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50 Shades of What The Fuck Did I Read, And Is Everyone Huffing Gas?

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I have a lot of feelings on the subject of 50 Shades of Grey. I can separate these feelings firmly into two sub-headings, labeled Fan Fiction Writer Feelings and Professional Writer Feelings. There is some overlap between these two groups, which I could illustrate with a Venn diagram, but fuck it, I just don’t have the time or the desire.

In the Professional Writer Feelings corner, we have anger. Not just on behalf of ourselves, but on behalf of every writer out there who works hard at their craft, suffering rejection after rejection, only to find that the most talked about book in all of America is a poorly written (in both the grammatical and logical senses), barely edited piece of Twilight fan fiction. I would go so far as to say that this year, there could not be a Pulitzer awarded in the category of fiction simply because the universe needs checks and balances, and the Pulitzer committee recognizes that there can be no accolades for fiction in the same year that 50 Shades became a runaway success.

In the Fan Fiction Writer Feelings corner, there is a deep sense of shame and disgust. Fan fiction writers know (or at least, they should know, else they should not be writing fan fiction) that every piece of fic you write is done out of respect and nostalgia for the original show. You realize these are not your characters, and that it would be wrong to make a profit off them. And if you don’t know this? Congratulations on being the biggest dickhead, ever. While the rest of us were out there, trying to make fanfic appear harmless to creators, you were proving to those same, litigious creators that everything they thought about us was right all along; we’re not in it for love, we’re in it for the money. Their money.

So, I have a lot of feelings. But I thought it would be silly of me to be so pissed off at a book I had never read. I should take a look, and see what all the fuss is about, right?

At first, I thought of doing videos, much like my “Jen Reads Blood Ties” videos. But they were too mean. Go back and read the second and third paragraph again. I’ve chosen this format because it downplays the rage I was expressing in front of the camera. Really savor that a minute, and you’ll understand why I am about to do what I am about to do.

Over the next few weeks (if it takes me that long, and I pray to God that it doesn’t take me that long), I’m going to read 50 Shades of Grey. I’m going to recap it for you here, with the choicest bits of WTF that I find. And by choice, I mean it the way they talk about cuts of meat in dog food commercials. Cheap, plentiful, throwaway jabs at what has to be the most insulting book ever to rob someone of ten bucks.

“But Jen,” you ask, “Didn’t bitching about something you hated come back to bite you on the ass once?”

Yes, hypothetical reader, I’m sure it has. 99% of the time, after I express an opinion, I immediately regret it. But not this time. The way I figure it, 50 Shades of Grey has become a phenomenon above protection from the usual rules of “Thou shalt not criticize another author’s books”. It’s Harry Potter big. It’s Twilight big.

Oh, and did I mention the similarities to Twilight? I’ll be keeping tabs on those, too. The nods are not as subtle as you might imagine. And by nods, I mean, that stuff that was blatantly ripped off.

So, April 18th, 2012, I embark on a senseless journey of pain and regret.

April 18th, 2012, I’m reading 50 Shades of Grey.

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  1. Olivia

    It is not illegal to make a fanfic and then change the characters and sell them and if you even checked all the reviews she had gotten on fanfiction you would notice everyone was wishing her well and luck in her publishing. And people commented on buying the book once it was published.

    Secondly, fanfiction doesn’t have to be written out of respect or nostalgia for the original piece of work. You can write whatever you want about characters that are in that universe. You pick the shippings you prefer (if the character you like didn’t end up with the one you wanted), you can change everything about them, their appearance, attitudes, and even sexual orientation. That’s why there are lemon waring, shippings like Bellaxjacob, or even gay or lesbian shippings, in some for instance edward is human, maybe bella’s a vampire…etc. That isn’t being respectful to the original show, that’s the point in FAN-FICTION. You can write what ever you please so long as if conforms to the rule and regulations of the site..i.e no explicit sex scenes hence why she had to post the chapters on a different medium. There are no rules to fanfiction and by making up your own arbitrary rules you’re diminishing writers/readers freedom to read and write what ever they please.

    November 5, 2013
    • I can say whatever I want about fanfiction. I AM DRUNK ON THE POWER

      November 5, 2013
    • It might not be illegal, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t shady as hell.

      Technically, you CAN write anything you want in fanfiction, but Jenny specifically mentioned that we’re talking about what makes GOOD fanfiction. Sure, you can write that orgy of Snape, Harry, and Hermione in which they all become vampires and join the Avengers . . . but that doesn’t mean anyone else has to think it’s good or worth being written.

      Also, if you’re going to write a fanfic about something, odds are you like/respect the thing you’re writing about. You might be misguided about how best to show that respect (see the above vampire-Avenger-orgy), but only parodies say, “I hate this thing. Let’s write a story about it!” And there’s a place for that, but . . . yeah, I think Jenny’s totally right and I’ve babbled long enough, haven’t I?

      May 11, 2015
    • Alex

      It is illegal if it can be proven that you stole another author’s intellectual property.

      Besides, no one said it was illegal. Jenny just said it was messed up. Which I feel like most people can agree on.

      May 5, 2018
  2. I don’t know if you knew this, but there actually wasn’t a Pulitzer prize for fiction awarded in 2012; the award committee can choose just not to give one if they don’t want to. So, you got your wish.

    June 4, 2014
    • I just reread and realised that you did know that, and were making a joke based on that fact. Sorry, I didn’t get it earlier.

      June 4, 2014

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