Thursday, September 12, 2013

Let's Read Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter 1!


Alright, I should have done this years ago, but since the meme is still not dead, I think it's not too late.

I'm reading Fifty Shades of Grey.  I'm going to write this as I read it, rather than finishing and going to the end, so you're getting my first reaction here.  I'm also going to put this all behind pagebreaks, so I can go on as long as I like and not shit up my main blog with glorified Twilight fanwank.

Let's begin. God have mercy on our souls.

I should be studying for my final exams, which are next week, yet here I am trying to brush my hair into submission.

Get it?  Get it?  Do you get it?
Therefore, she cannot attend the interview she’d arranged to do, with some mega-industrialist tycoon I’ve never heard of, for the student newspaper. [...] the enigmatic CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Oh, those mega-industrialist tycoons. Always devastatingly handsome and in search of the one woman who can really understand them, am I right?

I guess all the cowboys, surgeons, firefighters, and anachronistically gentlemanly pirates were busy when the casting call went out.
The roads are clear as I set off from Vancouver, WA toward Portland and the I-5. It’s early, and I don’t have to be in Seattle until two this afternoon.
I-5 (it's not "the I-5") goes right through Vancouver, and if you're going toward Portland, you're heading the opposite direction from Seattle. This is a pretty minor thing, but I used to live in Washington State, and the setting failures in this book stick out to me like "I set off on the Brooklyn Bridge toward the island of Boston, heading east into the setting sun."
“I’m here to see Mr. Grey. Anastasia Steele for Katherine Kavanagh.”
Anastasia Steele. Her name is Anastasia Steele. That's excellent. I can't get over it.  There are literally tears in my eyes.  Anastasia Steele.
The elevator whisks me with terminal velocity to the twentieth floor.
The terminal velocity of a human being in freefall is about 125-200 miles per hour.  The terminal velocity of an elevator moving upward is THAT IS NOT WHAT TERMINAL VELOCITY MEANS.
I push open the door and stumble through, tripping over my own feet, and falling head first into the office. Double crap – me and my two left feet! I am on my hands and knees in the doorway to Mr. Flint Ironstag’s office, and gentle hands are around me helping me to stand. I am so embarrassed, damn my clumsiness.
See, a good romance author doesn't describe the narrator character in too much detail, so the reader can picture her however they want, or, in this case, as Kristen Stewart.

Also, for my own amusement, I am replacing all mentions of  "Christian Grey" with the fake names from that one MST3K skit.
So young – and attractive, very attractive. He’s tall, dressed in a fine gray suit, white shirt, and black tie with unruly dark copper colored hair and intense, bright gray eyes that regard me shrewdly.  It takes a moment for me to find my voice. “Um. Actually–” I mutter. If this guy is over thirty then I’m a monkey’s uncle. In a daze, I place my hand in his and we shake. As our fingers touch, I feel an odd exhilarating shiver run through me. I withdraw my hand hastily, embarrassed. Must be static. I blink rapidly, my eyelids matching my heart rate.
 I love scenes like this in books, because it plays as all sexually charged and stuff inside her head, but can you picture the scene from the outside?  She's stammering and flustering and twitching because a cute guy shook her hand.  It's less "lust at first sight" and more "do you need to lie down?"

I suppose that's one way to make the Designated Harmless Flaw for romance heroines into an actual flaw--exaggerate her clumsiness and awkwardness to the point where the reader stops going "oh, so cute" and starts actually worrying about her.
Apart from the paintings, the rest of the office is cold, clean, and clinical. I wonder if it reflects the personality of the Adonis who sinks gracefully into one of the white leather chairs opposite me.
Don't you mean the perfect marble-hard sparkling Adonis?  For shame.
“You sound like a control freak.” The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them.“Oh, I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele,” he says without a trace of humor in his smile. I look at him, and he holds my gaze steadily, impassive. My heartbeat quickens, and my face flushes again.
I'm supposed to be making more helpful comments than just "oh God I'm laughing too hard," here. I'm supposed to be witty and penetrating and stuff.  But oh God, I'm just laughing too hard.  This is the kind of innuendo that would embarrass James Bond. It would embarrass Roger Moore James Bond.
“Besides, immense power is acquired by assuring yourself in your secret reveries that you were born to control things,” he continues, his voice soft.
Dooooouuuuchebaaaaaag.

