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Fifty Shades Drekker: or Bile, Spleen, Hatred, and Mockery

This is a continuation of the topic Fifty Shades of Drek.

Literary Snobs

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1kswolff
Sep 2, 2012, 11:03am Top

Fifty Shades Darker ... I fart in your general direction. You're mother smelt of elderberries, you electric donkey bum biter.

OK, snobs, vent forth your bile, spleen, hate, and mockery at this "book." Ready, set, go!

2anna_in_pdx
Sep 2, 2012, 1:06pm Top

*Your* / grammar nazi

3kswolff
Sep 2, 2012, 2:09pm Top

2: My translation from the medieval French is not the best.

Did someone say something about creepy/disturbing fan fiction sex scenes? Well, here ya go:

http://www.cracked.com/article_19992_5-fan-fiction-sex-scenes-you-wont-believe-e...

4Gayle_C._Bull
Sep 2, 2012, 7:36pm Top

>3 kswolff:: why, oh, why, did you have to post a link to that article. I was blissfully believing that bad sexual writing was limited merely to aspiring novelists who hadn' t yet learned their craft. Now I have to live with the knowledge that 50 Shades of Grey is not the worst written sex fiction possible. Such a cruel disillusionment!

5guido47
Sep 3, 2012, 1:36am Top

Thanks, Karl, #3.

I followed many of their myths (including the USA beer is 'piss' myth), still not sure about that one though. :-)

Keep up the good work and I will "chuck & praise" at the same time.

A sight to look forward to?

6nymith
Sep 3, 2012, 10:24am Top

Did we really need a part two to this thread? This many months later and you people are still bitching about this thing? To the extent you need ANOTHER thread to contain your bile?

Yes, there's bad writing in the world and yes, it sells. This is NOTHING new, and the endless carping is starting to look about as obnoxious as the book in question. Fifty Shades is not being marketed as "literature" nor is it being hailed as a great work of literary and intellectual merit. None of you even needs to read it to know it's crap. You are shooting fish in a barrel. Why is it that nobody is taking to task a work of fiction in the literary field and denouncing it as dogmeat undeserving of its rewards and accolades? Maybe because it would actually take effort? As in, you'd have to read it first?

I'm not defending EL James, god knows. But posterity is going to take care of her. Her books won't live on and her wealth (in this economy) is probably doomed anyway. So why continue this tirade?

7CliffBurns
Edited: Sep 3, 2012, 12:19pm Top

Sadly, the E.L. James/TWILIGHT/fan fic phenomenon is not going away soon enough (for me). Spin-offs are begetting spin-offs, traditional publishers trolling through the Marianas Depths of the self-publishing offal, dredging up horrible, eyeless, crap-eating monsters, mass promoting them and collecting the dividends. Remember the article in the previous thread that showed the profits at Random House thanks to FIFTY SHADES? Mind-boggling!

The publishers have committed themselves to a course that, since the multi-nationals bought them up in the 90's, has reduced them to mere profit machines, no attempt to pay lip service to good writing. They are willing to stoop to new lows in their efforts to achieve double digit growth in sales, year after year. The downward spiral shows no signs of abating, marginal/casual readers distorting the marketplace with their e-readers and free novel downloads, leaving true bibliophiles very much out in the cold...

8PolymathicMonkey
Sep 3, 2012, 11:34am Top

I'm not sure why this thread was made, as the other one is still going on. However, Nymith, if you don't like it, simply hide it.

9Gayle_C._Bull
Edited: Sep 3, 2012, 5:35pm Top

>6 nymith:: Cliff is right. This isn't just about one book. It's about a mentality that's makes a mockery of writing, and then criticizes those who defend good writing as "snobs" and "elitists". Fifty Shades isn't the first book to do this, nor will it be the last, but it one of the most popular and that makes it one of the most antagonistic to those people who want to remind publishers that solid writing skills matter.

10nymith
Sep 4, 2012, 5:29pm Top

Perhaps it's just my mood of autumnal resignation. The majority are morons and industries care nothing about their product and are only in it for the money. This book is a product of something much larger and worse than it is. Therefore, even reading the criticisms of it depresses me and hence I have been waiting with some impatience for the Fifty Shades thread to die out.

