I’ve been meaning to talk about the Fifty Shades of Grey series for a while now, since I’ve finally fought my way through the third book.
Oh dear lord, why is this famous?
I will reluctantly give it this – and those who haven’t read both series may be surprised to hear this – it’s BETTER WRITTEN THAN TWILIGHT.
That doesn’t mean it is GOOD.
“Better than Twilight” is like saying “better than having your eyes removed with a melon-baller”. You could still be referring to a root canal or stepping on a piece of lego in your bare feet.
To briefly compare, let’s go over all the things wrong with Twilight, shall we?
Okay, well, let’s briefly sum up the WORST things about Twilight:
1. Protagonist is dim witted and a terrible person.
2. Protagonist is a weak female who promotes all those unhealthy stereotypes of the fainting, delicate, door-mat princess who tries to look feisty by occasionally having an opinion about her own fate.
3. Love interest is a domineering, condescending, power hungry bad boy who repeatedly puts his own desires first.
4. Poor plot structure – story consists of purple prose romantic fantasy briefly interrupted by a random action climax completely unrelated to the previous 200 pages of story line.
5. Cardboard cut-out characters who often act against their directly-described characterization (e.g. a character is described as terse but then goes on long rambling diatribes).
Now, let’s compare that to its spawn, Fifty Shades of Grey (for those who might be unaware, Fifty Shades originated as Twilight fan fiction which took Edward’s creepy bossiness to a whole new level):
1. Protagonist seems aware of her surroundings and doesn’t repeatedly lie to her father, flirt with someone she is uninterested in for the express purpose of extracting information, or blow off people who try to be nice to her.
2. Protagonist is still a weak female who promotes all those unhealthy stereotypes of the fainting, delicate, door-mat princess who tries to look feisty by occasionally having an opinion about her own fate. Also, slight hints at an eating disorder.
3. Love interest is a domineering, condescending, power hungry bad boy who repeatedly puts his own desires first… but at least the protagonist recognizes that this is a problem.
4. Poor plot structure – The first book ends at the climax, and you don’t get the denouement until you pick up the second book. Then a random action sequence is inserted to create further tension in later books but seems constantly tacked-on to the main storyline
5. Protagonist and her love interest are actually surprisingly three dimensional. The rest of the characters are simply extras with no depth, however.
So, as you can see, it is MARGINALLY better.
If you put a gun to my head and said I had to re-read one of these two series, I’d pick Fifty Shades, hands down.
If you want, I can do a Twilight vs Fifty Shades series at some point, although it would sort of be like pitting Cow Pats vs Dirty Diapers.
Fifty Shades has elements that, in the right hands, could actually have made it good. It brought the world of BDSM into the light (albeit in ENTIRELY THE WRONG WAY), which is refreshing if also worrying. Although it’s also annoying because suddenly bondage is a fad and I’m like “lol wut?”
Either you’re into it, or you’re not, right? Why is it suddenly hot when previously it wasn’t? If women have been longing to be tied up all these years, why didn’t they just go to their husbands and say “hey, tie me up, would you?” And besides, the BDSM style it brought into the light was female-submissive, male-dominant, which single handedly took feminism back 100 years.
Anyway, the character of Christian Grey is actually interesting, if not likeable.
But then there’s the unalterable fact that it’s badly written. It provides a hideously unhealthy relationship example – remember kids, if he’s controlling, domineering, and seriously screwed up, you should put up with it as long as he’s good looking and says that he loves you – and it has creepy subliminal-messaging-style references to anorexia.
Check it out (spoiler warning – if one can “spoil” something that is badly written erotica to begin with):