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Smut Even Your Mother Will Like [Fifty Shades of Hating]

From today’s PW:

The week leading to Mother’s Day was a good one for print books in general and adult fiction in particular. Unit sales of fiction titles at the outlets tracked by Nielsen BookScan rose 20% in the week driven by sales of that new favorite Mother’s Day gift—one of the titles from E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy.

According to BookScan, sales of Fifty Shades of Grey jumped 40% in the week before Mother’s Day compared to the earlier week, selling almost 443,000 copies, pushing total sales to about 1.5 million at outlets tracked by BookScan.

For both of you who are reading this and have somehow avoided encountering this phenomenon, E.L. James’s Fifty Shades trilogy is basically smutty fan-fic that has become a massive thing among suburban moms. (It’s generally referred to as “mommy porn,” not because it’s about moms and porn, but because it’s the porn that mommies are willing to read. Apparently.)

But this whole thing raises a lot of issues for me. We’re such a creepy moralistic culture that people wig out with M.I.A. flips off the camera during the Super Bowl (and why not? ‘Eff you viewer and corporate America and self-indulgent, obnoxious, irritating NFL), but we’re totally cool with buying soft core porn for the women who reared us? Very strange.

I have no moral issues with any of this though. I’m glad that women in the suburbs are finding some pleasure in reading. My issue is with the smut that’s got them all on fire . . . Here’s a couple choice moments from the GoodReads quotes page for Fifty Shades of Grey:

“Does this mean you’re going to make love to me tonight, Christian?” Holy shit. Did I just say that? His mouth drops open slightly, but he recovers quickly.

“No, Anastasia it doesn’t. Firstly, I don’t make love. I fuck . . . hard. Secondly, there’s a lot more paperwork to do, and thirdly, you don’t yet know what you’re in for. You could still run for the hills. Come, I want to show you my playroom.”
My mouth drops open. Fuck hard! Holy shit, that sounds so… hot. But why are we looking at a playroom? I am mystified.

“You want to play on your Xbox?” I ask. He laughs, loudly.

“No, Anastasia, no Xbox, no Playstation. Come.” . . . Producing a key from his pocket, he unlocks yet another door and takes a deep breath.

Xbox? GROAN. But wait, there’s more:

“Why don’t you like to be touched” Ana whispered, staring up into soft grey eyes.

“Because I’m fifty shades of fucked-up, Anastasia”

Really?! The “fifty shades” thing runs throughout this book? THAT’S SO ORIGINAL.

““I am going to have coffee with Christian Grey . . . and I hate coffee.”

Is this what the good people of the suburbs refer to as “character development”?

“Holy shit. What does that mean? Does he white-slave small children to some God-forsaken part of the planet?”

OK, total props for making “white-slave” a verb. That’s the first thing in this book I can get behind. (Did you see what I did there? “Get behind.”)

“I’d like to bite that lip.”

Holy Jesus this is just TERRIBLE. There are a million variations on that construction that are hotter and more interesting: “I’d like to ace your deuce on the tennis court,” or “I’d like to conjugate your verbs,” or “I’d like to entangle my neutrons with your protons.” Whatever. But “I’d like to bit that lip”???? DO YOU EVEN HAVE AN IMAGINATION E.L. JAMES?

This post has no real place here on Three Percent, except to point out that American mainstream tastes tend to suck. We make fun of Eurovision songs and then read stuff like this? Who are we to judge? And really, is suburban life that boring? I’m sorry, American moms—your plight is not getting the attention it deserves.



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