Fifty Shades of WTF

Everybody hates E.L. James' bondage fantasy except for hundreds of millions of readers and moviegoers. Maybe, just maybe, the fans are onto something.


It turns out that the primary function of the slap-and-tickle book trilogy and smash-hit movie Fifty Shades of Grey is not to make people horny or author E.L. James filthy rich (though it's definitely done the latter, having sold 100 million copies worldwide and $300 million worth of tickets since its release tied to Valentine's Day).

Nope, the main function of the Fifty Shades phenomenon is to let lazy elitists showcase their superior taste and sexual worrywarts—harder to get rid of than venereal warts, as it happens—count all the ways in which BDSM will ruin fucking for everybody.

Members of either negative camp can't be bothered to wonder for more than a minute about why so many people might want to inhabit a fantasy world in which the virginal recent college graduate Anastasia "Ana" Steele becomes the ambivalent submissive to wunderkind businessman Christian Grey's contract-pushing dominant (he literally spends much of his time trying to get her to sign a sexual contract on the dotted line). Perhaps more important, neither the aesthetes nor the moralists want to admit that the Fifty Shades fantasy world is, well, fantasy. As in: not real, folks. Novels and movies are play spaces where we can go to experience things without actually leaving the safety or confines of our own lives. "There is no Frigate like a Book/To take us Lands Away," and all that, especially when the Frigate is about frigging.

Yet reading the books or watching the movie is not going to turn your teenage daughter into Catherine Robbe-Grillet, the wilfully suffering wife of nouveau roman proponent Alain Robbe-Grillet. And even E.L. James' biggest fans don't assume that her work is passing for whatever counts as high art these days. Like other popular work that becomes a cultural touchstone, Fifty Shades lets people escape their lives for a bit while also creating space for them to think about new ways of approaching their day-to-day existence.

Mocking the prose and freaking out that Walmart and Vermont Teddy Bear are hawking tie-ins featuring handcuffs is really missing that larger point. Fifty Shades allows people to think and, more important, talk about sex and what may or may not be a turn-on.  Who cares if the masses come to that conversation via "bad writing"?

Folks in the smart set do, that's for sure. Then again, they may be too busy cracking itself up to tell the rest of us anything interesting. "By dint of its simple competence," the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey "has to be better than the novel," sniffs The New Yorker's Anthony Lane in a characteristic dismissal. "It could hardly be worse. No new reader, however charitable, could open Fifty Shades of Grey, browse a few paragraphs, and reasonably conclude that the author was writing in her first language, or even her fourth." Oh, how droll!

Mocking the literary merits of work that generates intense audience engagement is, quite frankly, the cheapest sort of criticism. It's also a go-to move of critics who can't be bothered to think about why audiences might respond to a given text or the issues that it raises. Mark Twain famously convicted James Fenimore Cooper of repeated "literary offenses" and Virginia Woolf slagged James Joyce for his "illiterate, underbred" verbiage in Ulysses. Lionel Trilling dispatched both Theodore Dreiser and Vernon Parrington for their grammatically challenged sentences and what he took to be their de classe emphasis on politics while Truman Capote dissed Jack Keroauc for "typing" as opposed to "writing." Just about everyone (but especially those who don't want to confront her ideas and enthusiastic admirers) has larfed good and hard at Ayn Rand's prose stylings.

When the Harry Potter series managed to get an illiterate ADHD generation reading 800-page novels and attending midnight day-of-release parties in bookstores across the country, the august critic Harold Bloom harumphed that the series was no Tom Brown's School Days and that on "an arbitrarily chosen single page—page 4—of the first Harry Potter book, I count seven cliches." There is something sad about a critic such as Bloom insisting on the grounds of good taste that the Harry Potter books just shouldn't be so damn popular. One can almost hear him stand athwart 50 million Elvis fans shouting Stop!

And there is something similarly deeply depressing when reading Lane's review in The New Yorker, which is essentially a compendium of one-liners such as "You get dirtier talk in most action movies, and more genitalia in a TED talk on Renaissance sculpture." Thanks, bub. We've already heard the movie is no I Am Curious (Yellow) or Last Tango in Paris and we know that the novel isn't classy porn in the tradition of The Story of O. And, yes, Professor Lane, already know that you are so much smarter than the rest of us.

It's much more difficult—and yet much more interesting—for critics to do what Leslie Fiedler did in works such as What Was Literature?, which was to understand why works that had long been dismissed on aesthetic grounds such as Gone With the Wind  and Uncle Tom's Cabin managed to move readers (including Fiedler himself) to tears or joy whenever they read them. Too often, aesthetic snark is simply a means of dodging thought and engagement.

At least the moralistic critics acknowledge the power of popular culture to move audiences even as they seek to quarantine Fifty Shades like a hot outbreak of ebola. "Even if you don't see the film," worries the author of  "A Psychiatrist's Letter to Young People About 50 Shades of Grey," "its toxic message is seeping into our culture, and could plant dangerous ideas in your head." That urgent missive appears at a Catholic website, so the author's emphasis on restraining sexual experimentation makes a certain amount of sense. Not so with the longwinded yet breathless piece about Fifty Shades of Grey by Emma Green at The Atlantic. "The problem," announces Green, "is that Fifty Shades casually associates hot sex with violence," without the context that "experienced BDSM practitioners" might provide. It turns out that when it comes to sexual explorartion, the DIY crowd should consult with licensed contractors. The upshot, as the article's subheadline trumpets is, "The blockbuster fantasy has become a big movie—and a bigger problem."

Yeah, not so much. It's far from clear that the Fifty Shades trilogy has ushered in a new age of rampant BDSM as a sexual practice. There have been times when movies, TV shows, and novels have created a vogue in this or that, but it's typically something superficial, along the lines of college toga parties in the wake of Animal House. While some couples have surely engaged in some sort of Fifty Shades-inspired play, nobody is mistaking the books or the film for a sex manual, much less a directive to start spanking.

Like many discomfited by popular culture, Green's chief anxiety is that material like Fifty Shades will somehow turn people into either aggressors or victims. "Sometimes, Ana says yes to sex she's uncomfortable with because she's too shy to speak her mind, or because she's afraid of losing Christian; she gives consent when he wants to inflict pain, yet that doesn't prevent her from being harmed," she writes. "This is a troubling fantasy in American culture, where one in five women will be raped within their lifetime, according to the CDC."

