Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fifty? I might give you three...

Okay, here is the first paragraph of warnings. I'm going to write about the Fifty Shades trilogy. This means if you haven't read all three books and don't want anything spoiled for you go no further. This also means that I am going to be writing about sex. Graphically. Using language and examples that you might not want to read if you don't want to have to think about having a graphic conversation with me about sex. Are we clear?

Okay, now that the three people who haven't read the books yet and my son have left the blog let's continue....

So Fifty Shades. Where do we begin? I first heard about the books a few months ago. They were talked about in an article I read about fan fiction and then another one I read about "mommy porn". Well I wasn't interested in them. First off I am not a fan of the source material for the Fifty Shades books.  I wrote a little about the Twilight series here. Basically I didn't like them. I didn't like the writing style. I didn't like the characters and I didn't like the story. Such as there was. So reading a series that was based off of Twilight but just with sex added didn't appeal to me.

And then there is the "mommy porn" label. I read a series by Laurell Hamilton that Brent and I have been calling Vampire Porn for years. And she has another one that is Fae Porn. Because see, in the first one Vampires have sex and in the second one the Fae do. So you can see how Mommy Porn might not appeal to me as much. But then I found out that it's just what people are calling it because a lot of women are reading the books and it makes them feel better to call it "mommy porn" instead of..."yes women want to have sex and like reading about people having sex porn." Or just porn. Or erotica, which is really more where I would put this.

But then I was talking with a friend of mine and she said she had read them and actually liked them. There were issues, supposedly they are set here in Portland and then up in Seattle and it's pretty obvious that the author has never spent time here, but other than that she said they weren't terrible. I still resisted. But then more and more more people were talking about them and I just had to read them to see what the big deal was. And why everyone was so scandalized! Because let's all just face it right now, we are human and we are biologically designed to like sex. And be intrigued by sex. If we weren't the species would have died out a long time ago.

So finally I downloaded the first book on to my Kindle and started reading it. After deciding that I would just pretend that the Portland/Vancouver/Seattle areas she was describing were someplace in the UK I got over the odd speech patterns pretty quickly. But then the red flags started going off.  The main male character is damaged. Obviously, severely, completely damaged. And the main female character is all goodness and light and purity and...what the hell? Did I really just get roped in to reading Twilight AGAIN? But then the changes start coming...The female lead, Ana, actually has a personality. When Christian crosses her lines where she is comfortable she leaves him! The questions I had about him, the problems I had with what he was doing and his basic make up she addresses, the book addresses, they talk about the fact that he is broken. And that it's a problem! Wow...and at the end of the first book I found myself heartbroken for Ana for falling for a man with such obvious and serious issues when she was way too young to know how to deal with them. I found myself curious as to how Christian got that way. I was actually looking forward to the next book. Something I could never say about Twilight.

Okay, but you all aren't reading this to find out what I thought of the story, you are here for the sex. Same reason why we all read the books. I kept hearing about how people were SHOCKED at the BDSM angle in the book. Christian is a Dominate and he pursued Ana not for a traditional relationship but as a Submissive. There were rules, hard limits, soft limits, safety words, the Red Room of Pain. He wants to control every single thing about her. What she eats, wears,  how she exercises, who she sees....(now you see why I was not comfortable reading the book at first, this is not healthy) and he wants to punish her. Cause her pain. Like all of the little brown haired girls before her. The fifteen others.

But as this is a romance novel tarted up with erotica that's not the path they end up going down. She doesn't want to be a submissive, she wants to be a girlfriend. And since this is a romance novel at its core, he starts to fall in love with her as well. The first sex scene we have between the two of them is vanilla sex. Well written, hot, completely unbelievable considering it was supposed to be Ana's first time, great sex. We get touches of the more exotic stuff as the books go on. We see his "playroom" which is outfitted with floggers, whipping posts, benches, suspension apparatus, a full "tool box" and so on, but really what we get is just a few glimpses in to that world. The rest we have to fill in ourselves. And that's fine. Because I don't think the author was up to giving much more than she did.

