*WARNING: ADULT CONTENT/BAD LANGUAGE*
I’m not usually one for bandwagon jumping, but everyone else seems to be blogging/tweeting/yapping on about EL James’ Fifty Shades books. For God’s sake it was the topic of a Radio Leeds mid-morning phone-in last week. And women in their fifties were talking about it at my diet class. And, what the hell, it might push a bit of site traffic my way.
So, let’s get the obligatory questions out of the way.
Have I read them?Yep. All three. In quick succession.
But, are they as badly written as everyone says they are?Fuck, yeah.
Would you go to the Red Room with Christian Grey and the riding crop?Fuck, yeah. Times about a billion.
So, what is left to say about the badly written mummy porn? Well, nothing. My problem is with the tone in which it is all being said. The snarky, high-handed, sneering way in which the three best-selling books have been discussed. But not just the books; the women that have read and enjoyed them.
Apparently, anybody reading them for anything other than research for a Guardian column is being suckered. They have ‘suboptimal reading skills’. They are buying into terrible sexual politics and want to be dominated by emotionally crippled billionaires – the sappy fools. The very phrase ‘mummy porn’ smacks of value judgement. I understand that mummys like sex too – I believe that’s how most of ‘em get up the stick in the first place.
And here’s what I recently realised. When those snarky twats are describing this simpering, nappy-changing bint who has to sound out the big words, they’re describing me. I read the first one out of curiosity. I was on holiday and wanted something unchallenging and fun. And I got what I asked for. I enjoyed the first one so much that I went straight out and bought the second. I got the third one in the airport and read it on the flight home.
And yet at no time did I switch off my critical facilities.
I think Anastasia is a silly bitch and almost completely unreflective of any other women I know. Perhaps EL James edited out the chapter where she gets the lobotomy. Just because I read the book, I don’t want to BE Anastasia. I wasn’t fantasising about being a doormat. Actually, she was being one so that I don’t have to be. Isn’t that the point of fiction? To take you places you wouldn’t normally go to walk in other people’s shoes?
As for Mr Fifty Shades. Well, had I been Anastasia there would not have been three books. The minute he pulled out that ‘I don’t make love, I fuck’ line, I’d have handed him his grey tie and shown him the door. Don’t get me wrong, I’d have been tempted to set aside my principles for a whizz-bang with the well-endowed, sexually dextrous, billionaire but I’m pretty sure I’d have said no. Well, I’m reasonably confident that I would. You know, depends whether I’d made an effort and put on an uncomfortable bra for the date. You don’t want that going to waste…
Oi! Holdsworth! Isn’t this blog supposed to be about writing not bonking?
Oh yeah. Point is that I think the Fifty Shades phenomenon kind of proves the point of my earlier blogs. If something is seemingly inexplicably popular, as writers we should be trying to explain the inexplicable. All that energy spent sneering is just sour grapes. Because after I’d finished inhaling those three books I was left with the overwhelming feeling that I could have done it better, No! That I should have done it better. I should have had the instinct to write a best-selling bonkbuster. But a well-written one.
I should have been aware of that possible audience. Not the dumbasses that the columnists would have us believe are reading that book but women like me. I deserved better on my holidays. I deserved a book with good fucking and good sentence structure. There’s a huge hole (Ooh, missus) in the market! I should have seen it.
And here we come to the part that may make some people squirm in their seats, so look away if you are of a nervous disposition. Maybe the reason that there isn’t a better class of clit-lit out there (or at least it isn’t being marketed to us) is because it would mean admitting that women masturbate.
Quick, the smelling salts!
Because that’s what all the sneering and tittering has really been about. The success of these books has been because women like to get off. Although, looking at the coverage, you’d think that female masturbation was only invented last week. Hence the huge amount of press coverage; because male newspaper editors think that jilling-off is the phenomenon; not the EL James’ big old cash-in on it.
So, what have we learnt? Firstly, my mother can’t read this blog – ever. Secondly, stop sneering at bad writing being a success. Acknowledge the potential audience and give them something better! Give them something that blows their minds, challenges their intellect and feeds their souls. Know this: you are as sure as shit a better writer than EL James.
And that’s cruel. But then I’m sure Ms James is crying herself to sleep on her big fucking pile of money.