11anna_in_pdx
Sep 4, 2012, 9:01pm Top

http://wonkette.com/483138/american-literature-saved-bin-laden-death-porn-displa...

Hello everyone, I thought this was sort of half on topic, which is good enough for me.

12TerryHawley
Sep 5, 2012, 3:51am Top

Posterity may take care of Fifty Shades of Grey, but it won't do anything for good writers we will never know about because of that kind of crap.

13CliffBurns
Sep 5, 2012, 9:40am Top

Aye, Terry, there's the rub. Talentless cows like E.L. James and Stephanie Meyer take up shelf space from REAL writers. And that's sickening.

14CliffBurns
Sep 5, 2012, 4:23pm Top

15kswolff
Sep 5, 2012, 9:03pm Top

14: Seriously, how could anyone tell the difference? I keep mistaking Kristen Stewart for a block of wood and that Pattison character for a brick that had fallen asleep.

16DugsBooks
Edited: Sep 6, 2012, 4:19pm Top

Off in a different direction, I am reading Children of the Albatross by Anais Nin, in fits and pauses, and when she describes her sexual encounter when she deflowers a 17 year old guy I was surprised at the lyrical nature of the description. The incident makes me wonder if it was an inspiration for Maddona's "LIke a Virgin" song! Probably even a hotter scene for the female gender when read.

::edit:: moved by request to the intelligent alternatives topic.
http://www.librarything.com/topic/138325#3580011

17anna_in_pdx
Sep 6, 2012, 2:58pm Top

Hey why isn't 16 on our other "good erotica" thread? :)

18gravitysbook
Sep 8, 2012, 1:23pm Top

>7 CliffBurns: & >9 Gayle_C._Bull::

Proving your point, there's this horrifying experiment.

http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/weblog/comments/the_diamond_club_an_erotic_li...

This hoax novel, contrived to resemble 50 Shades and launched into the top ten sellers on iTunes by the hoaxers' audience, is now making serious money. So much for irony because, as you've pointed out, this is now a model for publishing success.

19CliffBurns
Sep 8, 2012, 2:15pm Top

Godawful situation, isn't it? And, meanwhile, countless good books remain unread.

20kswolff
Sep 8, 2012, 3:07pm Top

19: Hasn't that always been since the situation since the beginning of time? Not to sound unduly cynical, but the Fifty Shades trend only exacerbates a situation that is a pre-existing condition in our culture. My only hope is that, by some dint of reverse alchemy, Fifty Shades will act like a gateway drug. People in search of BDSM literature may eventually find themselves reading quality BDSM literature, like, say, Venus in Furs by Sacher-Masoch. Unlike Sade, Masoch's novels are surprisingly decent and non-explicit, thereby not offending socially conservative bourgeois trash who read Fifty Shades of Grey. Come on, Real Murrica, you know you want the good stuff, even if it was written by a foreigner, albeit a white European foreigner.

21gravitysbook
Sep 8, 2012, 6:30pm Top

Not to explode your hopes, but "socially conservative bourgeois trash," if that is indeed who is reading the topic book, seem to be pack animals with an "everybody's reading it, I don't want to miss out" mentality. Basically, consumers. Will they really go explore on their own works that are not vetted by the current marketplace?

On the other hand, I've read some Sade but as yet, not Sacher-Masoch. Your recommendation has my interest.

22Gayle_C._Bull
Sep 9, 2012, 7:56am Top

Gravitysbook makes a good point. I really wonder how many people who have bought 50 Shades have actually got past page 10. Or how many of them even started reading it. If everyone is simply buying this on "I don't want to miss out" mentality, then there's a very good chance that it's being used as a doorstop (or just taking up MBs on their e-reader) once they buy it.

23PolymathicMonkey
Sep 9, 2012, 8:43am Top

>21 gravitysbook:/22 But I know several people who've borrowed or otherwise got it just to see if it was really as bad as everyone says - people who get it just so they can be sure, and get an idea for themselves about it, generally are not about about to go giving money for it.

24kswolff
Edited: Sep 9, 2012, 10:16am Top

22: If everyone is simply buying this on "I don't want to miss out" mentality, then there's a very good chance that it's being used as a doorstop (or just taking up MBs on their e-reader) once they buy it.

Isn't this the same reason people buy Jonathan Franzen novels? Granted, Franzen actually knows how to write and could probably pass Creative Writing 101 -- Stephanie Meyer, F; EL James, F-.

