Sunday, August 19, 2012

Shades of Gray

Aunty is curious, does any of y'all ladyfolk have somethin' to say on this Fifty Shades of Gray phenomenon?

As a journalist, Aunty be thinkin' this phenomenon is quite odd-- it looks as if the Gray  trilogy will surpass Harry Potter in volume of sales. That alone is astonishin'. 

The book is an admitted derivative of a teen genre and  the writing is simply abysmal.  The material is overheated fan-fiction that grew from the Twilight series.  For y'all what doan know that term, fans of stories (Like Harry Potter, or any number of fantasy, sci-fi books) write their own endings or sequels to the stories and post them. Thas' termed "fanfiction." Some authors permit their original work to be hijacked like this--it gives the original more publicity, I reckon. 

 Some authors doan allow it a'tall   A few amateur authors who have done this has been picked up by real world publishers, encouraged to create their own series an' have had respectable success in their own right.  

Anyhoo, the Gray author, Ms. James (UK),  has a TV producer background. She spotted a hunger (heh) niche in the Twilight books, an' decided to rewrite it--spice it up with heavy erotic ingredients an' offer it to (starvin'?) older wimmen (as distinct from teens). It were a $50 million spice job fer the first year alone. Thas' publishin' history.  An' it brings a heap of legal  an' artistic matters to the debate:

If these legal and ethical issues can be overcome, one has to wonder if the success of Fifty Shades is evidence of a fundamental shift in public opinion of what can be considered original art. Fan fiction as a form of literature in its own right may have reached a watershed point, fueled in recent years by two factors: the seemingly bottomless devotion of fans of the Harry Potter and Twilight series, and technology.

This whole thang raises a boatload of questions about  modern wimmen (uh, whar's Betty Friedan when ya need her?), the relationship between men an' wimmen in these progressive times  the direction of the culture (how dark will it go?), why the fascination wif' fantasy once youse past 22, what do it portend fer the publishin' world, 'specially the self-publishin' route to  derivative many questions.

 Iffin' youse of a mind, see whar' another blogger (An Aussie lady transplanted in Provence with a lovely lifestyle blog) asks the same question, and, there are over a hundred comments, some rather enlightening.

What Aunty wonders most is:

1) has any of y'all read this book?  Yore family or friends?  Does ya' plan to read it?
2) how do "modern" wimmen identify wif' the woman character? 
2.5) what is the lure in this story for grown wimmen? 
3) would ya' suggest  yore daughters/ nieces/ students  read this?
4)what is Gray's  significance in the world of publishin'/ readin/ writin'?
5) what is "original art"  these days? 

Some commenters at other blogs have said Gray is a "guilty pleasure."  Doan hesitate to use ANON iffin' ya' want to--I git that. I'se more interested in the "why" of this than any "who."



fishy said...

I have not read these and will not.

While there has always been a market for every discontent and every appetite, they have rarely gained this rapid volume of success.

The catalyst for this extraordinary phenomenon is not in literary excellence or lonesome women. The catalyst for this phenomena is social media marketing. We should not be surprised by the power of this new media. It delivered obummer to an unsuspecting populace and might just happen again.

History has quite a few examples of those who changed the course of a culture by becoming brilliant purveyors of mass hysteria. Now that same horror can be accomplished world wide at the push of a button. No controls, no sanctions, no armies, no rational thought, no morality to interfere.

I asked Mermaid if the women in her demographic were reading this garbage. Her depressing response was she and, the rest of the women in our extended school of fish, were the ONLY women she knew who had not and would not read these books.

To my absolute horror she also mentioned men are now reading these books too. Seems they are using the "knowledge" therin to let women know they are aware of their deepest yearnings and can scratch their itches for them.

You know, I suspect the uptick in ER visits on the social media date nights will be glossed over in the media.

I am ill.

foam said...

I almost wrote a post about this book. Not that I've read it mind you.

After I unexpectedly received an ad last year for Christmas, I downloaded a couple of ereader apps. This particular book continuously popped up as a bestsellers even in the general fiction books. Since on just about any given day I wear various shades of grey, I finally clicked on the first book and read a sample of it. I wasn't too impressed with the writing, but I did go ahead and read the samples of the 2nd and 3rd books. Writing continued to be mediocre and I also got the general gist of the content.
I don't mind reading sexual content in a book, but if it's overdone and happens too often, I've found myself skipping over those scenes. What I objected to, besides the bad writing, was that the young woman in the book became scared of certain things that her boyfriend apparently did to her. I beg your pardon? That's supposed to be titillating and sexy?
That just gives me the heebiejeebies.

I do know a couple of people who are reading it. A cousin in law actually raved about it to my mom in law who then excitedly asked if I had read it. :). Nope. After I told her it had a b..m content, she was not interested ... I think ...

The book actually was recently in my house. I had a friend stay over for a few days. I saw the book propped open on her bed. I'm not planning to ask her about it.
Not interested.

foam said...

