Thursday, July 19, 2012

50 Shades of WTF

For anyone unfamiliar with Fifty Shades of Grey, it's a book by E L James which tells the story of a charming little S&M romance between an inexperienced young literature student and a successful businessman with a thing for silk ties. The book is wildly popular[1], so naturally it has accumulated its share of critical and humorous responses.

I've collected my favorites (so far) here. Feel free to add others in the comments. Please note that NONE OF THIS is safe for work! (Or for impressionable children who are prone to repeating things that they shouldn't. Or for elderly relatives or anyone else of a delicate constitution. At the very least you'll need headphones and a place where you won't have to explain why you're laughing.)

The first is an audio version of the book, read by Gilbert Gottfried:

The second is a reading of the book by Jon St. John - the voice of Duke Nukem, if that helps:

And, of course, there's the Karaoke version:

I have to say, I'm actually very happy to see this book selling so well. It confirms one of the fundamental principles of American society: Sex Sells. Also Freedom of Speech and Free Expression and things like that. But mainly the sex part.

[1] I first became aware of it because one of the mothers whose children attended Firstborn's birthday party admitted that she was listening to the audiobook pretty much the whole time she was there. Apparently her husband and children actually staged an intervention for her.

I have to say that this rather improved my opinion of her.


  1. I'm not happy to see it selling so well, mostly because it makes me profoundly sad when just plain terrible writing is popular. Not the sex stuff - yay sex. But this writing is just atrocious and no one should read it. You can find WAY better stuff at literotica.

  2. My favorite rant comes by way of Ferretbrain.

    I ought to be surprised that something so terribly written is popular, but I'm not. I am a *little* surprised that it's so prosaic - I expected the sex to be a little more unusual.

    But yay sexbooks. Maybe this will pave the way to some better BDSM novels - most of what's out there is terrible.

  3. This is the best 50 Shades review I've seen, bar none:

    Copy/paste the URL -- I'm terrible with HTML. Good news is that the reader this links to did reviews for all THREE books, thus negating the need for anyone else to suffer!

  4. Midori had an excellent take on it, which was that, yes, it's kind of the 'fast food' of kinky smut, but that can only be a good thing. More kinky smut out there means more people becoming kink-aware, and more people who won't blink when you accidentally let slip that you just re-tiled your dungeon- I mean, bathroom.

    But it does make for some Unsettling Facebook Moments. What do you say when your cousin mentions she's reading it. o_o

  5. I guess I'm torn. I mean, yay smut.

    But there is OMG so much wrong.


    It appears that the person who initiates the relationship, Christian, is into BDSM because his mom was a crack whore and he was abused by his pimp. Kinky people already get enough of that shit already. And I'm not even touching the hundred sexist tropes in there.

    I'm supportive of the idea that fantasy books don't have to necessarily tap into perfect depictions of people and stuff, but I do think that 50 Shades is questionable in choosing to arouse but only by showing that the dominant is Not Like Us.

    It's a bit like Twilight: yay books for women written by women. Yay tapping into the market for young women in particular, and spending time on romance as a worthwhile target for books/movies/etc. But that doesn't mean it's an unqualified good thing, or we all have to support it unconditionally. (I do think that some of the clips above fall into the "lol women" category, and not the "lol book" category.)

  6. @ Dav: If you're seeing some of those clips as laughing at women rather than laughing at Fifty Shades of Grey - in other words, if I'm understanding you correctly - then that's troubling. I didn't see them that way myself, or I wouldn't have posted them... but then, the problem with blind spots is precisely that we can't see them for ourselves.


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