But there is something darker and more disturbing at work here. Cliff goes on about this in rather apocalyptic tones. One can see a rather creepy trend in American middlebrow reading habits: the popularity of Fifty Shades and Twilight, for Your Inner 14-Year-Old Girl Who Didn't Take High School Sex Ed; the popularity of Atlas Shrugged and Rand's brand of turgid, overwritten sex-scenes-as-rape; the popularity of the Bible, in addition to all these literary gems. And you wonder why America has lost its collective shit. Anyone who doesn't see a contradiction between the Gospel of Jesus and the Gospel of Galt either has a serious case of cognitive dissonance or is too dumb to notice any difference.

Yes, populist lit is usually bad, but does it have to be this bad? It's one thing to have lowbrow tastes. I loves me some rockabilly and rat rods, but this is nobrow. I'd liken it to Neanderthals, but Neanderthals at least had vestiges of culture and tool-making skills.

The worst part of Fifty Shades -- and this is its legacy from the Twilight series -- is its unsettling degree of propriety. From the reviews I've read, it seems like nobody swears in the book. Ana just says, "Oh, golly" while undergoing tortures that would offend Betty Page and Ted Bundy Actually, Christian sounds like a wealthier version of Ted Bundy, minus the charm and real-life characterizations. Hell, there's more eroticism in that SNL series where technology humps:

http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/02/deschanel-samberg-technology-hump/

25anna_in_pdx
Sep 9, 2012, 2:18pm Top

Neanderthals definitely had brows, too.

26Gayle_C._Bull
Edited: Sep 9, 2012, 9:52pm Top

25, Quote: "Neanderthals definitely had brows, too."

Well, how about earthworm taste then. They definitely have no brows. And no culture or tool-making skills either.

24: I'm not saying that using "mob mentality" isn't (or shouldn't be) a part of book marketing, but at least if there are people who are buying it and not reading it, then there is some hope for the reading taste of the Western world. To buy a book because it was recommended by a friend or co-worker is one thing. To sit down and read a badly written book from cover-to-cover without noticing that it's truly awful takes an entirely different (and tasteless) mentality.

It's like when you hear that a truly terrible film has a great opening weekend. Those opening weekend profits don't tell you how many people walked out before the film ended or how many regretting even taking their wallet out of their pocket that evening.

27timspalding
Edited: Sep 10, 2012, 1:14am Top

A recent report on ebook prices from Douglas County in Colorado—who refuse to sign confidentiality agreements—uncovers that they spend $47.85 per ebook of Fifty Shades and have spent $3,200 this year on it. This is a county with fewer than 300,00 inhabitants, where they spend $6,200 per public school pupil. Do Colorado taxpayers really want that kind of money going there?

Alternately, why not go direct? At $150/hour for a Dominiatrix and $10/hour for a high-school writing student, 40 citizens could get a half-hour of one-on-one sexual degradation and bad writing.

28CliffBurns
Sep 10, 2012, 8:44am Top

I like the way you think, Tim.

29guido47
Sep 11, 2012, 4:12am Top

Hi there Guys (and the more adventurous girlls)

"Miss" Lash here, "giggle", no i have not yet married *sigh*, but I know what you big fellars want.

Not a bad effort for an old male!!!
Where do I sign up for my contract?
AND (MORE IMPORTANTLY) where is my cheque?

31anna_in_pdx
Sep 11, 2012, 12:13pm Top

Ha! That would be a short book.

33timspalding
Sep 11, 2012, 5:49pm Top

They should get together to stamp something on the cover and release them into local bookstores.

34Gayle_C._Bull
Sep 11, 2012, 9:43pm Top

I hate that 50 Shades of Grey is so popular, and that it's reads as thought the sexual revolution hadn't happened, but I would never condone burning a book.

Perhaps A Woman's Refuge need to be reminded of this idea:
"A truly great library contains something to offend everyone."

I remember reading a review of a book several years ago that foretold something like this. The book was a satire of both low-brow and high-brow readers. In the book, the low-brow readers end up celebrating any work regardless of how badly written it is while trying to get Shakespeare banned from school libraries because it's inaccessible to modern readers. The high-brow grow so infuriated by this that they start making lists of mindless books that should never be read and begin burning the worst offenders. The reviewer remarked that he laughed quite delighted at the descriptions of the low-brow readers behaviour but the book lost him when the high-brow readers began burning books because no one who loved reading would ever do that. Guess the reviewer was wrong.

