Fifty Shades of Boring

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey (Photo credit: ellebnere)

Okay, so I read in today’s internet news that a Chav (that’s UK English for poor white trash) has published her own version of Fifty Shades of Grey. The article goes on to helpfully point out that the book is available for purchase from Amazon.

Am I surprised? Uh, that would be a no, I think.

Ever since Stephanie Meyer helped open the door for semi-literate writers everywhere by getting the mediocre and laughably bad Twilight series published, other writers have been rushing to get their sophomoric  scratchings published.

I remember the big hoopla surrounding E L James’ book when it first hit electronic book stands. At best it sounded mildly pornographic, but oddly it was accepted as ‘mainstream’ fiction presumably because it was written by a woman. I never bothered to read the book or excerpts from it. I relied on word of mouth, or more accurately word of reviewer to gauge my reaction to it.

I also remember the publicity for the book stating that Fifty Shades of Grey was a middle aged woman’s sexual fantasies put in print.

Wow.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I would not want to read the middle aged  sexual fantasies of anyone, male or female. And before you rush to label me a prude or a repressed old man, I’ll say quite loudly and clearly that I like sex, I just don’t want to read about it, especially when written by a mid-life crisis wrinkly.

I just read the other day that this ‘best selling’ book was in fact intended as fan fiction for the series Twilight.

Brilliant.

How you can take a series that is about as sexy as a dead trout and then write fan fiction that is, apparently, very hedonistic and not a little rooted in S & M somehow escapes me. But the very fact that both authors exhibit a middle school writing style explains a lot.

Okay, that’s enough rambling about the merits of Meyer and James. I’ll now return to the reason for this blog post. The article about the UK version of Fifty Shades (which was originally titled Fifty Shades of Chav) came about because the author (another middle aged budding author) got 6000 likes on her facebook page dedicated to her book.

So okay, sales of 6000 smutty poorly written books at .99 pence per book does yield a nice little profit. But what if the UK version does as well as the US version. Will there be charges of plagiarism? Will this success lead to countries throughout the world coughing up middle aged sex fantasies for their own topical Fifty Shades?

More importantly will this new trend of ‘older’ fan fiction continue to be top of the bestseller list? Hopefully not. I remember reading about the furore caused when Lady Chatterley’s Lover was first published. Written by D.H. Lawrence and published in 1928 the book was the scandal of the day.

It featured a plot that crossed class boundaries and described the sex act quite explicitly. Not to mention the use of the ‘F’ word.  An uncensored version of the book was not available within English shores till 1960. Yet this book was a runaway best seller.

These days I don’t think the book would have raised a single eyebrow. Yet Fifty Shades of Grey, a middle aged soft porn bit of fan fiction, has lept to the top of the bestseller list. I’m not sure what that says of today’s reading audience.

Have our reading levels been so reduced that we find nothing wrong with substandard writing? Have we all forgotten the rules as laid out by William Strunk Jr so brilliantly in The Elements of Style?

I can sort of understand the pushing of Meyer’s work in schools. It is difficult enough to get youngsters to read now-a-days. I can see the parent, teacher board saying, “Well, at least they’re reading.” But at what price? More importantly, what cost?

I can see a entire generation of substandard readers flocking to buy and read the latest electronic dross and ignoring the good authors. The writers who really know how to practise their craft. Experts who can not only tell a story, but tell it well.

I would dearly love to see something I’ve written become published. A lot of potential authors want to be published as well. I don’t know about anyone else, but I refuse to ‘dumb down’ my writing to appeal to the masses who apparently can’t get enough of vampire stories that aren’t and middle aged pornography.

I rather keep learning my craft slowly, surely and painfully. One day when I really know what I’m doing, I’ll get published.

Or not.