And seriously, this is just a puff piece for a student paper.  You're supposed to spend fifteen minutes giving a PR-brochure history of your company and talking about how you value education and... don't value... not-education.  You're not supposed to reveal what you whisper to yourself at night.
“Well, to ‘chill out’ as you put it – I sail, I fly, I indulge in various physical pursuits.”
Why does Buff Hardback talk like a vampire?  Not even an Edward Cullen vampire, either.  Like a Dracula vampire.
“Are you gay, Mr. BlastBody?” He inhales sharply, and I cringe, mortified. Crap. Why didn’t I employ some kind of filter before I read this straight out? How can I tell him I’m just reading the questions?
I remind you that this is all for a one- or two-page profile in the student paper because he's presenting the diplomas.
“Mr. PlankChest, forgive me for interrupting, but your next meeting is in two minutes.” 
“We’re not finished here, Andrea. Please cancel my next meeting.” 
Andrea hesitates, gaping at him. She’s appears lost. He turns his head slowly to face her and raises his eyebrows. She flushes bright pink. Oh good. It’s not just me.
Doesn't Andrea work with him every day? You'd think she'd be used to his megahot hotness by now, or at least a little better at controlling her reactions.  Does she get all "whoaaa... sexy... wha..." every time he asks her to make a phone call?  That seems like it would get old.

Also, something about the "we're not finished here" makes me want to remind Anastasia to make sure not to let Crud BoneMeal get between her and the door.
When I turn to look at him, he’s leaning against the doorway beside the elevator with one hand on the wall. He really is very, very good-looking. It’s distracting. His burning gray eyes gaze at me. “Anastasia,” he says as a farewell. “Dirk HardPec,” I reply. And mercifully, the doors close.
Aww.  It's like the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

"I loved our brief, awkward, and completely inappropriate interview."
"I know."

82 comments:

  1. Nope, every lady in this book pretty much throws herself at Christian Grey. Even the lesbians, if such people exist in the 50SoG universe. I have my doubts, there's like one camp gay stereotype dude and a lot of homoerotic subtext and that's it.

    Because of this, I've seen people offer the alternate characterization that Christian Grey is some kind of eldritch monster that feeds off lust and fear.

    He also buys Ben & Jerry's vanilla ice cream. I've got nothing against vanilla ice cream, but who the fuck buys Ben & Jerry's vanilla?! I really feel this little fact sums up the whole series, really.

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    1. Hey, I like vanilla ice cream! But you have to get the high-end stuff because it's only good if it has actual vanilla flavor, and the store-brands tend to treat it like a euphemism for "plain." So I can totally understand getting Ben & Jerry's vanilla.

      ...That is, however, the only thing I understand here.

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    2. Ah. Where I come from you can get good vanilla from other brands for cheaper, so getting Ben & Jerry's vanilla just seems weird - and also, they're better known for having very unusual flavours, so going to them specifically for vanilla seems very strange. Kinda pretentious and money-throwing, which sums up the Grey family.

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    3. Nothing wrong with Ben & Jerry's, but I think the point was that Mr. Billionaire, if he's buying super premium high-end Stuff Only Classy Rich People Eat ice cream, is not going to be buying Ben & Jerry's.

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    4. Obviously he's more of a Haagen Dazs man.

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    5. Deliberately 'nymedDecember 18, 2013 at 7:01 AM

      Nononono, he's getting Weis imported from Australia. Because that stuff is seriously good (although they're not making the icecream any more, just sorbets and frozen yoghurts, which upsets me because I loved the flecks of vanilla bean in the plain vanilla gelato http://www.weis.com.au/products/weis-gelato/vanilla-bean)

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  2. <3 I could never bring myself to read it before, but now, Now, NOW. This is so much better.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. EL James is British. Saying "the M1" or "M25" is common in Britain. These books are peppered with Britishisms.

      It's kind of like reading Harry Potter fanfic and the characters refer to Hot Topic or something; yeah, Hot Topic is all well and good but we don't have that over here. We don't even have an analogous store chain. And we definitely didn't have anything like that in the 1990s.