I wish I could remember the name of the book or the author now. I love to read it now that some of his "predictions" are coming true.

35timspalding
Sep 11, 2012, 10:17pm Top

"A truly great library contains something to offend everyone."

Fine. I agree. But does a smallish county library system need to spent many thousands of dollars on duplicate copies?

36wookiebender
Sep 11, 2012, 10:45pm Top

Regarding book burning, I've actually been scouting for a copy of Twilight to chop up and use as origami paper for paper cranes. (Miss Boo and I have been doing some guerrilla art in our local neighbourhood, leaving origami cranes in the trees and bushes, etc.) I think origami is a better use of paper than Twilight. I might widen my search to 50 Shades.

(My problem is I'm only willing to spend $1 on it. It's obviously popular enough that even second hand, prices are ~$10. Yeesh.)

(I do have a copy of the wonderful The Spy Who Came in From the Cold that is falling apart and would be fine for this. But I can't bear to chop it up, even if it is only fit for the recycling bin, and it's bloody easy to get hold of a nice new pristine copy. It would be sacrilegious to chop up a decent book, IMO.)

37Gayle_C._Bull
Sep 11, 2012, 11:14pm Top

>35 timspalding:: The money is already spent. Is burning the books going to put that money back in the library's coffers? I think not. Better to sell them second hand while the price is still $10 a pop, and at least recoup some of the money.

38timspalding
Sep 12, 2012, 12:17am Top

>35 timspalding:

I was referring to message #27. They're library ebooks. They can't be given or resold. Nor burned. :)

39Gayle_C._Bull
Sep 12, 2012, 8:57am Top

38: Then it's no wonder that library has purchased so many of them. They take no shelf space from more deserving works, it supplies the public's current demand for the book (giving the library a good name among people who might not ordinarily support their local library), and since ebooks are substantially cheaper, it doesn't reduce the library's ability to purchase more deserving works. I'd say that's a very business savvy act on the part of library.

40timspalding
Sep 12, 2012, 9:21am Top

and since ebooks are substantially cheaper

No, ebooks for libraries are not cheaper. Each copy of Fifty Shades costs them $48.

41anna_in_pdx
Edited: Sep 12, 2012, 3:58pm Top

40: Yikes! something should be done. Books to libraries should be cheaper than private copies, not more expensive. To help subsidize the libraries. We need libraries!

ETA: However in the case of 50 shades probably we don't need the libraries to buy this junk at all, however, other patrons would probably disagree with me. After all I think it is still pretty high up on that sidebar of what people here on LT are reading, as well...

42Gayle_C._Bull
Sep 12, 2012, 7:22pm Top

40: Why on earth would it cost a library 6 - 8 times the price to buy an ebook as it does a person on the street? That sounds decidedly fishy. Either ebook publishers are deliberately attacking libraries, or someone with a grudge against ebooks is trying to discredit ebooks publishers by saying they are charging 6 - 8 times the price. Can I ask you where you got the number from? Are you a librarian?

43GwenH
Edited: Sep 12, 2012, 8:27pm Top

42: I believe the rationale is that a library book would get a great deal more readings than a private copy. In fact, I can't remember where I heard this, but publishers are either thinking of, or have already implemented, for a library license for an e-book to expire after it has been checked out a certain number of times.

edit - well, it wasn't hard to find an example
http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/home/889452-264/harpercollins_puts_26_loan_cap....

44timspalding
Edited: Sep 12, 2012, 8:30pm Top

>42 Gayle_C._Bull:

This is a tangent, but this is the big debate in libraries right now. It's something I've been writing about for more than three years—predicting this would happen 2-3 years before it actually did. It's now most definitely happened. Basically, books have moved from physical objects that could be sold and resold, and which could therefore not be sold at a higher price to libraries, to licensed goods. Now that publishers can make libraries pay more for books, they are doing so. I expect they will continue to do so. By one measure libraries provide 40% of all reading in the United States, but buy only 4% of the books. Making libraries pay many times the price consumers pay evens that out, in their eyes anyway.