But fantasies aren't troubling, by and large. They create a forum in which individuals can explore and question their understanding of the world in which they live, view things from different vantage points, and explore things from different vantage points. All without, you know, real-world consequences. That's the essential work that we all do when producing and consuming creative expression. Literature, movies, art, and other forms are holodecks for us. As Is Art Good for Us? author Joli Jensen says, "culture [is] a way that all of us, even those of us who are not in a special guardian class, understand and symbolically engage the world."

There is no question that any level of sexual violence is unacceptable. Yet there is also no question that rates of sexual violence have been declining substantially over the past 20 years (as have rates for violent crime more generally). That decline is taking place in a world filled with increasingly lurid and graphic representations of fantasy violence and sex.

No one can seriously contend that music, movies, novels, video games, you name it, are not more risque or over-the-top than they were even a decade or two ago. And yet not only is crime down but so is all sorts of ostensibly negative behaviors among teenagers, whom we presume are the most impressionable among us. Yet kids are not only having sex less than they used to, they're using fewer (illegal) drugs, and committing less crimes.

How can a world filled with fantasy depictions of sex and violence be experiencing less of both? What gives?

Simply this: "The audience has a mind of its own." They—we!—like things we're not supposed to, even terrible writing or bad acting, if it allows for a conversation in which we want to participate. The moralists have culture's effect on us all wrong. We're not Emma Bovary, hopelessly inspired by novels to make poor life choices based on what we read. No, we're kinda-sorta-thinking people who like to consume materials that might make us hot or creep us out or just get us wondering about our possibilities.

Spoiler alert: Ana survives Christian and, regardless of what the aesthetes and the moralists think, we'll survive the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, too. And we might just be better off for having inhabited its world for a few hours.

NEXT: Sheri's Ranch Versus Sugar Babies: Why 'Legalizing' Prostitution Doesn't Work

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  1. Yet kids are not only having sex less than they used to, they’re using fewer (illegal) drugs, and committing less crimes.

    This younger generation is just a non-stop fount of disappointment.

    1. ^^THIS

      My son drives like a grandmother. It’s everything I can do to get him to speed, but less risk his life in an automobile LIKE I DID WHEN I WAS HIS AGE!!!!!

      *wanders back to reclilner in bathrobe and slippers, drinks Miller*

      1. “much less” – Jesus fucking Christ!

        *drinks moar*

      2. Meh, my father accuses me of being too nice. Of course, I’m well aware of his screwing around and drunken escapades in the 70’s.

        1. My son quit riding on the motorcycle with me after a truck took me out. He was the best passenger EVER when he was little.

          I think he’s smarter than I – I got right back on and kept riding. He’s like, “I saw you when you came home from the hospital….”

          1. He’s a learner, that one.

              1. Gets it from his mother, apparently.

          2. My friend was going to buy his son a Harley and his son turned him down saying he was not responsible enough to ride a motorcycle. What is wrong with these kids.

            And get off my lawn!

        2. I read that as “in his 70’s”. Get em you geezer!

          1. Ha! Now his motto is that p***** is the most overrated thing in the world and a good shit is the most underrated.

            Amazing what a few decades will do.

            1. As a man in my early 30’s, I feel like I’m not that far off from his conclusions.

            2. I like how you are too polite to write out ‘pussy’ but have no problem with ‘shit’. But you can say pussy-cat in a Disney cartoon, but you can’t work shit in no matter what you try to say.

      3. Car culture is very interesting these days. When you can drop $2500 on a beater that can top 110, and when there is no place for suburban kids to go light up the tires without having 10 cops and 30 cameras catch them, it’s hard for teenagers to care about fast cars and loud engines.

        1. Then they should be vandalizing those cameras.

    2. That’s what is so hilarious to me. This younger generation acts like they are this adventure-seeking hipster danger crowd continually oppressed (1 in 5 are raped!) and stuck in this terrible recession, yet the numbers say otherwise.

      I was at a diner the other day for breakfast and this guy came in with his girl and sat next to me at the bar. He was your typical Nashville hipster with the bun/ponytail, tattoos everywhere, flannel and a lumberjack beard. He proceeded to order gluten-free everything, quinoa pancakes, and an almond milk latte.

      We let these kids get soft. It’s kinda sad really.

      1. Did you just beat his ass? You really should have.



        2. I hear that “almond milk latte” is an affirmative defense to assault charges.

          1. Trigger words.

          2. My wife just tried to get me to drink some almond milk. If it wasn’t that she controls my only supply of V, I would have taken a drink just to spit it on her face.

      2. It is really sad for young women. You see these hot young women with these pathetic hipster boyfriends and you can almost feel their desperation

    3. Well, that’s part of why these books suck.

      They purport to be BDSM porn, but all that happens is a lot of spanking and waving of slave contracts.

      It’s no surprise to me that this book started off as twilight fan fiction. The heroine of that film is an insipid weakling, constantly swooning over the “boyfriend” that gives her life meaning. Same thing here.

      These are the kind of books that are read by kids who grew up with helicopter parents, whose idea of risk-taking is making a rolling stop at a stop sign.

      1. Agreed, to like this story says a lot about the character of the person

      2. “slave contracts”

        Ah, there must be a great demand out there for movies about contract law!
        /Hollywood executive

    4. The kids today are basically just a bunch of pussies. They don’t like cars, fucking, or much of anything that is interesting. But they seem to like Obama.

      Just a whole generation of beta males.

      1. The yutes I was around in combat seemed plenty tough enough… guess we notice the weaklings more.

      2. I don’t think that’s very true, really. Generational generalizations are as stupid as geographical ones.

        Yes, people are in some ways getting softer. But that has been happening for a long time. Someone who grew up in the 1800s was probably a lot tougher and capable of handling themselves than someone from the 1950s.

        But it is fucking retarded to act like every person under 30 is some kind of pussy urban hipster.

        Also, anyone who seriously refers to anyone as “beta male” is probably a gigantic asshole who should be ignored.

        1. Anyone who makes sweeping generalizations about those who refer to anyone as a ‘beta male’ is themselves a pretentious douchebag of monumental proportions.

          See how that works?

          1. Anyone who says “See how that works” is a jerk on a universal scale.

            1. Everyone that posts a comment worth reading on the internet is obviously a jerk.

              {Looks in mirror. Shrugs.}

              1. Somebody has to close this loop.

                1. Loop-closing is cis-racist.

                  1. Does anyone here no what a CLR is?

            2. I’m an asshole. No butts about it.

          2. Hey, I said “probably”. You may well not be that. But in my experience it is usually the case. Such people also tend to be awfully defensive about it for supposed big manly alphas.

