Fifty Shades of Hype

When all of the hype first started a couple of months ago, I wrinkled my nose firmly in the knowledge that Fifty Shades of Shite Grey really wasn’t my cup of tea. Just the fact that it was surrounded by so much hype pretty much meant that I knew I would hate it. So I resisted. But the more the term ‘mummy porn’ was banded around, the more my interest was piqued. Not because I am a sex starved housewife. Pur-lease! Am I the only one to be shocked that such stereotypes still exist?! No, I wasย justย offended that the term had been coined for this dismal attempt at erotica. I mean does putting ‘mummy’ in front of the word ‘porn’ suddenly make it okay to be on the shelves in the supermarket for starters? Or indeed make it perfectly acceptable to shout about it to anyone who will listen to you in the playground? Or does the fact that I’m a mummy mean that I have get my thrills a the hand of a badly (and I mean reallyย badly) written book?

So anyway, I caved. But only because I wanted to carry on slating it and having read it, I would now be qualified to say with confidence how bad it was.ย I got about half way through. And that was more than enough for me. In fact, I struggled to read that much and I wish I had stuck with my first instinct to avoid it like the plague. It is so badly written that it is actually hard to read. I mean, has it ever even been in the hands of an editor? If I hadn’t been told that it was written by a middle aged woman then I would have thought that it had been written by a teenage boy. Seriously. The same goes for the plot. I mean come on, virginal girl who trips over her own feet is corrupted by an older powerful business man who partakes in a spot of BDSM when he’s not busy being beautiful while saving the world? It’s so cliched that it is actually laughable! In fact, that’s how I read on for so far to be fair. I started to read it in my mind complete with comedy voices and wobbly sets akin to a terrible 80’s soap. But the comedy value soon wore off and I ditched it safe in the knowledge that I really didn’t have to finish the thing to know that I hated it. Don’t even get me started on the repetitiveness of it all and quite frankly even the sex was boring. So not worth the hype.

The whole hysteria surrounding this damn book is just intriguing though. Whilst it might be far from being a literary triumph, there’s no denying that it is a viral marketing success. In fact, like we’ve never seen before. It’s no secret that I have aspirations of being a writer and maybe that’s why the whole thing fascinates me quite so much. I mean, say what you like about the book itself but there is hardly a person alive who hasn’t heard of it, or in fact going by the latest figures, read it. Imagine that? A trilogy of books. Phenomenal overnight success. What author doesn’t dream of that?

But I just can’t help but find the whole thing so terribly depressing. I wish I could just say, hey, it wasn’t for me but clearly millions of other women are loving this crap. But I can’t. I could make a sweeping generalisation that there must be an awful lot of women out there who never normally pick up a book (and don’t have much of a sex life, or indeed much of an imagination come to that) to be enjoying this tripe. But that can’t be right, surely? That’s just far too tragic to even contemplate. I find myself reading opinion piece after opinion piece and putting aside the fact that I am being a terrible book snob, I still can’t make sense of the mass hysteria. I guess the fact that it’s making people who wouldn’t normally read pick up a book can only be a good thing. I can’t help but think though that they are somehow being cheated by thinking that this is a good read because it’s really not by any stretch of the imagination. Oh, and if erotica is your thing? Then there is plenty of good stuff out there so I am reliably informed *cough*

About Sarah Maginnis

Blissfully happy (mostly) yummy mummy to four children and (occasional) domestic goddess. Aspiring author and blogger extraordinaire.
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37 Responses to Fifty Shades of Hype

  1. I could not agree more! I too caved in and read it, against my better judgement and just couldn’t even finish it. I’ve never read a book so poorly written before. I actually felt brain cells dying as I read it! So pleased I’m not the only one who thinks it’s awful!

