It’s really not all that awful— I swear!
So you’ve obviously heard of the sensation that is sweeping the world, Fifty Shades of Grey, by the classic British woman, EL James. Quick claim to fame— she lives in Ealing, which is surprisingly close to where I live. If you haven’t heard of it (which you will have, so this explanation is pointless) it is a fan fiction that has been published. If you don’t know what fan fiction is, then you simply did not enjoy your tween years. Fan fiction is what happens when people write stories about characters from books, tv shows, movies, video games, and other media. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve got to say that I did have my own (very active, might I add) fan fiction account, where I wrote stories about Twilight. In fact I recently read them, and was struck by my own genius. No, not really, but to be fair to my 14/15 year old self, some of them are pretty hilarious. And lol no, I’m not going to give you my name. Not that you’re obsessed with me to the extent that you’d actually care.
Anyway, FSOG was written originally as a Twilight fan fiction. If you are a Twilight fan, you can see many similarities. But aside from that, the point of this thing was to say how unfair people are about FSOG. Everyone talks about how it is anti-feminist, how it’s a form of pornography, how it is terribly written and so on.
First of all, yeah the writing is appalling. I mean, she does talk a lot about her ‘inner goddess’ as well as constantly exclaiming, ‘double crap!’ and referring to her sub-conscious in weird ways. As a fellow fan-fiction-er I can tell you that it is written exactly like a fan fiction. I even re-read some of mine and they are written a bit like that, I think the phrase, ‘I felt confusion ripple through my body’ was used in one of mine. I don’t know about you, but I have never felt confusion ripple through me. But, whatever, it’s just fan fiction. No one cares. And FSOG was written as a fanfiction. People just want to read more about the stories, they only care about the characters, so it simply doesn’t matter to anyone if the writing is poor.
I think it’s so unfair when people are so mean about the writing, because it was not written as a work of literature. Plus, she’s actually got a really good fanfiction talent in that when you’re writing on fanfic, you’ve got to end every chapter in a cliffhanger. It’s freaking hard. It’s because you’ve always got to keep your readers interested. There’s so much competition, and they can just click off your story and onto another one at any time.
The story also needs to be simple enough so that your readers (who are probably reading five or six stories) can always catch on to what’s going on. If they don’t know what you’re on about they’ll get bored and confused. And because there’s so much competition, they might leave you for someone else, hence the devastatingly simple story-line. Let me tell you, keeping people interested is a skill. I’m just saying, it’s not easy to get recognised on fanfiction. Srsly.
Then there’s the pornography thing. I admit, I do not know a lot about porn, but FSOG is not porn. Yeah, Christian Grey is into, like, S&M, but the whole point is that Anastasia isn’t! She doesn’t like it, and yeah she does it for a while but that’s because she’s fallen in love with him (awwwwwwww). I don’t want to give the highly intricate plot away, but there are complications about her… Participating in the acts. To be honest, the sex scenes are not THAT explicit. Not in comparison to other fanfics… I am not the authority on erotica literature (surprising, I know) but I wasn’t really shocked by them. I had heard that FSOG was a disgusting book that you need ID to buy in Waterstones because it will corrupt your brain as soon as you read the title… And it didn’t! Damn. Better read something worse…
And the anti-feminist thing. Eugh, I can’t even be bothered with this. Before I read it I was all omggggg women have been put back two centuries by this book. I would like to tell previous me to shut up, it’s not true. It’s just what people who hate the book say about it to make others instantly hate it too. Obviously if someone says that a book is anti-woman and yet written by a woman and read by loads of women you’d be like, ‘this must be stopped! It makes us look weak!’ but it’s not.
And now we get onto the people-hating it thing. I was discussing this with a friend, (fine, it was my mum) and we came to the conclusion that a lot people are jealous of EL James. She didn’t even try to publish her book, and yet it became an instant success. I mean, an incredible success: it’s sort of unbelievable. And when you see these interviews with her, you’re like, this is so unfair! My stories on ff are witty and charming and intelligent and oh-so-well-written, and yours written like you were high, and has no sub-plots! I HAD SUBPLOTS, DAMMIT.
Really, everyone has become wrongly obsessed with this trilogy. When it is just a fanfic like any other, women read because it’s a romantic love story that ends happily. WHO COULD ASK FOR MORE? That’s all I want. Cry.
Interestingly enough, most of my fanfics had depressing ends which may have been why people got upset with me. Insight, at last. In one of them, Jacob died. I am so controversial. ♦
Editor’s Note: I have a feeling this post might spark some discussion and disagreements. I personally dislike 50 Shades of Grey quite a lot (if you want to know why you can watch Laci Green break it down way more eloquently than I could) but I think it’s really important to offer a billion different opinions on Other and let you lovely readers make up your own minds about what you think. If you disagree with what’s been said here, let us know— all our contributors are up for constructive criticism and conversations. And if you agree, that’s sweet, you should say so too! Just make sure not to get too angry, ya’ll, and keep it calm and respectful. I don’t want to incite a rebellion/flame war/hate party/bad thing here. Thanks! -Sarah