Tuesday, February 3, 2015

50 Shades of Grey Review - Chapter Five

So we're on the next chapter. Did James show Grey's true demonic shades?

Yes and no.

Did he get creepier? Oh, you betcha.

Did Ana do the smart thing and run away as far and fast as possible? ::sigh:: What do you think?

Again, one of the few times Ana does the right, smart thing and accusingly—and fairly—asks Grey to answer for his creepy, stalker behavior, James dismisses it, her, and her very legitimate concerns about her safety. James has Grey justify his cell phone tracking by waving Jose's irresponsible and reprehensible behavior in Ana's face. I don't care if Grey did save Ana from her creepy, date-rape friend; the end does not justify the means. Grey may have saved her from a date rapist, but he's still a stalker who violated her privacy. And he did it before he knew about Jose's tendency to sexually assault his friends over drinks.

I think I now understand why all the men around Ana are such predators. It's because Ana can't seem to read romantic signals more subtle than rape. The morning after her drunken escapades, she's disappointed and confused at why Grey didn't try to make a pass at her WHILE SHE WAS PASSED OUT. 

Again, if anything, this is one of the few times that Grey is actually acting responsibly and admirably. He didn't try to have sex with a drunkenly comatose woman who'd just vomited in front of him. How DARE he?! Clearly, this means that he finds her unattractive and "repellant." Because, if he were attracted to her, he would have been so overtaken with lust that he would have just HAD to rape her prone, immobile, unconscious, vomit-splattered body. 

How has this girl survived 21 years of living? She truly is idiotic to the point where her lack of basic common sense should have killed her off in early childhood.

Even James seems to realize that her main character is a bit of a dunce. In chapter five, completely out of nowhere, Ana's vocabulary explodes in almost Tourettes-ian savant style. All of a sudden uncommon words like "phlegmatically" and "profligate" start populating her speech in odd places. Yet the story seems to treat it as if it's normal. Considering the youthful, ineloquent style of writing we've been exposed to for the past four chapters and throughout the fifth, these six-point SAT words sound very out of place next to all the "ers," "wows," "oh mys," and "or somethings." 

It sounds like James just looked up a bunch of words in her thesaurus. Like when James tries too hard to reword common cliches and just ends up mangling them past recognition, this feels like yet another example of bad translation. It's avoiding what she really means because she's afraid that it won't come off as smart sounding. She's saying something that she doesn't mean—and doesn't really understand—and THAT is the worst thing that an author can do.

Writing is all about communication. It's all about using words to paint images, to tell stories, to share experiences and dreams and ideas. If you don't mean what you say, you've failed at your goal. Even verbal misfirings at slight nuances, as a writer, should cause you shame. The English language has so many wonderful words in it, so many different ways to say and express any given idea. So many ways to be exactingly precise in your wording and meaning. And James abuses that sorely.

Take for instance, the sentence " 'You know, you really should learn to take a compliment.' His tone is castigating." It completely discounts the tone and connotation of the word "castigating." Castigation, a word not used in everyday speech, is usually reserved for times when you're implying a severity in censure that isn't reasonable for that phrase. It makes Grey—who, admittedly, can be emotionally unsteady at times—seem like he's throwing an unwarranted fit at this moment. It sounds so harsh, like a literary backhand.

James does it again when she allows Ana to describe Grey as an antagonizing stalker and a classic romantic hero, "a white knight in shining, dazzling armor," all in the same paragraph. How is this possible? A person can't be both things at the same time.

No wonder Ana calls Grey "Mr. Confusing." It's very hard to know what Ana thinks or feels at any given moment. She changes thoughts and opinions almost instantly. Vacillating too quickly, as if she has no definite opinion or stance on anything.

Her inconstancy seems to be the only constant thing about her and this novel. In fact, she even breaks her Caps/uncaps pattern and uses a mixed title for Grey, "Christian oh-so-mysterious Grey," making her main love interest even more of a contradiction in her mind. Which is actually fairly fitting as, while Grey is behaving like a domineering man aping at Domination in the worst of ways, Ana sees him as a sullen, sulking "little boy."

This is why—I'm sorry—I believe that vanilla people really shouldn't write kink. Kink is all a mind set. It's a complicated, complex mental game of make-believe that is terribly hard to understand from the outside looking in. It takes quite a bit of research and thought that it rarely receives in mainstream media. Everyone is so content to rely on stereotypes and misconceptions, rarely ever even trying for any amount of accuracy or realism. They hide behind the idea that it's a fantasy, as if that gives them license to treat real people's lifestyles and preferences so carelessly. To make up things as they go.

Kink IS a fantasy. A fantasy that many people live and realize as a reality. It isn't something imaginary or unknown. It isn't theoretical or unformed. It's something that real people do in their real lives. It's something you can Google online and find in bookstores. It exists in concrete terms. In facts and real experiences. Couldn't James be bothered to do even the barest amount of research?

Take chapter five alone. Grey tell Ana that he can't kiss her without written consent. What? It's kissing, for christ's sake! Grey needs a contact from each and every woman he wants to neck with? Vanilla people do realize that kinky people have vanilla aspects of their relationships, right? That kink is just the expansion pack of a regular, ordinary, vanilla romantic and sexual life, right? Not everything we do as kinky people is kinky. Not every action is done by kink rules. We don't kinkily walk down the street. We don't kinkily shop for groceries. We don't kinkily go to work. And we don't necessarily always kiss kinkily. Or even fuck kinkily. It's just another option in our repertoire. Another toy in our bag.

And the way Grey describes his own kink. "Once you’re enlightened, you probably won’t want to see me again." Dear deity, it sound like he's got an affliction! I love Dan Savage. Even more so after having read this tripe. He talks about not revealing your kinks like they're cancer. And this is why. When Grey tries to hint at his kinks in very vague, ominous terms, Ana's mind immediately jumps to "Does he white-slave small children to some God-forsaken part of the planet?  Is he part of some underworld crime syndicate?" 

Oh my god, it's JUST BDSM. 

I know that kinksters like to pretend that what we do is so deviant. And far too many vanilla people like to imagine that what we do is criminal and so outlying. In truth, BDSM is the new oral sex. Statistically, a lot of people do it—even if it's just the low stakes, barely vanilla fuzzy handcuffs and blindfolds stuff. More have at least tried it. Almost everyone's at least heard of it. It's not all THAT shocking anymore. Why is James treating it like necrophilia? I want to handcuff her hands behind her back just so she stops writing.

One last thought on this chapter. OMG Grey's hotel room is BEIGE!!! I can't even express how happy, how joyous, how giddily gleeful this makes me. James has no idea what this means in kinky, stoplight safeword system terms, does she? I had to stop reading to giggle at this.

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