillating combo” and “my warm and wet place.” ZEE OH EMM GEE. Here, look what you can do in print without the world exploding, ready? Penis. Vagina. Clitoris. WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHAT WILL HAPPEN? Nothing, is what. I’m not saying porn would be hotter with “he then inserted his penis into my vagina” – that sounds a little too much like a sexual how-to pamphlet in hell – but it’s amazing to me that you can make it through an entire 514-page book riding on a boat made of euphemism. They’re just words. I mean, you had these people whipping and chaining and such, and you’re quailing at the use of “vagina?” Please. 

Britishisms 

Yep, this about sums it up.

Ana made a big deal about being country mouse and never having left the continental United States. Christian was well-traveled, but grew up and lived (as did Ana) in Seattle. However, for some reason, the two of them said things – constantly – like “have a tidy-up” and “well-remembered, you” and “well played.” Hmm. Why would Seattle denizens speak thus? OH. BECAUSE THE AUTHOR IS BRITISH. I really got the feeling the closest she’d ever been to MERKA was to watch a couple episodes of Dallas one time. If that. Maybe.

GIGANTIC THESAURUS WORDS 

No one thought: they pondered. No one was interested: they were titillated. No one was wordy: they were verbose. No one was moody: they were sullen. This woman never met a three-dollar word she didn’t just love, she rode until it was all up in a lather and then she, for good measure, beat it into the ground while cackling like a crazy. Oh, sorry, like a banshee. Or an utter lunatic. Or an institutionalized harpy. I KNOW BIG WORDS TOO. And I know there’s a time to use them. It’s not always in your bad porn. We still know it’s bad porn, lady. 

“inner goddess”/inner monologue 

Mine likes to wear pajamas and loaf. A lot of loafing.

Listen, Ana was annoying. The MOST annoying. The whole book, unfortunately, was from her point of view. We constantly had to listen to her inner monologue. And at least once on a page, you had to hear what her “inner goddess” was thinking. “My inner goddess was doing cartwheels.” “My inner goddess was hiding behind the couch.” “My inner goddess was doing a sultry samba.” WHO TALKS LIKE THIS. I don’t have an inner goddess. If I did, you’d get “Amy’s inner goddess is eating Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food out of the container on a couch covered in cat hair while watching Celebrity Rehab.” 

I think everyone was schizophrenic 

Yes, I realize Jack wasn’t a schizophrenic in this movie, but I love this picture so much. Let me have it. I just read a really awful book for you. Thanks.

I know. People are unpredictable and wild! That’s nice. It is. Thing is? People aren’t. Not really. Sure, people do things that are out of character. But these things usually point toward something being wrong with them. How many times has a friend of yours done something weird, and you’ve said to a mutual friend, “That’s unlike Frank/Francine. I hope everything’s ok with him/her.” Probably you have. I know I have. People are, for the most part, a predictable species. NOT IN THIS BOOK BUCKAROO. People say one thing and do another! People say they want to be beaten with a belt, then get mad at their boyfriend for actually going through with it! People say they don’t want a relationship and then two pages later say, “All I can think about is being in a relationship with you because I love you now!” I can’t take anything seriously when it’s this all over the board, I really can’t. 

Stilted writing of unnecessary scenes 

Pretty sure we’d find this in the author’s house. Only with glitter stickers on it. Of hearts and shit.

There were page-long descriptions of “I decided I might be hungry. But what might I be hungry for? Maybe an omelette. I don’t know. Was I in the mood for an omelette? My inner goddess wanted some fruit. I decided to make some pancakes. I didn’t know where the bowls were. I looked in the cabinets. I found the bowls. I put the bowls on the counter.” ZOMG IF I WANTED A BLOW-BY-BLOW I’D VIDEOTAPE ME MAKING DINNER. I don’t care. I don’t CARE! There’s an old rule of thumb – if it doesn’t further the story, you don’t need it. Apparently, E. L. James was too busy masturbating to thoughts of Edward Cullen to read any “how to write something that doesn’t suck” manuals. Sorry. Was that totally the grossest and all the TMI? Wait until I get to my next section. 

The sex isn’t at all sexy 

I’m fairly sure this isn’t the face I was supposed to be making when reading the sex scenes. Yet it was pretty much my reaction.

