Fifty Shades of Blue

Click picture for Ellen’s reading of on Fifty Shades.

Fifty Shades of Grey is about a girl learning to deprive, limit, and change herself to hang onto a man. Anastasia, who is a virgin, of course, wants to please Mr. Beater because he’s so sad, boo hoo, and maybe she can fix him if she lets him beat her and tie her up enough.

When it first came out, I bought the book because I misunderstood what it was about, but then I figured, hey, millions of happy readers can’t be wrong.

Right?

Wrong.

It was such drek. If anybody really bit her lower lip as much as Anastasia, it would be hamburger. Also, I tried looking up from under my lashes but I didn’t look seductive. I looked like Lurch.

I tried reading it twice but gave up after about twenty pages. Then my friend made me promise. She’s like, twenty years younger than me and really smart, so this one time I thought, okay, let’s see what the young ‘un might be on to.

God. Back to ageism (wherein youth suffers.)

The sex scenes were okay, but holy crap (as Anastasia likes to say, thereby stealing my favorite expression), it’s just mindless. Basically, you’ve got a girl getting beaten regularly (oh, call it what you will, it’s brutal), and then a guy loving on her after that, all skin ointment and candlelight. He’s a stalker and a control freak, and I don’t give a shit if he was tortured and abused as a little kid. How many of our girls buy that barrel of swill, thinking they can heal a bad guy who isn’t really bad, he’s just damaged, poor thing.

I did. I put up with years of mental, if not physical abuse, because I felt sorry for a guy(s). It took me years to mature my way out of the idea that a man’s history of suffering meant he had some kind of credit coming, in the form of, say, not working while he “found himself.”

Anastasia tries to analyze whether she really wants to pay the price for her association with Grey, but she keeps losing her perspective because he is so pretty. Seriously, should looks earn the bearer that kind of power? It’s just a temporary outward appearance, girly. What if he were middle-aged and ugly? Nobody would think this story enticing. And I kept imagining my granddaughter, twenty years from now, being treated this way – maybe it’s stupid to say that but it grounded me. Of course, if it were my granddaughter I’d get a SWAT team and rescue her, then send her to counseling and therapy.

Aside from the fact that I hated the “beat me, I love you” message of this stupid book , millions of readers are hooked, because they want to know what happens next. I admit, I do too. But I think I’ll just ask somebody how it ends.

PS: To all the youngsters reading this, continuing jealousy in a mate is not a good thing. My fave advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, recommends reading The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m stunned that a book like this could be so popular today. Haven’t we learned anything? I have not read the book, nor will I after reading your review, Lynn. I endured an abusive first marriage and can see no reason to read anything that would remind me of those days. Erotica and abuse are vastly different things. Thanks for posting your review.

    • says

      And thanks for commenting, Linda. The only thing impressive about this book is that EL James is a damn smart girl to whip out this crap and make so much money doing so.

  2. says

    Am I the only guy on this comment thread? Hope that’s OK.

    Having rescued my eldest daughter (now 39) from a string of violent guys like “Grey” (none were rich) I was shocked when my wife raved about the story. She claimed that Anastasia “changed” him and that it was her power to change a bad guy into a wholesome guy that was attractive.

    Ick.

    I don’t think so. I think the SNL skit was more accurate. Raw, vicariously scary sex is attractive. Men watch pornos. Women read them. Erotica is not a new category. This author, partly due to the anonymity of the ebook reader, wrote the first socially acceptable literary porn.

    I was not able to make it fifty pages in but your assessment sounds like what I was expecting. Thanks for posting it.

    • says

      Hey Seeley, you are more than welcome to share the guy point of view any time you like. And I am shocked that women ARE raving about the story. It’s confusing to understand how they can like it. And esp. with what your daughter went thru. Glad she’s okay now.

      • Kathy Shattuck says

        Seeley James, I’m very glad you weighed in on this subject. I love a man’s POV. I probably shouldn’t keep posting on this, since I haven’t read the book…but the graver issues seems to be, as just one aspect you’ve pointed out is, this protagonist, Anastasia, “changed the bad guy into a wholesome guy”. This is hog wash, and if this is the idea this writer is transmitting to women, she ought to have HER head examined!

