Thursday, 12 February 2015

Fifty Shades of Gradiated Grey and Why the Book is Terrible *NSFW*

So today I have a bit of a different post for you.  There's still nail art so don't worry about that but I thought I would share my thoughts on probably the most talked about book of the past few years, Fifty Shades of Grey.  The much anticipated adaptation of the controversial novel is being released this Friday (13th February) and I finally persevered and finished the book in question so I can actually have an opinion on the matter, and guess what it is?  Yeah, not good, so pop under the cut with me to read what I think about E.L. James' literary masterpiece *sarcasm* and don't be shy about sharing your own thoughts too!

The following discussion might not be the most safe for work so I am officially labelling this entry NSFW (ooooh, look at me being all edgy)

Rimmel Little Bo Peep, Barry M Chai (Gelly), Black, Flossgloss Faded and Sinful Colours Snow Me White

So I took inspiration for my nail art from the title of the book, Fifty Shades of Grey and used The Illustrated Nail's tutorial for paint chart nails to create this gradiated grey look.  I would have loved to have used O.P.I's Fifty Shades of Grey releases for this look but I ain't got money for that LOL.  I used the my striper brush to layer the polishes then my detailing brush to create the white divides and sealed with topcoat (a little too quickly as you can see from the drag marks!), now, onto my discussion...

I really don't want this to be a rant and I'm afraid of it coming across like that so I'm going to try and be as balanced in my arguments and discussion as possible but it'll be clear (if it isn't already) where I stand in this argument from the get go.

It's one of my pet hates when people automatically dismiss things like books, TV shows, music etc when they don't have any experience with the topic at hand and although I wasn't often asked my opinion on the whole Fifty Shades of Grey issue, I was one of those people who would dismiss it, call it crap and say it promotes abuse without getting past the first three pages of the book since the grammar and writing style is terrible from the get go but I decided a few weeks ago that I would finally try and get through the book so I can have an informed opinion.  I'll admit, I was a bit frightened in case I'd be sucked into the world of the Red Room of Pain like so many others but I jumped in and turned every excruciatingly painful page until I finished it last week so let me tell you what I thought of the book.

1.  Regardless of the themes and issues the book deals with, the very foundation of the book, the words on the page, are terrible.  I'm a film student with an interest in screenwriting, as well as creative writing outside of uni and of course this blog, so I appreciate a good bit of quality writing and when you begin to read a book that has sold millions around the world and captured so many people's attention, you at least expect a well written novel but this is not the case with Fifty Shades of Grey.  I'll be honest with you, I've never been a fan of first person narrative in novels so to be saddled with a protagonist who's a bit too simpering and always consulting her 'inner goddess' and discussing her 'equilibrium', it already feels like a chore to read.  The clunky narrative doesn't read like a young woman on the cusp of entering the big bad world of full-time employment and I understand she's a learned woman, studying literature and notes Thomas Hardy as her favourite author but that doesn't mean her inner voice has to sound like an 80 year old woman at times.  I also love that I'm making this point since I sometimes sound like a Shakespearan heroine in person so I'm really not to judge.

I also understand that this was E.L. James' debut novel and that it was self-published so maybe you can excuse this?  WRONG.  Self-published novels should still go through an editing process.  Some of my favourite novels from the past few years have been self-published and they are definitely of better quality when compared to FSOG (in my opinion).

2.  The storyline and characters.  I'm not going to lie to you and say that I only watch existential Swedish films from the 60s and read Sylvia Plath whilst wearing a beret because I'm studying for my PhD in film (even though Bergman does have a very special place in my heart) but I watch and read as much crap as the next person.  I love a good rom-com and never turn my nose up at romance in novels so it takes a lot for me to take a step back and say "Yeah, I'm not really feeling this" and FSOG made me take this step back.

My heckles were already up because of the awkward phrasing of the narrative within the first few pages but when Ana and Christian begin to interact, I can't help but cringe,  This is what people are calling the greatest love story of the 21st century, a romance that we can only aspire to experience but I just found it all a bit creepy and sad.  Ana, who has real moments of wit and spunk seems to simper when Christian Grey is around.  It's a real rollercoaster of emotions where she is involved.  There doesn't seem to be natural progression of emotion in her case, she flits between skepticism, lust, longing and love over and over again.  Christian, well, he just comes off as a bit of a creep, with too much money and time on his hands, which means he can travel miles to conveniently buy "supplies" at the hardware Ana works in (and the amount of time it takes for her to realise the purpose of what he was buying is RIDONKULOUS, I'm sorry!).  I don't feel like Grey is this post-modern Mr. Rochester (one of my favourite characters) that he has been painted to be.  The whole 'oh, he was abused as a child so that's why he's into BDSM' makes the whole premise of the book seem sensationalist and cheap to me..

