For the first time in literary history (give or take a few books), a novel’s sweeping the country and it’s not targeted at tween girls who crush on vampires, wizards and child murderers. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James is the self-published “mommy porn” novel that jumped to the top of The New York Times bestseller list this year and capitaved book clubs around the country. Today news broke that super popular book is getting made into a movie that will have to be rated NC-17 if it sticks to the book’s BSDM plot.
What does this mean for you?
You’re going to be hearing a lot about this book and the movie for awhile. So you might as well learn all the basics now so you can survive in basic conversation for the next 1-10 years.
1. The book focuses on the sexual adventures of college senior Anastastia Steele and the entrepreneur Christian Grey. According to the Amazon.com description:
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms. Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
2. No one will tell you the book is well written. It’s not. The Daily Beast says:
The lover of the junkiest romance, the most hastily written porn, the most pieced-together chick-lit—even those free pamphlets at the gynecologist—might be allowed a touch of disappointment at the level of the proceedings.
3. It spawned from the author’s love of writing fan fiction for Twilight. The article, “Overcome by Porn: 50 Shades of Grey Takes America by Storm,” talks about the book’s tween beginnings:
James acknowledges that her highly successful story spawned from her love for the already-established Twilight franchise. She began 50 Shades by authoring fan-fiction, early excerpts of which have resurfaced on the Web and showcase an attempt to capture and mimic the success of the Twilight series. In earlier attempts at creating 50 Shades, James relied on using the male and female leads in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight collection, Edward and Bella, whom she eventually reworked into her own creations. While borrowing from themes popularized by Twilight, critics largely agree that James has managed to make the most capitalizing on a market that has an audience still on the rise.
4. Dr. Drew thinks the book is bad for women. On the Today Show he said:
“[50 Shades of Grey] is actual violence against women. I have to tell you —this is the part maybe I’ll get heat for — but there is a lot of violence against children in this country. There are various kinds of physical abuse. People subjected to those experiences are especially aroused by these images. I’m not saying the average women can’t be, but it’s especially arousing for them.”
5. Even though women feel uncomfortable talking about watching porn, they feel totally okay reading about it. In a New York Times article, one woman who wished to remain anonymous said:
“Women just feel like it’s O.K. to read it,” she said. “It’s taboo for women to admit that they watch pornography, but for some reason it’s O.K. to admit that they’re reading this book.”
6. My roommate, who is 200 pages in says, “someone who is sick in the head wrote this.”
So there you have it. Everything you need to know to have an educated conversation about everyone’s new favorite porn novel. You’re welcome.