Shoot, that's supposed to say iPad and not ad in the 2nd sentence.

Anonymous said...

Pack it up. After Fishy no one will comment.

moi said...

I'm a fan of slightly trashy, sexy single gal lit a la Erica Jong, Judith Kranz, and Jacqueline Susann. Fifty Shades is not that. Fifty Shades is poorly written, un-funny, un-sexy, un-female-empowering and not in any way enjoyable. Except as something to make gleeful fun of with other girlfriends who know better.

Heck no, I don't identify with the title character and I would not recommend her as a role model to any young woman I know.

The lure of this story for grown women is that the majority of them wouldn't know good literature—erotic or otherwise—if it bit them in the behind. This just points to an overall lack of intelligence by the general public when it comes to art in, well, general.

Is there anything original left to be said, done, photographed, painted, or filmed? Probably not. But that doesn't mean you have to make crap.

Aunty Belle said...

I think youse onto somthin'--the social media hype--is the "why" of it a herd mentality? Glad to have Mermaid's input.

"I beg yore pardon" indeed--this is what mystifies me--how do modern wimmen whose chant has been Gloria Steinam's mantra, how does these females 'splain away the abdication of what they claim they stood fer?? keep us post on yore mama-in-law.

how does ya' mean that? As in , Fishy said all thar' is to say, or Fishy's observations set a tone ya doan wanna deal wif? Not shure of yore direction. Wanna clarify?

it is so poorly written--mercy, it is banal. Still it sells. How can it be that the majority of readers doan know good lit? Think of this: Yore dentist, policewoman, editor, accountant, professor is readin' this book. I doan know which be more worrisome--millions of readers who doan know from pap or that millions of wimmen (an' men) is drawn to this stuff--WHY??

BlazngScarlet said...

Sadly, I read all 3 "books".
Besides the horrendous "writing", the characters were boring, predictable and one dimensional.

To sum up the "books", it's already been done ....
Poor, working class girl meets wealthy shipping magnate. He's messed up and has "issues", she tries to "save" him from himself. They fall in love.
It's called "Pretty Woman".

Her BDSM knowledge is obviously limited and again, predictable.
I found nothing erotic or sexy in any of the "steamy" scenes.
It was an assault to my intelligence and my eyes.

I've discussed these 'books' with several different women of varying ages (i'm 43), and in general, older women (40 and over) were not impressed, whereas younger women (35 and under) were giggling like little girls and getting all twitterpated over them.
Granted, I did talk to some younger women who hated it and some older women who thought it was the best thing they ever read.
Sadly, i've encountered more women who are in LOVE with this crap.
I don't understand it.
I write erotica as a side hobby, and what she's making a boat load of money off of would be laughed off every true erotic literature site I know of and use, never mind real publishing houses.
I don't know how she got this crap published, but it makes me wonder ..... is this what we can expect as "literature" for the future?

Lord help us all .....

foam said...

Ohhhhh, now I'm going to to check out Erica Jong, Judith Kranz and Jacqueline susann. Thank you, moi.

moi said...

And let's not forget Anais Nin, ladies! Or Henry Miller.

BlazngScarlet said...

Well, if you want some quality BDSM erotica, look to Anne Rice writing as A. N. Roquelaure.
Her "Sleeping Beauty" series is fantastic!
She's written other erotica under that pen name as well.

Thanks for reminding me about Henry Miller Moi! =)

Aunty Belle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aunty Belle said...

My question still needles--why on easrth is wimmen who pride theyselves on "women's liberation" readin' the epitome of enslavement?

The context heah is that those historically taken in slavery --Greeks, Jews, Africans--are still free in their persons--only their body is enslaved. In Gray, the woman voluntarily, emotionally enslaves herself --surely not the firs time we read of such, but mah question is how does such a story take possession of 30 million women born into the age of women's lib?? Did they learn nuthin'?

Not dismissive heah of "light erotica" but I'se too young fer it. Madame Bovary is as close as I can manage.

moi said...

That is a great question, Aunty, and one I cannot answer. It would be tempting to think the author is funning with us--writing a satire of the tropes of the "romantic hero" and the "swooning maiden," but it's obvious that she's serious and not smart enough to boot.

As for why women everywhere are attracted to this, again, you got me. "Have we learned nothing?" just about sums it up.

Aunty Belle said...

I find the question disturbin'. profoundly distubin'

fishy said...

You is right again Aunty!
"profoundly disturbing" indeed. This is just sheeple mentality to be "in" with the other sheeple. I am terrified to think this might mean a huge number of women have ceased to think for themselves. Even women who recognize this as bad , boring, hackneyed drivel have read all three. Likely just to say they have.

I loathe, loathe, loathe the way our current culture treats our young women. Now for a woman to "have it all" means you can be a 6 or 7 figure earner in a profession of your choosing, run a charity on the side, run for every charity on the weekends, nurture your children and your aging parents, be a gourmet chef, an exceptional hostess and crown all that in the role of toy for a pervert!
I am ill.