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.
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.
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?
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.