            I know lots of people in their 20s who are into cars, sex and many interesting things and who don’t really give much of a crap about politics. We all wonder what will become of kids these days sometimes, but they are as diverse and interesting as any generation.

            1. The young manly men are rapidly becoming the outliers. I blame forty years of progressives and the teacher’s unions in our schools feminizing young boys.

    5. Former Libertarian presidential hopeful concurs

  2. Wait. There are three of those books? Were the first two books Christian trying to figure out how to assemble the sling?

    1. The movie is the first book. It ends with tearful glances between Christian and Anna through a closing elevator door.

      The closing elevator door represents the ways in which our sexual psyche …

      Oh fuck it. Never mind.

      Just go watch Dakota Johnson get spanked. It’s worth the price of admission.

      1. It’s really not.

        1. It’s okay that you’re gay. I respect you and validate your lifestyle.

      2. Was it anything like this?

        1. There’s a photo of some guy spanking a girl with a salmon out there somewhere that I was trying to find. DO NOT GOOGLE “fish spanking”.

            1. And there it is.

            2. I feel bad for the fish.

              1. That fish looks surprised.

              2. Wow, talk about junk in the trunk.

          1. I’ve seen enough anime to know where this is going.

      3. Watching take it up the ass would be a lot hotter.

        1. They’ve done worse on South Park. Paris Hilton takes a pineapple up her vag, then Mr. Slave takes all of Paris up his ass.

          1. Parisians are usually very greasy though, so it’s not that impressive really

  3. I make no comment about the book or the movie; I know nothing about either one other than both are ‘popular’ right now.
    But that supposed panda looks like a member of the species Rattus Norvegicus.

      1. “He’s from Barcelona”

  4. I hate to go all gender-critical here, but I think a bit part of it may be a double standard on the part of men of what they think constitutes appropriate literature for women.

    Look, I’m not fan of the Twilight series, but I got kind of tired of people bashing the women who read the books. A lot of the people I heard from were men. It didn’t seem to occur to them that they were getting their carnal urges satisfied in the same way through video games.

    Humans are animals with animal-like impulses. Those impulses are not always associated with higher brain function. Fifty Shades of Grey is an excuse for women, and some men, to get in touch with their lower brain functions for just a few hours of their miserable lives.

    1. Fifty Shades of Grey is an excuse for women, and some men, to get in touch with their lower brain functions for just a few hours of their miserable lives.

      Whether it’s Call of Duty or 50 Shades, that it primarily appeals to the limbic system doesn’t mean it has to be cloying, maudlin, or mindless. Indeed, the best entertainment simultaneously tickles the limbic system and the pre-frontal cortext, no?

      1. The more complex you make the entertainment, the more diluted the effect on any one part of the brain.

        If Call of Duty ever had a moment when it depicted the horrors of war in a realistic fashion, I suspect players would lose interest. It’s about purges those animal desires, not about deep thinking.

        1. I strongly disagree. The brain can multitask, just as one’s mind can multi-conceptualize. To suggest otherwise is to hold the audience in as much contempt as the frou-frou critics Nick rails against in this article.

          1. It all depends on what your audience wants, HM.

            If your audience wants a more intellectual approach, then there’s options available to them.

            1. If were talkin’ Hollywood, I’m not so sure about that. Are you saying that audiences want another Adam Sandler comedy?

              1. Well they do seem to like the masochism stuff, so probably yes.

              2. another Adam Sandler comedy

                Umm, that has to be some kind of hate speech, right?

                That string of words offends the senses and rots the brain.

              3. Adam Sandler what? I have never seen anything that corresponded to what you wrote.

                1. You guys are missing out.

                  1. You guys are missing out.

                    Yeah, I don’t make a point of seeing his movies — and all of his recent ones, based on trailer, have struck me as either uninteresting or actively unappealing (Jack and Jill, That’s My Boy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) — but I recently saw Grown Ups and it was surprisingly watchable. Not something I would have wanted to pay for, but not bad.

                    I also really liked Happy Gilmore and Anger Management, though I suppose the former especially is considered pre-shark-jumping.

                    That being said, I did not care for Funny People at all…

                    …so of course it got “mixed to positive reviews”.

              4. Are you saying that audiences want another Adam Sandler comedy?

                Judging by the box office results of Grown Ups 2 (2013) and Blended (2014) — grossing $247 on $80 and $127 on $40 (all millions, of course) — the answer to your question seems to be “yes, probably”.

                Sure, That’s My Boy was a colossal failure, but even Jack and Jill made quite a bit of money ($150 on $79).

    2. Romance novels are pron for women, and like pron for men the audience is not looking for high production values and artistic merit. The men are looking for bewbs and money shots, and the women are looking for stories of magical mind reading men who completely understand their feels.

      1. Don’t forget the mansions and private jets.

        1. Dude, wouldn’t your dream girl come with bewbs, money shots, and all the money you could ever spend?

      2. Pron? Is that like shrimp?

    3. It’s just that there’s much better stuff in the same vein. Like “Story of O”.

      1. Blame the producers. They insisted that the sex be toned down and minimal. Fans of the book are saying “WTF?”

      2. Or Anne Rice’s pseudonymous “Beauty” trilogy, or better yet, her (another pseudonym) “Exit to Eden.”

        I like some BDSM – as fantasy – but I tried “50 Shades;” the writing was really so dire it was . . . well, distracting from the purpose.

      3. Exactly. Fifty Shades is loaded with juvenile cliches. He’s rich! He flies her around in a helicopter! he’s super good-looking! What girl wouldn’t want a mega-rich hot boyfriend with a helicopter? It’s all superficial symbolism without any real chemistry. By contrast, in ‘Lady Chatterly’, the lover is the low-class (but masculine) game-keeper, and the attraction is animalistic.

        If you want to see a real Bodice-ripper, try watching ‘Outlander’ on the STARZ network.

        1. My wife and I LOVE Outlander. Easily one of our favorite shows on TV right now.

          1. It’s TOTALLY a bodice ripper though.

            It’s just EXACTLY what a bored housewife in the 50s would have read for entertainment.

            She gets to go back in time and hump a strapping young scottish highlander, and it’s all ok, because her husband hasn’t been born yet!

            1. She blinked?

    4. Fifty Shades of Grey is an excuse for women, and some men, to get in touch with their lower brain functions for just a few hours of their miserable lives.

      And the best they can aspire to is a few spanking scenes and some contract law?

      You apparently havn’t heard how little actual sex there is in Fifty Shades. It’s all a long internal narrative where the protagonist agonizes over how conflicted she is about being this guy’s submissive. She wants a boyfriend SO BAD, because she’s like a mousy nerd, right? But oh no, he wants to spank her!

