Fifty Shades of WTF

Apr 19th, 2012 | By | Category: Columns

Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotica S&M novel by E.L James, is the following:

  • What your mom excitedly told you she would be reading for her book club

And then you said, “Mom, I just hit a cyclist with my car, got to go. Of course I’m not lying to you and insinuating that I’d rather commit vehicular homicide than talk to you about a book involving butt plugs.”

  •  Originally based on E.L James Twilight fanfiction and became a major bestseller

Many struggling writers are now considering dusting off their own fanfiction and editing it for public consummation. Right? Don’t you have a very sensual Hellsing Naruto crossover you could rework? Or perhaps a disgusting Sarah/Jareth Labyrinth parody? Ugh, enough about you and your ideas, back to me.

  • In the works to become a major motion picture

It’s nice to know that in the year 2012 Hollywood has finally started making films featuring gay people, people of color and women. Oh wait, they haven’t. But who cares when there’s the possibility of Robert Pattinson and Alexis Bledel dry humping each other with socks shoved on to their ying and/or yang?!

I will admit to a certain curiosity as to what this film will be like. Certainly not an erotic classic (9 ½ Weeks) or an overreaching attempt at making explicit sex into pure artistry but failing due to good old-fashioned insufferableness (9 Songs). Frankly, what I really want is a hilarious failure (Showgirls).

I hope they rate the film "G" for "Gynecological"

  • Has a heroine named Anastasia Steele (Steele/Steel GET IT? Good, because her resolve is as steely as a Brillo pad)

She is akin to a paper towel roll—she just sits there until she’s needed to soak up fluids. She’s also SO CLUMSY you guys, like an anime character!

“Double crap – me and my two left feet! I am on my hands and knees in the doorway to Mr. Grey’s office, and gentle hands are around me helping me to stand. I am so embarrassed, damn my clumsiness.”

I doubt she’ll be this upset when she falls on something else. (His penis.)

  • Has a hero named Christian Grey (he’s fifty shades of it!)

He’s a young billionaire who has a secret dungeon. Now, most ladies would assume this dungeon has kickass Madame Tussaud wax figures of famous villainous marauders like Genghis Khan and Chaka Khan. But it’s actually a sex dungeon. Boooooo!

Oooooo, baby!

“The walls and ceiling are a deep, dark burgundy, giving a womb-like effect to the spacious room, and the floor is old, old varnished wood. There is a large wooden cross like an X fastened to the wall facing the door. It’s made of high polished mahogany, and there are restraining cuffs on each corner. Above it is an expansive iron grid suspended from the ceiling, eight-foot square at least, and from it hang all manner of ropes, chains, and glinting shackles. By the door, two long, polished, ornately carved poles, like spindles from a banister but longer, hang like curtain rods across the wall. From them swing a startling assortment of paddles, whips, riding crops, and funny-looking feathery implements.”

Nothing makes a woman’s parts go all a quiver quite like a sex dungeon that resembles a Victorian surgical theatre that has a gigantic cross because Jesus lives there.

  • Is referred to in articles with mostly positive mentions, with such titles as, “History of Surrender,” “The Fantasy Life of Working Women” and “10 Erotically Charged Books.”

Titles you might not see: “Remember In The Past When Ladies Had No Rights? That Was Sexy,” “The Imaginary Times of Women Who Work For A Living But Still Get Paid Less Than Men/Forget It, Tie Me Up!” and “Fifty Filthy Books For Your Whorelet Mind.”

  • Actually has a plot, but the summary of said plot is at the bottom of this article because I numbered my bullet points by importance (The plot is of no importance.)

Here it is anyway: Anastasia is a young woman with no self-esteem who attracts the attention of a young Ritchie Rich who has a thing for spanking and asking the woman he’s with if she’s eaten every five minutes because he’s very concerned about her health, but not her mental health, just her ability to withstand being tied to a sex rack. They argue a lot but Christian is very sexy and Anastasia is all like “he is so sexy” and her best friend is like “I’m concerned this guy is off his rocker” and Anastasia replies “he is so sexy” so she ditches her best friend and decides not to move in with her so she just doesn’t show up at the new apartment and won’t answer or return phone calls because that is what an amazing awesome heroine we can look up to would do. Christian is then like “Let’s bang S&M style” and she’s like “S&M? Like M&Ms?” and he’s like “No, you idiot, sadomasochism!” and she’s like “I don’t know what that is. As someone in my early 20s, I have yet to learn how to use the internet. Or talk to people. Or read. Anything.” (I’m kidding, Anastasia loves to read. Her favorite character is Tess of the d’Urbervilles, so as a reader you should know what kind of sad sack we’re working with here.)

  • A cautionary tale about how you should never tell the person you’re dating anything personal because they will judge you harshly when they discover it doesn’t align to their own needs

After Christian explains what S&M is, Anastasia admits she’s a virgin. One would think that someone with a narrow field of sexual taste not openly accepted by some societies would be understanding towards someone else with a sexual status that is not openly accepted by some societies. Oh, you are so wrong.

“You’re a virgin?” he breathes. I nod, flushing again.

He closes his eyes and looks to be counting to ten. When he opens them again, he’s angry, glaring at me.

“Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?” he growls.

How dare Anastasia not have lots of sex before meeting Christian so he can bang her on a Jesus rack!

  • Has very badly written sex scenes

Now, there are some very good erotic novels (find them on your own time, pervs), but this is not one of them. Especially the scene in which Christian begrudgingly fucks Anastasia the old-fashioned way.

“Aargh!” I cry as I feel a weird pinching sensation deep inside me as he rips through my virginity. He stills, gazing down at me, his eyes bright with ecstatic triumph.

RIPS THROUGH MY VIRGINITY. That is a sentence for the ages.

Anyways, they go about having sex a lot and arguing over email and then there’s the infamous bloody tampon scene which I won’t go into detail because RIPS THROUGH MY VIRGINITY. There’s also some contention about Anastasia going on birth control so Christian doesn’t have to wear a condom. I understand the desire for direct contact, that’s why I try not to wear a helmet when I eat ice cream, but again, if this guy is so obsessed with her “not eating enough” it’s obvious he doesn’t care about any other aspects of her well-being. Not just her sexual health, but her emotional/mental health as well, as Anastasia even begins to work in one of Christian’s companies at some point in the trilogy. (Yes, there are three novels dedicated to butt-plug banging. Not that there is anything wrong with butt-plug banging, but as a reader I would like to care about the characters who are butt-plug banging. Y’know?)

This all-encompassing controlling involvement in her life shouldn’t be read as empowering or sexy—it’s disturbing. Listen, I understand if corporate CEO ladies want their man to throw down on a bear skin rug, but how is any part of Christian’s treatment of Anastasia a fantasy? Because he is rich and buys her stuff? Because he’s ridiculously good looking? Because he is described as someone who has power, and as women we are still being led to believe that power is for men and not for women, and if women  have power in one aspect of our lives, we have to give it up (heh) in some other aspects to be truly feminine?

Or it could just be RIPS THROUGH MY VIRGINITY.


After reading this critical analysis of her novel, E.L James dried her tears with a stack of 500-dollar bills.

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