NPF: FIFTY SHADES OF SHIT

OK, for obvious reasons I've never read Fifty Shades of Grey. I understand that it's horrible and that it is aimed at the lowest common denominator and that it is basically just bad internet slash-porn of the type and quality one would find on a BBS in the last 1990s. But seeing actual excerpts from the book, even in Can You Believe This Shit format, is a mind-blowing experience. Like, I knew it wasn't a good book but honestly it's hard to believe this is real.

How many hours did the author spend combing thesauruses for synonyms for "said"? Just say "He said" like a normal person. No one "muses."

How did people even masturbate to this?

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36 Responses to “NPF: FIFTY SHADES OF SHIT”

  1. Nick Says:

    On the plus side, it made this happen:

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iqkNYfKZV6s

  2. Elle Says:

    One of my elementary school teachers told my class that the hallmark of bad writing was using other words than "said" or "says" when writing dialogue, or quoting someone. I have yet to find any piece of prose or journalism that suggests this is false.

    To each their own, but I find 50 Shades of Grey pretty reprehensible on all levels. Like its source text (it's a file-off-the-numbers piece of Twilight fanfiction), it fetishises abusive relationships. (No, I don't think d/s is abusive, per se.) It prompted a fairly revolting, sniggering up the sleeve conversation about "Mommy porn", as if women having sexual fantasies was inherently amusing. It's made me feel deeply uncomfortable with the many women who read 50 Shades novels on the subway/train, as they're either consuming porn in public or reading the books for the plot / characterisation / piercing insight into human relationships.

  3. Sarah Says:

    Fifty shades of grey actually does have a fandom of people who love it unironically. Don't ask me what they're thinking. The only reason why I bother with it (and Twilight, the atrocity which inspired it) at all is for the wank surrounding it, which is tremendous fun the same way Carol Burnett's parody of Gone with the Wind (search for it on Youtube, you'll love it) is fun. Check out this bit of awesomeness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhWrsVlNgVo

  4. J. Dryden Says:

    @ Elle: Elmore Leonard says the exact same thing as your teacher. I agree, but I would throw in the caveat that using something other than "said"/"says" for *comic* effect is perfectly all right, if used sparingly:

    "I appear to have been gut-shot," he observed.

    She leaned in and whispered, softly, "You make my lady-parts all tingly."

    "I told you this was a bad idea," groused Custer's aide-de-camp.

    And so on. However, yes, any serious writer who uses the word "expostulated" for anything other than a laugh, needs to be set down and never retrieved.

  5. Elle Says:

    That is an excellent point, J. Dryden. I have a notion that P.G. Wodehouse was one such writer, but cannot reach the Wodehouse section on our bookshelves to confirm this.

  6. Marc Marton Says:

    Did you ever see the author? I doubt she's ever been laid.

  7. Elle Says:

    Did you ever see the author? I doubt she's ever been laid.

    Please tell us more about the women you don't consider to be bangable, Marc. Leave no detail out.

  8. BruceFromOhio Says:

    Wretched literature oftimes spawns a balancing entity.

    https://twitter.com/50ShedsofGrey

  9. John Danley Says:

    I blame Stephenie Meyer.

  10. BruceFromOhio Says:

    Elle, your comment reminds me of the late-middle-aged woman working as a contractor for my group some time past. She marched resolutely into my work area one morning, holding up the first of the Grey novels, and announced, "You MUST let your wife read this!"

    I responded that my wife did not require my permission to read anything, she could read whatever she damn well pleases. When I related the tale to my missus that evening, she accused me of being a buzzkill on purpose. I said, fine, you should read the book. Not a moment's hesitation when she replied, I looked at it in a bookstore. It's absolute crap, I wouldn't waste my time.

  11. mothra Says:

    Bruce from Ohio, thanks for that link. Some hilarious stuff in there. What I don't get is why was 50 Shades considered so thrilling when it reads no better than any Harlequin romance novel out there? Is it because the sex is more hardcore in 50 Shades? I do think that for the fans there is this element of being "naughty" by reading it. Which is just sad to me for some reason.