      This is kink for neo-victorians.

      1. I read about the first half of it. She is 21 and never been kissed (never held a boys hand IIRC) but is actually “super pretty” with a good bod but doesn’t know it. And she is super smart too.

        And he buys her a top of the line computer (futuristic top of the line) and has her commute to him a few times in a helicopter and something about a fancy car but I can’t remember if he loans it to her or what the deal was.

        Kind of fantasy that might appeal to my grandmother 30 years ago except with the extra naughty stuff thrown in. So, it was pretty lame to me.

        For some reason, the biggest thing that sticks in my mind as incredibly stupid is how this girl who has never held a boys hand has an orgasm with him the first time. FROM ONLY BREAST PLAY.
        Sorry, that seems too far-fetched for me. But I’m just a guy. Maybe that seems realistic to some.

        1. never held a boys hand has an orgasm with him the first time. FROM ONLY BREAST PLAY.

          That’s classic bodice-ripper, though. All the chicks in the historical romances are virgins who come when the highland laird looks at them askance.

      2. This is kink for neo-victorians.

        This is a story about a woman fixing the man she loves while he learns to accept her for exactly who she already is.

        The kink is incidental.

        1. woman fixing the man she loves

          Having not read it, that right there is enough to turn me off. That particular instinct in relationships is incredibly destructive.

          1. I have a dim view of fixer-upper relationships.

        2. She’s “fixing” the hot mega-rich helicopter owning boyfriend?

          So that he DOESN’T want to have kinky sex with her?

          Wow, that makes me hate it even more.
          It’s like her dream relationship is to be married to a boring rich white man with perfectly conventional middle-class values.

          It’s like fantasizing about meeting asemi-human super-man and reforming him into a Ken Doll.

          1. I’m cobbling together from a few second hand sources and having (unfortunately) watched the first movie (which was not saved by Jamie Dornan’s ass as much as I was expecting).

            At least in the movie version the kink is compulsive and a way for him to prevent true connection with those he’s fucking. That knot gets untied by the tenderness of her love.

            1. So love turns the twisted super-man into an untwisted, extremely boring, Ken doll.


              1. So love turns the twisted super-man into an untwisted, extremely boring, Ken doll.

                My problem seems to be the opposite “I’ve got filthy fantasies and you won’t accept me if you knew what they were” has come up in about 50% of my relationships. It then turns out they’re into something hilariously tame but have had an ex or two that freaked out about it.

    5. It’s just annoying when their fantasy man is almost a chick.

      1. Jamie Dornan isn’t a chick but he would be more than acceptable in any gay BDSM film he’d care to make with me.

    6. Twilight (I read the first three books) is an OK teen fiction / guilty pleasure.

      I read some excerpts from Fifty Shades, and I could tell that it’s NOT good. The book and the movie isn’t a conversation starter on sex and culture. It’s one of those “event” moments in the popular culture that enjoyed a huge public following.

      A lot of people watched Avatar, which broke all kinds of record. Does anyone care about that movie now?

      BDSM can be a form of simulated rape. And the characters in that book aren’t in a normal, fulfilling relationship trying out new types of sex. Ana consents to be submissive to a dominant boyfriend, and BDSM is just an aspect of that relationship (at least that’s how I understand the plot).

      1. A lot of people watched Avatar, which broke all kinds of record. Does anyone care about that movie now?

        Jim Cameron apparently does ? he’s making 3 sequels.


        1. Exactly! He never bothered with a sequel to Titanic so Avatar must be more important to him.

          1. Uh…..Titanic doesn’t really kind itself to a sequel.

            1. ‘Lend’ itself. Fucking autocorrect.

    7. I think people should read or watch whatever they want and makes them happy.

      That doesn’t mean that it isn’t terrible garbage as literature. I don’t go around thinking that the pornography that I enjoy is some kind of serious artistic expression.

    8. Some of us are in touch with their lower brain functions a few hours every day. Even more on weekends.

      1. Higher brain functions are overrated.

  5. My wife read the books and has no desire to see the movie. According to her it’s about how he wants to do all this dominant stuff to Anastasia, but never does because he falls in love instead. Meh.

  6. Mocking the literary merits of work that generates intense audience engagement is, quite frankly, the cheapest sort of criticism.

    Ooh, nice parry, Nick.

    1. Nick – explain Insane Clown Posse…..

      We’re waiting….

      1. The name sort of explains everything

      2. ICP is impossibly likeable.

        1. Fucking popularity – how does it work?

          1. I wonder how many people who use that phrase know that it actually originated from an ICP lyric.

            1. Fucking irony – how does it work?

      3. ICP’s appeal is simple. No one else markets themselves to white trash whose grandparents were too lazy or poor to join in white flight. Regular hip-hop is by black entertainers and for black kids (except for that subset that’s for suburban white teenagers), so they can’t relate to it, country music is about riding tractors and shit, so they can’t relate to it, and heavy metal is for nerds. What’s more, no one in the culture tells stupid city white trash that it’s ok to be stupid city white trash. Except for ICP. Ergo, massive popularity.

        1. *awards PhD in Juggalology to Warty*

          That was succinct and correct, kudos.

        2. Jesus Christ Warty you have way too much insight into the ICP phenomenon than any human being should.

          1. It’s because he’s secretly a Juggalo.

        3. The great milenko was a great album.
          *full disclosure, I’m about half white trash*

          1. I’m a quarter white trash on my mom’s side.

        4. You just described my upbringing to a tee but I fucking loathe ICP. EXPLAIN.

        5. That was probably the best thing I’ve read all day. thank you.

  7. There is nothing odd about a young woman selling herself to a rich man. In fact, it’s actually quite common.

    1. Everything else being equal, about half the time, I’d guess. With all the feminist-discovered inequality of wages, probably about 99.zillion% of the time.

    2. Yes, but it’s only in a childish fantasy that the rich man is also young and handsome, owns a helicopter, and falls in love with the young woman.

      1. In the real world, ‘Christian’ would be ‘Warren’. As in ‘Buffett’.

        Theres a visual for all of you.

        1. shudder

        2. See that would actually make it sexier because it would be more transgressive.

          There’s nothing transgressive about a young nerdy woman having the hots for a young good looking man.

  8. Any sympathy I had for fans of the series as been vaporized by Nick’s contrarian for the sake of contrariness ode to mediocrity.

      1. That’s not a nice thing to say about Nick.

        1. *opens notebook on desk titled “Good things about Nick Gillespie”*

          Umm…he’s not Mark Ames?

