What the f*ck are you looking at?

Fifty Shades of Disgrace

Yup. I read them. All three. And yes, I feel dirty. Not, mind you, because of the much-heralded “Mommy Porn” contained therein – frankly, I found it all a bit lukewarm – but because I have just given weeks, nay, MONTHS! of my life to the most godawfully written, ploddingly plotted, and cringingly juvenile collection of rot in the entire history of time. With the possible exception of The Bridges of Madison County – but don’t even start me down that country road.

Let’s start with the “author’s” nom de plume, shall we? EL James. Which I still cannot recall without checking the spines of the books. I suppose it was her (gender assumed) intention to create the dullest, most forgettable handle possible in light of the literary horrors she was about to unleash upon the world.  A pre-emptive strike against infamy, perhaps. But honestly? The books would have borne equal scholarly heft if they had been authored “By Bob” or “From the Desk of Cindy.” I absolutely get her need for anonymity, but I, for one, would prefer my S&M romances to be penned by more aptly named vixens, like Mistress Raven Blackwidow or Vinyl Von Vipervenom. It’s not asking much.

Allow me to get all of the righteously indignant “Christian Grey is an abusive, deplorable, mysogynistic sociopath” stuff out of the way now. Of course he is. He’s deranged. Broken beyond repair, controlling, self-loathing, physically dangerous and emotionally abusive. He is also an exceptional stalker (and I know whereof I speak here, having been stalked myself by one of the best and most cunning in the business – NOT a compliment, asshole). But friends, I cannot take this “literature” seriously enough to truly devote any time pondering the larger sociological ramifications of deifying a maniac like this, because clearly, our esteemed author did not. The pervasive moral directive she wants us to osmose is this: He’s rich, gorgeous, and hung like a woolly mammoth. Therefore he is awesome. And I gotta admit – sometimes, he kinda is. I mean, dude has a fully outfitted designer sex playroom! That? IS FANTASTIC. But I digress…

The true object of my detestation is our winsome heroine, Anastasia (Ana, unless she’s In Trouble). Honestly, a more loathsome character in modern literature I cannot possibly conjure, except maybe Lord Voldemort (and to be fair, that poor bastard doesn’t really have a face. I’d be pissed, too.) Ana is juvenile, insecure, petulant, narcissistic, tedious, self-absorbed, and worst of all, boring. She pouts (pouts!) to get her way, martyrs herself every chance she gets (then pshaws ensuing accolades by secretly nodding to her moral superiority), uses her “fragility” to manipulate EVERYONE, and poo-poos Christian’s lavish lifestyle for all of 8 minutes before requesting a $100K car for her birthday and barking orders at the help. Ana even manages to (spoiler alert!) get herself knocked up with an entirely unwanted, inappropriately timed embryo of seriously dubious lineage (Daddy? Is that a flogger or a bull-whip?) and has the supreme gall to BLAME HER SECRETARY. Which obviously begs the larger question: why does this woman even HAVE a secretary? She’s like, 12. And as far as I can tell, she’s been to work twice. Ever.

Ana’s “sexual awakening” is absurd. (For a non-absurd portrayal of such, please read Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. Thank you.) She goes from virgin to self-professed (and self-impressed) Sex Goddess overnight, quite literally. All of the thrashing about and carrying on is actually quite embarrassing, as we are supposed to believe that this recent college graduate who has never even KISSED anyone other than Christian is suddenly transformed into some sort of hyper-skilled sexual savant. Oh, I could scream. And scream I shall, if I am ever forced to face any of the following Ana-isms ever again: Inner Goddess, bespectacled subconscious, “happy trail,” “down there” (seriously, folks – she’s that infantile), Little Blip (the name of her unborn, emotionally doomed offspring), “cupping my sex,” desire-induced “squirming”, exploding, finding release, pubic hair (thank GOD she shaves in Book 3 so we can stop hearing about it), moaning/groaning (cleverly alternated throughout, tricking the reader into thinking she’s got different noises in her repertoire), etc, etc, ad nauseam, ad infinitum. Also, she appears to have very aggressive, unusual nipples, which “elongate” dramatically when tugged upon or clamped. In my mind, there are two pink broken-in-half Crayons affixed to her breasts lengthwise (you’re welcome), and I feel a momentary pang of sympathy for what must be her futile efforts to conceal them in cold weather. Also impressive is Ana’s miraculous ability to have sex 47 times a day without ever contracting a UTI. Me? I’d put Ocean Spray out of business with a tenth of that action.