  12. CSB Says:

    "How did people even masturbate to this?"

    If the Internet has taught me one thing, it is that people can (and will) masturbate to anything you can imagine.

  13. geoff Says:

    @JohnDanley (and Elle) I blame the patriarchy:

    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/

  14. Deggjr Says:

    Even 'I like mutton, Tom said sheepishly' uses the word said.

  15. c u n d gulag Says:

    "I'll say!", he said, responding to what CSB said.

  16. Hobbes Says:

    See, I find Elle's first comment (and all the subsequent agreement) really interesting, because I was explicitly told by an elementary school teacher that a hallmark of bad writing was USING the words "said/says" in a dialogue, because you just weren't being sufficiently descriptive. Fortunately tinyHobbes was sufficiently well-read at that point to recognize this as bullshit, but it meant that for the rest of my elementary/high school career, I had to peer-review crap that read exactly like 50 Shades of Grey.

  17. Monty Says:

    @CSB

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Rule%2034

    Welcome to the interwebs.

  18. Jaime Oria Says:

    It's called "said-bookism" in the writing trade –

    http://www.writesf.com/08_Lesson_05_Perils.html

  19. Ellie Says:

    "What I don't get is why was 50 Shades considered so thrilling when it reads no better than any Harlequin romance novel out there? Is it because the sex is more hardcore in 50 Shades? I do think that for the fans there is this element of being "naughty" by reading it."

    Probably that, but also, I'm guessing, is the element of "rescue fantasy" that's present. It seems to be endlessly popular, even when done especially badly.

    After being repeatedly badgererd that YOU SIMPLY HAVE TO READ IT and handed a free copy, I caved to peer pressure. You know that a supposedly "thrilling" book is pretty bad when you find yourself skimming the wretchedly bad sex scenes, searching desperately for the plot.

    On the other hand, this is funny…

    http://www.ringfingertanline.com/2012/05/25/50-things-to-hate-about-fifty-shades-of-grey/

  20. Sarah Says:

    After being repeatedly badgererd that YOU SIMPLY HAVE TO READ IT and handed a free copy, I caved to peer pressure. You know that a supposedly "thrilling" book is pretty bad when you find yourself skimming the wretchedly bad sex scenes, searching desperately for the plot.

    I have not read it. But, I'd be willing to bet that a lot of the people who have bought it, did so because they were badgered into it, they saw all the hype surrounding it and wanted to know what it was about, or they saw all the wank and couldn't understand what was so funny until they saw the source material. I had no idea what was going on with the Twilight parodies until I read the original–and as for Breaking Dawn specifically, well. I would not have believed what anybody had said about that if I hadn't read it. (But I'm not reading fifty shades of grey. Nuh-uh. Not gonna, and you can't make me.)

  21. Stephen Says:

    I bet most (all?) porn videos would seem the same way to someone watching them critically.

  22. Xynzee Says:

    Some excerpts:

    “Put on this rubber suit and mask,” I instructed, calmly.
    “Mmmm, kinky!” she purred.
    “Yes,” I said, “You can’t be too careful with all that asbestos in the shed roof.”

    “Are you sure you can take the pain?” she demanded, brandishing stilettos.
    “I think so,” I gulped.
    “Here we go, then,” she said, and showed me the receipt.

    “Hurt me!” she begged, raising her skirt as she bent over my workbench.
    “Very well,” I replied. “You’ve got fat ankles and no dress sense.”

    “Punish me!” she cried. “Make me suffer like only a real man can!”
    “Very well,” I replied, leaving the toilet seat up.

    From Fifty Sheds of Grey =)

  23. Croooow! Says:

    Agreed with what someone said above. I'm no Boy Scout, I have sexual urges and I masturbate and watch porn. But I cringe watching people read it on the subway! It really is consuming pornography in public! I read Naked Lunch on a bus once and felt really dirty.

  24. Dave Says:

    If this is erotica, what the hell have I been writing?