          1. He has a cool jacket and all of his natural hair (apparently)?

          2. ouch

          3. He’s the Jacket’s main mode of transportation?

            1. If you want a true smut novel, this is the topic that should be written about. There is no way the jacket takes no for an answer, especially when leather is involved. Where is SF when yoh need him?

              1. As always, I lurk in the outer darkness.

                1. The Jacket existed before sex, before reason, before time. It’s only carnal urge is consumption.

                2. Fantabestiality?

    1. Any sympathy I had for fans of the series as been vaporized by Nick’s contrarian for the sake of contrariness ode to mediocrity.


      1. I don’t care what others say about you, nicole, you’re a good egg. You’re the worst of the good eggs, but a good egg nonetheless.

        1. It’s just that I care a lot about the aesthetics of my worstness.

        2. But is she a jade egg?

          1. I am shocked and appalled, jesse.


          2. Century egg.

            1. Thousand-Year-Old-Egg.

      2. I am with Nicki and Mulatto. If there is a fifty shades of wtf going on here, it is what the hell is wrong with Nick. Last week it was how Bruce Jenner is the greatest example of the American dream because he is getting a sex change and now this. At some point, shouldn’t the Reason staff do some kind intervention? Nick is only hurting himself and of course Reason’s readers.

        1. Maybe The Jacket got into some bad leather conditioner and it is leading Nick astray.

        2. I have to agree with you here. WTF, Nick?

          There is nothing wrong with enjoying entertaining and/or titillating crap. That doesn’t make it good literature and/or cinema.

        3. He is their expert in all things leather.

    2. I think it’s possible to both hate the shitty books and the assholes who hate on it for reasons of pretension.

      Because the books are really, really, really shitty, but if you want to read garbage, feel free.

      1. Garbage can be fun. The problem is this book doesn’t seem very fun. Why not just read the Story of O? It is at least campy and over the top and there is a ton more sex in the movie. Not to mention I would take Corine Clery and her 70s boobs and bush over Dakota Johnson’s skinny ass any day.

        1. What most of the “high brow” are objecting to is really about the shifting economics of publishing. 50SOG was popular among the sort of people that still buy and read books, but that will not translate to a larger audience for “high brow” authors. (Just like the horrific (to me) state of the music industry is explained by the segment of the population still willing to pay for music.)

          But since they refuse to understand that the market leads, rather than publishing leading the market (or any other basic economic idea) they have to argue that masses shouldn’t be exposed to bad art.

          Which is completely different from recognizing shitty writing and calling it as such.

          1. That is a good point. The other thing is that the only reason 50 Shades sold so much despite being such a shitty book is because it had no competition. If you are a woman wanting some real gender based sex fantasy, this book is about the only option.

            The problem is that all of the “high brow” authors are too busy writing polemics about life as a gender confused women in 1850s Montana to ever write something that people would want to read. So they have ceded the entire field of novels about subjects anyone would want to read about to shitty writers. In their mind’s of course it is the market’s fault.

            1. Aren’t romance novels still a thing? Or is that different?

              I don’t even have any clue what “serious literary authors” are writing anymore. All the interesting fiction seems to be Sci-Fi or fantasy. I don’t think I have ever read any “serious literary fiction” from the past 50 years. Maybe some Burroughs if that counts.

              1. Yo don’t have a clue zeb because no one reads the crap they write anymore.

              2. Vampire fiction – the Dead series HBO/ TrueBlood was based on has elements of this. Biting, being overpowered, enthralled, enslaved

              3. Vampire fiction – the Dead series HBO/ TrueBlood was based on has elements of this. Biting, being overpowered, enthralled, enslaved

        2. Have to agree about Corinne Clery.

      2. But its still ok to hate it for being shit, right?

        1. Only read the pages available on Amazon. The Chinese translation is a definitely a good birthday gift for women here in Taiwan.

  9. “Folks in the smart set do, that’s for sure. Then again, they may be too busy cracking itself up to tell the rest of us anything interesting.”

    Do those in the smart set refer “itself” or to themselves?

    1. This is ironic, coming from Nick.

      Just sayin’…

    2. “Folks” is plural, buddy.

      Do the folks in Alaska refer to itself, or themselves?

      1. so you agree with this gram.

        “they may be too busy cracking itself up”


        it may be too busy, or they may be too busy cracking themselves up. No?

  10. OT: Scott Walker and Wisconsin statehouse republicans to make a rapid push to make Wisconsin a Right to Work state next week.

  11. “…but when he hits my clitoris, I cry out loudly.”

    1. Ohhhh, Fist – diving RIGHT for the clitoris!

      “What’s wrong with a kiss, boy? Hmm? Why not start her off with a nice kiss? You don’t have to go leaping straight for the clitoris like a bull at a gate. Give her a kiss, boy.”

      1. +1 Meaning of Life

        1. “Fawlty Titties”

        2. That’s why they make boxing gloves.

    2. “my nipples pucker at his touch”

      1. pucker?

        you’re doing it wrong


  12. Boring shrews seem to hold the strongest opinions about morality.

  13. They?we!?like things we’re not supposed to, even terrible writing or bad acting, if it allows for a conversation in which we want to participate.

    Speaking of pretentious, pinky-thusly twaddle.

    We don’t like B movies, reality shows, and fat beach-reading novels because they “allow” for “conversations” that we want to “participate” in. Jeebus, did some proggy administration PR flack take over your brain?

    We like those things for one reason: they are fun. That is a more than adequate justification and explanation.

    1. Like shooting guns.

      “But you don’t hunt.”

      “Not any more.”

      “Then shy do you have so MANY?”

      “Cause shooting guns is FUN!”

      And they don’t understand…

      1. Taking those people shooting often helps. I know only very few people who liked guns less after some time at the range. Most seem to realize why it is such an appealing pastime pretty quickly.

      2. “Why is your motorcycle so loud?”
        “Because it’s fun.”
        “But it bothers other people.”
        “That’s why it’s fun.”

    2. When did everything become a “conversation”? We are apparently having a national conversation about race. Now we want one about shitty romance novels?

      RC is right, people should enjoy them because they are fun. That’s all the reason you need.

  14. Nick, it’s not snobbery to point out that this was a horribly written Twilight fanfic that got picked up by a publisher any more than it is snobbery to point out that there are only two Star Trek series.

    1. The animated series and voyager?

      1. I can hear the rabble with their pitchforks coming for you.

        1. I have a friend who honest to God thinks Voyager was the best Trek, and likes the prequel trilogy of star wars better than the original trilogy.

