Everywhere I turn I see mention of “50 Shades of Grey.”
After seeing a reference to this book, or simply “Mr. Grey,” in a “wink wink nudge nudge” manner of joke that I was not in on one too many times, I finally ̶l̶̶o̶̶o̶̶k̶̶e̶̶d̶ ̶i̶̶t̶ ̶u̶̶p̶ googled it. Frankly I am amazed at the fact that there is any to-do at all. From all counts, it’s not particularly well written in terms of the actual prose, so the substance of the thing must be what’s so intriguing to people that its surpassed the Harry Potter level of popularity. Come to find out there’s all this ruckus and book banning going on over some BSDM (that’s Bondage/Submission/Domination/Masochism, for the acronym challenged out there), what it all boils down to is that its a smut novel which originated as some “Twilight” based fan-fiction.
And really? REALLY? Come on, people… this isn’t new stuff here. (I’ve seen fanfic of Buffy boffing Spike and Angel together, and that’s if she’s even in the room with them. I prefer they leave Angel out of it, because usually my Blondie-Bear is played down by the Angel-shippers and emasculated while Broody gets all the glory. Puh-leeeze… As IF! Whatever, Spike’s been tapping that Slayer-ass even though she couldn’t stand him all that time, and I don’t recall her calling out Angel’s name… ) Smut has been around forever in all the bodice ripper romance novels buried shallowly under a cover story of pirates or swashbucklers. Heck some of the teen stuff is riddled with it – even Judy Blume gave it a try. But you want a nice exploration of the BSDM psychology try the old Anne Rice erotica, also a trilogy and written under the name A.N. Roquelaure, starting with “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty” which has all the same ideas from what I can tell of the synopsis of Grey. I read it in what, high school? And that wasn’t even my first exposure to the idea.
THAT came in a paperback novel when I was 13 while in China with my mother, who had already read it and had GIVEN IT TO ME TO READ. That actually surprised me quite a bit, but you can never tell what my mom will do, and it wasn’t the whole meat of the story, just sort of a side dish involving spanking and a riding crop or two in the hands of a woman who was tempted to cheat on her husband. Maybe it was the only thing in English around that she could provide to assuage my boredom of being surrounded by an entire country of people who didn’t speak my language. Anyway, try starting with Prince Charming awakening the Princess by de-floration while she’s still unconscious rather than a kiss before taking the now nude Beauty back to his own castle as his slave. I’d wager its better on the prose anyway and frankly I liked it better than her mainstream work, which tends to be a little overwhelming in its painting the background and scenery and slight on actual action. Rice’s BSDM smut is better at cutting to the chase.
That the work is derivative is not the reason for my scorn but the fact that there is any buzz over it at all is. The flop movie with Dan Akroyd and Rosie O’Donnell was only loosely “based” on Anne Rice’s more modern take on the subject in “Exit to Eden” and was only capitalizing on the idea and popularity and tease of the sex stuff from the book. But it was carried off as a comedy rather than the tale of romance it was and missed the point entirely. Even the book was sort of “Sleeping Beauty Lite” in terms of the exploration of the BSDM dynamic in the first place, so I am seeing once again the results of the weird sexual taboo here in the U.S. that turns adults back into awkward adolescents every time you mention birth control.
It’s stupid that I even know this “50 Shades of Grey” exists because the only reason I do is that someone got all bent out shape trying to ban it for being porn. Here’s what I don’t get: if porn is not banned, why even try with the book burning shit? Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. People are acting like they’ve never read a book befo-! Oh, wait….