Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey: Controversy, How I loathe/love thee.

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)



When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidation.  The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man, and despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him.  Unable to resist Ana's quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too-but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey's singular tastes, Ana hesitates.  For all the trappings of success-his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family-Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control.  When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey's secrets and explores her own dark desires.



Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure by now that you've heard of the mystifying success that this book has had on the New York Times Bestseller list.  I've heard many conflicting remarks about this book, ranging from 'the best thing ever' to 'total complete garbage/mommy porn'. 

Controversy, for me, is like a moth to a flame, so I sat down to read this, determined to keep an open mind.

I make it a rule to never judge a book until I have read it.

I have read.

I have judged.

I am left scratching my head.

This one was...well...interesting is the word that jumps out at me.  I only know one way to describe it.  It's akin to watching the Teletubbies or some other equally mind-numbing children's show.  It has no real intellectual value or merit, but yet you sit there, mesmerized by the damn T.V. screen, letting it suck out your brain with zero thought as to why you can't change the freaking channel!

Really.  This IS a Porno all the way...but I'd like to explore it further, because this book can be defined by what it is...and what it isn't.



What it IS:
-Romance novel with watered down BDSM
-Started off as Twilight fanfiction (yes I have researched this, it really started out as TWILIGHT fanfiction...I'm not kidding)
-Selling out in a lot of bookstores
-And to reiterate: on The New York Times Bestseller List

What it IS NOT:
-Stellar literature
-Well written...though I have read worse...the author seems to be a novice.

So, one might ask, what the HELL is going on?!?!  Here is my take:

It boils down to one thing, SEX sells...and it really sells to women. Even more so to the three generations of women/girls that read Twilight and were left completely, um, unsatisfied....with the sex at the end of the series.  If you've read Twilight, you know the story line.  Slightly overbearing, completely rich, completely gorgeous Edward is in love with the clumsy, innocent, but brave Bella.  Their entire relationship revolves around how 'bad' Edward is for Bella, and how he spends most of his time wanting to hurt her, but trying desperately not to.  Fifty Shades is Twilight, but with the lens flipped to a darker setting and with all the chastity stripped away.  Seriously, re-read (or read for the first time) Twilight and you can clearly see the plot similarities and character traits that have been twisted and tweaked.  It's that obvious.

Which brings me to my next point.  I have no idea whether to applaud E.L. James for her genius in capitalizing on this idea or if I should start screaming "Plagiarism" at the top of my lungs!!  I am honestly having a complete mental tug of war.  On the one hand, she's profiting off of fan fiction.  This is fundamentally another author's idea!  Or is it?  All ideas are not original, they essentially come from somewhere else?  Right?  Hhhmph.  Well, the writing is hardly Pulitzer worthy.  There were several times where I could have banged my head into the wall and it would have been more entertaining.  I swear to God, if there was one more mention in this book about Ana's 'Inner Goddess', I might have embarked on a Pavlovian induced murder spree.  But could the uptight critics stop being such prudes?  It's just a sex novel.  I hardly think calling it "Mommy Porn" is fair.

I'm conflicted and confounded.

Speaking of the term "Mommy Porn", this lends itself to another question.  Why does this book get scathingly labeled "Mommy Porn"?   Look, this IS a salacious read, no doubt about it, and no one could say that it shouldn't be classified as Erotica?  But "Mommy Porn"?  Really?  Let me put it to you this way.  Men are traditionally drawn to the visual.  Women the mental.  I guess a better label for this book would be "Mental Porn".  If the boys can have their Playboys, then it should only be fair that the girls get their sexual equivalent.  OK, maybe Playboy is too tame...perhaps Hustler is a better analogy.  Either way, I HATE double standards.  So read it for the sex, but understand that this isn't some great accomplishment of the English language.

My final analysis: this is book-reading Purgatory.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't really good either...it just was.  I think I enjoyed the controversy more than the actual book, but yet I'm still hanging on to it...like I would with a bad glass of wine.  I'm drunk on the idea of the series, and I just keep chugging away!  So, here I am, completely wasted, swirling around in this black hole, wondering what will happen next.  Thinking to myself, "Damn you controversy, how I loathe and love thee, and I really hope you don't give me a hangover in the morning!"

I have no rating, I am that baffled.  I guess I could offer a piece of advice instead.  Guys, buy this book for your girlfriends/wives...you will probably benefit from it greatly.

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