Then last night, when I was done watching videos of people popping ingrown hairs and cleaning their ear wax out and all that other weird shit I watch on youtube, I watched this video of Stephen King talking about 50 Shades of Grey. This link will start the video at 48:20, which is where he addresses 50 Shades, but if you’ve got an hour to kill and you’re into writing, it’s really worth watching the whole Q & A, because he’s fucking brilliant and super laid back.
Okay, so when we last left everybody in this clusterfuck, Elliot had just proposed to Kate.
It’s only oppressive to Ana because, as stated, Kate is the center of attention and not her.
Is that… wait. Guys. GUYS.
I THINK E.L. JAMES GOT SOMETHING RIGHT!
Oh fuck, that’s right. Even though Ana apparently understands that a private proposal is less embarrassing and exerts a lot less pressure on the person being proposed to, these books are still a steaming pile of shit. I guess it’s a good thing I stopped my celebration before posting Liza Minnelli singing “New York, New York,” or David Hasselhoff singing “I’ve Been Looking For Freedom” atop the crumbling Berlin Wall or some shit like that. Because that level of enthusiasm would have been embarrassing.
So, of course Kate says yes, and Elliot gives her the ring he picked out with Gia, which Ana finally gets even though it was telegraphed super fucking hard all through the last chapter.
Christian orders champagne to celebrate and tells Kate:
“I hope you are as happy in your marriage as I am in mine.”
Mia wants to go clubbing like, right now.
“I think we should ask Elliot and Kate what they’d like to do.”
As one, we turn expectantly to them. Elliot shrugs and Kate turns puce. Her carnal intent toward her fiance is so clear I nearly spit four-hundred-dollar champagne all over the table.
Notice how when Ana is embarrassed about sex stuff, she flushes or blushes, but if Kate is embarrassed, she turns puce, a red-brown color named after, I shit you not, flea droppings. Because Ana can be the only pretty girl in the room.
Zax is the most exclusive nightclub in Aspen- or so says Mia.
It’s so exclusive, even the Aspen Chamber of Commerce has no clue it exists.
You know, I’ve never worried that something I wrote might influence tourism or send vacationers to a place that doesn’t exist. Because that sounds like crazy talk. Even E.L. James didn’t expect her book to become such a success, because no one honestly does. This strikes me as just insanely funny; people are so slavishly devoted to these shitty books that they’re trying to track down the most exclusive
fictional nightclub in Aspen… if it’s so exclusive, how do they think they’re getting in?
I glance at my watch- eleven thirty in the evening, and I’m feeling fuzzy. The two glasses of champagne and several glasses of Pouilly-Fume during our meal are starting to have an effect, and I’m grateful Christian has his arm around me.
I get that Ana is a big league alcoholic now, but I’m highly doubting that at an increased altitude she’s “fuzzy” and not black-out unconscious after all of that.
“Mr. Grey, welcome back,” says a very attractive, leggy blonde in black satin hot pants, matching sleeveless shirt, and a little red bow tie. She smiles broadly, revealing perfect all-American teeth between scarlet lips that match her bow tie.
I like how “all-American” is totally a positive thing in this book, while “European” is used as an insult. It doesn’t give insight into how an American character thinks, so much as it gives insight into how a non-American author thinks an American character should think.
A young man dressed entirely in black, fortunately not satin, smiles as he offers to take my coat. His dark eyes are warm and inviting. I am the only one wearing a coat- Christian insisted I take Mia’s trench coat to cover my behind- so Max has to deal only with me.
See, he let her make her own choice with regards to the dress. She just has to wear a fucking trench coat all night, in August.
“Nice coat,” he says, gazing at me intently.
He’s not flirting, Ana, he’s wondering why you’re wearing a coat in August when it’s clearly so warm that no one else is doing so.
Beside me, Christian bristles and fixes Max with a back-off-now glare. He reddens and quickly hands Christian my coat check ticket.
You can tell the author is really skilled if the only way she can show the romantic connection between two characters is by having them be constantly jealous of people they will never, ever see again and will never have to interact with in day-to-day life.
Ana once again refers to a woman as what she’s wearing:
Miss Satin Hot Pants flutters her eyelashes at my husband, flicks her long blonde hair, and sashays through the entryway. I tighten my grip around Christian, and he gazes down at me questioningly for a moment, then smirks as we follow Miss Satin Hot Pants into the bar.
