Monday, 23 July 2012

oh my!

as i mentioned on my own blog, a friend decided to gift me "fifty shades of grey" on my birthday.  of course once i had it, i had to read it.  wouldn't you?

i have to say that i found it to be the most hilarious p*sstake of another novel that i've read.  i don't see how anyone can get this book without having read the "twilight" novels, and having understood what's so wrong with those.  now clearly, the author of "50 shades" couldn't use exactly the same characters with exactly the same plotlines, because of copyright issues.  but it's close enough for anyone to get the parallels, and enjoy them.

i'm struggling to understand why anyone takes this book as anything other than satire, but then i guess that's because they haven't read the "twilight" series.  of course it's badly written, because the twilight books were badly written.  "50 shades" perfectly mirrors the misuse of words, the ghastly repetition, the badly constructed sentences.  i particularly laughed out loud at the use of the words "profligate" and "literally", although there were others that i can't remember now.  and the constant repetition of things like "oh my" and "don't bite your lip"? seriously funny.  (the latter is an especially funny parody of edward constantly policing bella's sexual responses).

the characters were all there - our clumsy heroine (bella/ana) who can't see why our possessive stalky but gorgeous & rich hero (edward parodied to the extreme in chris) could possibly be interested in her, because she thinks herself so plain.  but plenty of the minor characters came across, like the cullen family - the doctor and her husband, 4 adopted kids of whom mia was a perfect parody of alice.  and rose/elliot from "twilight" being very similar to ana's flatmate and her boyfriend's brother.  even mike turned up in the boss' brother, at the store where bella ana works.  as with "twilight", every male in the book is smitten with the heroine, even though the heroine sees herself as extremely plain.

i even loved how "50 shades" used twilight lines and situations - i saw jose being a parallel to jacob, who also kisses our heroine without her consent, and i thought the way ana says she can never be mad at jose really did highlight how stupidly "twilight" treated that incident.  in fact it was one of the things i hated most about twilight, followed closely by the fact that the most beautiful character in "twilight" wishes she weren't so beautiful because then she wouldn't have been raped (ok, even writing that sentence makes me feel ill).

and again, the way that christopher stalks ana and finds her in a bar in the city, and the way ana brushes off his stalking without being much worried about it: well i saw that as also highlighting in a funny way how badly "twilight" dealt with the issue.

i thought even the sex was a parody, and would actually be the type of sex edward should have been having given his overbearing and controlling personality.  if it was supposed to be porn, well it just reminded of all the novels we used to read back in the day by shirley conran, judith krantz, jackie collins etc.  badly written sex that made you laugh more than anything else.

i suppose if you read the books out of the context of a parody novel, and as a serious romance story, then of course it's terrible.  but as i've said, if you read it as satire then i think it's brilliantly done.  but even in the context of satire, there were a couple of things that did bother me.  i didn't like how, at the start, ana is pushed by her flatmate to shave her legs etc because this is what men expect.  ana is naturally comfortable being hairy, and it would have been really nice to have a heroine that had the guts to say "if you really like me, then you're going to have to accept that i don't shave, because that's how i like to be".

and the BDSM stuff, yeah, not comfortable with it.  i felt there was too much pressure put on the heroine, and a couple of the scenes were written all wrong.  i don't mean in terms of bad english or construction, but bad in terms of the motives of the people involved and the way they acted on those motives.  i'd be more specific, but that would mean having to go through the book to find those bits, then explain them, and i'm not particularly interested in doing that.

given that the novels are a parody, i think it's stupid for people to be writing articles questioning if women really just love to be submissive, based on the popularity of these books.  especially because our heroine doesn't ever really agree to be so. and because the fact that women are reading it doesn't mean they identify with the heroine or want to be treated as badly as she is by a man.  i think plenty of people read the twilight books, including young people, who found both edward and bella hugely problematic.

so there it is.  i've read the first one, and have no intention of rushing out to buy the others.


Hugh said...

It originated as a Twilight fanfiction but I don't think it's meant as a parody. The similarities you saw are more likely to be homages.

stargazer said...

well that's how i read it. it took every basic aspect of twilight to the extreme, in a way that brought out the nonsense of it all.

Hugh said...

If we knew nothing about the background of the book I might be tempted to assume you're right, but it seems unlikely to me that somebody who liked Twilight enough to write fanfic of it would write such a negative parody.

ChundaMars said...

Interesting take stargazer. I've not read Twilight, and have no intention of doing so, but I did read the first 50 Shades book, which (it goes without saying) I found truly atrocious.

Whether the "author" (I use that term very loosely) intended to write a satire or not I don't know - but I somehow doubt the millions of people (ok, lets be honest - millions of women and smattering of men) reading the book are actually reading it as a satire...