Why do I say that? Well here is where some of my issues with the book came to the forefront. Everyone was talking about the shocking sex, so I was expecting it to be really out there. But I realized pretty quickly that when you read books where the main female character is supernatural and gets her power from the Adour which must be fed regularly or everyone around her will get caught up in a supernatural sex frenzy which could include the weres shifting in to their animal shapes in the middle and vanilla sex for her is having sex with just one, or maybe two, of her steady boyfriends...well...you see...it might be harder to be shocked by an author who seems to not be able to use any other word for female anatomy than..."down there".

And that's where I broke with the story more often than not. That's where I would get taken out of the moment. There was way too much of the "he's so beautiful everyone wants him" and too much describing of his eyes. And if I had to read one more time about how his jeans or slacks hung from his hips "in that way" without ever getting a real description of what "that way" was, I was going to scream. And it was worse during sex scenes. Ana is in a room where there is a cross post she could be lashed to, using butt plugs for anal play and she cannot bring herself to say pussy, or cock, or even erection and vagina! It started to drive me crazy. If you are walking around a party wearing Ben Wa balls then I think you would be comfortable enough to describe oral sex without saying..."And then he kissed me there." Where? In Vancouver? Or have you never been "there" either?

So yes, I guess, if your sex scenes in books have been more of the "And he looked at her with heat in his eyes and she walked toward him...(end of chapter, begin next chapter) The sunlight through the window shades reflected on his beautiful face as he slept..." well then I guess I could see how having your hands tied above your heard while he kissed you "down there" might be a little risque. And how the use of the beads and plugs would really spin your world. Not to mention the spanking. But for me, though the sex was hot, it wasn't all that scandalous. But I'm glad I read the books, I enjoyed them. They were light and fluffy, you knew where they were going to end up. Because they are at their core romance novels and that's how romance novels go. And if you aren't comfortable with words like erection, cock, vagina or pussy then this is way to taste the more exotic side of life without being too terribly scandalized.

Now back to the books themselves...anyone just hear for the dirty talk you can leave again. The first two books are the better ones, in my opinion, the last one felt rushed. She had a lot she wanted to cover and an ending place she wanted to get to and I think it showed. And I honestly think that the fact that she married off the characters shows just how safe this world really was. If she had wanted to be scandalous with them then she would have had Ana come in a little more equal to Christian, rock his world, spend time with him and then they could both leave to go live their own lives. By having them marry, and marry before the series is even over, it was just another safety word. See? It's okay. They love each other and are married. So this really isn't that shocking.

The parts where the Twilight influence really showed through was in the peripheral characters for me. That's where I was really aware that I was reading something that started as fan fiction. She didn't have a lot for them to do, at least the ones in Ana's life. They were mostly there to support that she is beautiful and wonderful...Christian's background people needed a little more sprucing up as well. The blondes in his life, there were a couple that seemed like there had once been a back story (his sister's friend, the woman who worked for his family) that James never went back to. Were they just there to show that everyone was in love with him? Because honestly, I got a little tired of that as well. I've got it, he's supposed to be a good looking man, but not everyone would be drawn to the him just due to his looks, different people have different types, dear. And I think it just showed more of Ana's insecurity than it did Christian's allure. And I didn't enjoy that as much.

And like I said before, I had to really pretend that the place she set the stories wasn't the same as the place where I live. I caught myself snorting at one point where Ana thought she might just run to the hotel Christian was staying in just to see him...well...Ana at that point supposedly lived near the WSU/Vancouver  campus (let's just let go of the fact that she made this a major college when it's really a very small satellite campus) and he was in The Heathman which would be a 16 mile run! The slang they used, the phrases they spoke, not very PNW at all. And the weather, seriously? Outdoor events planned in May and the sun is shining and then you set something in August and it's rained out? Sigh....but I did a pretty good job just telling myself that these were not the same places that I knew. I have done a few events at The Heathman (not tied up to a bed post events! Work events! Get your minds out of the gutter!) and you could tell by how she described the interior she had pulled up their website and done everything by the pictures they have there. Though, props to The Heathman for recognizing a wonderful marketing opportunity and selling "Fifty Shades" packages now. You can get the Charlie Tango which includes a helicopter tour or just one that has a night in the suite. Of course they all come with a tie...

And that ladies and gentlemen is the best thing I can say about the books. Because of the stir and discussions and chats about these books this Father's Day when you hand your honey his customary Father's Day tie you can give him a little wink with it and everyone will have a happy day...down there.

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