My explanations of it:
2009: http://www.librarything.com/blogs/thingology/2009/10/ebook-economics-are-librari...
2010: http://www.librarything.com/blogs/thingology/2010/07/the-magical-0-50-why-ebook-...

The thing happening now:
http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/PWxyz/2012/09/09/whats-a-library-dollar-...

Until recently most of the data has been anecdotal. Libraries sign confidentiality agreements and then can't talk about the prices they're getting. Colorado, however, has a law against such deals. So one Colorado library started publishing their prices. See the post for part of their data.

>43 GwenH:

The loan cap was the first step. Libraries started a rather pathetic boycott over it. Back then, however, the prices were all the same. Now the publishers are going after the real money—jacking up prices many times the paper price. I anticipate that, for the more popular books at least, library ebook prices settle in between 10 and 20 times the paper price. Needless to say, this will be a disaster for libraries.

45anna_in_pdx
Sep 12, 2012, 9:03pm Top

42: yes he is, he is the founder of LT actually...

46kswolff
Sep 13, 2012, 12:09pm Top

32: Why waste the matches? Save them for copies of Atlas Shrugged and anything by Sean Hannity

47Gayle_C._Bull
Sep 13, 2012, 9:45pm Top

46: I think you need to brush up on your history, wolff. The phrase is "know thine enemy" not "imitate thine enemy". Making lists of "unworthy" books and burning them has always been the realm of extremist conservatives and fascists.

48RobertDay
Sep 14, 2012, 7:03am Top

46: A bookseller of my acquaintance developed quite a reputation as a charity auctioneer. On one occasion, he was bet by an author that he could not shift five copies of the authorised biography of Frank Sinatra in its Japanese translation ; he not only sold all five, but he got more for the last one than the first!

He would sometimes read out particularly "outstanding" sections of the books he was selling; until, on one occasion, he read out the sentence "She got wordlessly up." "I WILL NOT SELL THIS BOOK!" he shouted, and tore it in two, to the cheers of the audience. Forever afterwards, a Roger Peyton auction wasn't complete without some conditional bids - "£2.50 if you read part of it out!" "£3 if you don't read any of it out!" "£5 to shred it and give it to the author as an enema!"

49PolymathicMonkey
Sep 14, 2012, 7:39am Top

>48 RobertDay: LOL That's hilarious, and he sounds like quite an entertaining fellow. :)

50anna_in_pdx
Sep 14, 2012, 12:28pm Top

Augh, I just got an e-mail from a bookstore in Houston where I joined some sort of thing to get a discount when I was there for a training course last May.

It is entitled: Meet E.L. James at the Katy Mills Books-a-Million! (Books a Million or BAM is the name of this Houston chain)

Good grief. Anyone in the Houston area, want to crash her book signing? :)

52Gayle_C._Bull
Sep 14, 2012, 6:27pm Top

The terrible cost our society pays for valuing money and only money. And probably not the only cost that the general public isn't fully aware of.

53Gayle_C._Bull
Sep 14, 2012, 8:33pm Top

Okay, brace yourself. Here's an infographic printed on the Publishing Talk website about the content and sales of 50 Shades:

http://www.publishingtalk.eu/infographics/50-shades-of-grey/?utm_source=feedburn...

54anna_in_pdx
Sep 14, 2012, 9:28pm Top

Well, based on that, the protagonist clearly has a drinking problem. And a very basic vocabulary. Interesting but kinda depressing...

55augustusgump
Sep 15, 2012, 12:06pm Top

It's striking that romance and religious/inspirational together make up 56% of the market, leaving only 44% for real books.

56kswolff
Sep 17, 2012, 10:21am Top

55: (Insert snide comment about religious conservatives and Republicans here)

57anna_in_pdx
Sep 17, 2012, 11:59am Top

People who like romance and inspirational apparently buy a lot of books. We (that portion of the pop that don't read either of those two genres) need to step up and buy more, I guess. Only those who post in the "book haul" thread are doing their duty, apparently. As for me, I just can't afford to have that much money in my book budget.

58guido47
Sep 17, 2012, 12:08pm Top

Anna,

Food/rent/books...Food/books...books...

