“It’s okay to enjoy problematic things!” This has become a rallying cry in fandom, and I’ve seen it crop up most recently amongst the Star Wars fans. Fandom wars have already flown into full swing shaming people who ship Kylo/Rey, and while it is admittedly a very problematic ship (and will be more so if they end up being related), it’s also people’s prerogative to ship what they want as long as they understand the canonical issues with their relationship. Each person who participates in a ship or a fandom has to weigh the good against the bad, and the final call—is this something I’m willing to accept with its flaws, or is this too much for me—is a deeply personal one.
Unfortunately, unlike fandom, where The Discourse rules all and people tend to err on the side of policing the problematic aspects of fanworks, the Powers That Be seem to have a mentality along the lines of “this sold well; people must want more of it” that precludes the possibility of refining the product in any meaningful way. Basically, when something problematic becomes popular, there’s such a rush to cash in on that popularity that, while fans are having discussions of how to improve the original work, those who create and propagate the media are popping out clone after issue-laden clone, replete with all the problems of the original. And nothing is quite as emblematic of this issue as the cultural phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey.
Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey are two of the most polarizing books that I have ever been unfortunate enough to read. It’s important to remember that it’s all right to enjoy something with problematic material. You just need to be aware of why it’s problematic. I’ve read and liked a lot of stories about abusive relationships—even recced a fic or two—but the biggest difference between reading fanfiction with glorified abuse and the Twilight and Fifty Shades books are that these fic authors are actually aware that their stories feature abuse and use disclaimers accordingly. Fanfiction is also often less about telling a cohesive story and more about expressing interpretations to already preexisting works of art. It’s not the same as writing for cash and putting a copy of their work in every bookstore out there. Stephenie Meyer and E. L. James don’t seem to realize the abuse they wrote, and what concerns me about their novels is that they do trick real people into believing that abuse—sometimes even rape—is a sign of love. Both these stories are incredibly misogynistic. They mistake abuse for love, sometimes even use love to excuse abuse, while also encouraging male entitlement and female submission.
Spoilers for both Twilight and Fifty Shades below, as well as a trigger warning for suicide, abuse, rape, and unhealthy relationships.
Two years after my first read-through, I realize I still have a complicated relationship with Fifty Shades of Grey. Perhaps it’s a bit embarrassing to say so, but I don’t think there’s any series of books I’ve devoted more time to than E.L. James’s train wreck of erotica, and still in no ways do I consider myself an expert on the lifestyles of Anastasia Steele and her wanna-be dom, Christian Grey. In fact, when finding the correct spelling of our heroine’s name just now, I landed on the Fifty Shades wiki, which I literally did not know existed until this moment. (Why we need a wiki for this, I have no idea.) It’s true that in some respects I appreciate the novels for making discussions of female sexuality and BDSM more accessible and acceptable to an audience, and have gotten many people to explore facets of their sexuality that otherwise would have gone unnoticed or ignored. However, this by no means excuses the series from its blatant framing of abusive relationships as part of the BDSM scene or as desirable, and it certainly doesn’t hide the fact that the misconceptions as perpetuated by Fifty Shades are, unfortunately, more likely to come up on a Google search than, say, the advice of people who know what they’re talking about.
While unwitting women and girls spend time looking for their Christian Grey and predatory men use this glamorized brand of abuse to draw in uninformed partners, many people are trying hard to expose James’s every creepy string of lies and romanticism woven between the books’ pages. While I have critiqued and sporked (see: critiquing in a humorous fashion) a fic or two in my time, Fifty Shades is a task too daunting for me to take on myself. Luckily, thanks to some very devoted folks online, I don’t have to.
It’s no secret that I harbor a love for the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and I have read through the first two with glee—the third one is completely awful, and considering which series this is, that’s saying a lot. I love it for the grammar mistakes that somehow made it through editing. I love it for its characters that provide hours of sadistic critiquing pleasure for me and my friends. And I love it because I honestly think it represents the small beginnings of a shift, not only in general literature, but in the acceptance of our own sexuality. Yes, I may be my own fifty shades of snarky bitch, but I can give credit where credit is due.
I can feel the worry mounting in your mind, readers: this is Fanfiction Fridays and I’m here talking about Fifty Shades—something is wrong. No, something is so very right. Today’s fanfic is not that of a character study, nor one of exploring anything that the original story has to offer. It is, instead, a satire and a freaking hilarious one at that.
Author Bristol Fashion takes a poke at the titular characters, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, in their 51 Tints of Granite in just about the best way I could have asked for. It is insanely simple to make fun of this series, that much should be clear, but to exaggerate the story into such a parody of itself is truly a wonderful feat that had me almost in tears from laughing so hard. As someone who has read the series, I can say that Bristol’s re-writing sounds exactly like what was happening in the story as narrated by my inner thoughts.
