Our straight talking Lancashire lass takes a sideways look at the daily news.
Fifty Shades of Grey = Emperors New Clothes
Ever heard of the erotic novel ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’? My first encounter with this new ‘erotic phenomenon’ was the other week when an extrovert barman from my local pub was waving it in my face, trying to be shocking and outrageous. 'Oooh read this ducky, it’ll spice up your sex life!' he cackled. I had a quick flick through and thought that it read more like a copy of Haynes Car Maintenance than anything remotely sexy. Maybe it’s just me, I didn’t get it. But then again, I’m not Kryten from Red Dwarf.
It’s my gut instinct to avoid anything described as ‘mommy porn’ - the term itself makes me feel queasy. But I think my inherent wariness of Fifty Shades is justified.
Fads like these tend to be driven by people trying to out-do each other. The book was marketed on the premise that it is too edgy for most people, so most people reacted by going 'Really? I don’t think so, give me that!' So off they trot to attempt to enjoy something as erotic as a sack of spanners. Of course, when they’re asked about it they don’t want to admit that they’ve been had – so they endorse it. 'Fifty Shades is awesome! It changed my sex life! It spoke to me AS A WOMAN! I’ll never look at the B&Q Summer Catalogue in the same way again!'
I call it ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ syndrome.
Fifty Shades of Grey was originally written as Twilight Flash Fiction, but it has since morphed into a trilogy of badly written tosh coupled with mega-bucks franchise deals. Film rights, tie ranges, lingerie, furniture, and even grey eye-shadow... You name it, they’re cashing in on it.
It reminds me of that God-awful ‘A Child Called It’ trilogy written by Dave Peltzer. Yes, he was brave and he survived terrible abuse, and yes he was a canny businessman who was able to capitalise on it. But the books are hideous – not just in nature, but in terms of good English. Everyone jumped on the bandwagon, creating a bestseller about child abuse.
Okay, I don’t think for one second anyone wanted to sell Child Called it baseball caps, but the frenzy over the Fifty Shades bandwagon is similar. We’re creating a bestseller about Twilight-inspired BDSM in a Blue Peter stylee (sticky-back plastic, designer washing up bottles and plenty of rope). It’s really sad.
But Fifty Shades has nothing on the real masters of terrifying erotic fiction. I’ve never read anything by the Marquis de Sade (because I am normal – his work is strictly for sexually disturbed serial killers), but given that the term Sadism is derived from the French madman’s sexual antics I can imagine his work to be pretty nasty. Stay away.
Perhaps the truth about Fifty Shades comes from libraries across America. The book has been banned in state libraries in Georgia, Florida and Wisconsin – but only for being ‘semi-pornographic’. That does not scream ‘cutting edge erotic literature!!!!’ to me. It screams ‘Mills & Boons wannabe did good’.
Ah well, what do I know? It’s back to IKEA magazines and hot cocoa for me…