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    2. But Hot Topic IS a store chain here for teens and twenty somethings!

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    3. When you say "here", you mean America, I am guessing. Harry Potter is written by a British person and set in Britain, where Hot Topic has no stores, and definitely didn't in the 90's, when the books were written and set.

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  4. Hehehe... somehow these never get old. I haven't even read the books yet I feel like I have.

    That mst3k clip brought this to mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OFfJeSQG00

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  5. This is fabulous. I am crying at my desk and snorting, I am laughing so hard.

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  6. Is there a Washington consensus on the whole I-5 vs. the I-5 thing? In California there isn't--generally Southern Californians say "the I-5" and Northern Californians just say "I-5", though there also seems to be an element of small town vs big city confusing the issue.

    ...yeah, that's what I got out of this post. Though I look forward to your outrage once you get the "BDSM" parts. They're very...trying.

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    1. I only ever heard "I-5." (And likewise "I-90" and "405".)

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    2. In the PNW, "I5" is for when you want to be verbose. Most people just refer to it as "5". Same goes for "I90"... most of the time it's just "90".

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    3. In Western New York I've heard every variation of I-90, with and without "the" or "I". But I would never call the 400 just 400, or 17 "the 17". Apparently someone's looked into this further: http://www.languagehat.com/archives/003203.php

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    4. Yeah as an Angelino it wasn't the "the" part that sounded off to me, but rather the "I" part. It's not like there are two 5 freeways and you have to specify that "no no, I'm talking about the -interstate- one". Down here all our fwys are "the ___".

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    5. Definitely I5 (or just, the freeway, or 5) and never "the I-5," at least in Washington State. I know it's different elsewhere (see: http://youtu.be/-lc3peq4P5s), but it is a dead giveaway that someone is not from the PNW if they say "the I-5."

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    6. I live in Washington right off the I-5 (like right off - I am currently in bed watching cars roll by on it out the window) and I was about to say that I never say 'the I-5' but then I started this comment and wrote it without thinking so...

      Then again, I'm a transplant and have only lived here for twoish years.

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    7. In Texas, most of the interstates are just the numbers, so 35 and 45, except I-10 which is both 10 and I-10, depending. Nobody ever calls them "the."

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    8. Agree with L, Southern Californians just say "the 5." Northern Californians would say "5." For some reason a lot of them freak out about the way Southern Californians add the definite article, or maybe I've just encountered a lot of Northern Californians who take it personally.

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    9. I lived in LA for a year and then Portland for 7 and have always said "the 5". Which perhaps weirdly marks me as a Southern Californian, but I've never noticed anyone saying it differently. I would say "the __" for any freeway, and I would look askance at people who said "I-__". For the 5 this seems particularly relevant, as saying to someone "we're gonna take the 5" and "we're gonna take 5" mean two very different things (telling them the route you're taking and telling them you're going to take a break).

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  7. This book never fails to amuse, so that's one good thing about it! I like this project, thank you for reading and sharing.

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  8. Comradde PhysioProffeSeptember 12, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    That made me really glad I never read that fucken swill.

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  9. I honestly loved reading this book. At least the first one. I was tears-laughing, man, it was awesome. I'm stoked that you are reading this so I can relive all the joy. I put my faith in Blast HardCheese (that's you now ok)

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  10. Oh man, I had to re-watch the MST3K of "Space Mutiny" thanks to you. Such a horrible movie! So many quotable lines!

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  11. If you're interested in comeraderie, I really enjoyed this review of the 50 books:

    http://jennytrout.wordpress.com/jenny-reads-50-shades-of-grey/

    She's doing the sequels, too. There's some really nice stuff in there spelling out why Christian is a textbook emotional abuser.

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    Replies
    1. ^Thirded (a different anonymous!)

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    2. Comeraderie ... sometimes a misspelling makes more sense than the correct word, especially considering the subject matter!

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    3. So... Jenny Trout's recaps were incredibly triggering for me in ways the original 50SOG recaps /weren't/. Warning for, among other things, perpetuating the "cycle of abuse" myth, not distinguishing between mood disorders and emotional abuse when talking about signs, and using anorexia as a punchline.

