50 Ways to Roll My Eyes

Below, I’ll be discussing “Fifty Shades of Grey.” In case you somehow haven’t heard of it, it’s the erotic novel (read: soft porn) that’s taking the world by storm. Although I don’t give many plot points away below (not that there are many to begin with), you may want to avoid reading this if you either a) plan to eventually read the book b) are offended by bondage or c) are offended by bad writing. Otherwise, read and snark on!

OK, I did it (no, not IT. I haven’t even started talking about the book yet. Get your minds out of the gutter). I read the erotic book the entire world is talking about, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James.

50 Shades of Grey

I didn’t necessarily read it by choice. Thanks to anonymous voting, this was our pick for my moms’ club book club. And apparently they’ve all had voter’s remorse since then (I’m equal parts looking forward/dreading our book club discussion later this month).

I’m not going to do a full review because there’s not much I can add to the conversation that hasn’t been told again and again and again.

However, I do want to say that I’m glad I still have some of my powers of perception. I’d already been warned that the writing was crap. I don’t think I was fully prepared for just how bad it is (more on that below). As I was reading it, I kept telling Katy and anyone who asked me that it was like a worse written Twilight. I’ve already declared my love of Twilight before. I agree that the Twilight series also has some serious writing issues, but I can’t help it — I love the books anyway.

As I was reading “50 Shades,” there was so much about it that seemed to parallel Twilight — Anastasia trips into Christian’s office the first time she meets him; she’s a young, awkward, self-doubting virgin completely clueless about guys; her best guy friend is in love with her but she can’t seem to return his feelings; her mom is a bit flaky but loveable; she adores her stoic father (in this case stepfather); she’s a little too easily impressed by European cars that aren’t even sports cars; the object of her affection is cold, distant, intense, rich, adopted, has issues with people touching his chest and is a hell of a piano player; and no matter how many times the man she’s involved with tells and shows her he has feelings for her, she just can’t accept that anyone that gorgeous could possibly love her. Gag.

After I finished the book last night, I tweeted about it being such a Twilight ripoff and @MamaPhan offered to send me the PDF of “Masters of the Universe.” Masters of the Whoiverse?

Dude. How have I not read or seen in the 50 bajillion breathless reports about “50 Shades” that it started off as Twilight fan fiction. Yes, there’s a reason Christian and Anastasia reminded me so much of Edward and Bella — they ARE Edward and Bella.


I have very complicated feelings on this new genre of literature. Sure, everything is derived from something to some extent. Hell, even religion is often derived from earlier sources. But doesn’t it just feel like E.L is taking Stephanie Meyer’s ideas and adding kinky sex to make up for all that earnest celibacy and BAM, instant best-seller? It just feels a bit icky … even ickier than a certain spanking scene.

When it comes to the well-documented bondage, dominant, submissive, masochistic sex scenes, I was surprisingly unshocked. And I don’t even watch porn (I swear). When he gave her a contract that explained all the things she would be expected to do, I thought, “Oh boy, here we go.” But then, other than a couple bondage scenes, the book just never went there. Don’t get me wrong, it was erotic as hell. But I’ve read dirtier, creepier things in James Patterson books (I’m still haunted by a certain scene involving snakes in “Kiss the Girls,” the last Patterson book I’ll ever read).

I’m not saying I was necessarily wanting the book to get more graphic; but after all of the build-up, I was expecting it. I felt as frustrated as poor Edward in Twilight.

I have to say, my favorite part of reading “50 Shades” is being a part of the cultural phenomenon. What can I say? I hate to be left out.

For starters, there is this hilarious SNL skit.