          1. No one tops Le Shat.

            1. And again, Gillespie takes every opportunity to sneer at the popularity of Star Trek, but Jacket forbid you turn your nose up at the faux-transgressive desires of cat ladies!

              1. I think he’s looking for an in with the fanbase myself. Who else can he hook up with at all of those book signings?

            2. I’d rather fight Hemingway.

          2. Don’t forget that cytotoxic thinks the reboot Star Trek movies are great. No matter how shitty the shit it, someone loves that shit.

            1. The first one was well done pulp.

              But nothing, I admit, to Shatner’s brilliant stagecraft.

            2. The difference being that Cytotoxic’s aesthetic preferences are earnestly held; whereas, Gillespie is merely adopting a posture.

            3. That’s cause they were good.

            4. …cytoxic thinks the reboot Star Trek movies are great.

              So did Mr. Plinkett….

              I think I was mistaken ’bout your secret Internet identity, Warty.

              (Plinkett does say that Star Trek: The Motion[less] Picture was his favorite. He claims that the 2009 reboot wasn’t a science fiction movie, but an action movie, and he enjoyed it as such).

          3. I do think Deep Space Nine was very much underrated.

            1. DS9 then TOS cause any series that can put out something as bad as the friendly angel while at the same time giving us the episode about the simulated wars/disintegration machine or the planet eating turd can’t be considered great

              1. DS9 had more complexity than the other series as it had long term story arcs, such as the Dominion War which buil over several seasons. And individual episodes that were morally complex and ambiguous.

                Such as the episode were Sisko relates a Log entry where he describes how he enlists Mr. gArak to draw the Romulans into the war on the Federation’s side. Using assassination and fraud. An act of desperation. Necessary, but unworthy of a Starfleet officer.

      2. Deep Space 7, The Lost Episodes

    2. No, but most of what is written about the book/movie is snobbery.

      Right now I’m reading Nabokov’s BENT SINISTER. It’s a LOT better than 50 Shades. I don’t need to point that out constantly, using the snarkiest language possible, while sneering at the masses for their choices.

      In other words, I have other sources of self-esteem. I don’t need to get mine by running down other people’s work.

      1. Who needs to sneer at the masses? Consuming junk food is fun. You should see my movie collection.

      2. n other words, I have other sources of self-esteem. I don’t need to get mine by running down other people’s work.

        Oh, and Hugh Akston disagrees with you there.

      3. That is one heck of a good book. I quoted the bit about loyalty being a golden fork on a windowsill in the sun at a family dinner. My father almost sneered, as my mother burst out “No, no, no! Loyalty is a spoon!” Which sent my dad into fits as we debated – I think fork is better – multiple sharp prongs, loyalty is complicated, not a soothing bowl.

      4. I use the first lines of Lolita, but change the name, and women here think I’m another Byron. Except that they don’t know who he is either.

    3. DS9 and Voyager?

  15. Honestly, this is one of the best pieces I’ve ever read on Reason. Between the puritan nannies of the right and equally puritan (and psychotic) wimmins of the left I thought no one would just stand up people enjoying popular culture as they see fit.

    The entire affair reminds me of rock n roll in the 1980s. Both right (Moral Majority) and left (Al and Tipper Gore) were certain that Twisted Sister would bring down the nation. How stupid they look now.

    And how stupid the people who wet their pants/panties over 50 Shades will look to future, saner generations.

    The left comes out worse here, I think. The feminist position seems to be that anything that a billion women love has to be shit, and abusive on top of that. And that women are too stupid to watch this movie and come away unscathed. What weak, pathetic creatures feminists must imagine women to be.

    Next time someone asks me if I’m a feminist, I’ll reply, “No, I like women.”

    1. Now you hear that music on the elevator, and movies like Dirty Dancing are on ABC Family.

      1. I was in Hong Kong at a Roy Roger’s and they were playing Gillette’s “Short Dicked Man”. In Taiwan, I went to a speech when Lee Teng Hui was running for President and they played the same song right before he got on stage.

      2. Dirty Dancing was never in the slightest bit risque, even for it’s time.

        The 80’s was post-sexual revolution and pre-AIDS. Anyone thinks it was an era of uptight prudes … didn’t live through the 80s. And is probably getting their information from some sort of demented progressive millenial who assumes that because Reagan was in office that everyone was church-going conservative.

        1. Yeah, wtf? The 90s were way, way, way more repressed than the 80s. If anything, we’re slowly moving back to a Leave it to Beaver level of buttoned-up, just with openly gay people this time.

    2. I thought no one would just stand up people enjoying popular culture as they see fit.

      Well, kinda. There’s still a sticky coating of greasy elitism to the article, IMO.

      One word you won’t find in this paean to popular culture: fun. Which to me, means it misses the point almost entirely.

    3. It’s really, really sad if Fifty Shades actually represents the present state of pop culture.

      1. I think it’s best to think of it as a work that managed to tap a common, yet sublimated urge, in an utterly banal and safe way. And the author neither intended to work to do that or even understood what she was doing (or it wouldn’t have be fan fic released for free.) She stumbled into millions.

        James fired a gun in the air and murdered the President. Calling her history’s greatest assassin is to fundamental misunderstand her “accomplishment.”

        1. this ^

        2. The common sublimated urge of a generation of overprotected young women to marry rich good-looking husbands, with a little bit of spanking *teehee*.


          1. Not really, that’s just the happy ending, the return to Kansas as such. The real urge is anti-feminist: they long for a man that will take charge and not ask. It’s not a rape-fantasy though, but rather a rejection of Generation Milquetoast.

        3. James fired a gun in the air and murdered the President. Calling her history’s greatest assassin is to fundamental misunderstand her “accomplishment.”

          I’m reminded less of person murdering the president and more of a tailor, surrounded by an internet of morons, killing 7 giants with one blow.

          Acting like the internet hasn’t spread freedom by lowering a lot of bars, IMO, connotes a pathological bent to independence. The sort of thing that grows into “change for the sake of change” progressivism.

    4. If these hardcore feminists hate men so much, why do so many of them work as hard as they do on trying to look like men?

  16. I instinctively lament the mainstreaming of anything when its illicitness was part of its appeal. I guess I’m partly guilty of the hipster impulse (“I was into ‘X’ before it was cool”), but it’s not just a status thing. Public acceptance really can suck the joy out of things.

    1. Public acceptance makes the thing skew to the lowest common denominator. If you enjoy the quality of something, pray that it doesn’t become popular.