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  12. Cliff, this cracked me up for like 30 straight minutes. Can't wait to read more!

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  13. The sound you hear is me dying both because of uttermost horror and laughter.

    Mostly laughter.

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  14. Cliff Reads 50 Shades of Grey - So You Don't Have To!!! :D:D:D:D

    (Yes I stole the title - it's still true. :D:D:D:)

    -Fishgoat

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  15. You know a friend of mine and I were joking about 50 Shades of Grey today and I was said that I have a tendency to picture him as having a ridiculously over-developed upper body physique, yet a comically narrow waist and thin legs for reasons I can't explain as anything but a way of subconsciously mocking him for the asshole that he is.

    Calling him by the Space Mutiny names is making that visual so much funnier and more permanent. This is going to be awesome.

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    1. Great, now I'm picturing Gru from Despicable Me.

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    2. What about the evil prince from the first Shrek? He not only has very thin and short legs, but kind of a sadist too. I guess from now on he will be my personal Christian Grey.

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    3. Come on, that's really nasty to Johnny Bravo.

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  16. One of the great experiences of the last time I was in Dublin was a friend doing readings from 50 Shades... in the voice of Tom Hardy's Bane. Truly excellent.

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  17. Yayyyyyyyy! It's been so long since a proper pervocracy fisk! Really looking forward to these :D

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  18. Oh, yes. This is great. Thumbs up. Or, er, in the spirit of the chapter--"thumbs fully erect and pointed upward."

    Because what's a sentence but another chance to pump something full of euphemisms? Sweet, sweet euphemisms.

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  19. A friend sent me this link. Cliff has now completed my life, I can die happy once this fisking is done.

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  20. Thank you! Now I can know all about 50 Shades without having to go through the pain of reading it myself.

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  21. I was so happy to see that Cliff was doing this!

    Thank you for providing an outlet for my morbid curiosity without my having to actually read the book :-)

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  22. When I read Jenny Trout's extensive recaps on 50SOG, I always imagined it as being similar to what you would write on the subject. If you can take a lighter approach, It'll probably save a lot of your time and blood pressure. It's enough for one brilliant writer to dive deep into shit just to see if there's a bottom.

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  23. This is beautiful. Just. . . beautiful. I live in Vancouver, Washington actually and the sheer number of details she got wrong (did ANYONE EVER offer to proofread this sucker???? Or Google maps even!) about the local and directions, etc. drove me nuts.

    I think at one point she is going for a jog from the school campus to Portland. Um. . . the last time I checked a 13-15 mile run (one way) isn't a nice morning wake up sort of thing to do.

    I can't wait to read more of your responses - especially coming from someone in the BDSM community who has such a wonderfully intelligent and sex-positive perspective.

    (I would LOVE to get your reaction to the BDSM Twilight fanfic story, Our Lives Unbound, which seemed to treat this subject with infinitely more respect and insight. Not to mention better writing.)

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  24. You may or may not know this, Cliff (the sparkling and vampire lines suggest so, but I try not to assume), but for those who don't: the reason he's written like a supposedly sexy but really creepy and abusive vampire, she's written like a vapid klutz, and the whole thing is a terrible mess? 50SOG is Twilight fanfiction that had the serial numbers filed off before it could be published.

    This is why we can't have nice things.

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    1. For those who don't? Seriously? Does anyone not? Because that's kind of ... the whole point.

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    2. A surprising number of people I've talked to still don't know this, or they think it's just a joke/rumour.

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  25. Is there some explanation for why this "mega-industrialist tycoon" is spending his time giving an interview to the student paper? Wouldn't his PR person just send over a canned bio?

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    1. But if Christian Grey didn't give an interview then he'd never meet Ana Steele and then he'd never be cured of his "dark and dangerous BDSM sex tastes" by the power of twu wuv!

      (Of course, his actual dangerous stalking, abusive behaviour is not cured by the power of twu wuv, because they are apparently manifestations of such and therefore perfectly acceptable in these shitty books.)

