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Twilight as “Mommy Porn”: Fifty Shades of Grey

I first heard about Fifty Shades of Grey on twitter around a month ago.  I told a friend about and she read them (Grey is the first of a trilogy) and has been “chomping at the bit” for me to read them so we could discuss.  I just finished the first novel, and as promised, here are my thoughts.

First, a little basic info if someone reading this doesn’t know what I am talking about.  Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed are the erotic novels which started as ebooks and are currently topping the New York Times bestseller list.  Dubbed “mommy porn” because of the novels’ popularity with the everyday woman, the first novel follows the BDSM relationship between the wealthy business Christian Grey and a soon-to-be college grad Anastasia Steele.

I don’t know if I would have noticed the Twilight resemblance had I not known that 50 Shades started as Twilight fanfiction.  I’d like to think I would have, since it is glaringly obvious that Anastasia (Ana) is based on Bella and Christian is Edward.  Even Ana’s parents are Bella’s (“taciturn” father and ditzy mother).  Christian has the wonderful adoptive family (the “Cullens”) complete with a perfect brother and sister.  Ana is klutzy, her best friend Jose’ (Jacob) has a thing for her. . . You get the point.

I haven’t read the Twilight novels so I don’t know if they are better written.  Grey starts out rough, and I don’t mean rough sex.  The first few chapters feel like a rough draft and had I not known some kinky sex scenes would develope, I might have stopped reading.  I found myself editing; the author, E.L. James, has a tendency to overuse words (smirk is one) and the characters’ moods shift without rhyme or reason.  Some paragraphs are oddly short, or even pointless and James beats the Tess of the D’Urbervilles motif into the ground.    The email exchanges between Ana and Christian are tedious and I didin’t even read the “contract” since I wasn’t looking to read a syllabus for S & M 101.

And now I’ll stop picking on the novel because at least one friend of mine is really annoyed right now.  As far as the sex goes, the uproar over the novel’s content is kind of funny.  Laurel K. Hamilton’s books are way more lurid (trust me!) so unless there’s an orgy in book two or three, I don’t think I’m going to be shocked.  Like Hamilton, James’s strength lies in her ability to write a fluid sex scene.  Still, I’ve read better sex scenes in novels available in the romance section.  And since Ana doesn’t consent to most of the more shocking BDSM tenants, it’s really not what I would consider “porn.”  If the novel had been kinkier, I don’t think so many women would be reading it.

Of course, I will be reading the other two.  The writing did get better as the first novel progressed, and I was entertained.  I think maybe I’m too jaded and cynical to really fall under the spell (and also too much of a feminist) but tons and tons of women are reading these books for the same reasons I’ve read countless romance novels.  It’s a diversion.  Today I had to cook dinner, do laundry, supervise homework and bathing, feed and bath a six month old, and lord knows what else before I could finish the last few pages.  My life is decidedly unadventurous, unromantic (and yes, unfulfilling) so the idea that I could be the ONE for some perfectly gorgeous, rich, sexy abeit rather fucked-up man. . . I’m down with that.

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About clocklearf

I've wanted to be a writer since the third grade.

Discussion

One thought on “Twilight as “Mommy Porn”: Fifty Shades of Grey

  1. Well, I totally missed the Twilight thing, but it’s obvious now that it’s been pointed out. And if you were worried that I would be the friend pissed about your comments…I agree with a lot of them. Plus, I was reading a bootleg copy of the book on my computer. I caught a lot of editing mistakes, but since I don’t know where the copy of the book came from, I didn’t know if they were possibly caught before going into print. But in the end I fell in love Christian Grey and the idea that I might be his one for the same reasons your addressed.

    Posted by Amanda | May 9, 2012, 8:33 am

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