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.