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    2. Even aside from the fact that someone as important as Christian Grey is supposed to be would never be giving that interview, I found the depictions of college journalism to be distractingly bad.
      I mean, if a college newspaper editor really got sick before an important interview, she would have literally dozens of desperate, eager J-school students to call. One of them could have filled in for her without her resorting to her incompetent roommate who has never taken a reporting class.
      And those interview questions! I mean, anyone who is savvy enough to be the editor of a college paper would/should know that sexual orientation is not relevant to a story about a successful businessman unless it was a factor in his professional life.

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  26. Yeeeeah, as someone who has lived in the Seattle area for 24 years and in Portland for 4 the inaccuracies are just plain hilarious.

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  27. Oh, dear god yes! Ever since I read my first 50 Shades snarky recap, I've been praying, PLEASE let Cliff get in on this insanity! This shit is like Cosmo times a million. The Pervocracy needs a Shadesmocking! Thank you. Just, thank you!

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  28. I "tried" to read this book awhile ago. Not because I had any shred of actual interest, but because I didn't want to be one of those people who whinged about how terrible it was, only to be met with, "But have you actually read it?" and me having to hang my head in shame.

    I got to the "elevator whisked me at terminal velocity" line and hurled the stupid thing across the room in disgust. I am so glad someone else thought that line was as terrible as I did!

    How this book was ever published, I have no idea.

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  29. I just read this about a month ago, and I'm glad to see I'm not the last one to get to it. Personally, I thought it was kind of inaccurate, pretty cliche, and I wasn't quite sure what the plot was. Still, if people just want to read it as porn then I don't have much of an issue with it. It just worries me that so many people view Christian Grey as some sort of ideal boyfriend, even with all the stalking tendencies (and a lot of other problems).

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  30. I got about three chapters in before I gave up for good. Snarky recaps are much preferred, because they tell me everything I am secretly curious about without subjecting me to the disaster zone that is these books.

    These recaps are what I have been enjoying for quite some time: http://http://www.snarksquad.com/category/books-2/fifty-shades/fifty-shades-of-grey
    They are extremely hilarious, while also reminding you of the horror this all really is.

    I'm looking forward to Cliff's take!

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    Replies
    1. Seconding Snark Squad. Those ladies have, without a doubt, taken one for the team. Plus there are gifs! And if people are into Sweet Valley High/Babysitters Club/Buffy/Angel, they'll find joy from the site.

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  31. Y'know, I once did a review of my own on the first couple chapters of this terrible book (which, the prose doesn't enrage me as much as Twilight did? I was positively nice about this book) and I lost several friends over it. HA! Of course, no great loss if their taste in literature is that bad.

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  32. Terminal velocity *snickersnerk*... also, something tells me you might find this webcomic amusing--> http://www.discordcomics.com/shades-cover/.

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  33. While we're at recommending other fabulous 50 Shades reviews, I think Amberance was the best... she's just freaking hilarious... read it from the beginning http://bizzybiz.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/50%20Shades%20of%20Grey%20review

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  34. Finally! An appropriate place to leave this link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K1RcKJVbHA

    (It's a mock ad for 'Gilbert Gottfried' reads Fifty Shades of Grey')

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  35. The Snark Squad is also doing 50 Shades of Grey & sequels, snarkily. It's pretty funny. :) Looking forward to your take.

    http://www.snarksquad.com/category/books-2/fifty-shades/fifty-shades-of-grey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...which I just NOW see someone else posted. >< And since I can't edit and don't want to delete, let this just be an additional stressor that it is funny as hell, their review. :)

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  36. Oh, man, Cliff. Good luck. I MSTed fifteen chapters of that stupid book, and I had to concede defeat. It actually became so horrifying that I COULD NOT make it funny.

    It is my personal belief that Christian Grey is a mind-controlling alien from Neptune, and that the book would've been greatly improved if Ana had hooked up with her roommate and they were detectives fighting a mind-controlled serial killing bear.

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    Replies
    1. I really enjoyed your MST! It must have been painful to write, but it was hella funny to read. Everything is better with more serial killer bears. Also, thrilled to see Cliff's take on the whole Fifty Shades thing... this should be interesting :)

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  37. Am I the only person who kinda sorta a little tiny bit LIKED this book? Yeah, I get that it's stupid and completely implausible and full of inaccuracies and treats BDSM in a very disrespectful manner, but...rich man, sweeping you off your feet and buying you an AUDI, people!! Who wouldn't want to have some rich dude with emotional scars and stalkeriffic tendencies buy you an AUDI!!

