50 Shades of Terrible Writing (aka: Stop Biting Your Lower Lip!)

fifty shades film actors

Ooh, Mr. Grey…whatever do you plan to do with that tie?

Yesterday was the big day — the release date of one of the most highly anticipated movie trailers this year. That’s right — Fifty Shades of Grey has at last been made into an NC-17 film for our viewing pleasure. Fifty Shades of Guilty Pleasure. Fifty Shades of Smut. Fifty Shades of Oh-My-God-Is-That-Even-Possible? That adorable pair of fun-loving sex addicts will be portrayed by actors Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. (Oh my — is it just me, or did the temperature just spike a few degrees in here?)

Cue the giggling teenagers! Cue the feminist backlash! Cue feeding frenzy of housewives with longing in their eyes! Cue the scandalized conservatives holding angry picket signs in front of movie theaters across the nation!

The uproar surrounding the Fifty Shades film is unsurprising. After all, when the books first hit the shelves, they released a firestorm that had half the nation burning with desire and the other half burning with outrage. (Now I am giggling to myself, imagining a horde of Sarah Palin wannabes and male-bashing misandrists chasing down poor Christian Grey and attacking him with his own private stash of sex weapons).

Yes, I read Fifty Shades of Grey. And one of the sequels. For purely educational reasons, of course. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And here’s the thing: these angry hordes have got it all wrong. You see, they are burning books over the issue of sex. Consensual sex between two adults. Yes, violent, wild, passionate sex. But still — two consenting adults. Yes, sadomasochistic sex, sex with riding crops and cuffs, sex with toys I have never even heard of before. But still, two consenting adults, behind closed doors (or elevator doors, at least), who are clearly turned on and happy with their choices. cuffs for the couple

Sex, control, and BDSM is not the thing that the world should be protesting. The thing that seriously sucks in the 50 Shades books is the writing. The books are filled with repetitive language, over-baked adjectives, and such unrealistic dialogue that I had to remind myself that it wasn’t meant to be a humor novel.

An example of a typical line from Fifty Shades: I can tell from his accent that heโ€™s British. (You don’t say! Well, British accents have a way of cluing us in).

Another literary jewel: โ€œArgon? It rings a distant bell from chemistry classโ€”an element, I think.โ€

If not for the fact that I was reading on my Kindle app, I would have thrown the book across the room after that line. Seriously. Bad writing like this should be a crime. Forget protesting the upcoming movie — I should start an outraged literary group and lock E.L. James’ editor in Christian Grey’s Red Room of Pain to pay for exposing us to such filth (the bad writing, not the sex). Maybe I will. But first, I really should go and read the third book in the trilogy. Laters baby! little red riding crop

11 responses to “50 Shades of Terrible Writing (aka: Stop Biting Your Lower Lip!)

  1. I’m glad I missed this publishing phenomenon – sounds like truly awful writing!

    Did you know that William T. Vollmann lives in Sacramento?!?

    I have a colleague at work here who is so homesick for the mountains, the coast, the foothills, the river – I wish I could move there now ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yes. Truly awful. The writing, that is. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I had no idea who William T. Vollmann was until I looked him up. Are his books any good? I have such a hard time evaluating modern authors and deciding whether their novels are worth my time. When I get a break from school, I will probably read either Catch-22 or The Slaughterhouse Five. Not sure which.

      Surely somewhere in Sacramento, there is a person who is homesick for Texas. Well, I won’t lie and say that California isn’t the greatest state in the nation. That’s pretty much a given, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Heehee…what can I say? We have amazing beaches, giant redwoods, gorgeous mountains, Hollywood, San Francisco, Los Angeles, The 49ers, gold, incredible ethnic diversity, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, deserts full of Joshua trees, the Golden Gate Bridge, Disneyland…

    • …bountiful farms, fruit orchards, excellent skiing and snowboarding, a grizzly bear on our flag, The Terminator as our former governor, boba tea shops galore, California cuisine, the BEST wines in the world, great sushi and dim sum, some pretty cool caves, a wealth of wildlife, gold rush towns, did I already say San Francisco? ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. … Great hotsprings, the Eastern High Sierra, amazing mountain biking and camping and hiking, gorgeous rivers, great avocadoes, awesome surf, great culture, the home of skateboarding …

    I’m not sure I can say very much productive about modern authors, even though I took a class on modern literature at Cornell, most of it just doesn’t really resonate with me. I did like Catcher in the Rye ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I do have a bunch of favorites!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Off the top of my head: The Extended Phenotype, Euclid’s Window, Three Scientists and their Gods, The Mapmaker’s Wife, Builders of the Pacific Northwest, The Age of Wonder, The Real Price of Everything, Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists, The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What comes Next, The Most of P.G. Wodehouse, The Life of the Cosmos, Caught Inside, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, Unweaving the Rainbow, Climbing Mount Improbable, Into the Wild, The Drunkard’s Walk, The Metaphysical Club, The Prize … so many great books, so little time to read!

    I would have to say that books are my favorite possessions (well, it would be a close thing between books vs. surfboards and wetsuits).

    • What an impressive list! Would you believe that I haven’t read a single one of those books? But after looking at some of the descriptions, I now would really like to read a few — especially Into the Wild, The Mapmaker’s Wife, and Caught Inside. Well, I also have a lot of favorites (though none are non-fic, I’m afraid ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). I will have to narrow it down to five: To Kill a Mockingbird, East of Eden, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and Brave New World. Easy to place those five at the top of the list, because they are each so profound and moving.

      Books are my 2nd fave. possession. But last summer, I learned for the first time to let go, and gave away at least 500 books to charity. It was hard to do, but I am trying to live more simply, with fewer possessions. I am learning to embrace using the Kindle app on my iPad, and now have a growing collection there (another reason why I am addicted to my iPad). I still prefer the feel and smell of paper books, but there’s a trade-off.

  4. I read about 50 pages before I moved on to another book. I am neutral to B/D and masochism although I know someone is into aerial suspension with hooks in the back. Not my cup of tea although the notion appeals to me in the same way fasting in search of visions, sensory deprivation tanks, or snacking on mushrooms in a Chiapas hammock does. Sadism does not float my boat. You should take advantage of the hot springs, however. The last one I was at Hot Creek in the Owens valley. Tassajara Hot Springs in the mountains behind Big Sur is part of a Zen retreat. Esalen in Big Sur has a long history with Fritz Perls, Henry Miller and other interesting people.

    • I will definitely try a hot spring one day. ๐Ÿ™‚ The only time I ever encountered any was in Yellowstone, and those gorgeous pools are NOT for bathing in! Heehee.

      As for BDSM, I don’t know. I’ve never tried it. Nor cosplay, nor burlesque dancing for my partner, nor a million other things that other couples have tried together. It sounds interesting, but who knows if I’d actually like it?

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