      1. Hipster

        1. It might just be that hipsters aren’t always wrong about everything.

    2. Yes, well, if Fifty Shades represents present-day standards for illicitness,it’s a shame how far we have fallen.

      I remember when “illicit” meant Madonna masterbating on stage and inducing 13 year old girls to wear bustiers.

      1. Not sure what you mean by that. If you’re saying it’s below-standard illicitness then I’ll have to agree. I always enjoyed perusing my buddy’s father’s copies of Hogtie Magazine when I was a teenager.

        1. Yes, I mean it is below standard illicitness.

          If this book had been written in the 80s, there would have been a lot more whips and chains. Maybe some big hair, fangs, and blood to go along with it.

          1. And if Twilight had been written in the 80s, Bella would have been having teenage sex with Edward in the first chapter.

  17. C’mon, Nick. This isn’t even close to being entertaining enough for a Friday. Toss us a thread about how millenials are adopting Islam and circumcising because of the libertarian moment, or something. We can barely work with this atonal contrarian nonsense.

    1. “atonal contrarian nonsense”

      I know everyone thinks their second album was their best – but I really do like the third one most of all.

      1. the third album was too commercial; the music sounded like it was written by corporate bigwigs.

  18. It’s the 9 1/2 weeks for millennials.


    Also, that Catholic intrigue novel that was so popular– I refuse to google it… that was immensely popular and yet the writing was somewhat comical.

    1. The DaVinci Code.

      The novel proved a very important point: you can make a movie in which Tom Hanks has laughable awful hair and it can still turn a profit.

      I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was sure that wasn’t possible. Now I can sleep easy.

      1. Yeah, thanks. That book was so inescapably popular, that my wife and I decided to buy it.

        I’m not averse to fun pulp. Again, my movie collection is full of the stuff, but I’d argue that fun pulp can be done extremely well. We were disappointed that this inescapably popular book wasn’t even particularly well done pulp.

        It read like an imitation of a noir detective novel (IIRC).

        1. My friend’s wife criticized us for re- watching Big Trouble In Little China when we could have watched The DaVinci Code with her in another room.

          We politely told her that we had priorities.

    2. The DaVinci Code is War and Peace compared to 50 Shades of Grey. Fifty Shades really is that bad.

      1. From what I’ve heard, it translates into Chinese very well.

    3. Yes, what do the millennials think?

  19. Mark Twain famously convicted James Fenimoore Cooper of repeated “literary offenses”

    Mark Twain’s takedown was funnier and better written then JFC’s book, and his critique was spot on.

    1. Pretty much everything Twain ever did was epic. “Innocents Abroad” and “Roughing It” are two of my faves. Also, his short stories.

      Twain pretty much exemplified “rapier wit”.

      1. And “Being respected without being respectable”.

  20. I liked the books ALOT. I didn’t actually read them, my wife did. I was much less grumpy after she read each one.
    Now if I can just get her to read them again. 😉

  21. Are people allowed to simply not give a shirt about this stuff. I literally cannot remember the last time I walked into a movie theater,and couldn’t care less if they were showing the Brady bunch movie or ass blasters 5.

    1. couldn’t care less if they were showing the Brady bunch movie or ass blasters 5

      Your range is…..impressive…

    2. Ass Blasters 5 sucked. Ass Blasters 4 was the pinnacle of the series, there was nowhere to go but down from there, they should have just stopped.

      1. Of similar note’ the ‘Barely Legal’ series of films by Hustler is up to around volume 150…….

  22. You know what?

    If the publisher had used an editor to clean up the godawful prose, the book would still be popular but not suck as bad.

    IF a good writer had cleaned up the plot, and even better book that would be just as popular would be achievable.

    Sure some people are sniffing at it because its mainstream and they only read artisanal dadaist works in iambic pentameter.

    I – and I think many others – am sniffing at it because I find the entire concept unappealing *and* the excerpts read like they came out of a promising entry to this year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

    This book is the Obama of literature – popular because everybody assumes it somehow is transformative while in reality being crappy, cliched, unoriginal as anyone with experience in the field can instantly see.

    1. I – and I think many others – am sniffing at it because I find the entire concept unappealing *and* the excerpts read like they came out of a promising entry to this year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

      This is pretty much it.

    2. “This book is the Obama of literature”

      No. The book was produced in the private sector; it was incredibly successful; it brought pleasure to millions; and it produced jobs in both the publishing and movie industries.

      Nothing like Obama.

      1. Way to miss the point mLord!

        1. No, he made another good one.

    3. Editors cost money. The brave new world of publishing has its advantages, but the reliance on automation — spelling checkers, grammar checkers, fewer layers of human editing — really show. Some of the illiterate, misspelled dreck I’ve gotten in novels in the past decade would never have made it out of the old publishing system. Price we pay, I guess.

    4. I don’t even have to read it to tell that it is crappy and cliched.

      Just read the description… Awkward college girl meets hot super rich guy. Prince charming amazingly wants to date her. Prince Charming flies her around in a helicopter.

    5. The field of BDSM?

  23. Yet reading the books or watching the movie is not going to turn your teenage daughter into Catherine Robbe-Grillet

    Well, I don’t know about the other people who’ve ever read David J. Schow’s short story Bad Guy Hats, but afterwards, I immediately went out and kidnapped a few people, sadistically raped and tortured them, and did so with a smirk and gleam in my eye.

  24. 50 shades of who gives a rat’s ass

  25. Nice rap, Nick. But MT on JFC was funny!

  26. He proceeded to order gluten-free everything, quinoa pancakes, and an almond milk latte.

    This is why I go to the local truck stop for breakfast. They don’t have any of that crap on the menu.

    Why take a chance?

    1. Dave Barry had an article in one of his collections about seeing “Egg Pie” sold at a truck stop (hipsters know it as ‘quiche’).

      It was very popular.

      1. I suppose you prefer “car hole” to “garage” too. No need for unnecessary Frenchness.

      2. Some places put tomato sauce and cheese on it and call it deep-dish pizza.

  27. “Even if you don’t see the film,” worries the author of “A Psychiatrist’s Letter to Young People About 50 Shades of Grey,” its toxic message is seeping into our culture, and could plant dangerous ideas in your head.

    It’s no longer Reefer Madness, now it’s Spanking Psychosis!

    Even standing too close to the movie theater could infect you!

    1. This make me wonder if Spanky and Our Gang was a double entendre all along.

      1. In the fourth “Road Trip” Movie Road to Utopia (Bing Crosby/Bob Hope/Dorothy Lamour), they hold a talent contest on the ship heading to Alaska. Bing and Bob do a song-and-dance routine just after an organ grinder and his monkey do their performance.