  2. I’m with you, I don’t get the fuss either! I downloaded it to my kindle a while back but I’ve only had the inclination to get up to about Chapter 5 so far. I wondered if it was because I hadn’t got to the juicy bits yet, but apparently I should be hooked on the plot by now…! I’m determined to keep going though so I can at least say I don’t like it and be able to give reasons why (blimey I’m still such a teacher at heart)! x

    • No, I was much the same and was determined to get through it just so I could say that I didn’t like it! And like you, I kept waiting to get hooked but it just didn’t happen. You’ll have to let me know if you make it to the end ;-)

  3. I have read it and I enjoyed it. I read all the time and have to say it was very poorly written but it was an easy and quick read. There were lots that drove me nuts but I just got to the end and thought it had quite a nice love story in it. It’s not one I’ll ever read again and the sex stuff was a bit much for me. Not my cup of tea but I didn’t hate the book. x

    • It sounds like you very much read it at face value and I wish I could have seen past the bits that drove me mad like you did but I just couldn’t! In all seriousness though, I do think that this would have been a much better read if it had been through the hands of an editor before being published. The repetitiveness drove me mad!

  4. tigermum says:

    Have to say I’m getting annoyed with the book snobbery. It isn’t a great book no but neither were the Harry Potter books. I don’t think it’s fair to call people sheep, as I saw on Twitter, for reading a book that many others have read. It’s the same as going to see a film that’s been hyped up and then being disappointed.
    I have read erotica that is better than this book but it gave me a break from reading all the serious journal articles I’ve been reading of late. It has it’s place.
    The other thing that did cross my mind was this. Did EL James approach the publishers with just the back story and did they say it needed to be spiced up? I think more could have been made about the story of a man who was abused as a child falling in love for the first time. Anyhow, we bought it, we did/didn’t like it. We can make an informed opinion. I just don’ understand *not*reading something out of some principle to do with hype. Reading a variety is good. You learn what’s good and what’s not and maybe a woman who read 50 shades will go away and write a much better erotica novel of her own.

    • You are right about the book snobbery I know and I think I might have been guilty of being part of that conversation on Twitter. I also agree to a point about reading a variety of books to learn what is good and maybe what is not. I know of so many women who have loved the book which in all honesty, I do find baffling but not as baffling as the whole hype surrounding it! I have to say that whether it be a book or a film, personally I find that very few things live up to such great hype but hey, that’s just me.

  5. Honeysmummy says:

    So with you, I downloaded it thinking it’d be an easy, funny read, but it’s so badly written even the sex doesn’t make up for it. The story is dull as dish water. I’ve abandoned it after about 6 chapters.
    Have you read Before I Go To Sleep Up by S J Watson? It’s awesome, highly recommend it xx

    • I have to say that the story really didn’t do it for me on any level. If Ana bit her bottom lip one more time.. give me strength! And don’t he me started on the foil wrappers. Ugh. Thanks for the tip of the SJ Watson book though, I will add it to my ever increasing to be read list! That was another thing too, I have so many fabulous books sat on my shelves waiting to be read that I couldn’t stand wasting my prescious reading time on this tosh :-)

  6. Sarah Flight says:

    I have only just started reading your blog and after this post I absolutely LOVE you! I agree with every single thing you’ve said but what baffles me the most is that there is so much erotica out there and yet Fifty Shades is being treated like it’s something brand new that has never been done before. I don’t get it. I absolutely refuse to read it, however. I have heard how badly written it is and I will not read it because I do not want to give the writer my recognition. Fair play for being so successful and all – I just wish I could understand why!

    • That’s exactly it – I just wish I cold understand the hype! You’d think that EL James had invented erotica from some of the stuff I have heard being said. Err, hello?!? I feel like saying – news flash – erotica has been around forever and most of it is much better than this if that’s what you’re after. The whole thing is just completely baffling.

  7. eggdipdip says:

    I think it’s success has a lot to do with the hype. People want to feel part of something that everyone else is raving about. Then when the label ‘mummy porn’ was added (*gag*) a lot of people I know dashed off to buy it, assuming that because they themselves were mummies, it would have some relevance for them. I think a lot of people were sorely disappointed! I read all 3 books in the end and by the end of the 2nd one, I was hooked. I had to know what happened next. So while the 1st book wasn’t that well written, 2 and 3 were much better for me. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but a welcome distraction from smelly armpits on my daily commute!

    • Ugh. The whole ‘mummy porn’ label is just wrong diddly wrong on so many levels. In fact, this almost ended up being a post just about that but the lovely India Knight beat me to it and wrote a fabulous piece in the Sunday Times about just that. Worth a read if you haven’t already.