There’s a lot of sex. Don’t get me wrong. A LOT OF IT. Like, every few pages, someone’s getting a throbbing member thrust into a wet and warm place. But it’s not sexy. From the time Ana loses her virginity (the pain of which? “a slight pinch” – um, ok, good for you, darling, not how I remember it, but fine) to the most DISTURBING TAMPON SCENE YOU CAN EVEN IMAGINE (I’m not even going to go into it, but watch this totally amusing fake YouTube book trailer if you want a hint, a gross, gross hint) to the BDSM scenes, which I suppose would be sexy, if I didn’t hate both Ana and Christian so much I wanted him to accidentally choke her out, have to bury her in the backyard, and then get caught and locked up for life, you get all the non-sexy sex you could desire. With a lot of “my inner goddess swooned” interspersed. Oh, and she never has an orgasm. Instead, she “shatters into a million pieces and slowly puts herself back together.” EVERY DAMN TIME. That’s another word the author is afraid of. Orgasm. ORGASM IS A DIRTY WORD YOU GUYS. Nipple clamps and fisting are on the table (heh, on the table) but not orgasm. (I just checked, and yes, she does say it once and a while. I apologize. Not OFTEN, but apparently it’s not the naughty word that penis is. My fault. So sorry.) 

Also, there was a lot of “he pulled at my nipples until they elongated.” As in, more than once. In multiple sex scenes. Um. OUCH OUCH OUCH. THAT’S NOT WHAT THEY’RE FOR. They are not Silly Putty. You cannot transfer the comics onto them. THERE ARE NERVE ENDINGS IN THERE. 

I wanted to punch every single character in the neck three times a page 

Ana was a useless waste of space who went into the relationship expecting this guy to change even though he told her exactly what he was looking for (granted, he acted like a schizophrenic with the changing of his mind, so maybe that’s why she was fooled.) She also fell down a lot and ran into things and almost got hit by a bike. Christian was a control freak who was sexually abused as a teenager and most likely abused as a child (that was hinted at but not explained. YET.) Ana’s mom talked like a pre-teen. Ana’s friends were either controlling bitches or would-be rapists. And that’s pretty much everyone in the entire book. There’s no one to root for. NO ONE. 

No one talks like this, NO ONE 

…and here’s another reference book she used. Used WRONG.

People say things like “WHOO all this UST in the room!” and then I have to look up what “UST” is and it’s unresolved sexual tension. WHO THE HELL TALKS LIKE THIS NO ONE NO ONE. Or, how about Christian’s brother’s term of endearment and goodbye to his girlfriend, which Ana and Christian adopt as their own: “Laters, baby.” LATERS, BABY? Oh, no. Oh, my, no. Also, there’s a lot of “I bit my lip” and then Christian goes BATSHIT CRAZY all “Don’t DO that, you KNOW how that affects me, I WANT TO BE THE ONE BITING YOUR LIP.” What the actual hell? And the title? The title of this post? Direct quote from the book. THAT IS SOMETHING ANA SAYS TO HERSELF DURING SEX. You know, because when you’re in the middle of all the sex, you think of a sentence as clunky as that. Or, OR, when Ana and her overbearing roommate and BFF (why? who knows, Ana’s a douchenozzle) were talking about how Ana lost her flower to Christian: “Kate looks wistful. ‘Yeah, took almost a year to have my first orgasm through penetrative sex, and here you are…first time?’”If my BFF said “penetrative sex” to me, I think I would throw something at him, possibly the television remote, and then laugh until I had a choking fit. Who says “penetrative sex” in a casual conversation? That’s the kind of thing someone says in a safe-sex talk at the local Planned Parenthood, or something. Not two BFFs sitting around shooting the shit. I feel like this author was raised by wolves. Wolves with nothing to read but thesauruses. 

THERE ARE TWO MORE OF THESE 

Why. Why. WHY.

The book ended on a CLIFFHANGER ZOMG (let’s be honest, I didn’t give a shit) and there are TWO MORE OF THEM. Fifty Shades of Greyer and Fifty Shades of Suck My Soul Out Through my Nose if I Have To Read Any More of This Shit. NO THOSE AREN’T THE REAL TITLES. Am I going to read them? No. No I’m not. Life’s too short. I assume, with no prior knowledge, that most likely Ana and Christian end up happily ever after, with her accepting his lifestyle as her own, with some modifications, or something like that. It’s not like this woman can write or come up with anything original. OOH! Maybe someone has a magic sparkle baby like in Twilight! That’d make me want to read more!* (*no it wouldn’t) 

Now, listen. I’m not completely against this book, for two reasons. Two. And only two. And to show you that I can be UNBIASED, I will share them with you. 