The BDSM aspect of it all doesn't bother me.  What two consensual adults do in their own spare time is up to them and if they enjoy it, then go on ahead but Christian's attitude towards this lifestyle doesn't sit right.  He says he enjoys hurting women as part of play, rather than allowing women to trust him in surrendering themselves to him for their pleasure, as well as his.  It's all about him, his satisfaction, rather than both of them and this is probably what makes me the most squicky about the book.  The line between BDSM and abuse is very grey in FSOG (pun intended) but this really shouldn't be the case, the two are worlds apart.

There's probably a million more reasons for why I'm not a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey (who takes exams in their final year of uni and graduates days later?!?) but I'll cut myself off here for fear of scaring you away from my blog, that is if you're still reading, which you're probably not.

Please note that this post is all about why I don't like the BOOK and not the film.  I obviously haven't seen the film and have no immediate plans to do so but I am intrigued about how the material has been handled.  We know from press reports that the infamous tampon scene was immediately scrapped from the film (and good riddance!) and that it may not be as steamy as fans of the book hoped it would be (I personally didn't find the book sexy at all, just a bit gross and confusing) but I'm interested to see how Sam Taylor-Johnson has treated the adaptation, penned by Kelly Marcel.  Hopefully by having two females at the helm of this project there might be a better balance in Ana and Christian's relationship than in the books.  I'd love for Ana to be a stronger character against the control of Grey and really challenge him.  I'm a huge fan of Jamie Dornan, his work on The Fall speaks for himself so I'd love to see how he plays the domineering Christian and I liked Dakota Johnson in that comedy she did a few years ago but of course their character portrayals will depend, in large part, on the material they are given by the creatives behind the scenes but I'm not immediately poo-pooing the film.  Most people say the movie is never as good as the book, let's hope that the adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey turns that idiom on top of its head.

Please let me know what you think of FSOG, are you a fan, intrigued or a down right hater?  Let me know in the comments and be sure to subscribe, like and follow all of my accounts below.  If you like this sort of discussion post and would like to see more on the blog, let me know because I do love a good ramble when it doesn't concern academic things LOL, until next time!

P.S - I know I bash the grammar and structure of FSOG a lot in this post and I may ironically have a few grammar and spelling errors in this post so I apologize in advance.  I always proof-read my posts but some things can slip by and it's not like this is going to be published and read by millions for profit so there's less of a precedent for it on here I think...although I'd like to think I am a better writer that E.L. James...don't burst my bubble and tell me I'm terrible :p


  1. Jo and I have split views about FSOG. I am in love with the books for reasons that I can't fully explain and am rushing out to see the film with a gal pal on Sunday (although I think this has more to do with my Jamie Dornan obsession). Jo on the other hand can't really be bothered with the whole thing. I don't think she's read the books at all.
    I'm not entirely sure why I like the books. I agree that they are poorly written and am afraid they get worse with each read (yes I've read them more than once). However, there is something about Christian's character that does funny things to me! It's the same as Edward in Twilight. The element of danger, the protective/possessive vibe, the doting affection, the fact he knows his way around your anatomy. Maybe I'm just a bit freaky! I do get the idea that it's borderline abusive and I think there are two things that have got a bit tangled; Christian's BDSM lifestyle and his desire to punish women who look like his mother. Later in the series the latter desire kind of falls away which is great as, yeah, it's a bit more than a 'hard limit' kind of thing.
    I am also a bit of a sap and actually really enjoy the love story between Ana and Christian. Although I agree that the timelines are a bit off - I have no real concept of how long they're together in this book, it seems like a few weeks!
    Great post - it's really got me thinking about why I like the book. Now I have to think about what to say for our FSOG post tomorrow! Emma.x

  2. See, I was never a Twilight fan and obviously since FSOG began as a Twilight fanfiction, I can definitely see why this sort of storyline appeals to fans of the former. I'm a sop as well and love a good romance like the next person and I can see how Ana and Christian's relationship could have been this great tale but the way it's been done just doesn't sit right with me and I guess as a writer (of sorts LOL), I can see where things could have been changed, restructured and all together removed to make for a much better, more satisfying read for everyone but different strokes for different folks I guess! Thanks for the comment :-)

  3. The film is THAT tame that the BBFC toyed with giving it a 15. But i didn't tell you that ;-)

  4. I hated the book too and won't be rushing to see the movie.. enjoyed your book review with nail art..think you're on to a whole new genre there!
    Becca | theBeautyInbox

  5. Thank you :) I'm intrigued about how the film differs than the book but I think I'll wait until it comes out on DVD or Netflix, I don't need to be dealing with hoards of wild women at the cinemas LOL


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