  8. TheMadHouse says:

    I would rather just have sex than read about it!

  9. What amuses me is that pretty much everyone on my personal Facebook loves it, raves about it and tries to get others to read it. Pretty much everyone on my twitter timeline thinks it’s crap….

    I haven’t read it, nor do I intend to, for no other reason than the phrase ‘mummy porn’ is a real turn off and isn’t something my brain wants to dwell on! Also the fact that I was in Sainsbury’s with my mum when she picked up a copy and asked me what I thought! I’ve heard from several people that it’s badly written but as long as it gets people reading (and indeed exploring things that they might not have considered before) then that’s fine with me.

    I agree with you on the marketing, it’s fascinated me to see something go from nothing to being everywhere I turn. A dream come true for the author!

    • Ha! Do we have the same Facebook friends by any chance?! Same here! It spread like wild fire with many of my Facebook friends and then came the ‘I’m going to have an early night with Christian Grey’ type statuses. Ugh.

  10. I never wanted to read it, precisely because of all the hype, but a friend badgered me into it. So I read it, and then promptly read the second and third books too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not leaped to my top all-time read list, but it was enjoyable. It was the perfect antidote, not to my sex life, but to my often humdrum run-of-the-mill fulltime job, merged with running a business in the twilight hours and looking after a home/marriage. I think ALL women can relate to that! So for me, it was fairly harmless escapism. I completely appreciate why people don’t get further than the first few chapters, it is appallingly badly written but it does get better and the story which develops throughout the trilogy isn’t so bad after all. I also don’t think it’s demeaning to women either. Bearing in mind how quickly this has shot into the record books, I wonder what will overtake it…something else WILL come along that will be the fastest publishing sensation in history, but what on earth will it be?!

    • The way that it has broken all publishing records is just astounding it has to be said. Like you say, something will come along to overtake it but I can’t imagine what on earth it will be!

  11. HonestMum.com says:

    I’m with @themadhouse on this one! Not read it but no doubt there’s a film in the offing-most definately not directed by me!

  12. PhotoPuddle says:

    I am so pleased you wrote this post as I was starting to wonder if I’d read the same book as everyone else. I hate the term mummy porn but thought I’d give it a go just to see what the fuss was about. It found however that it was a badly written book and I even started skim reading the dirty bits because they got so repetitive. What I really didn’t like were the two main characters and I cannot see why people are classing this as a romance. And I really really can’t see why people are so I love with Mr Grey! I don’t think I’ll bother with the next two books.

    • I thought that the two main characters were absolutely hateful. When I saw people joking about falling in love with Christian Grey I was like, what?! Am I reading the same book as you people? As for Ana I wanted to slap her right from page one!

  13. aka gringita says:

    I saw the hype (before they started calling it pornesque) and read the preview on Amazon. And that was enough.for.me. Bleah. It’s tacky, poorly-written drivel!

    Though maybe I’m supposed to just feel good about the fact that it got people to read-at-all who normally don’t (apparently, since they clearly have no basis of comparison to be able to assess quality).

    • It really is poorly written and I wish I had not let my curiosity get the better of me like I did. As for all of these women who wouldn’t normally pick up a book, I actually feel very sorry for them if that’s true. You’re quite right about not being able to make a real comparison but also, how sad that they don’t normally read. I can’t imagine a life without GOOD books :-)

  14. I am reading the second book at the moment and I love it! I have been cringing at how badly its written from the start but I do quite like reading trashy romance novels and I’ve read worse. I can totally see why women wouldn’t want to read it and even why they would stop reading it half way through but I also think that people are reading (see what I did there?!) a bit too much into it. I know it is a shock that such a badly written book has caused such a massive hype and sold so many copies, but the fact is that it doesn’t matter how badly it’s written because E L James has made it socially acceptable for women to read erotic fiction. I think the mummy porn title probably came from the fact that a lot of mums maybe don’t have the time to focus on their sex lives as much as they used to, I know that I am so busy doing a million and one things that sex doesn’t really enter my brain until it comes down to actually doing it but I like being able to read a book that kind of warms me up for the event, if you know what I mean! And lastly I think publishers will be crying out for more erotic fiction books after seeing how well this one has done so it will give a lot more authors a chance to have their books sell in the millions. You should write one! x (Sorry for this essay!)