As the story is told from Anastasia’s point of view in both the actual novel and the fanfic, the readers get some delicious truths from our eternally oblivious heroine. For instance, after an e-mail where Christian says he’s going to stalk her because he doesn’t trust her, this is her reply:
Wow. How do I interpret that?! He got mad, then apologized, then made a HILARIOUS joke. Ugh. He is so complicated. He makes my brain hurt like that time I tried a Sudoku puzzle. Even though I minored in math, that puzzle had me completely frazzled. I should just stick to the crossword puzzles from Highlights magazine from now on. Those are more befitting of my English major status.
The sad thing is that this kind of monologue isn’t even that far off from what E.L. James’s Anastasia does. In fact, it’s spookily accurate. That’s what I appreciate most in this fic: the characters are still in character. In fact, every exacerbation of the main text Bristol does, it’s so so very easy to find an exact companion to it in Fifty Shades.
It’s like I’m reading the story how it was meant to be read. (There is no way that Christian is not a creeper and bless Bristol for bringing that out in him.)
If you’ve ever been on the edge about reading FiftyShades, but don’t want to sit through 300-some pages of Anastasia being in awe of the world around her, talking about her inner goddess, or Christian being an overprotective psychopath, read this fic. I can say from experience that literally everything in this fic happens in the novels and you won’t have that nagging sense of self-loathing after reading it.
“I know fanfic authors, well, I know what they like.”
[Irene Adler Pic: Mature Content Ahead]
Trigger Warning: Rape, Incest, Sexually Explicit Material
MadameAce: Rape appears in just about every media, especially in fanfiction. Every once in a while, a fic will come out that not only portrays rape, but does its utmost best to treat the situation with the respect that it deserves. In the end, the story becomes complex and has a lot of development, and it’s easy to tell that the author knew how to treat the situation at hand.
MadameAce: I think it’s no secret that I’m lazy. Really lazy, as in I will put something off for as long as possible. So lazy, that despite being an administrator, I went out of my way to not look up anything for my Web Crush Wednesdays. But don’t worry, dear readers, I know you were looking forward to me bedazzling you with a series of precious Youtube videos, and I don’t plan to disappoint you. Much.
You see, recently while lurking around Twilight and Eragon sporking pages—though when I Googled for Twilight sporking, I only found another anti-Eragon site somehow—I came across some marvelous videos that in no way go together. Though, I guess I’ll share.
However, before I do that, I suppose it is my job to share with you another website. Here’s the one Eragon-sporking page I just told you about. I already linked to this in my review of Inheritance Cycle, but I’m linking to it again.
Deal with my laziness, Lady Geek Girl!
(Lady Geek Girl is currently buried under a pile of Grad school work, research, working on original writing, promoting the blog, editing posts, writing posts, updating fanfics–that MadameAce and Tsunderin will never find–all while cooking, cleaning, and paying bills.)
Lady Geek Girl: My dear MadameAce, that was strike one. Love, Your Fucking Boss!
MadameAce: Anyway, the sporking page is designed to, you know, spork Inheritance Cycle. However, Kippur, the main writer of the page, has also sporked other things, like TheDa Vinci Code, Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: Danse Macabre, and the truly awful and sexist The Fifth Sorceress. That last one may very well be one of the worst books to ever exist.
Worse than Inheritance Cycle.
Worse than Twilight.
Worse than Fifty Shades of Grey.
Well, that last one is pretty much Twilight but with actual sex, so we won’t count it.
On top of that, Kippur has also compiled a bunch of essays regarding Christopher Paolini’s work, as well as other things dealing with literature, and she has even started rewriting Eragon on her Eragon Redux page. Despite the fact that her clear dislike of Eragon shows through in the rewrite, I will admit, I kind of like it better than the original actual story.
Anyway, about those random video’s that have nothing to do with anything that I promised you all…. Many of you have probably already heard of Onion News Network. For those of you who haven’t, it covers some very serious issues.
And then, just because I recently saw it posted from a guest writer on Kippur’s page, and because we were just talking about Legend of Zelda a little while ago, Link most definitely would have this problem:
And because I totally don’t feel guilty about not posting a Star Wars review in forever, I found two awesome music vids for Ahsoka. I have been watching them over and over again. The first one features a song called “Fight” by Icon for Hire.
The song for this second one confuses me, because I am not a Taylor Swift fan. I really don’t like her. My dislike is nowhere near as bad as what I feel toward other artists. I would much rather listen to her than to, say, Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus; however, I kind of like this song—which is a little embarrassing—and that may be because it doesn’t really sound like a Taylor Swift song, at least not the ones I’m used to. It’s a bit darker, though lyrically it is still her pining after some nameless boy.
Besides that, the song does seem to fit.
Okay, for some reason, I can’t get that last video to work, so you can just find it here.
PS: It is not a good idea to antagonize your boss.