59CliffBurns
Sep 17, 2012, 12:12pm Top

Ditto. Having kids definitely affects the ol' book budget. But my oldest is graduated now (and studying Brazilian ju-jitsu in Rio) and the other one entered Grade XII this fall. Soon to have an empty nest...and hopefully a bit more disposable income (o please, o please)...

60CliffBurns
Edited: Sep 17, 2012, 12:16pm Top

#58:

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."

-Desiderius Erasmus

61C4RO
Sep 18, 2012, 8:35am Top

I'll admit to reading romances; my guess to the main reason that they have such a massive market share is that they are, in the most part, tiny books of 100 pages, 200 pages maximum of very easy to digest fluff. Are those charts pure units sold?

I recently had a binge of 38 romance books, over that time I guess I could have read about 10 books of fantasy, just roughly. So, if that market share in book-units was converted out to page-counts, I expect it would be a lot flatter across the genres.

62brillow51
Edited: Sep 18, 2012, 11:19am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

63augustusgump
Sep 18, 2012, 11:43am Top

My post above about romance and religious/inspirational versus real books was made with my tongue, if not firmly in cheek, at least positioned slightly off center. There is no reason why a romance shouldn't be a good book, although if it were, would it still be classified as "romance" when it comes to segmenting the market in this way?

64brillow51
Edited: Sep 18, 2012, 12:21pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

65anna_in_pdx
Sep 18, 2012, 12:27pm Top

61: Very good question. One romance book does not equal for example one Anna Karenina just on page count alone, let alone how much effort it takes to read it. My "comfort food" reading is NOT romances but other genre fiction that is almost as fluffy - sometimes we want pure entertainment that does not require us to work very hard.

66brillow51
Sep 18, 2012, 12:31pm Top

Okay, I will respond now because I deleted my message twice in danger of hurting your feelings.
I think Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight series, etc.. are hideous, NOT LITERATURE, and pretty much ridiculous. But you have to ask yourself why are they so popular? The answer is sad but true.

These authors are now wealthy and well known. Your posts are justified, but also sound like sour grapes. You need to find someone else to pick on.

67RobertDay
Sep 18, 2012, 12:50pm Top

Yes, brillow, that's true. But we've all got to have somewhere where we can indulge ourselves amongst friends; and then emerge into the bright light of literary day blinking and brimming over with reasonableness and the virtues of cultural equivalence.

And everyone will say "Why, look! These so-called 'literary snobs' aren't snobs at all! What an enlightened culture we live in! O brave new world, that has... "(etc. etc.)

But in our most secret heart of hearts, WE WILL KNOW DIFFERENT.

68brillow51
Sep 18, 2012, 1:00pm Top

I like your post. It is comforting and pretty much put my earlier posting to rest. Thanks.

69timspalding
Sep 18, 2012, 1:15pm Top

Apparently someone came up with a new genre term for Fifty Shades and its ilk—cliterature.

Ow.

70anna_in_pdx
Sep 18, 2012, 1:32pm Top

Oh that is just silly. As if ONLY women are reading the silly book, or as if ONLY women read pornographic books at all. Ick.

71CliffBurns
Sep 18, 2012, 2:23pm Top

Anyone aware of the actual demographic of 50 SHADES readers? I sort of perceived that the vast majority of people buying 50 SHADES were women, overwhelmingly so. I know of no male readers in my circle (limited though it may be) who have read it or expressed the slightest interest in it. However, I do have a number of nieces and female acquaintances who have, so to speak, taken the plunge.

72anna_in_pdx
Sep 18, 2012, 2:58pm Top

But it's not just this one book, they are naming the "ilk" - no men read any erotica at all? They only watch visual porn? I call shenanigans.

73CliffBurns
Sep 18, 2012, 3:22pm Top

Ah. I see your point.

"Cliterature"--it was only a matter of time until someone coined it...

74brillow51
Sep 18, 2012, 8:06pm Top

I can't see men reading this book. It's a romance, though twisted, but all the same, (according to author, Joy Fielding, "A Harlequin romance on steroids").

75Gayle_C._Bull
Edited: Sep 18, 2012, 10:21pm Top

I read an article about writing erotica (I forget where) that said most magazines that publish erotica for female readers will buy only from female writers and that the ones that publish erotica for men buy only from male authors. It's based on the idea that "it takes one to know one". A female writer will know how to describe sex in a way that excites women, and a male writer will know how to describe sex in a way that excites men.

