I have a friend who was recently dragged to see The Adventures of Tintin with her husband and eight year old son. She spent the rest of the afternoon complaining about it to me. “It was boring, there was no romance.” I countered that it wasn’t a romance movie, it was a kid’s action movie. “It doesn’t matter,” she replied, “movies without romance are boring.” I tried to explain to her that it was an action movie aimed at 10 year old boys and that a 10 year old boy’s idea of romance is feeling guilty after punching a girl in the head. She would have none of it, all movies need romance she said. This went on and on and on to the point where I prayed that she was just kidding with me, otherwise my friend was stupid. I mean, it’s not like I demand more onscreen decapitations in episodes of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (that would have made me actually watch that show, though). Some things are just are just not for you.
50 Shades of Grey is obviously not for me. So, who the hell is it for?
The big story behind FSoG is that it’s finally porn that women can read, secretly, thanks to the growth of e-readers. It is something that has never existed before. “Mommy porn,” the pundits are calling it. That makes sense except for the part where it doesn’t.
For this theory to make sense we have to believe that there is a monumentally large group of women who are unable to use the world’s largest collection of erotic materials to find something diddleworthy (that’s not a real word). To understand how easy it is to find erotic reading materials on the internet (even if you can’t figure out how to Google “BDSM erotica”) go here and type in any common, English noun. Sort by price – lowest to highest – and try not to find smut in the free to $2.99 price range, often written by the very women who we are told are the FSoG demographic.
You can’t do it.
Fifty Shades of Grey costs $10. The economics doesn’t make sense, but that Anastasia Steele is monumentally dumb does.
EL James is not a good writer, she admits this. She also admits to being confused and surprised that FSoG has been a hit. That being said, it surprises me that it generated buzz, but not that it was a hit after it generated buzz. There are no characters in FSoG, there are only character types. There is nothing to Anastasia Steele, she is a blank slate, readers can relate to her because she’s empty, there’s nothing about her stop you from completely projecting yourself on her. This is a woman who’s goal in life is “to get a job.”
Similarly, Christian Grey is a bad boy, he’s a stalker, he gives mixed signals. You know that he’s going to need to be saved from himself by the love of a good woman and that woman is
you Anastasia. It goes on and on, KATHERINE KAVANAUGH (seriously?!?!?!?!?!?) is the alpha female/rich friend that you wish you had who doesn’t mind the fact that you, basically, leech off her. Jose “DIOS MIO!” Rodriguez is that one minority you know, also super hot but just in the friend zone.
This is a poorly written, rote, romance book that appeals to women who want to be “edgy” because all of their friends are “edgy.”
Eh, could be worse.