        I’m stepping out on a limb now…..don’t shoot me! What it’s sounding like to me is, women who love erotica, and can get it in any way shape or form, especially now that we have e-readers (no more brown paper bags to cover the cover), will ignore any sound literary writing, along with theme substance, or structure. There, again, proves Romance Novels are #1 in the industry, badly written crap and all. I wonder why this is? How’s your home life, women?

  3. says

    Great discussion, Lynne and it pretty much echoes the discussions I’ve been having with my local Boomer friends. From those who have read it,they say the writing is poor and the topic is degrading and offensive to women. Several have started but not finished it. I have no intention of reading it but I do find it curious that Boomer women are flocking to it in droves?? Isn’t abuse bad enough? Why should we support a book that glamorizes it all in the name of “best selling” literature? Your review is spot on with what many others are saying. Well, one thing for sure, it has sparked lots of discussion and controversary!

    • says

      I just don’t know, Kathy. I don’t get what people see in this book, But maybe you have to endure domestic violence to understand how unsexy it is.

  4. Pennie says

    Lynne. Thanks for the review. I really did not want to read it, but I am glad to know what it is about so I can “keep up”. I guess we boomers are not the targeted demographic – we are too wise and experienced to believe the drivel!

    • says

      Yah, Pennie, but unfortunately my boomer friends are weighing in 2-1 that they liked it. I guess mainly for the sex. But God, there are better books for that, and it doesn’t involve a domineering weasel.

    • Kathy Shattuck says

      Thanks for this trailer, Lynne. I found words in this trailer that rang bells: I agree…..

      “Subconscious” – is a major way for media to invade our thought processes, without even knowing it’s being done….and the harder this push, the more is needed to convey these degrading issues as normal….which includes, also, the negative outlooks perpetuated in novels. And women, themselves, perpetuate this, by writing these novels.

      “Learned Behavior” – parents handing down bad behavior, generation after generation, until children know nothing else.

      “Standing for the right principles” – I feel the only way for change to happen is, when you recognize that change is necessary, stand up for what you believe, if at all possible. But, it’s not a simple thing to do. For women being abused, it’s such a hard choice to make, breaking out of the mold and asking for help. The learned behavior is there, taken hold, beaten into the woman by that man/woman he/she worships.

      If there is one thing I will teach my grand kids, it’s how to use your own mind, and never fall into that feeling of dependency on anyone but yourself. Of course we can ask for help, or lean on someone when we are in need, but find someone you can trust….and this is also a learned process…learn to know who and what to trust. Life experiences will get you there, good writing material….. good and positive mentors and educators is what I believe in.

      I simply will not perpetuate the negative attitudes in a novel, by buying that novel. If there are these attitudes within a story, then that writer damn well resolve them, showing the pros and cons into a positive outcome by the end of the story, is all I can say. Of course not all stories have a happen ending….. But this story sounds so badly written, I couldn’t expect this writer to make those thoughts clear to a reader, if she can’t understand them herself.

  5. says

    Good review, Lynne. I haven’t read this book (and don’t intend to). Too often, all the buzz surrounding something means the something can’t possibly live up to the chatter! Then, too, I’m concerned about the message it’s sending young women — that it’s okay to try to change an abuser if he’s hot. With all the supposedly good books being written, it’s unfortunate and aggravating that drivel like this is what’s getting published. There, I said it!

    • says

      I have to admit I’m pissed that she’s getting rich off something so lame. Wish I’d thought of it. But watch the Ellen video – it’s hysterical!

  6. Kathy Shattuck says

    Just a question. There isn’t a story that hasn’t been written, if a dozen times, but do we need to perpetuate the stupidity and ignorance of young people/or women in our novels?

    • says

      Good question…I have no answer–i do think that this paradigm shifts with time….I’m intrigued by the thought of taking an old theme and modernizing it-which is what I think she attempted to do, much like the screenwriter of ‘Pretty Woman’ attempted to do….I have curiosity about a woman’s sexual power…how she uses it to get needs met…I don’t think this will change–so how do we use it more effectively? It’s not going away… This interests to me & could be one reason why this book is so dang popular……..it interests other women too…??