According to this theory, if there was an erotic novel written by a man, and it had experienced the same popularity as Fifty Shades, it would most likely have an all-male readership. Then we'd all be talking about how it's not surprising that men have made a "sex novel" popular.

76kswolff
Sep 19, 2012, 11:49am Top

74: As a man, I can't see reading Fifty Shades, not because of its twistedness (I enjoy my share of demented, twisted literature), but because of its repellent "propriety." The amount of times Ana says "Oh, golly" or some such 1950s-ism is vulgar in its own way, like how censored movies sound more dirty than the original. Patton Oswalt explains:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuK9IUK5I5I

"Clean filth is way more creepy."

Probably explains why America's erotic sensibilities are comparable to Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs "Vote for Romney or else it gets the hose again."

75: Probably why yaoi isn't a profitable genre. Hell, fanfiction is almost entirely devoted to women writing gay sex involving TV characters and the like. Then again, why should erotica publishers be any less misguided and condescending than regular publishers?

77orsolina
Sep 20, 2012, 1:01am Top

As someone who is not going to waste precious time on the Twilight series or Fifty Shades and who has never read any fan fiction--I would like to ask in what sense is Fifty Shades fan fiction? Did characters or situations from Twilight show up in the latter? Or it just that the female protagonist is a passive loser and the male a controlling sadist?

78Gayle_C._Bull
Sep 20, 2012, 2:02am Top

>77 orsolina:: E.L. James began writing Fifty Shades on a fan fiction site. The site she was writing on eventually kicked her off because her writing was breaking some of their rules (I didn't know fan fiction sites had ethics, but anyway), so she began her own website to write her fan fiction. Apparently, she's never heard of pen and ink or word processing programs. She then started trying to sell her cyberspace-daydream to publishers and, rightfully, was rejected by every one. Sadly, she has more perseverance then writing skill, and a publisher in Australia finally agreed to publish it. Fifty Shades is fan fiction, and that's exactly what it should have stayed.

79kswolff
Sep 20, 2012, 11:19am Top

78: Fanfiction rules aren't ethics, just genre conventions. Don't confuse the two.

80CliffBurns
Sep 20, 2012, 12:13pm Top

Fan fiction...

(Shudder)

Remember when it was mimeographed, smeary lettering, hand-drawn or duotang covers, shared with only a few long-suffering friends or fellow geeks?

Remember the good old days when it was treated like the smelly, steaming pile of shit it is?

81GwenH
Sep 20, 2012, 12:31pm Top

Having read a few excerpts on the internet, I've as much disdain as the next person here for 50 Shades. However, is it really fan fiction? Despite where it might have been written, fan fiction takes someone elses established characters and writes stories about them. Even if an author takes stock characters and generic plot elements, is it really fan fiction unless it takes specific characters from a specific source?

I'm no expert on the definition of such things, just curious. I can't say I've read much of any fan fiction, (although I did participate in an online Star Trek screenplay contest once, which was supported, judged, and advised by Star trek writers and actors).

So even if 50 Shades isn't fan fiction, I suppose it is now a candidate for fan fiction of its own. Now there a thought to leave you all with...

82CliffBurns
Sep 20, 2012, 12:40pm Top

50 SHADES is, indeed, fan fiction. From WIKIPEDIA (that ever so helpful resource):

"The Fifty Shades trilogy was developed from a Twilight fan fiction originally titled Master of the Universe and published episodically on fan-fiction websites under the pen name "Snowqueen's Icedragon". The piece featured characters named after Stephenie Meyer's characters in Twilight, Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. After comments concerning the sexual nature of the material, James removed the story from the fan-fiction websites and published it on her own website, FiftyShades.com. Later she rewrote Master of the Universe as an original piece, with the principal characters renamed Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele and removed it from her website prior to publication."

83kswolff
Sep 20, 2012, 1:36pm Top

Here's a more disturbing thought: Penguin's edition of Venus in Furs is apparently out of print. And most of Masoch's other work remains untranslated. Ugh. Now that is truly horrifying.

84GwenH
Edited: Sep 20, 2012, 3:38pm Top

82> Agreed, Wikipedia is a helpful resource (in fact I've donated to it during their pledge drives). However, I used it to confirm the definition of fan fiction and not to look up 50 Shades. My error. It does sound like it began as fan fiction. Whether the rewrite can still be considered fan fiction is up for debate. Not sure whether it matters, as it stands well enough on its own "merits".