    I really do think it's readable, if you suspend your disbelief, but your review is hysterically funny, and I can't wait for your next installment...you should also give http://50shadesofsuck.tumblr.com/ a peek, it's hilarious.

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    1. Well I wouldn't, for example. I don't understand why being rich should be attractive, especially when it comes to expensive gifts - they make me uneasy. I would've thought that he's trying to buy me and impress me, not make me smile. Also emotional scars combined with stalkeriffic tendencies? Horrible and disgusting. It doesn't even sound romantic, it's sounds like: "you're gonna be my therapist, cause I'm so damaged, you should forgive me for any shitty things I'll do to you cause I'm sooo muuch hurt, I'll never own my shit, it's all on you to take care of, and I'll stalk you and you should be grateful that I want you so much." How any of that can be attractive is beyond me. That's how I feel. Someone else will feel different and that's fine. Why do people who liked this book often don't believe, not everybody feels the same? It's a little patronizing.
      By the way what exactly is sweeping me of my feet?

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    2. As someone who doesn't care about about cars, I'm not seeing the appeal. Hell, even if I was crazy about cars, "stalkeriffic tendencies" would be enough to turn me right off. Why couldn't it have been rich man sweeps you off your feet, is deeply flawed, but respects you and doesn't stalk, beat, or rape you? I could see the appeal if that were the case. But fuck, the sex isn't even well-written in these books and is incredibly awkward. There were some things I found enjoyable about the books, but not much, and Christian Grey was not one of them. In fact, having experienced similar abuse to what he did as a very young child, I just felt really insulted that he kept falling back on that as an excuse to be an abuser himself.

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  38. I could see making the whole "terminal velocity" thing work:

    The elevator doors opened, and a pool of hot goo wetly gushed into the hall.
    "Shit, our inertial dampener's broken again!"

    The rest of the book covers the massive lawsuit.

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  39. I am so happy you are doing this. I read a few chapters and couldn't stomach anymore. It will be great to get your point of view and find out what happens!

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    ReplyDelete
  41. omg this is hilarious!!! I've only ever flipped through this book (my friends into bdsm warned me how.... horribly inaccurate it is) And I'm SOO glad you are doing this! I absolutely love your commentary (especially about the smaller things, like the roads... Those sort of wrong details piss me off!).

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  42. I m excited for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie.I cant wait for releasing date of the movie.
    I read your blog i m really happy for reading this blog. Its good. Nice chapter of Fifty shades of Grey movie
    Fifty Shades of Grey

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  43. "Anastasia Steele. Her name is Anastasia Steele. That's excellent. I can't get over it. There are literally tears in my eyes. Anastasia Steele."

    What's so funny(?) about that? I... I don't get it. Anyone care to help out? :)

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    1. It's just such a ridiculous, fantastical, self-consciously-trying-too-hard-to-be-cool name that it makes the book impossible to take seriously. It's an obvious marker that it started as fan fiction - bad fanfic is riddled with that sort of thing. (As are many real novels, unfortunately.) If you're not familiar with the concept, look up "Mary Sue" - a name like 'Anastasia Steele' is an instant warning sign.

      If you're going to write a story with characters called things like 'Anastasia Steele', by all means do so, but you've got to do so with a sense of irony, which apparently 50SOG entirely lacks.

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    2. I once went to a celebrity pro-am tennis tournament with a friend who went around introducing himself as "Dash Grundy" to any VIP who would listen.

      No further explanation is needed.

      Delete
  44. My lovely wife has been threatening to do this same thing. Your snippets indicate that this book is far worse than I'd ever imagined. Wow.

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  45. Unfortunately all I can see now is Reb Brown as this dude. Double unfortunately for me, I've seen more than most people should see of Brown's movies so the picture is crystal clear in my mind (complete with Rebstache!) I wonder if Rip Steakface does the weird yell, or commands Ms. Inner Goddess to move! move! move! at any point in the books.

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