Fifty Shades of Shite

Friday, 10am.  Eucalyptus trees and dry yellow paddocks are all I’ve seen for the two hours I’ve been driving, and they’re all I’ll see for the next two hours. The scorched scenery never alters but my entertainment can – it’s time for me to take the plunge from listening music, to listening to an audiobook.  Any little change in the monotony.

The hype of “Fifty Shades of Grey” prompted me to purchase the book two years ago.  I managed three pages.  It’s a scramble of cringe-inducing gibberish.

However, with the movie about to be released, and the endless hours I spend driving on straight flat roads, I decide to give the audiobook a go.

I regret it.

My eyes roll a lot during Fifty Shades of Grey but never in pleasure.  I’m no stranger to erotic literature, nor any condemner of it.  But Fifty Shades is appalling.  The first smack is the poor writing, but the hammer blow is the barrage of clichés.

Without irony or embarrassment, Fifty Shades presents an absurdly successful, talented, classy, rich and assertive alpha male with model looks who is also protective, sensitive and troubled.  Batman, Jesus, or Captain America would be more realistic.  The female character is equally far-fetched in her innocent naivety.

Beware, the following contains spoilers – if there was anything to be spoiled.

  1. Anastasia (Ana) Steele (the female protagonist) is a poor, geeky bookworm, unaware of her beauty.
  2. Ana is also a 21 year old virgin who has never had an orgasm. Her first climax comes about solely by Mr Christian Grey (the male protagonist) fondling her nipples. Immediately after that they have sex and she also climaxes.  Three minutes later they have sex again and, yes, she has another orgasm. (Sounds like an accurate reflection of every young woman’s first time …).
  3. Ana’s father died from an accident during Marine combat training the day after her birth (give me strength …)
  4. Mr Christian Grey is commanding and immensely intimidating.  And 27 years old.  27 year old men are never intimidating.  They’re 27 year old men.
  5. Christian Grey insists on being called Mr Grey and calls others by their titles (eg. Miss Steele).  The first time we meet him, his secretary announces “Mr Grey will see you now.”  Ridiculous (and the tagline on the movie poster).
  6. Mr Grey’s biological mother was a drug addicted prostitute who abused Christian.  She committed suicide (naturally) and 4 year old Christian was left with her body for four days (naturally) before being found.
  7. Mr Grey was adopted by wealthy and good parents (of course).  His adoptive mother is a paediatrician and his adoptive father is a lawyer (not an administrator and an IT assistant?).
  8. Mr Grey (at 27) is a self-made billionaire who runs his own telecommunication business “Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.”  What he actually does is never quite explained.  His MI5-like phone calls are elusive: “They want two? … Okay, and what safety measures do we have in place? …. And they’ll go via Suez? … How safe is Ben Sudan? … And when do they arrive in Darfur? …. Okay, let’s do it. Keep me abreast of progress.”  Barney Stinson’s job was less enigmatic.
  9. Mr Grey’s a philanthropist, a helicopter pilot (he owns his own helicopter), and he attended Harvard.
  10. He speaks fluent French, is a classically trained pianist and a wine connoisseur.  His knowledge of art is perfect.

In short, Mr Grey is everything a 12 year old girl with no world experience, no knowledge of corporate environments, and no understanding of wealth would conjure.

The trailer to the movie is very good.  Money’s been put behind it, Beyoncé’s chipped in with a great version of “Crazy In Love”.   To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie’s very enjoyable.  But the book.  Oh god, the book.  Christian Grey may introduce Anastasia Steele to the world of BDSM, but the book is the true torture.  I’m sticking with music for my long drives.

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