So yes, friends. I hate myself. Almost as much as I hate Anastasia, Christian, and EL James herself (who reeeeeaally should invest in a thesaurus. And can you arrest someone for criminally uninspired prose and/or serial repetitiveness?). And while I fear I shall never recover my dignity or self-respect after emerging from this fetid vortex of literary dysentery, I can tell you this with absolute certainty: I will TOTALLY go see the movie. Especially if they cast Ryan Gosling.







September 3, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Finally, someone else who shares my loathing of “Bridges of Madison County” I knew I could count on you. I have skipped the whole Fifty Shades phenom myself, I skimmed while cataloging them at the library and that was enough for me.

    Comment by Heidi | September 3, 2012 | Reply

  2. Heidi, what is your Inner Librarian’s opinion of the Anne Rice Sleeping Beauty series? I’m hearing twisted, smutty, sick…AKA awesome.

    Comment by Marie | September 3, 2012 | Reply

    • Have not read all of Sleeping Beauty, but the bit I read years ago did seem well written, and wordy, as Anne Rice can be. Have to say, the whole dominance and submission is just not my thing, but if you want to go that route, I think she’s your girl.

      Comment by Heidi | September 3, 2012 | Reply

  3. I scrolled down to say “Finally, someone else who hated Bridges of Madison County…”, and was thrilled to discover there are at least 3 of us. I hope neither of you were subjected to the movie, I am still not recovered from watching the wrinkled wobbly chicken skin on Clint Eastwood’s neck. It makes me shiver just thinking about it.

    Comment by Sydne | September 27, 2012 | Reply

  4. This is why we are friends. If there were no other reason, this would be it. (Also, did you end up reading the Sleeping Beauty books? I downloaded a sample of the first one on my kindle and never went back for more.)

    Comment by genniferbursett | October 29, 2012 | Reply

    • I never saw this post – not sure why! Yes, I did get the trilogy – I am lumbering through Book 1 now, but it’s pretty much exactly like FSOG except with lots of walking around naked and “leather phalluses.” My quest for the ultimate smut continues….*sigh*

      Comment by Marie | November 11, 2012 | Reply

  5. I have been trying to articulate my horror with this series since I quit mid-way through the second book in absolute boredom and disdain. I could not have expressed it better than you have here; you hit every detail that made me want to nipple clamp my eyelids shut. The really upsetting thing about this series, though? People loved it so vehemently that whenever I said I hated it, you would think I had just explained how I, personally, fed the Baby Jesus to polar bears after cooking him up rotisserie style…because that’s how polar bears like their babies. Duh. You’re fabulous, Marie!

    Comment by Jill Title | July 29, 2013 | Reply

    • Well you’re pretty fabulous yourself, my dear (for agreeing with me, obviously)! I’d like to sit and share some rotisserie-style Baby Jesus meat with you someday! Mwah <3

      Comment by Marie | July 29, 2013 | Reply

  6. I honestly now have a giant girl-crush on you. Thank you for a fantastic, witty, and accurate post. Not only were those books the most horrific excuse for literature since her protegee’s (the abysmal Ms. Meyer), they were not even good examples of the BDSM lifestyle. The dumbing-down of America never ceases to appall and amaze me. You have a permanent new follower, woman.

    Comment by Shannon S. | August 16, 2013 | Reply

    • How I love when people agree with me, particularly on this topic. I feel very strongly about this. Welcome, love!

      Comment by Marie | August 16, 2013 | Reply

You got a problem with that?

%d bloggers like this: