Liana Riley is a political science sophomore and Mustang News columnist. These views don’t necessarily reflect the editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Grab your whips and turn on Rihanna’s “S&M,” because this Valentine’s Day we’re doing it the 50 Shades way. (This is a catch phrase I have coined for the “Fifty Shades of Grey” promotional posters, Universal Pictures is still getting back to me.)
A quick disclaimer: I never actually read the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series in its entirety. I do, however, have a Ph.D. in poorly written novels, with a concentration in “Twilight.”
One night at a sleepover my senior year of high school, I happened upon my friend Jenny’s copy of the first book by E.L. James. Despite Kurt Vonnegut’s voice in the back of my head berating me, I began to flip through the pages. I paused when I found a chapter far enough along where I knew the BDSM everyone was jabbering on about had begun. Curious, 17-year-old Liana wanted to know if the buzz was justified. I scanned the wisely chosen sans serif font and proceeded to read the worst-written sentence in the history of literature.
“He’s my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle.”
My mind went blank. Nothing on earth justified the existence of this sentence.
It was sensationalized trash, and unsurprisingly so. It had originated as “Twilight” fan fiction and happened to captivate the masses in a similar vein as its predecessor. So what was the next step on my experimental journey? Keep indulging in nonsense, of course. I devoured the next couple of pages, the same way that Anastasia Steele is ravaged by Christian Grey in just about every other sentence.
Shock! Delirium! Ecstasy! These are just a few of the raw emotions I experienced while dabbling in the 50 Shades. With every high came a low. Ana would finally please Christian, but alas, he had a troubled childhood and was an emotionally unavailable psychopath. Obviously, I adored him, abusive tendencies and all.
I finally finished two chapters and felt as if I were in a state of delirium. “Fifty Shades” was a vacuum, and I, a speck of dust sucked into the unknown. I had no more clarity as to the appeal of the novel than I had prior to this episode. Somehow, it had captivated me for an unprecedented period of time. It was a world of outlandish sexual norms that contained one of the most woefully developed protagonists ever, yet I had reveled in it. I was Anastasia and 50 Shades was Christian seducing me into the turbulent world of sadism and masochism.
Ultimately, sex alone sells this hollow attempt at an erotic novel. Its popularity spawns from laughing at the millions of copies the novel has sold, not in any actual entertainment value.
What it is lacking, I realized, is relatability. I have since pondered my own circumstances and failed to make any reasonable connections to this narrative.
I am a wide-eyed 19-year-old; I am chaste and pure. Where is my Christian Grey? I mean, aren’t we all just waiting for our very own red rooms of pain?
We all remember the days of the Twilight Saga and how our seventh-grade selves felt enlivened by a tale of brooding vampires and codependent relationships. It was a breakout hit with no justifiable literary quality, yet was packaged and distributed the right way, just for our generation. “Fifty Shades” is no different.
The movie adaptation is coming out this weekend, and I have no doubt people will be lining up around the corner to catch a glimpse of some softcore porn.
And regardless of my qualms, you can catch me and my roommates, edible underwear in tow, heading over to Fremont Theatre opening weekend.