    Stephen- There is a rare porno movie that achieves something better than awkward dialogue and even more awkward sex, but it's probably less than one thousandth of one percent of the genre. Vivid Video used to do the occasional Prestige porn. Not sure if they still do.

  25. Pat Says:

    Quibble: "Slash" fic is same-sex, and usually male-on-male. Fifty Shades would be het fanfic (or just "fanfic").

  26. Xynzee Says:

    @Sarah: I.. Ow!… Frbbt!… Hate you!! My sides hurt, haven't laughed like that in donkey's. Ow!! Mark reads…!
    Sarah, FTW!

  27. Sarah Says:

    @Sarah: I.. Ow!… Frbbt!… Hate you!! My sides hurt, haven't laughed like that in donkey's. Ow!! Mark reads…!
    Sarah, FTW!

    Hee. Yes, Mark Oshiro is awesome. He blogs on the books and fanfic he reads at markreads dot net, and the tv shows and movies he watches at markwatches dot net. He also used to do video games at markplays dot net before he started to burn out on it. He actually started out by reading Twilight and reviewing it chapter by chapter (which should still be there on the buzznet web site if you google mark reads twilight) and then doing the same thing with the entire Harry Potter series. He's also vegan and gets around almost entirely by bicycle, and somehow manages to raise money for AIDS charities even though he doesn't make that much money for his own income.

  28. Andrew Burton Says:

    True story: for Christmas 2012, my awesome daughter and I took our first foreign vacation together.

    We were in the London Underground, which has lots of very large poster adverts – including, then, one for "50 Shades of Grey."

    So I read the punch line to my then-15 year old daughter – "This Christmas, get her what she REALLY wants" – and asked my daughter if we should get it for her Mom.

    And she replied, without missing a beat "Dad, it's an erotic BDSM novel that will remind her of all the things in a man you'll never be."

    I laughed for about a minute.

  29. postcaroline Says:

    Wow. So, has anyone read Janice Radway's Reading the Romance? That seems relevant to any discussion in which we cry out "what kind of dumb woman would read such a dumb book written by another dumb woman???" <— This is what most discussions about 50 Shades or Twilight seem to boil down to.

    Someone might read a book for any number of reasons. Maybe they genuinely dig it. Maybe it's anthropological curiosity. Maybe there's a terrorist threat that unless they read 50 Shades of Grey from cover to cover in the next hour, the subway train you're riding (and where you're judging another's taste in reading) will get blown up.

    On a somewhat related note, some of you may enjoy reading or submitting entries for the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest: http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/

  30. John Derp Says:

    Marc Marton Says:
    February 14th, 2014 at 3:20 pm
    Did you ever see the author? I doubt she's ever been laid.

    We men seem to forget that just because one of us don't think someone is hot and f*ckable, it doesn't mean everyone agrees.

  31. Graham Says:

    Sigh. I suppose I'm gonna have to read this damn thing..

  32. Alan C Says:

    My son works at the publisher that put out 50 Shades. The books were so successful that for Christmas 2012 everyone in the company got a $5000 bonus. He paid off the last of his student loan with it. So I'm happy about that. On the other hand, I read about one page of the first book and that was plenty.

  33. NickT Says:

    I'll offer one author who refutes the assertion that "said" is the only verb to use with dialog – Patrick O'Brian. He has a genius for using a well-turned phrase to make his dialog more vivid.

  34. Andrew Says:

    @John Derp: Exactly. When I was single I had a great time fucking a lot of women other guys thought unfuckable.

  35. Alan C Says:

    This brings to mind the (rather archaic now) sense of "ejaculate" as in, "'Good heavens!' he ejaculated."

  36. Kaleberg Says:

    Try reading some Marquis deSade. You can't read it without laughing, and that's in French or English translation. Granted, I'm pretty sure Justine was an intentional satire. At least I gather someone beside the author got off reading 50 Shades.

    P.S. 9 1/2 Weeks anyone? (Or as the TV schedule capsule put it, "… a torrid affair that lasted about 66 days …" which I am told is a fairly good description. Do the math. It's at least as erotic as the movie.