Cover of "The Elements of Style, Fourth E...
Cover of The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition

About Michael Knox-Smith

Word traveler, writer, actor, vlogger, blogger, journalist. Entertainment background. Cinephile who reviews films, television, YouTube shows, Books and interviews professionals in the industry. Old journos never retire, they start their own site. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

23 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Boring

  1. I think you, me, Garry, and a bare handful of others even remember what or who Strunk and White were. Most people don’t know an adverb from their elbow, so they do everything good. I sit in front of the TV mumbling grammatical corrections. –“That’s WELL you morons” and “FEWER not LESS” and other pointless comments. It makes Garry crazy because he can’t understand why I keep fighting a battle lost decades ago. I tried to read the first “Twilight.” It was so awful, I couldn’t finish it and have tried to put it out of my mind. I have not read “50 Shades” nor will I. In today’s publishing climate, Faulkner, Hemingway, Wolfe … none of them would have made it past the third assistant to the acquisitions editor. Maxwell Perkins died a long time ago and has been replaced by a computer daemon. Jane Austin? Bronte? Not a chance. Willie Shakespeare would have had to rewirte his plays to include more gore, and only his highest body-count plays would have a chance. More violence, less talk. Eek.

  2. Reblogged this on Serendipity and commented:
    A bare handful of English-speakers remember what or who Strunk and White were. Most people don’t know an adverb from their elbow, so they do everything good. I sit in front of the TV mumbling grammatical corrections. –”That’s WELL you morons” and “FEWER not LESS” and other pointless comments. It makes Garry crazy because he can’t understand why I keep fighting a battle lost decades ago.

    In today’s publishing climate, Faulkner, Hemingway, Wolfe … none of them would have made it past the third assistant to the acquisitions editor. Maxwell Perkins died a long time ago and has been replaced by a computer daemon. Jane Austin? Bronte? Not a chance. Willie Shakespeare would have had to rewirte his plays to include more gore and only his highest body-count plays would have a chance. More violence, less talk. Eek.

  3. Brilliant post, Mike. I admit to, every once in awhile, not minding reading the “trashy” stuff (and when I say that I mean I read Twilight and they are pure crap and the story is completely misogynistic and the writing is terrible but it was like watching a soap opera) but I really feel that the last of the best are dying out (seriously, we keep losing people like Bradbury and this makes me cry. Literally, I cried when he died – he’s the reason I still write). *sighs* More and more I feel like the future will indeed be the one in “Idiocracy”…

    1. It is sad to think that the likes of Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes will never be re-imagined by a ‘new’ writer of Bradbury’s calibre. We are definitely moving into a ‘less enlightened’ age. Thanks for sharing. :-)

    1. Like I said in the post, I’ve not actually read the Shades books. I have a few friends who have and I’ve read ‘about’ what they contained. It’s scary how popular they actually are.

  4. Some good comments here! haha. I don’t understand the whole craze over something so terrible – I think what is most interesting about this book are the reviews on places like Amazon, where there are some truly hilarious summaries of the book. This is a great post.

  5. In July a friend of mine shared an extract from “50 shades of Chav” if she is the self same author this would be nothing like the infamous trilogy. The bit that I read was very funny, she is a highly intelligent woman and the bit I saw was taking the piss not imitating the other 50 Shades

    1. If that is indeed the case, I may just be able to lay my fears to one side and not mourn the direction that literature appears be heading. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :-)

      1. Hmm I’ve asked my friend if she is the author and she is keeping quiet, giving neither yes or no. I see that the author is meant to be a Mum of 4. My friend is a single lady who lives in London so either she’s gone under cover or it’s not her. Anyway the paragraph which she shared was funny and I took it to be a good spoof.

      2. hmm I got a reply from my friend, she is not the author. She posted an extract a few months ago after stumbling across it online. Funny how your view can change under the light of different information. When I thought that she wrote it (as a good writer and editor) I took it to be a funny spoof, but if the author actually takes herself seriously that would put a completely different slant on my opinion.

        1. And the different slant is the problem I was addressing in my post. The fact that another middle-aged fantasy fan-fiction writer has been given the ‘green-light’ to publish yet another bit of sophomoric literature…Well, what my post says. :-)

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