85bertilak
Sep 20, 2012, 3:55pm Top

> 83 At least it's at Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/6852

86Gayle_C._Bull
Sep 20, 2012, 10:56pm Top

>84 GwenH: Quote: "Not sure whether it matters, as it stands well enough on its own 'merits'."

Or lack thereof.

The reason I will always think of Fifty Shades as fan fiction is because all James did was change the names in her fan fiction to make it an "original" work. As much as I dislike Twilight, at least Meyer created her characters from nothing. It seems that James isn't even capable of the fundamentals of character building much less capable of understanding things like story structure, themes and subplots.

87kswolff
Sep 22, 2012, 3:22pm Top

Whether the rewrite can still be considered fan fiction is up for debate. That's why I consider The Gospel According to Charlie Drake to be fan fiction:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCM2nEBE0RY

88bertilak
Edited: Oct 2, 2012, 8:48am Top

Has anybody read Fifty Shades of Chicken: A Parody in a Cookbook by F.L. Fowler?

The cover shows a trussed-up chicken (!).

“I want you to see this. Then you’ll know everything. It’s a cookbook,” he says and opens to some recipes, with color photos. “I want to prepare you, very much.” This isn’t just about getting me hot till my juices run clear, and then a little rest. There’s pulling, jerking, stuffing, trussing. Fifty preparations. He promises we’ll start out slow, with wine and a good oiling . . . Holy crap. “I will control everything that happens here,” he says. “You can leave anytime, but as long as you stay, you’re my ingredient.” I’ll be transformed from a raw, organic bird into something—what? Something delicious.


http://www.amazon.com/Fifty-Shades-Chicken-Parody-Cookbook/dp/0385345224

89CliffBurns
Oct 2, 2012, 9:33am Top

Love a good parody...especially when it takes down over-cooked prose like 50 SHADES. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

90kswolff
Oct 2, 2012, 10:07am Top

89: The worst erotica has all the clinical explicitness of cookbooks. So, spot on! Then again, if the election results somehow put the Mormon plutocrat who doesn't know how airplane windows work in the Oval Office, the US and most of the world will know what it's like to get tortured by a billionaire.

I'd love to see a commonplace book mashup a la Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke interspersing excerpts of Fifty Shades with descriptions of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib tortures and Atlas Shrugged's poorly written lifestyle porn for sociopathic assholes. It would work as an anti-Strunk and White

91dcozy
Oct 13, 2012, 10:47pm Top

"I've never read anything so badly written that got published. It made 'Twilight' look like 'War and Peace.'"

—Salman Rushdie

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9596577/Sir-Salman-Rushdie-Fif...

92Waywiser_Tundish
Nov 1, 2012, 2:34am Top

More xkcd insight: http://xkcd.com/1128/

93kswolff
Nov 28, 2012, 11:41pm Top

94SethKaufman
Nov 29, 2012, 9:51pm Top

I got an email about upcoming Brooklyn concerts yesterday and this caught my eye: Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction.
It sounds like a bunch of comics read the Cracked article posted by Karl at the beginning of this thread and then turned it into an improv performance. No doubt an orgy of irony and absurdism ensues.

I suspect fan fiction has been around a long time (See: New Testament); I wonder what the earliest published Erotic Fan Fiction was? Was some discontented Frau writing about the magical fingers of J.S. Bach and then printing 'em up on Herr Hubby's rusted Gutenberg press?

http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&...

95ajsomerset
Dec 4, 2012, 2:52pm Top

Publishers' Weakly has named EL James its "publishing person of the year."

Ron Charles has an amusing take:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hqy8zAdfNEU&list=UUJAn03-_nxsWRIjMVvn-pBQ&amp...

96kswolff
Dec 4, 2012, 3:39pm Top

95: That's like giving Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat Nobel Peace Prizes.

97dcozy
Dec 5, 2012, 2:54am Top

"Publishing person." Not "writing person."

98kswolff
Dec 5, 2012, 12:03pm Top

97: So "person" in the same sense the Citizens United decision made a corporation a "person."

http://www.etsy.com/listing/114319776/ill-believe-corporations-are-people-when?u...

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