I still hate Fifty Shades

I’m being besieged by trailers for Fifty Shades Darker, now that it’s out in the theaters where I live.

My opinion on the series itself notwithstanding, even if I had never heard of it before, I wouldn’t be willing to go see it. The acting is mediocre at best.

I’m really not sure what people are expecting here. The Fifty Shades series is, by and large, a threadbare excuse to write innumerable pseudo-BDSM sex scenes. It has no depth, no class, and no easy way to add any; it’s a walking talking porn (almost) without plot. And on this horrible not-plot, the film has to hang a love story that might be believable to aliens who have only had actual romance described to them using sock puppets.

Christian Gray is still an abusive waste of humanity. Anastasia Steele is still insipid and forgettable. I don’t need to go to it to know that there will be no satisfying sex scenes, thus rendering the entire experience pointless.

Any movie with 10% on Rotten Tomatoes is almost guaranteed to be a waste of time and money.

//shay

Fifty Shades Darker

I can’t believe they’re making the second one, yet here we are.

My opinion of the Fifty Shades trilogy has not improved. I still loathe it deeply, and console myself that I might be a complete unknown, but at least I don’t write like a hormonal teenager with a concussion. I have no tolerance for the twisting horror that is Christian Gray’s treatment of Ana, nor of her utter vapidness.

It’s a trilogy about a sociopath and the woman he abuses, where the woman in question is a worthless non-entity. Based as it is on Twilight, this is not surprising.

You remember I said that E.L. James next book would be a flop? Well, I did not bet on her writing a version of Fifty Shades from Christian’s perspective. Of course that waste of words would sell well.

I can but hope that the Fifty Shades Darker movie will be as ridiculous as the first. I still hope for a flop, but it seems that a third movie is inevitable at this point.

//shay

This is still a thing

I’m always confused by the tropes I see in popular erotica. Apparently the whole ‘billionaire meets middle class woman, sweeps her off her feet’ thing is still (a) a thing and (b) still so goddamn silly that it makes me want to facepalm my way back into the Stone Age.

I had a conversation with my esteemed friend about this exact thing. “It’s so tacky,” I said. “I thought that it would end once Fifty Shades burnt itself out, along with bad BDSM porn.”

“Honestly, Shay,” she replied, “It’s very simple. It’s all about escapism.”

“Well yes, I understand that. But escapism should have some element of realism in it, and these books are clearly so far beyond the horizon of silly that they might as well be in Narnia.”

She laughed at me. “But that’s why they’re so popular! Women read these because they’re completely unrealistic. A good escapist fantasy does have elements of realism in it, but when you’ve already got a job and a husband and too many children, you don’t want any reminder of what is real. Bad escapism is better than good escapism that holds elements of a life that dissatisfies you.”

I had to give that to her. It does make a lot of sense, when you think about it.¬†Go to Amazon.com, search for ‘billionaire’ in Kindle Books, and you’ll get thousands of hits, many of which are best sellers published this year. It’s rather depressing when you think about it.

I mean, I understand, really I do, why they’re so popular. But I can’t write those books, and not only because I just don’t know anything about the billionaire lifestyle. I want to write about normal people doing fun things in real relationships, not aloof assholes being brought down to earth (or something) by generic girl next door, with added sex. And this means I will probably never write a bestseller.

I guess all I can do is hope that comedy porn becomes popular. That or start publishing some really kinky shit and hoping I get sales off the shock factor.

Authors! If you have an opinion on this, talk to me in the comments. I want to know if you’ve tried this and what’s worked for you.

//shay

Why did Fifty Shades succeed…

…when other, worthier titles failed? That was the question posted on Goodreads, and here’s my answer:

Because fanfiction porn had to break out at some point, ebooks were exploding like whoah, and E.L. James got lucky by hooking into the fanbase of Stephanie Meyer’s magnum opus on how humans would act if they had their common sense removed (a.k.a Twilight).

Fifty Shades sure as hell didn’t succeed because it’s actually worth reading.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. The book is utter crap no matter what way you cut it. That’s okay, people have their tastes ‘n’ all that, and it’s fine for them to like it, but seriously – it’s crap. It doesn’t stop being crap just because it’s a bestseller.

