I have always known deep down inside that there was no way I wouldn’t like 50 shades of grey.
You see I am a woman who is deeply in touch with the side of her that likes bad fiction. The happiest year of my life was the one where I had a subscription to Mills and Boon. Once a month I would come home to a little parcel of joy. I would read insatiably, briefly transported to a world where it didn’t matter that my husband didn’t know how to work the washing machine and my job didn’t involve washing poo out of other people’s colons. Sadly the romantic fiction clearly worked a little too well. I got pregnant and during the ensuing austerity measures my Mills and Boon subscription was cancelled.
What has made me cross about 50 shades (as we fans like to call it) is the amount of abuse it seems to attract. I have had a lot of time to observe this as I am working on an important project which involves me being sat in front of my computer for eight hours a day. The internet calls…………. It (50 shades) is classed as ‘mummy porn’, ‘the worst book I have ever read’ ‘a waste of time’.
The fact that I liked this book so much has caused rather an existentialist crisis.
I don’t think I am stupid. My academic performance would suggest that I am of above average intelligence although most of my academic achievements were garnered before I became a mummy so perhaps my IQ has dropped a few points. I have read lots of books that are considered good literature. But if I am being completely honest the only classic that has ever captivated me the way 50 shades did was Jane Eyre and, while we’re on the whole honesty drive here, Jane Eyre is just 50 shades of grey without the spanking.
Feeling that I somehow need to justify my enjoyment of this book has really made me think about what we consider ‘good literature’. I have read so many criticisms that this book is badly written. What exactly does that mean? There aren’t any spelling mistakes, the male protagonist doesn’t appear to develop a third hand during a sex scene (this actually happened in a book I read once, it was most disconcerting). Yes the dialogue is peppered with clichés but the thing about clichés is that they have become clichés because people are constantly using them. People learn their sexual dialogue from the media, the media is full of clichés and so it perpetuates. I remember criticising the heroine in the original King Kong film because all she did was scream and kick her legs. A friend then pointed out that if a giant ape caught hold of me and started climbing the empire state building I would be unlikely to remember my best vocabulary and would probably scream and kick my legs. Would those who criticise the book have preferred it if there had been more intellectual chit chat between the lovers?
‘Oh gosh I believe I may be about to ejaculate I do hope that is acceptable to you and will not offend your feminist principles’
‘Please desist at once my good man, I am not using any form of hormonal contraception and I do fear an unwanted pregnancy.’
Is this how other people talk when they are having sex?
Another criticism of the book is the author’s constant reference to her subconscious and her inner goddess. I don’t have an inner goddess but I’m delighted for anyone who does. I do however have an extremely active inner monologue and it enjoyed the book too. At least I think it did. It certainly stayed quiet when I was reading it. Part of the reason I liked this book was because I felt that I identified with the female lead. I found her believable, she often didn’t know what to do – I often don’t know what to do. She feels unattractive – I often feel unattractive (although actually I believe she is very beautiful really, sadly I am not), she has negative voices in her head………………..ok enough along those lines.
Maybe the book is badly written but what does that mean in this day and age? People aren’t reading anymore. We spend most of our time watching movies or box sets on our electronic devices. Or we communicate via Twitter and Facebook. I know people who proudly state they don’t read books, only magazines. Suddenly a book comes along that these people want to read. A whole new (old) media has been opened up to the masses but a certain subgroup of the population are standing in the corner tut-tutting and muttering to each other ‘she doesn’t use nearly enough metaphors.’ I have read the whole of David Copperfield (and that is three weeks of my life I would dearly like back). Is it well written? Apparently so. Did I enjoy reading about every little piece of scenery along the way in the minutest detail? No I did not.
There is nothing new in 50 shades of grey. It is a love story. There is a little bit of spanking. It’s not erotic fiction, it’s not porn, and it’s certainly not mummy porn (although I am a mummy so maybe I am blinded by this). It is the age old tale of two people trying to reconcile their differences in order that they can build a life together.
I like populist fiction. I liked Twilight, I liked The Hunger Games. I like reading compelling, fast paced stories about characters who remind me a little bit of myself. I like being transported to another world where I don’t have to worry about the mould along the side of our bath. So there it is, I’ve outed myself. I will probably lose half of my followers and most of my friends on Facebook. I will be ousted from the book festival committee least I contaminate Ian Rankin with my prole like tendencies. But………..before you all judge me………just try reading it. Take your snidey, I don’t want to like this so I shan’t hat off. Don’t read it out loud to your friends in a supercilious ‘aren’t we clever’ kind of way. Sneak off to your bedroom like a teenager, suspend disbelief and just give it a try. It will only take you four hours which is a lot less time than I invested in David Copperfield…………..
What you still don’t like it?
Is it wrong that I feel a little bit sorry for you?