The power of viral marketing 

This woman published these with a tiny e-pub house in Australia, and with the power of viral marketing and word-of-mouth, they’re topping the bestseller lists. That makes me want to vomit until I’m sore, but that’s not the point. The point is, whoever’s marketing her books is doing one hell of a job. Or just people talking did this, I don’t know. Whoever it is, or a combination of both? Kudos. These terribly written pieces of trash are the it thing. Undeservedly so, but they are. And that’s impressive. Now let’s use our powers for good and get some GOOD books on the bestseller list, what do you say? 

Getting women to talk about sex more openly 

I know I was all ew ew ew earlier about the ladies in my lunchroom (and I’m still ew ew ew, that hasn’t changed) but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with women feeling like they can openly discuss sex. If this terrible book makes them feel like they can do that? Well, fine, then it has served one purpose, and now we can use it to prop up the short leg on the coffee table. Seriously, sex isn’t dirty. There’s a time and a place for it (and if you’re a stranger and you think we’re going to talk about it on Twitter, hit the road, I’M TALKING TO YOU DING DONG JOE) but sure, it’s not something women should be ashamed of talking about. Men talk about it all the time. Women should feel free to do so, as well. So, yeah. Just – there are better books, sexier books, that you can read. You know that, right? OK, good. Just checking. Go read those. Because I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to slip into a sexy frame of mind when the writing is so bad in a book it makes me laugh until I’m crying, you know? 

Goodreads really needs an option for .00001 stars, because giving this one star really didn’t give me the satisfaction I wanted. 

For additional awesome, please to visit this Tumblr, which has provided me with hours of entertainment.  

My inner goddess is hungry now and I think I need a sandwich or maybe some wasabi peas. Laters, baby.


Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.

I’m totally still dying and it’s annoying the shit out of me.

No, seriously, this is like the second DAY of death, and also I was dying a little on Monday, so like the 2.5th day of death. THAT’S WAY TOO MUCH DEATH. I didn’t even go to work today. I got up with every intention of going to work? But then I walked around the apartment for approximately twenty minutes, realized I was probably going to throw up if I remained that far from the ground (or a couch or a bed, I’m not overly choosy, the bathroom floor will also do) and called in to work. Which will probably cause a tizzy but seriously, if I went in today, THERE WOULD BE VOMITING AT WORK. This is not something I am keen on. Things I don’t like to do at work where people might know I’m doing them: throw up or cry. Neither of these things are anyone’s business and there’s no way you can do either of these things and come out of them looking like a superstar. And I only like to do things where I look like a superstar, I mean, seriously, come on. Who doesn’t?

So I stayed home and went back to sleep. And here is a dream I had that I was convinced was true and when I woke up and it wasn’t, I was sad. I dreamed that Ewan McGregor started following me on Twitter and we became friends and were chatting and I told my friend Mer, because we both love him, and the two of us were super-excited about this very celebrity turn of events in my life, only then I woke up and I no longer had a hot Scottish actor BFF and also still had a stomach bug so that was a total letdown.

Anyway, so I planned on sleeping all day to make this effing stomach bug just run away or something because I have totally had enough already, I have NO PATIENCE OR TIME FOR SICKNESS, but apparently I also have no patience or time to be lady-of-the-manoring around in my bed at all hours because after about 10am I woke up and was NOT ABLE to fall back to sleep, no matter what. This is how I know I am old. Remember back in college, when you could seriously sleep all day? I remember some days, waking up at 4pm, eating a combination breakfast/lunch/dinner thing, then going out drinking. I don’t think that’s a possibility anymore, is it? When you’re old, your body’s all “Get up, lazyass, there’s SUN in the WINDOW. What the hell is WRONG with you. Do you think you’re FANCY?” And, no. No, I don’t think I’m fancy. Just sick.

