Jen’ s Guy vs. Fifty Shades of Grey

In Man-day by Jensguy

OK, I know I am several years behind, but let’s discuss pop literature.

I am an English Lit Major, and when I was in college, I went to class with this person:

To be honest, I never would have pegged her for somebody who would bend American Pop Culture to her will.

But there it is, and as a man, I admit that I will never REALLY understand it.

I read the first half of the original Twilight, because my wife prodded me and I thought I’d give my classmate a chance. Couldn’t make it further than that first half. I did watch the movies with Jennifer because it earns me the ability to see movies like Moneyball and Draft Night, not to mention all of the Avengers super hero movies.

 Romance in Literature

So, being into books more than most, I must admit to being at a loss to explain why there exits such a huge market for the “bodice- ripper” genre:

In comparison to these works of “literature,” Stephanie Meyer is Emily Bronte. But what was it about Twilight that made it into such a sensation? I don’t think it was the vampires, plenty of other books have them, and actually do them better.  The original Dracula, is terrific, for one. I have read a dozen articles from people asking the same question, and the theories range from “it presents middle aged women with the fantasy of remaining young forever,” to “It continues a literary tradition of escapist frivolity,” to “Woman are attracted to a relationship and circumstance that they can never experience in real life.”

 The biggest takeaway from my research is that literary critics are an insufferable lot, and I don’t miss them since I moved into technology. Let’s be honest, Ernest Hemingway’s prose is just horrible, he is popular because his characters pop, and he has a reputation for being famous. In the same manner, Meyer has created characters that people, or rather women, care about. I would daresay that the least adored character in the novel is probably the protagonist, Bella. She is flat, and kind of odd. It makes it easy to remove her and place yourself in the story and compare and contrast your decisions and interactions. To take it a step further, Twilight is unique in that the male love interests are chaste and virtuous, which is an almost unexplored niche in “modern” literature since Jane Austin ( I have read several Austin novels.) This opened up the novel in a way the less popular “bodice rippers” couldn’t approach.

And that brings us to the second part of the equation. The ability to talk about the plot and characters of the novel, without having to be self conscious about revealing that you were actually reading said novel, brought Twilight into the stratosphere. People that had avoided “romances” based on the trashiness factor, were free to experience, share, and discuss the novel with their friends as well as recommend the book.  I mean there are people who refuse to admit NOW that they were into the book, but there were 2 billion dollars worth of sales, so a lot of people besides 13 year-old-girls were reading it.

And there I was, pretty proud of myself for coming up with a viable theory.  Then THIS happened:

The story being that E. L. James was a rabid fan of Twilight.  She spent her time writing content for Twilight fan fiction sites that generally added the explicit sex to the Twilight saga that many felt the series was missing.  She gained a tremendous following.  From there, she wrote books available on digital readers until her sales got to the point where she received a contract from a standard publisher. She then went and penned a blockbuster, which is generally considered difficult to do.  The book is a character piece generally comprised  of an older man initiating a college student into strange sexual practices, where he remains in full control.  Probably the exact opposite side of the coin from Twilight.  It trails only Harry Potter in mass commercial appeal.

The only real innovation I can see in Fifty Shades of Grey is taking this

and replacing the cover with something less obvious and embarrassing, and turning that modification into million of dollars in sales.  Brilliant!  I guess. . .

Thus ends any of my further attempts to delve further into popular women’s literature. . .

Now, excuse me while I go and drop another hour or two on my Xbox playing Skyrim:

Now THAT is real entertainment!


Post note from Jen: She has never read Fifty Shades of Grey and has no plans to ever do so. Now concerning Twilight, she is team Edward.