Fifty Shades Of Meh, Who Cares, That Book Sucked And So Will The Movie
It's baaaaaaaaack. Just as we were all beginning to forget that terrible, TERRIBLE Twilight-inspired tripe called Fifty Shades of Grey -- do not even get me started on how 50 kinds of sad it is that E.L. James enjoyed Twilight so much, she wrote her very own fan-fic trilogy, which is basically the same story except with more sex, but not the wolf-on-virgin kind, and no sparkly vampires, and excuse me, but vampires do NOT sparkle, goddamnit, everyone knows that -- now we get to relive the pain on the big screen.
Of course we all remember how all the rage Fifty Shades was. It was SO all the rage that even Very Serious Writers like Ruth Marcus and Gene Weingarten and self-professed prude Mitch Albom debased themselves by reading the book so they could scoff at the little people who also read the book, but for pleasure not clickbait.
In case you're one of those people who wants to pretend you totally did not read any of those books -- and you know who you are, AND YES YOU DID -- allow me to bring back all the bad memories for you.
Way back in 2012, there was absolutely nothing else happening in the world, so everyone decided to read this SO HOT! SO SEXY! series, even though they were really embarrassed to be caught reading it on the subway because everyone knows you are only supposed to read Great Literature on the subway and save your sexytime stories for when you are alone in a bubble bath, eating chocolates and sipping wine, surrounded by scented candles, your shower nozzle close at hand.
The story is narrated by never-been-kissed uber-virgin Anastasia Steele, a wannabe journalist who is never going to be a journalist because she is TERRIBLE at the words. Seriously terrible:
As one Amazon.com reviewer noted, “characters roll their eyes 41 times, Ana bites her lip 35 times, Christian’s lips ‘quirk up’ 16 times, Christian ‘cocks his head to one side’ 17 times, characters ‘purse’ their lips 15 times, and characters raise their eyebrows a whopping 50 times.
And in case that doesn't convince you, according to this epic review, which hates on the book so beautifully that it almost justifies the existence of the book, she also says "oh my" 79 times, like that is something the young kids these days actually say, and mentions her "inner goddess" 58 times, BARF. Sorry, Ms. Steele, there will be no Pulitzer in your future, so you should probably just meet a really hot mystery man who has made a gazillion dollars by the age of 27 doing, um, vague business stuff to take care of you, perhaps with a clever, ironic, metaphor-type name, like Christian Grey, because that is not trying too hard AT ALL.
Christian makes Anastasia want him SO BAD by being a total dick to her, but spending lots of money -- because women love to be treated like pond scum as long as you buy us stuff -- and he full on pops her cherry, and they do all kinds of sex that is supposed to be shocking, I guess, if the only kind of sex you've ever had is the unorgasmic baby-making missionary-position kind, and then there is a whole bunch of drama that is BO-RING because, let's face it, you're only reading the books for the sex parts anyway, and then they live happily ever after, the end. (Oh, I forgot to say spoiler alert. Sorry.)
Lemme be clear: I don't care if people want to read bad books or watch bad movies. But having survived the Great Fifty Shades Philosophical Debate of 2012, I'm not especially thrilled to have these conversations all over again. You know, the conversations about how SHOCKING! it is that ladies enjoy reading sexytime stories, like that is some kind of new thing. Hell, even Mrs. Dick Cheney wrote her own sad version of a steamy sexytime story way back in 1981, long before everyone had to teach their kids about blowjobs, thanks a LOT, Bill Clinton.
And all of the puritanical judgmental blah blah blah about, as Mitch Albom called it, "not your typical sex"? Yup, I could easily live the rest of my life without that. I don't know what "typical sex" is supposed to be -- apparently, it includes "a little less p-word, a little less v-word" because even though Mitch is a supposed grown-up, he cannot bring himself to say PENIS and VAGINA --- but my ovaries curl up in the fetal position and cry every time people try to dictate what kind of sex is "typical," because that, my friends, is a slippery man-on-dog slope to self-righteous sons of bitches trying to write their own laws to regulate the kinds of sex -- the gay kind, the unmarried kind, the for-pleasure-not-babies kind -- that they think is icky and ewwww and should be publicly shunned, if not outright outlawed.
Without getting all TMI on you (no, I am not going to tell you what I keep in the drawer next to my bed, so don't even ask), I'm pretty sure I've had PENIS and VAGINA sex that Mitch Albom would consider "not typical," and WHO CARES? It's safe and consensual, so really, does it matter if it involves -- shudder, gasp -- ropes or handcuffs or role-playing or slap-and-tickle or whatever else I and my partner du jour enjoy?
The first round of conversations about Shades was painful enough, and not in the hurts-so-good way. Aside from the terrible, TERRIBLE writing and the actually pretty boring sex scenes, the series also perpetuated all the worst kinds of stereotypes about people who are into BDSM and kink and do not blush at saying PENIS and VAGINA.
As sexspert Pamela Stephenson Connolly, who has studied BDSM communities, explained in The Guardian:
But, most annoyingly, the story demonises BDSM – the term for the erotic style comprising bondage, domination, and sado-masochism – and those who enjoy it. The male protagonist, Christian Grey, is portrayed as a cold-hearted sexual predator with a dungeon (that word has been wisely swapped for "playroom"), full of scary sex toys. Worst of all is the implication that his particular erotic style has developed because he is psychologically "sick".
Frankly, in BDSM terms, Grey is a lightweight. He eschews many fairly standard interests, although he is an expert at the "mind-fuck". Even novices, however, would know that his use of cable ties is a very bad idea (to avoid nerve-damage and scarring, soft, thick rope is de rigueur).
I think it would be fan-fucking-tastic if we could act our age, not our shoe size, when it comes to sex. If we were capable of talking and behaving like grown-ups, without trying to define "typical" sex and, consequently, without judging and discriminating against people whose sex doesn't meet that narrow definition of "typical," whatever the hell it is, I don't know, it's not clear exactly, that's sort of the point, everyone's idea of sex is different and THAT IS OKAY. (Except for Rick Santorum. His idea of sex is that you should most definitely not enjoy it because sex is for making babies, not orgasms, and let us all have a second of sympathy for poor Mrs. Santorum.)
At a minimum, it would be great if we could get beyond blushing at words like PENIS and VAGINA. Remember when Michigan state Rep. Lisa Brown was INDEFINITELY BANNED from the House floor just for saying the word "vagina"? Yes, that happened, so it's no wonder we cannot handle the idea of consenting adults getting it on with props or whatever.
But of course Fifty Shades the book didn't exactly initiate that grown-up conversation, and it's a safe bet the movie won't either. So let's just get the giggling and eye-rolling over with already, so we can go back to forgetting it.
Follow Kaili Joy Gray on Twitter. She has no problem saying PENIS and VAGINA.