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Is 50 Shades of Grey The Next Big Thing?

Is 50 Shades of Grey The Next Big Thing?

As The Hunger Games was getting ready to take the box office by storm, a 40-something former TV executive from England with two kids E.L. James (not her real name) and her literary agent Valerie Hoskins were sitting out in Hollywood taking pitches from all the studios who were all falling over themselves to get the rights to make the film version of her books (there are three of them).

A bit of background – the books are being touted as “mommy porn.”  They have been passed around by women like a crack pipe and you can’t find them in stores. (They are being re-released in paperback next month and are available now on e-readers.)  The descrition in a nutshell:  27-year old billionaire dude Christian Grey is into S/M.  He lures college student Anastasia Steele into being his submissive. 

I have not read the books (has anyone reading this read them?) but I am a bit put off by the description of the story.  It’s also interesting to note that the book started out as Twilight fan fiction online was called Master of the Universe and the lead characters were called Edward and Bella. 

Hollywood is excited because finally they are seeing the light of the female market and can see the franchise potential in this.  Universal and Focus Features were the winners of the bidding war and are said to have paid around $5 million.  James told EW they went with Focus because they handle difficult material and gave her the approvals she wanted. 

Difficult is an understatement here.  Twilight was successful as a film because of women young and older — this movie because of the graphic sexual content won’t be able to attract the tweens and teens.  But, there are complications.  Will women want to see a film about a man who lures a younger woman into a relationship like this?  Will they be able to not make it sound so creepy- cause it really does.

But this really has touched a nerve with women and that is something to take seriously.  And I’m guessing the controversy has just begun which will enhance people’s interest. 

Here’s the description of the book from the author’s website:

When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating.  Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind – until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time.

The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him.  Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her too – but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.

Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master?  And if she does, will she still love what she finds?

I will check out the first book at least and I will wait and see how the film develops.

Mommy Porn Is Making its Way to a Theater Near You (Atlantic Wire)

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ movie deal: E L James speaks — EXCLUSIVE (EW)

E.L. James website

Why Some Find “Fifty Shades Of Grey” Disturbing, New Film Adaptation Announced, Erotic Novel Generates Controversy (International Business Times)

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I have read all of the books and while they are not literary masterpieces, they are a great "escape" when you need one. Trying to picture them as films makes me squirm a bit.
They are sexually graphic during the S/M scenes and I wonder how close the film makers will get before the are hit with an x rating. Will an R rating capture the books intentions? I recently finished another "mommy porn" type book called Loving David and it also had several over the top sex scenes but not as graphic and violent as this one. I am happy that women are getting a bigger variety of "fun reading"


I caught wind of this title a week or so ago because Amazon thinks it'll be just perfect for me – thanks Amazon! Having most definitively not read the books (though the Amazon reviews are fun), I have to withhold too much judgment to be fair. Only…probably not really, no I don't.

"Mommy porn" is most likely going to be accurate. Like a lot of fan fiction out there, this isn't to say that there aren't genius bits written into the stories and that E.L. James isn't talented. I agree with a lot of what AJ (previous poster) says about this being a bad thing for any sort of progressive moves out of women being trained to feel inferior and liking it – I think this'll be true for a lot of women. But isn't part of the equality of the sexes and total sexual liberty and breaking of gendered stereotypes that women can freely choose to get off on this sort of stuff? Some guys are into masochism – some probably for unhealthy reasons, but others just for…variation. I understand that it's a much more complicated issue with women because of our history and because of the social ways in which we are still perceived. Depending on how the film makers play it, I could see it as socially irresponsible, sure, but they'd still have a right to make the film. BUT it could just be a "mommy porn" movie, in which case hoorah for Hollywood bankrolling such a thing for a female audience (especially a mommy-aged audience) for once, right?

I do doubt this is going to be aimed at teenagers, so the suggestion that this is the next big Twilight or even Hunger Games is kind of misleading. If 50 Shades is that steamy it'll be rated R. If it's that creepy it'll just bomb (remember Captivity?). I imagine people will have the biggest problem with the idea that teenagers will see it and that advertisers are luring them in to corrupt them. If they advertise right though, it'll be a giggle fest of 40 year old women with penis-shaped straws and chocolate covered strawberries. Some women'll show up just because they can't believe theaters are playing something so specifically aimed at them, for once.

Maybe Grey and Anastasia take turns in the S/M roles. Maybe the entire series is actually an extremely clever conversation on gender roles (even socioeconomic roles!), modes of power, and the nature of human trust and reliance. AND it's hot.


Oh my god, no, no, this is not a good thing! This is such a terrible misogynistic piece of crap and in only one way the mark of studios seeing the female audience: what they are seeing is that the books have made a lot of money. There has been little discussion of the horrific portrayal of the lead female character as an insecure, ridiculous, badly-scultped, naive idiot who thinks feeling 'lust' is a thing to shy away from and that her college roommate staying over at a guy's house is salacious and dangerous. All they are interested in is profit and they don't care what they do to the portrayal of women to get it.

The lead nods her way along to Grey's insistences on his way like a nodding dog. I can't imagine how they are going to get an actress with a name to play this role: they're going to have to pick some poor newbie who will think she doesn't have a choice.

The only reason 'women' (meaning some women) like this book is because we have been repressed for centuries and some of us still are. Some of us are comfortable with the repression in the book. Some of us still like to be told what to do. It's no coincidence that housewives and not feminists made this book series a national news story.

To top it off the fact that the guy in the book likes sexual things that are not of the mainstream means that the author portrays him as a freak with a horrible past. The book is also terribly written (I have no idea how James has a career in TV – I doubt her ability to write a cogent email) and began as Twilight fan fiction. How the author will produce the next book without another series going stellar for her to rip off I have no idea. Maybe she'll do the Hunger Games next. Whispers are the only reason Meyer isn't suing is because she doesn't want the attention.


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