Monday, April 2, 2012

WAYT: Fifty Shades of - wait, no, it's all the same color

Celebrity gossip is one of my “things.”  I love following the lives of celebrities to see what stupid thing they’ve done now.  My mom buys me a subscription to People magazine for my birthday every year and this year I treated myself to a subscription of Entertainment Weekly.  As an avid reader, the annoying thing I’ve found is that these two magazines both feature the same recommended books.  Maybe there are only so many good books that come out every week but for me, the subliminal message is that since two publications both like a particular book, it must be good!  I bought a book based on their recommendations a few weeks ago and it is vile.  Now I’m out $12 and have a crap book in my Nook library that I’ll never read. 

The latest big thing in book news is Fifty Shades of Grey.  It’s even on the cover of my Entertainment Weekly.  I don’t know how many of my readers caught this in my first post, but I’m a HUGE Twilight fan.  I can’t possibly quantify what I mean by HUGE because my obsession is really beyond measure.  I might need a medical diagnosis and some kind of prescription, actually.  This book, Fifty Shades of Grey, is an insult to Twilight and it's really getting on my nerves that it's getting so much attention.

My Twilight obsession led me to the world of Twilight fan fiction a couple years ago.  In this world, talented (and talentless and misguided and brilliant) writers pick up the characters and give them new life.  In fan-fics, Edward and Bella may continue as vampires, they may be re-created as all-human and their lives are sometimes drastically changed.  The basic idea is to use the characters however you want and further indulge in the world of Twilight.  Some stories even choose other minor characters and spin new stories, and some pair Bella with Jacob.  (Oh, no!  No.  Not for me, ever.)

Fifty Shades of Grey was a fan fiction story.  I started to read it back then and quickly went elsewhere.  It wasn’t very compelling to me.  (My favorite fan fiction story was published last year.  It’s titled Gabriel’s Inferno.  Check it out!)  I am begging you to NOT jump on this Fifty Shades of Grey bandwagon because it is so wrong! 

The idea of fan fiction is to keep the story alive.  Anyone who loved Twilight didn’t want to see it all end and fan fiction, a world endorsed by Twilight’s author Stephenie Meyer, gave fans a safe place to spin their tales.  Gabriel’s Inferno, as the fan-fic The University of Edward Masen, was compelling.  The author deeply understood the characters, imagined a complete (as in fully formed) new world for them and took the reader on a new journey. 

Fifty Shades does none of that.  Author EL James kept them in the same place (Washington even), kept nearly every single thing about them the same (except for now they’re all-human) and dropped the characters off in a sexy smut land.  This isn’t far-fetched for fan fiction because fan-fic authors and readers love to explore the places (read: bedrooms) that Twilight didn’t but in Fifty Shades, it wasn’t sexy to me.  It was gross.    

If you’re going to borrow (or pretty much plagiarize) from a book that is so widely read, watch how you use it.  And try not to be so lazy. 

I haven’t read Fifty Shades in its new form except for the content I got as a free sample.  The reason that the sample was enough to turn me away is because the author even adopted the same tone of narrative that made Bella so relatable in Twilight.  For me, Bella’s voice was so genuine to her situation in life.  She was self-deprecating, sometimes immature, naïve, sometimes thoughtless but at all times, in over her head.  So is this girl in Fifty Shades.  It’s annoying that the author didn’t bother to brand any part of her story as her own except for the BDSM.  Within the sample, she introduces her Edward character, Christian Grey, and talks about how gorgeous he is and how he’s magnetic and makes the Bella character, Ana, fumble and fall apart.  Also in the sample, Ana repeatedly says something like, “Holy cow!”  If there’s one thing I remember Bella saying in Twilight, it was “Holy crow!”  Bella was funny like that. 

Sounding familiar?  What are you thinking, EL James?  You’re not fooling me!

I don’t like to take on the fan fiction community because it brought me Gabriel’s Inferno and a few other stories that I truly love (Litany at Dusk, Not Like This, TNGUS, etc.) that I still like to re-visit.  But seeing Fifty Shades in print is beyond infuriating when it’s so derivative.  If I were Stephenie Meyer, I’d say enough is enough.  Cease and desist!

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