March 5, 2013
Today's Reason for Hating '50 Shades of Grey'
I'm going to put this in capital letters in the hopes that readers of trashy romance novels might take notice, ready?
SEXUAL TENSION IS NOT THE SAME AS CONFLICT.
Let me explain to people fortunate enough not to be suffering through '50 Shades of Grey' with me. I've been reading '50 Shades' for nearly three weeks, and normally I'd be finished with a book in that time. But this one is just...at the risk of sounding repetitive...boring. God damn, is it boring. So far the only conflict introduced at all is an endless litany of he-likes-me/he-likes-me-not garbage. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has heard the rumor (which I find to be rather likely true) that '50 Shades of Gray' started as Twilight Fan Fiction. The stories are painfully similar.
The one thing that '50 Shades' has over 'Twilight' is that it drops the supernatural melodrama for straight up sex. There's nothing metaphorical or weirdly repressed going on, which might have made '50 Shades of Gray' easier to read if it didn't make the exact same fucking mistake that 'Twilight' did. Wondering if a boy likes you or not just isn't enough to move a story forward, I don't care if the protagonist is a lame-ass high school student, or a lame-ass college graduate. If all a character has to worry about is whether or not the nearest tall-dark-and-handsome wants to fuck them, then this isn't a character worth writing about.
Sorry, romance readers, that's just the cold hard truth.
Nobody cares about whether or not the popular boy in class or some pretty and mysterious millionaire wants to bone you, or your fiction stand-in. Even Cinderella had bigger problems than worrying about whether somebody wanted to go out with her. I mean, for fuck sake. A Disney Princess has more depth than the main character of a 500-page novel! Julia Roberts' character in Pretty Woman is a more nuanced portrayal of femininity!
I'm going to stop listing these, but not because I've run out of examples of dumb heroines who are still somehow more interesting than Anastasia Steele (main character and narrator of '50 Shades of Grey'). If I don't stop now, I'll only end up foaming at the mouth and swallowing my tongue.
So I'll leave you with this thought: I'm a little bit pissed that romance has been boiled down to what is essentially pornography for middle-aged moms. Romance used to be about heroism, about pursuing a goal in spite of obstacles, set backs and failures in order to achieve something brilliant, or beautiful, or otherwise generally worthwhile. In honor of that, I won't even call '50 Shades of Grey' a romance novel, or a romantic story.
I'm going to call it what it is.