It was probably one of the first x-rated fanfiction porn stories to be thrown at an audience outside fanfiction. I’m convinced that people bought it because they heard about it and thought ‘hey, sex. I’m totally down for that and this Harlequin bullshit is too tame.’ Then more people (and by people I mean women) bought it because their friends said it was full of sexytimes or it was so laughably bad that they just had to read it to see how bad it was.

There’s fuck all porn for women out there that you can actually read on the bus. Blame porn producers if anything, or 99% of the mainstream media – they spent years making the same dumb shit for men and left women nothing but romance novels and sexual frustration. Some women went ahead and produced their own porn, fanfiction, but they couldn’t sell it and not many had an audience. That’s what we call an unserved demographic there, kids – and that demographic has MONEY. Lots of fucking money. Given the right circumstances (‘hardcore’ porn novel in regular stores), they will bury you up to your neck in that money. Yeah, effectively it opened up the market for a whole bunch of other, better erotica writers to start raking in the moolah, and we should probably be a little thankful for that. But just a little.

Fact is, ladies ‘n’ gentlemen, Fifty Shades made millions because it was in the right place at the right time. If the deities didn’t have a sense of humor, we might have seen a much better story rise in its place, but them’s the breaks.

I could be wrong about this, of course, so I’m going to make a prediction: E.L. James’s next book will be a flop. Why? Because Meyer’s book that came out after Twilight is practically a non-entity, and she at least knows something of how a story is supposed to go. James doesn’t even know that much. So, the definitive proof of whether Fifty Shades succeeded because it has merit or because of circumstances will be whether her next one earns anything even close to it. But my money is on the flop.

//shay

I had such plans

Then I got distracted by another interesting project. I do that far too much.

It is now crazy o’ clock and I have to try to write something when my brain is full of computer code. Like the Matrix but less lame and more ‘one step away from making no sense or blowing up’.

Have you ever blown up a computer? I did once. It was a bit disappointing. All it did was sizzle a lot.

I’ve been reading the cliff notes on Fifty Shades Freed lately, and I’m not surprised to learn that it’s still a colossal train wreck of bullshit the like of which should make any reasonable mind falter. Once again, its popularity both mystifies and horrifies me. I’m still waiting to see what E.L. James comes out with next…

I should really get my head back in the game and start writing again. More free porn for everyone!

//shay

Apparently

…the soundtrack to Fifty Shades is a bestseller.

Why, honestly?! What about this utter dross makes it attractive? Why is the association with a piece of awfully bad prose so vital?

I don’t think I want to be a part of the publishing establishment if this is what I can expect from it. And these are the stewards of our culture? The self-appointed guardians of literature?

No, let’s be honest. It’s a business, and they’re just as likely to whore themselves out for money as any other. Money, not art, is the name of the game. And they can flounce around and say that books like Fifty Shades support other, more highbrow work, but it’s largely bullshit. They’re a business. Money comes first. They’re legendarily not into the habit of publishing non-economically-viable books.

I’m perfectly willing to admit that I write porn for money. And for my own amusement. I’m not going to pretend it’s anything more than what it is – and what it is, is cleverly disguised wanking material. Nothing more and nothing less.

I’ll let you know if I decide to become even more pretentious, of course, and try my hand at literary fiction. But I will never try to bullshit you about why I write.

//shay

I write these

…late at night, mostly. I can’t help thinking that this adds to the general weirdness.

I’ve been pondering lately on the nature of a sanitized fanfic, such as Fifty Shades. As we all know, it was originally a fanfic of Twilight that had its numbers filed off to avoid copyright problems. But is anyone really fooled by the result? And is it really the same story if the origin has been obscured?

I don’t know, but fanfiction has always been the best kind of remixing to me. It’s all the stories that otherwise could never be, and we need them. Culture needs experimentation, or it stagnates – and we can hardly rely on the mainstream media to take risks.

So a sanitized fanfic has its place – but it still has to be good. This is why I dislike Fifty Shades on such a deep level – E.L. James just can’t write worth a damn, and there is no way in hell she’ll have any kind of career as a writer unless she gets a lot better. But I won’t diss her series for its origin or her choice to be a fanfic writer. Hell, I started that way too…

The nature of the sanitized fanfic is a weird one. It exists in two worlds at once; that of fandom, and that of commercial writing. Trust me when I say there are big differences, and I’m not surprised that few make the jump from fandom to commercial success.

//shay