Saturday, May 26, 2012

On an Unnecessary Number of Shades of Grey

Erika Leonard, I begrudge you nothing but the millions of dollars you'll make
exploiting the market's overall lack of taste in fiction.
You're no worse than the Disney Channel.

I'll admit, I'm completely a hypocritical elitist when it comes to books. I know what good literature is and I know what good writing is, in the non-fictitious realm, and I know that just because something is popular doesn't make it automatically bad writing.

I mean usually, but not always. ("Hunger Games" proved its worth to me.) Likewise, just because genre nerds love something doesn't make it good either, nor is a book well written just because I like it. Frankly, the bulk of my shelves are still Star Wars novels. They're not even particularly solid, anymore, just genre tropes, but I'm 40 years into a continually expanding universe. I'm plot committed. (Glad somebody else uses that term, apparently.)

Still, "Fifty Shades of Grey" is a piece of garbage I wouldn't tough if it were recycled into the only toilet paper in a five block radius.

Yes, yes, I bitched out "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" before it, but those at the very least had the distinction of gearing towards children and teens. This book began as "Twilight" erotic fan fiction and is selling like a new iPhone. It is not good, it is not even fun. It has all the undercurrent popularity of mild pornography smuggled into tree houses from brothers' backpacks.

And honestly, I'm fine with it.

Worst-case scenario, nothing happens aside from another terrible movie adaptation trilogy, currently rumored to star Alex Skarsgard. That could at least be a lot of sexy times in 4 hours of television men will get dragged to. Way more than Bridget Jones' Diary.

Best case? A whole generation of women latch onto light-to-moderate BDSM play as a weekend fetish on par with the Sexy Pirate swashbuckler novels and $8 naughty nurse VHS tapes.

Still, I'm thinking about exercising that "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason" clause if any more 14 year-olds ask for it.

We put age ratings on the manga and even shrink wrap the more violent ones or anything that draws the nipple. We shrink wrap "The Big Butts Book" in Photography for the same reason: while technically listed as it, the artistic merits of the nudity are questionable, especially in light of commercial and obscenity laws.

"Fifty Shades" is listed as 'Erotica' right on the back cover, and I'm selling it to grandmothers, mothers, and girls who were dropped off here on their way to the movies which, if rated R, would require their chaperone. Some local girls are even trying to read it for their high school's Free Choice quarterly book project.

Alright, I might steal that eight page sex contract/questionnaire, though. That might be useful at some point.

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