    • I’m not sure that I buy the whole line about this book making it socially acceptable for women to enjoy porn. You see for me, the fact that it is being given the ‘mummy porn’ title suggests that we still need to make light of the fact that it is erotica by giving it a fluffy name. It has to be said as well that EL James herself has said that she objects to the ‘mummy porn’ tag too and I can’t say I blame her although let’s face it, that has been a huge part of its word of mouth success. As for me writing the next big thing in erotica? Err, no thanks! I don’t think my children – especially my teens – would ever EVER forgive me! Ha! I think I’ll stick to my love stories with hearts and flowers rather than chains and whips ;-)

  15. Fan fiction gone mad, (clearly taken from Twilight), I heard there was no editor involved and the publishers told her to take out the wealthy vampire and ramp up the porn…ta-daaa…instant hit…sex sells, always has, always will! So come on my love – your turn to make your millions – I’ll buy it x

    • Yeah you’re spot on! Fan fiction gone mad! And you’re now the second person to say that I should have a turn and make a million or three.. it’s starting to sound quite tempting! Hahaha! :-)

  16. Godders45 says:

    *Smug face* I have not caved in. I seemed to notice my entire (ok, about 30) Facebook female friend list was reading this garbage. One seemed to be encouraging another of their friends. I could see this awful ‘crap book’ pyramid forming. I’m so glad I did avoid it. What you have said echoes everything I have thought about it.

    As a *cough* middle aged woman myself, perhaps I should put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard then) as I think I could write something far better. In fact, why don’t we ladies write a chapter each and I bet it would be a best-seller. Now, there’s an idea… ;-)

    • Yup, my Facebook was pretty much the same! I have to say that it was fascinating and also quite baffling to see it spread like wild fire as it did. I also wonder if half of those Facebook friends actually did enjoy the book too or if they just felt under pressure to say that they did because of the surrounding hype?

  17. christine says:

    I wont read it….I wouldn’t read Twillight or Harry Potter and I haven’t read this either. Although I hear HP is pretty well written…Twillight and this Shades of Grey thing don’t interest me. I tried actually to watch the first Twillight movie….THREE times I tried but I just couldn’t get through the damn thing without laughing. I have a feeling it would be the same if I read 50 shades.

    • No, I’m with you. I left Harry Potter to the children (who loved it it has to be said) but I didn’t read those blasted vampire stories either. Dare I say that the people who enjoyed the Twilight books seem to be the ones who are now loving Fifty Shades of Shite? I guess that isn’t so surprising seeing as it started out as Twilight fan fiction but still, I think they seem to be pretty much of the same genre. And no, definitely not my cup of tea. Life is too short for bad books ;-)

  18. Lex says:

    Hi all, felt like adding my fifty cents worth…
    I’ve read all three books with a kind of car crash fascination, being a lady who likes to finish what I’ve started. I googled this page as I too have been pondering what has caused the immense hype surrounding the trilogy.
    I’ve drawn the conclusion that it’s a combination of ignorance, people who don’t normally read so don’t have a measuring stick, the fact that it is ubiquitous and the vague hint of naughtiness that James’s stilted foray into BDSM brings.
    I found the sex scenes incredibly repetitive, scrap that, the whole series. In conclusion I can state that I believe the author to have an imagination only marginally less limited than her vocabulary.
    But hey, no harm done.
    I’m really tempted to start writing now…

    • Hello and welcome! I agree completely about just how incredibly repetitive it was and this was something that I’m afraid I just couldn’t get over. I do love though that this might encourage people to actually seek out real erotica to read if that’s their bag and even better – write their own! You should so have a go ;-)

  19. I had to read simply because of all the hype… Could not agree more with your comments.

    I was actually offended by this book… I mean, Because you’re a Mummy you have no fun ;-) ‘Mummy Porn’ Pur-lease indeed.

    I’ve just started the 3rd only because I can’t not finish a book (Slightly ocd’ish) haha. This is one occasion I think I’ll prefer the film to the book. That’s never happened! It really is poorly written… And as for the sex… No comment!

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