Also, I have two meetings tonight at the theater that I am NOT missing. Even if I have to attend them, sit really far away from everyone, be super-careful not to breathe on anyone, and also sometimes run into the bathroom all “sorry sorry sorry CARRY ON” in the middle of them. So I THOUGHT if I slept all day I could make the evil stomach bug leave out of boredom or something but that’s a no-go.

OK, so ANYWAY, since I’m already in a bitch of a mood and also kind of feel like vomiting, let’s talk about two things that totally piss me off. Ready? OF COURSE YOU ARE SLAPPY.

Stop Effing with Cookies and Children, You Morons

OK, so it’s Girl Scout cookie time. You all know what that means, right? Overpriced cookies in teeny-tiny boxes that are TOTALLY EFFING DELICIOUS. Seriously, ZOMG. I mean, I can’t eat cookies anymore, due to health issues and such, but back in the day, I’m pretty sure I could have eaten an entire box in one sitting. Not that I would have. NO NOT ME.

So back in October in Colorado, a seven-year-old transgender boy named Bobby wanted to join the Girl Scouts. Bobby has identified as female since he was two. His parents, who sound totally savvy and I kind of love them, are accepting of this, and identify him as female (I would, also, identify him as female throughout this diatribe, but it would make for confusion, writing-wise. Please know that I totally accept his identification as female, and, in any other writing situation where it would not be confusing, identify him with his chosen pronoun.)

The local Girl Scout troop leader, some woman named Mary, was all “NO DICKS IN MY SCOUTS” and wouldn’t let him join. (Yeah, I made that quote up. I think she was all “he has boy parts.” Same thing. Mine was funnier. Also, Mary, you’re a dick.)

The Girl Scouts themselves, when informed of this situation, gave their official stance, which was “Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”

This totally rocks, Girl Scouts. Seriously. This is progressive, and this is kind, and this embodies the Girl Scouts, to me. Inclusiveness, and accepting each other, and working together.

However! Then we get this stellar example of youth in America. I refuse to put the actual video on my blog because this girl makes me want to punch her in the snobby little mouth.

First off, COULD SHE BE ANY MORE FULL OF HERSELF WITH THE TOTAL SNOBBINESS. She’s totally going to get her ass kicked at some point for the attitude. Also, I don’t think any transgender children would want anything to do with her. Because she’s a total little snot. Also, this isn’t all on her. How old is this child? I’m awful with ages. Like, 14? Something like that? Someone’s fed her all this shit and she, being 14 or whatever, has swallowed it down. Listen, when I was 14? I thought a LOT of things that my parents wanted me to think that I now know are not only incorrect, but downright full of moral turpitude.

The way she says “QUOTE” reminds me of the way Dwight Schrute says “QUESTION.” She’s got some hard times ahead of her, methinks.

Anyway, so this little snotty-snot is all “do not buy Girl Scout cookies to teach them a lesson because I don’t want to share a tent with a transgender child because I wouldn’t feel safe QUOTE.”

Here’s the scoop, sunshine. The transgendered kids in question here? ARE GIRLS. Do they have penises? Yep. Until they have surgery, if they indeed choose to have the surgery, sure they do. They don’t WANT to have sex with you. I mean, the minute you’d say “QUOTE” no one would, let’s be frank, but they don’t want to have sex with any of the Girl Scouts. Unless maybe they’re a lesbian, and then they might have a crush on one or another of the Girl Scouts. Again, probably not you, Dwight Schrute. But you’re just as safe with that girl in your tent as you are with any of the other Girl Scouts. And the fact that you think otherwise makes me sad for you, and sad for your parents for either feeding you that bullshit, or allowing you to continue to believe that bullshit.

I want you to think, baby Dwight Schrute, just for a second, about how hard it is for a transgendered child. Who is in the wrong body. Who identifies as female, but has a penis. Every day is a frigging struggle. What bathroom they can enter. What people they can be friends with. What toys they can play with. What clothes they can wear; how they can wear their hair, how people treat them, as if they are bad, wrong, an affront to nature itself – AND THEY ARE CHILDREN. If they want to join the ever-loving Girl Scouts – I mean, what are you DOING there, naked pillow fights, for the love of Pete? NO YOU ARE NOT, you are making crafts for county fairs and selling cookies and talking about your feelings and sewing patches onto your sashes and shit – WHO THE FUCK CARES. It’s a small thing you can do to make someone feel more included, to make their lives a little more bearable and a little less lonely. You’d deny them that? Really? According to a 2006 poll, 33.6% of transgendered teens have attempted suicide. THIRTY-THREE POINT SIX PERCENT. You can help, just a little bit with that, by giving them a place they feel accepted and safe and loved, but instead, you spew a hate video all over the internet. Stellar work, young lady. Just stellar.