But hands (tied) down, my absolute favorite 50 Shades-inspired item is the Tumblr 50 Shades of Suck. When I heard about it from @BoredMommy last night, I spent 30 minutes reading all the entries related to book 1 and I kid you not, there were tears rolling down my cheeks by the end because I was laughing so hard. Here are just a few of my favorites:

(and here’s the link. Oh, you want to play it: http://youtu.be/8Qx2lMaMsl8)

OK, the last one was my breaking point. It was pretty early in the book, but it made me so angry that I never got over it. Seriously? A college student in 2011 without an email address? I’m old and graduated college in 1999 and even I had a freaking email address from my freshman year on. This may seem a tiny point but it made me inexplicably angry every time I thought about it. We get it — Ana is sheltered. But this sheltered? Please. My 4-year-old knows what email is.

And don’t even get me started on her anorexia.

I suppose from my post that you think I hated “50 Shades.” I didn’t. But I didn’t love it, or frankly, even like it, either. But I finished it and it had its not-so-terrible moments, particularly as they started to explore Christian’s past. Since I trust Katy’s opinion, I will probably stick with the series and finish the trilogy off (TWSS). She assures me the storyline gets much better.

But I won’t be picturing my love Edward. He’d be so horrified if he could read Christian’s mind. And Ana? She actually makes me miss Bella.

I’d rather picture one of the men who’s been rumored to play Christian in the movie version:

Eric Northman

Yeah, I can get on board with that.

Have you read 50 Shades? Who would you cast in the roles of Christian and Ana? More importantly, who will be Mrs. Robinson? The 50 Shades of Suck Tumblr suggests Madonna, a perfect choice!


  1. says

    Let me just say, I will wait for the bootleg of this movie. By then, I hope there will be a drinking game, which I can use to get rip-roaringly drunk and vomit all over a copy of the PDF.

    …Too graphic?

    I’m just saying. If Robert Pattinson takes this movie [which: please say fuck no and run screaming, Robert], I will die. If Ms. Blink & Stutter, I play the same character in every movie takes it? I will watch it just because I know it was written based on Bella Swan.

    But I’ll still wait for the bootleg. And the drinking game.

    • says

      The 50 Shades drinking game would be amazing. Oh my God, I forgot to include my favorite most annoying part of the book — the word “murmur.” She used it CONSTANTLY. There could be a whole “murmur” drinking game.

      I can’t see either Robert of KStew doing this movie. They know it’s a Twilight ripoff and I don’t think they’ll want to do that to the films. I could be wrong, but I just can’t see them (or Summit) agreeing to them doing it.

  2. says

    I’ll be skipping the movie (as I should have skipped the book). There are more than enough gratuitous movies with no plot out there. And as for the eye candy — I’ll watch some True Blood instead — plenty of weird relationships & kinkiness there.

    • says

      True Blood starts up again soon with some great guest stars! Someone on Twitter mentioned a book to me called Beast or something that’s like 50 Shades but w/ vampires, goblins and werewolves. Sounds like True Blood to me though!

      I know myself — I will get sucked into the movie version, just like I’m clearly going to finish the series. Oh well. It’s like junk food. I’ll eat some kale aka read some good books, to make up for it later.

  3. says

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that people are regretting this choice. I still haven’t read it (maybe on the plane?) — but man that Tumblr site is funny.

  4. says

    I. Just. Can’t. I tried. Really, I did. But I couldn’t make it through more than a third of the book. Badly written. Boring. Ridiculous. It makes Twilight look like a Pulitzer Prize winning novel.

    • says

      I know! I probably would have quit too if it wasn’t our book club book. And like I said, I’m going to trust Katy’s judgment and finish the series. She assures me it greatly improves.

      As for Twilight, that’s what I kept saying the grammatically awkward “worse written Twilight.” I didn’t want to say “poorly written Twilight” because that would imply that Twilight itself was well-written. Captivating yes. Well-written? No.

  5. says

    I’m actually hoping to start reading 50 Shades this weekend, now that I’m out of school for the summer I actually have time to read for fun! You’re not the first person I hear say the writing is not good, but I can’t help but want to read it since it’s Twilight fiction & well, you know I love me some Twilight. Looking forward to chatting about 50 Shades once I’m done :)

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