      • Kathy Shattuck says

        The answer to my question would be, No, in all of its simplicity, in MHO. The deeper question would be, why do we perpetuate acts such as, submissiveness, beatings, etc., that are clearly psychologically perverted, which in these cases perpetuates the lack of humane equality in men and women relationships. Does the woman learn from a relationship of being beaten, and staying in that relationship? What’s the attraction to females, either being in the submissive role, or trying to gain power by using herself in the process. Using ‘sexual power’ to get needs met is debasing and ridiculously stupid….and to use it more “effectively’ is just perpetuating that stupidity. The key word is not using, it’s “being used”.

  7. says

    Here’s the thing about this story-it’s age old-this one not done well simply because the writing was not good. in my humble, when you’re writing erotica, it better be penned well because ‘suspending disbelief’ is a lot harder when it’s poorly written.
    The narrative arc is also age old: girl ‘endures’ while she works her magic to change him. Many of us have been there. What’s curious is that we like going back there via story tellers. I’ve written erotica and read it—’The Story of O’ is a classic and one that this author probably read before writing this series—it’s the same story, different century & ‘O’ really was HOT. I also read ‘Surrender’ which is really about a woman’s empowerment through sexual surrender…& i loved it.
    Okay, now you know how base I really am…:)
    Good blog Lynne…as usual…
    Marla

  8. Kathy Shattuck says

    Lynne, I loved your review, your straight talk is refreshing…and of course I loved Ellen’s take on it too! I saw her show the day she performed this skit. If anybody can sum up the gist of something, the two of you can.

    I haven’t, and won’t, read this book. You’re review is the first I’ve read, but normally I won’t even read reviews when I’ve already made of up my mind about something I have no intention of reading.

    The hype on this book was the reason. I never read books for their notoriety, mainly because I don’t read what volumes of people read. I never read books for the sex angle, either. There are reasons why people write, and read, these types of books, and the meanings have no relevance to good writing. Sensationalism is lost on me.

    This doesn’t mean that some of what I read is absent of sexual scenes, it just means that there has to be a meaningful relevance to the story, which puts it in just one of many categories to help us understand what is needed to be learned, or understood as a reader, from the author’s perspective.

    Lynne, I knew your perspective on this book would be a superior one, and it was!

  9. says

    I guess this means you won’t be reading the other two books in the series? Female author E.L.James presses all the right buttons and cashes in on sensationalism. Her smiling photo, and those from her U.S. book tour of the rooms packed with eager young women, make me shudder. Excellent analogy, Lynne. (And I’m going to try drek in Words with Friends.)

  10. says

    I’m not sure which is more disturbing; the imagination that thinks this type of story is appealing or those who read it and agree.

  11. says

    You captured my thoughts, exactly, Lynne. I got about half-way through, first, because I was curious, then, hoping for a cheap thrill, and finally, wishing ‘Miss Steele’ would take the riding crop and beat the crap out of her deranged lover.

    As a writer, I almost called it quits at the beginning after counting how many times the author used, I muttered, he murmured, and I frowned, on the same page. How such lousy writing can become a bestseller is beyond me.

    As a woman, I’m not a prude and have read some pretty ‘out there’ stuff, but the mental health of this young virgin (and the young women reading it) overcame any thoughts of sexual fantasy.

    I can only hope that this novel became a bestseller as a result of the buzz and not the content. If this is ‘soccer mom’ erotica, then we boomer women need to drive out to suburbia and have a serious talk with these chicks.

    Great review, Lynne – thanks for sharing.

    • says

      Vonnie, I think two things sell the book: one, there’s a certain amount of dramatic tension (will she stand up for herself and reject him totally, or give in, or work out a compromise?), and two, there’s sensationalism. Save your bucks.

  12. says

    Thank you for explaining this book to me. I keep hearing about it, but in hushed ways. That was my first clue that I’d hate it. And now having read your review, I’m sure that I’d not like it.

    Passive women + abusive men ≠ a good story. Ever.

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