'50 Shades of Grey' Is Ruining Reading in Public

I can't read in public anymore. At least, not until the frenzy over 50 Shades of Grey dies down.

Waiting in lines and sitting in doctor's offices has always been more bearable with a book to read. But now if someone sitting around me asks what I'm reading--which used to be a great conversation starter about cool books--I am immediately on guard. Asking about my book is just an "in" since what they really want to know is if I've read 50 Shades of Grey because they're positively DYING to talk about it.

I first realized this had become a problem back in May after an official at the passport renewal office in San Diego observed me stick my book in my bag so I could pull out my paperwork. She gave me her most confidential tone, "Have you read 50 Shades of Grey yet?"

"Uh, no. I haven't gotten to that one."

I couldn't believe homegirl had actually asked about it, but that was just the beginning. She proceeded to wax poetic about Shades as she reviewed my documents and identification. Then she wanted to know if I'd seen the SNL skit about the book.

"Yeah, it was pretty funny," I replied.

"You really DO need a vibrator when you read it," she informed me as her eyes glazed over. Well alrighty then. When you're at the mercy of a passport office official, you just play along by nodding and smiling but wow, I swear she was reliving some Shades scene, and her, ahem, experience with it.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I was in a cafe reading a compilation of short scary stories. Sure enough, a woman asked what I was reading. I told her that I was reading The Fall of the House of Usher. She looked at me blankly and so I said, "You know, the story by Edgar Allan Poe. She'd never heard of Edgar Allan Poe. Strike one.

I told her a bit about Poe, and summarized the plot of the story. When I got to the part about the sister being entombed alive, she says, "Sooo...like...OMG, it's like a bondage thing like in 50 Shades of Grey!"

Strike two and three. Noooo ma'am.

With strangers I usually keep to myself how angry it makes me that the heffa who wrote 50 Shades has racked up over $20 million in sales while so many talented writers are struggling. WHO KNEW all folks had to do was write stuff like, "What was I thinking? Why did I let him do that to me? I wanted the dark, to explore how bad it could be – but it’s too dark for me. I cannot do this. Yet, this is what he does, this is how he gets his kicks," and they could sell millions of copies.

I wonder how the screenplay writers for this one--yep, there's going to be a 50 Shades movie--plan to handle this.

I know, don't hate the player, hate the game. Sex sells and the "author" capitalized on it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Or want to read it.

 It's not because I'm a prude or anti-sex, either. I just despise craptastic writing--unless it's me spouting b.s. on this blog. But no one is gonna publish this blog and act lie this is a real book. (At least, not yet.)

Also on my "I HATE 50 Shades" list, the insane depictions of sex and love. As this review from The Rumpus notes:
"The books are, essentially, a detailed primer for how to successfully engage in a controlling, abusive relationship. The trilogy represents the darkest kind of fairy tale, one where controlling, obsessive, and borderline abusive tendencies are made to seem intensely desirable by offering the reader big heaping spoonfuls of sweet, sweet sex sugar to make the medicine go down."
This is the book folks keep suggesting I read. Excuse me while I go projectile vomit.

And there's no end in sight. On Friday I went to the doctor to get my bum ankle checked out again. While I was waiting I pulled out my phone instead of my book--and the receptionist was STILL all, "You look like you could use a book to read. You should read 50 Shades of Grey."

So basically, 50 Shades of Grey has ruined everything in life and the author is laughing all the way to the bank.


nick said…
I hesitate to comment on a book I haven't read, but from what I've heard, the writing is terrible, the sex is banal and it's all about a male control freak keeping a passive woman under his thumb. So why on earth do so many women (and I gather it's mostly women) want to read it? It's a mystery to me. I can only assume masochism and self-loathing figure heavily. How very depressing.

And how depressing that all these people imagine you'd actually enjoy it.
Sholeh said…
Amen. I'm so tired of these awful books becoming popular, and people being so proud of themselves that they've read some ridiculous tripe that doesn't deserve a cover on it.
Logical Libby said…
And then we wonder why men think they can treat women badly. BECAUSE WOMEN IMPLY THEY CAN BY GOBBLING THIS STUFF UP.
Liz Dwyer said…
I've had several women tell me that the books are empowering for women--I don't understand how. I guess I'll just have to remain a disempowered hater because ugh, I can't take it. And although I read both commercial and literary fiction, I can't deal with the bad writing. It's cringeworthy!

I feel like half the people reading it just don't want to be left out of something they've been led to believe is the thing to do. Adults caving to peer pressure. It makes me ill to think about teen girls reading this--you know they are. Sigh.

Logical Libby,
I suppose what's happening with this book and women championing it is quite a lot like internalized racism--you adopt the attitudes of the oppressor till in time you exhibit those beliefs and actions on your own.
I truly thought it was just me that didn't want to read the book because it was stupid! Glad to know I'm amongst good company!
A. Divan said…
This article is such an enjoyable read! Always nice to find like minds, and "craptastic writing" is my new favorite phrase!

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