What, is this woman going to literally rip him from your arms? “I touched him last, he’s mine now!” Jesus. And when will these two idiots get that people who are waiters and waitresses at bars, nightclubs, restaurants, etc. are usually flirting for a bigger tip? It’s not because they have a genuine interest in their customers. Flirting just loosens up some wallets and you have to make that money somehow.
They go into the nightclub, which Ana describes but I really don’t give a shit. The only thing that bothered me was:
The floor and walls vibrate with the music pulsing from the dance floor behind the bar, and lights are whirling and flashing on and off. In my heady state, I idly think it’s an epileptic’s nightmare.
I’m just super offended by that, and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I have seizures, myself, and I get annoyed with other people who don’t decide what will/will not cause seizures. Usually, because it’s all the same jokes about flashing lights or Japanese tv. But I could be oversensitive because of all the other stuff I hate in these books.
They go to a booth, where I can give you some writing advice:
Kate and Elliot sit back on the soft velvet seating, hand in hand. They look so happy, their features soft and radiant in the glow from the tea lights flickering in crystal holders on the low table.
Word repetition is a bear for every single writer. In fact, if you ever meet a writer who says they don’t have an issue with accidental word repetition, throw holy water on them because they’re a gremlin in disguise. Every writer struggles with this. Here’s how you get rid of word rep like the one I emphasized above. See the first usage? Name a time when velvet has been, I don’t know, sharp or hard as iron. Right. So, if Kate and Elliot just sit back on the velvet seating, we know already that velvet is soft. The first use is unnecessary.
Kate shows Ana her ring, and Christian says he’s picking up the tab for the entire table, despite everyone’s objections. And Ana thinks:
I gaze at him lovingly. My Fifty Shades… always in control.
The obsessive need to control other people isn’t a lovable quality. I’m going to guess that his brother has caught on to Christian’s habit of using his money to control other people, and that’s why he doesn’t want Christian to buy the drinks.
Ana has issues with the waitress, too:
“Thank you, sir. Coming right up.” Miss Hot Pants Number Two gives him a gracious smile, but he’s spared the fluttering of eyelashes, though her cheeks redden a little.
I’m sure Christian is super relieved to not have a beautiful waitress flirt with him. Because he’s so not-at-all-shallow and totally doesn’t get off on other people having a good opinion of him to the point that he’s buried his actual personality beneath glass-and-steel office buildings and apartments and lavish excess in public. I also feel compelled to point out that once again, the woman who “flushes” or “blushes” over a hundred times in the first book alone is critical of another woman doing the same thing when meeting a famous person in real life.
I shake my head in resignation. He’s mine, girlfriend.
Okay, enough. Just fucking enough with this whole jealousy bullshit. It’s stupid and appeals only to jealous people who base their entire self-worth on whether or not someone else wants what they have. To the rest of us, who have realistic amounts of self-esteem and shit? It just looks petty and immature.
Then, there is a whole fucking chunk of page devoted to Ana once again pointing out to Christian that women find him attractive, and Christian once again pretending that he’s never noticed, and then both of them deciding that neither of them have anything to be jealous about. THEN WHY DID YOU JUST WASTE MY TIME?
Christian gives Ana water to drink:
“Here,” Christian hands me a glass of water. “Drink this.”
I frown at him and see, rather than hear, his sigh.
He doesn’t say, “I don’t want our obvious and overly telegraphed baby to be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome,” though.
“Three glasses of white wine at dinner and two of champagne, after a strawberry daiquiri and two glasses of Frascati at lunchtime. Drink. Now, Ana.”
I call bullshit. TRIUMPHANTLY, I CALL BULLSHIT. Here’s the thing about Colorado: if you’re not from there, it tries to murder you the second you get there. I’ve been to Colorado ONE TIME. It was for a sales conference for Harlequin. Now, I drank a lot at the time. Like, “lie on the form you fill out at the doctor’s office when it asks how much you regularly drink” kind of a lot. I had ONE drink in Colorado Springs, a rum and coke, a drink that I regularly had four or five of a night, and it laid me OUT. Like, staggering, can’t talk kind of laid out. Because I didn’t know about altitude. I also got altitude sickness and was almost strangled to death by my own lymph nodes. I do not buy that Ana could drink that much after being in Aspen for a day and not be in the fucking hospital.
Taking the glass of water, I down it in a most unladylike manner to register my protest at being told what to do…again. I wipe my hand across the back of my mouth.
Give that last sentence a minute. You’re right, Ana, it is pretty “unladylike” to jam your whole hand into your mouth in public.
The women hit the dance floor, where Ana realizes, hey, she actually really likes dancing:
Why did I spend the first twenty years of my life not doing this? I chose reading over dancing. Jane Austen didn’t have great music to move to and Thomas Hardy… jeez, he’d have felt guilty as sin that he wasn’t dancing with his first wife. I giggle at the thought.
Ana, if you’d ever read any novels by Jane Austen, you would know that Austen herself didn’t have a bad opinion of dancing. In fact, dancing was a pastime that women of her class would have endeavored to be good at, because music and dance were such an important part of culture. And yes, Jane Austen had plenty of “great music” in her time; she lived during what is known as the classical period, a time in music when composers like, you know, Mozart and Haydn and Beethoven and Bach and Gluck were writing music. Sure, their works pale in comparison to Britney Spears’s “Toxic,” but I guess what I’m trying to say is, shut the fuck up, Ana. You aren’t as smart as you think you are.
Oh, also? In Pride and Prejudice Austen wrote: “To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.” So, no, she was not of the opinion that one could either dance or read. If Ana were any character in any Austen book, I’d say she was Mary Bennet.
It’s Christian. He has given me this confidence in my body and how I can move it.
Well, I’m glad your knight in shining armor rode up to rescue you from such a dull life of reading.
This theme of “Christian knows my body better than me” drives me absolutely bonkers. Maybe if you didn’t buy into the patriarchal myth of virtue and virginity being tied to a woman’s worth, you’d be more confident about your body. Now, I get it, we’re all a product of the culture we’re raised in, but Ana is supposed to be this brilliant genius, and she hasn’t figured out she has bodily autonomy yet? Hell, I can’t reliably follow the plot of The Following, for Christ’s sake, and even I know that my accomplishments aren’t all creditable to my husband and his influence over me.
Suddenly, there are two hands on my hips. I grin. Christian has joined me. I wiggle, and his hands move to my behind and squeeze, then back to my hips.
I open my eyes. And Mia is gaping at me in horror. Shit… Am I that bad? I reach down to hold Christian’s hands. They’re hairy. Fuck! They’re not his. I whirl around and towering over me is a blond giant with more teeth than is natural and a leering smile to showcase them.
Ana screams and slaps him, then reinforces the rape culture that got her ass groped in the first place:
I thrust my uninjured hand in front of his face, spreading my fingers to show him my rings.
“I’m married, you asshole!”
Yeah, you show him, Ana. He can’t just sexually assault you! You’re not some kind of whore who’s free for the taking! Someone OWNS you!
The fact that someone probably uses that specific scene to defend Ana as a strong female character makes me want to pry out my teeth with a rusty carving fork.
So, Christian sees the whole thing and comes over and punches the guy, and of course the guy backs right off because Christian is so scary and fierce and manly and intimidating, and Ana is afraid that he’ll literally kill the guy because he’s so angry. Because that’s LOVE, you guys. Your husband being willing to commit murder with his hands on your behalf is ROMANTIC. I guess I just don’t understand the appeal of a violent man, but whatever.
I rub my palm, trying to dispel the sting, and bring my hands down to his chest. My hand is throbbing. I have never slapped anyone before. What possessed me? Touching me wasn’t the worst crime against humanity. Was it?
No, but I feel like if someone puts their hands on me in a way I don’t want them to, they should be prepared for me to put my hands on them in a way they might not like, either. Men decry this as a double standard, “If we’re not allowed to hit women, why are women allowed to hit men?” Well, the simple answer there is, “Some men don’t understand any other language, and you have to do what you have to do as a woman to prevent yourself from being fucking assaulted.”
Ana, has a different take:
Yet deep down I know why I hit him. It’s because I instinctively knew how Christian would react to seeing some stranger pawing me. I knew he’d lose his precious self-control. And the thought that some stupid nobody could derail my husband, my love, well, it makes me mad. Really mad.
So, ladies, remember: it’s not okay to hit someone to stop them groping your ass cheeks in public, but it’s totally justifiable if you’re doing it so your explosively violent husband can save face and not be bested by “some stupid nobody.”
For some reason, they haven’t been thrown out of the bar for fighting, so Ana asks Christian to dance with her:
“Dance with me.” He’s still mad. “Dance. Christian, please.” I take his hands. Christian glares after the guy, but I start to move against him, weaving myself around him.
Pronoun confusion, Ana. You’re moving against the guy, weaving yourself around him.
Oh… Christian can move, really move.
No shit? Because we haven’t read that in EVERY SINGLE GODDAMNED SEX SCENE IN THIS SERIES SO FAR.
He makes me graceful, that’s his skill. He makes me sexy, because that’s what he is. He makes me feel loved, because in spite of his fifty shades, he has a wealth of love to give.
Usually, I’d be like, “No, the good parts of your personality don’t come from other people, they come from you and I’d wish you’d see that,” but there are no good parts of Ana’s personality to defend. She’s just… there. Sucking up space and being awful, like the human embodiment of a tax audit.
They go back to the table, and I assume someone somewhere in the editing process gave E.L. the note, “Hey, they would have gotten kicked out of a club for fighting like that,” because Ana thinks:
I’m vaguely surprised we haven’t been thrown out.
Because that’s how lazy authors handle their edits, folks. “Gosh, this unexplainable thing happened. Huh. How weird. Moving along.”
They get ready to leave, and at the coat check Kate and Ana discuss what happened on the dance floor:
“He’s rather hot-headed, isn’t he?” Kate adds dryly, staring at Christian as he collects my coat.
I snort and smile. “You could say that.”
“I think you handle him well.”
That’s not praise. No one should have to “handle” their spouse because their temper is so explosive they might get into legal trouble for beating on someone. The only “handling” that situation requires is the insistance that the violent person seek treatment and make substantial changes.
Ana falls asleep in the car, and Christian wakes her up when they get home. Then he takes her inside and takes her shoes off for her, because she’s a sleepy toddler who just got to Grandma’s house:
“I had delightful visions of these around my ears,” he murmurs, staring down wistfully at my shoes.
I have delightful visions of them around your ears, too, Christian. With the heels jammed into your ear canals, spearing through your worthless brain.
Hey, speaking of violent impulses, Jenny. Jesus.
Christian takes Ana upstairs, where he removes her makeup for her, because as we have already established, she’s a fucking child who can’t care for herself.
“Ah. There’s the woman I married,” he says after a few wipes.
“You don’t like makeup?”
“I like it well enough, but I prefer what’s beneath it.”
I hate that guys feel like they can tell women whether or not to wear makeup. Hey, newsflash? We’re not wearing it to impress you. Okay, some of us are. But lots of us wear it because it’s fun. Or it makes us feel good to wear it. Why do so many men think women want to hear that they look better without makeup, that it’s some kind of compliment to criticize our appearance or give us permission to not use makeup? That’s gross, guys. It’s gross.
“Let me help you out of what little there is of this dress. It really should come with a health warning.” He turns me around and undoes the single button at the neck.
“You were so mad,” I murmur.
“Yes. I was.”
“No. Not at you.” He kisses my shoulder. “For once.”
I smile. Not mad at me. This is progress.
It’s progress that her husband doesn’t hold her responsible for the bad actions of another person. Yes, truly, I see what everyone was saying about Christian getting SOOOOO MUUUUUUCH BEEEETTTTEEEEERRRR in the third book. What was I thinking? Clearly, this is a bastion of feminism and empowerment for women.
But even though Ana wants to have sex with Christian, he won’t. Because she’s drunk (that’s never stopped him before, in fact, he used to get her drunk to get her to consent), because she’s tired (even though she’s insisting she’s not), because of the altitude (didn’t bother him in the bathroom earlier). She’s being punished, regardless of the “progress” he’s made. He won’t sleep with her, because she wore slutty makeup and a slutty dress and some other man touched her. Even though he doesn’t tell her this, it’s pretty fucking transparent; he’s ready to ravish her at a moment’s notice, until she expresses confidence in her sexuality and her body. Instead, he’s going to go work, while on vacation, because that’s something he can control.
“Close your eyes. When I come back to bed, I’ll expect you to be asleep.” It’s a threat, a command… it’s Christian.
Swoon, ladies. Swooooooon.
I grin widely, the word progress running around my brain as I drift.
And if you couldn’t tell from the fact that she’s falling asleep, the chapter is over.