So yeah. Buy Girl Scout cookies, if they’re your thing. Because the Girl Scouts, kind of quietly, without a lot of fuss, are completely cool with allowing transgendered children into their group, and transgendered children are at risk, and you know what? THEY’RE STILL CHILDREN. Even if they have “boy parts” ew ew ew. Children. CHILDREN, you guys. Come the hell on. We’re going to let children down? Really? Also, Girl Scout cookies are like effing crack, seriously. Those Thin Mints are AMAZING.

Blah blah blah YOU ALL ALREADY KNOW THIS blah blah blah

So it’s SOPA/PIPA blackout day. And, as you can see, I didn’t do it. Here’s the thing: I probably SHOULD. And I know there are people who are totally disappointed in me that I didn’t.

I stand BESIDE the people who blacked out for SOPA and PIPA but didn’t black out for SOPA and PIPA because, honestly, I don’t do shit I should when I should do it. Like recycle. Or watch well-reviewed foreign films in a timely fashion. Because I feel like someone’s telling me “You’re a bad person if you don’t do this.” And that makes me dig in my heels like a donkey. Which is counterproductive. I get that. It’s a constant internal struggle, what can I say.

So anyway. In case you live under a rock: SOPA (Stop Internet Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) are bad news. They want to censor the web; they would be time-consuming for businesses, and could stifle innovation; and, best of all, they actually WOULDN’T STOP PIRACY. Pretty much, here’s the thing. You know how we all hate Big Brother? (OK, I mean, I assume you all hate Big Brother. Unless you ARE Big Brother. In which case, you’re reading my blog in in order to write info down about me for my file, aren’t you? Dammit. Cut that out, you.) They’re Big Brother, you guys. And if you piss Him off, you’re gone. And your blog would be gone. And your internet provider could, hypothetically, stop providing you with internet access. FOR DOING WHAT YOU’VE BEEN DOING ALL ALONG. Just piss off one wrong person, and you’re done. Listen, I love my country. I know that makes me an optimistic weirdo and I’m like one of the seven people left within the borders who is just crazy in love with MERKA but I totally do. I don’t want it to become a police state of insanity and people watching everything that comes out of my mouth. They’re comparing these acts to the way the internet is monitored in China, you guys. Seriously. I’m currently reading a book about what it’s like to live in China. You are MONITORED when you’re on the internet. By the GOVERNMENT. And if they don’t like what you do? Sometimes? You disappear.

So, for those of you who are assholes like me and become stubborn mules about blacking things out and can’t imagine staying off Twitter or Facebook for 24 hours or maybe your head would explode: read a little more about them here, sign a petition here, see a list of the websites that are against the acts here so you know it’s not just a big old fakey-fake, and contact your congresspeople and senators and tell them you’re not interested in living in 1984 since it’s 2012 (see what I did there? FANCY. Also, there’s a good chance, were these to pass, I’d probably get put in thumbscrews for that comment. I’m being sarcastic. OR AM I.)

I’m going to drink some beverages and eat some popsicles and watch some daytime TV now. Is Judge Judy on? I think you have to watch that when you’re sick, don’t you? Does she still tell people not to piss on her leg and tell her it’s raining? If she doesn’t, I’m so lodging a complaint or something. ZOMG SIDE NOTE. My dad’s cable company changed his on-screen channel guide so it’s smaller and has a different font and color and he HATES it? So he was all, “AMY. I EMAILED them. I told them I WOULD NOT HAVE THIS. How DARE they change my channel guide. I can barely SEE it. That taught THEM a lesson.” And I said, “Um…and what happened?” And he said “They RESPONDED and used my NAME so you know it was a real letter and said they would take my response VERY SERIOUSLY” and I said, “You know that was a form letter, right, Dad?” and he said, “No, they used my NAME, it couldn’t have been.” So I stopped arguing, because how cute is it he thinks he made a little rabble-rousey difference? Aw.


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