        In the middle of the song, Bob Hope (who is “playing” an accordian) says “You know, I didn’t know I could play one of these things.”
        Bing responded: “You could beat the monkey alone.” Bob stares at the camera with a slightly disgruntled look.

        Was it a masturbation joke? I don’t know, but I have my suspicions.

        1. +1 Lovin Spoonful

  28. Like many discomfited by popular culture, Green’s chief anxiety is that material like Fifty Shades will somehow turn people into either aggressors or victims. … “This is a troubling fantasy in American culture, where one in five women will be raped within their lifetime, according to the CDC.”

    What the hell sort of mentality is so bereft about sexual mores that it immediately connects sexual fetish with degrading violence? What the FUCK is wrong with this woman?

    She’s never ONCE had her ass up in the air doggy-fucked hard while her man slapped her butt silly? She’s never ONCE scratched the skin off a lover while he fucked her into tomorrow? She’s never ONCE bitten a lover in a fit of orgasmic passion? She’s never ONCE choked a lover while he slammed his dick in and out of her pussy with such violence the fucking bed broke?

    This woman has clearly only been fucked by a pithless lacky…

    1. Or she’s done all of the above, 3 times a day, but she won’t find it “hot” if people don’t find it “dirty” and transgressive…so, in public, she puts on the same Breastplate of Righteousness that the closeted gay men who visited the public restroom glorlyhole stalls did in Laud Humphrey’s study.

      1. Christ, that sort of mind has to be tortured.

      2. So sad.

      3. And, most interestingly, the ”closet queens” and married men were politically and socially conservative, based on scores on a liberalism scale (where the gay participants scored 26.5 out of 37, marrieds scored 12.1, and closeted men scored 14.5).

        Years ago I had a job interview with a guy who seemed so gay that I found myself checking if he had a wedding band. He did. I found out later he had graduated from BYU and signed a petition to adopt an amendment that would ban gay marriage in MA.

    2. Neither have any of the fans of Fifty Shades …

  29. There is no question that any level of sexual violence is unacceptable.

    But wait, isn’t that exactly the question? Isn’t some level of consensual sexual violence acceptable? There are many, many couples out there engaging in consensual BDSM at verious levels. And liking it. A lot.

    1. If it is consensual, hard to see what level of sexual violence short of death or serious injury wouldn’t be acceptable. Some people get off on pain.

    2. My 125 pound hot wife literally tried to choke me out when she blew her load last week. Put both hands around my neck and squeezed while she came… I rather enjoyed almost blacking out.

      1. I know crazy sexy is fun and all, but that is not cricket.

        1. The beast is strong in that one, my man… I think a prehistoric giant silverback came back as a petite blonde woman. Strange choice for a prehistoric giant silverback if you ask me but so it goes says the scratches on my fucking back.

          1. Good luck. I couldn’t roll with that.

            1. No one asked you to, fluffball.

              1. I am not the one letting my 125 pound wife beat the shit out of me and try to choke me to death. There is a fluffball here, but it isn’t me. Women or no, she would try choking me once and that would be the end of that.

                1. I like my women like my beer- strong.

          2. You think your wife is the reincarnation of a prehistic male gorilla?

            Please tell us what happens when mention that to her.

            1. She chokes him, obviously.

  30. Say what you will about Fitty Shades, I wish I had written it.

    1. This times a hundred. Why the hell didn’t I think to write this? You could knock off a book like that in a weekend. It was so stupid of an idea it never occurred to anyone.

      1. the problem with books like ‘fitty’ is that it’s porn for women. Can you really write porn for women without, you know, accidentally veering towards porn for men?

        1. I think I could actually. Porn for women is mostly just porn with the good parts cut by about 75% and filled in with vague allusions and anticipation.

          1. And apparently faggoty little pussies as the male lead.

            1. Yes. Men who are not too intimidating for female readers.

              1. No wonder the fans freaked when the studio originally cast Charlie Hunnam as the male lead. Way too masculine.

            2. The male has to either be rich (like implausibly rich for his age) or poor (but not like dirty poor). You can’t have Bill from the district office star in a porn for women.

          2. …coupled with significant references to ‘hardness’ whereof and ‘hardness’ hitherto.

    2. I wish I had written Twilight, and Valley of the Dolls, and all of the Harlequin novels.

      1. and all of the Harlequin novels.

        All of them? You don’t have a particular favorite?

        1. Well, the ones with Fabio on the cover are the best.

      2. Hell, I wish I had written a moderately successful series of stroke books if the checks were ok.

  31. I like a lot of lowbrow shit. Bruckheimer/Bay movies, Dan Brown books, sports in general. But the Star Wars prequels? Go fuck yourself and Insane George Lucas. I won’t ever forgive him for that bullshit. I won’t.

    1. Hmmm… yousa point is well seen.

    2. Did Lucas just get Boned?

  32. OT

    Why does derp happen everywhere at all times? I just wanna talk about videogames sometimes.

    1. Rich billionaire’s don’t understand concepts that don’t involve raking people for as much money as humanly possible.

      1. ‘Rich Billionaires’? As opposed to ‘poor billionaires’?

        1. Also, Bruce Wayne disagrees.

      2. Better tell that to Gates and the Koch brothers.

        “Hey you! Stop all that charity work! And you! Stop funding all those museums and cultural centres! You’re supposed to be making money!”

    2. Can I go on a side rant about sig lines? I fucking hate them. No matter how clever or how funny or how profound you think something is, it will be none of these things to someone who has to read it after everything you fucking write.

      1. You must not have any bumper stickers on your car.

        1. I never have, no tattoos either. This must have been a hate I’ve had for a long time.

          1. You need to commit to something, anything. Take a stand and advertise it. Let everyone know how you feel thru some cheeky saying ripped right out of a Hollywood script.

      2. Sigs are just a longer moniker.

    3. “Why does derp happen everywhere at all times?”

      I was dwelling on this issue earlier (*the contemporary ubiquity of ‘shamelessly stupid’)

      my conclusion (for now) =

      the internet has effectively disintegrated the ‘barrier of social-shame/embarrassment’ that used to prevent stupid people from speaking out and infecting other people with their stupid.

      In the past, all it took was 2-3 ‘not quite as stupid’ people in a crowd to repress the ability of the dangerously-stupid from influencing the majority of ‘benignly and passively stupid (aka ‘the hapless’)

      basically, social pressures kept the very-stupid in check, and restricted to their marginalized social circles where they presented little threat to the majority, who were only really mass-enstupified by Television. Which wasn’t really that bad, looking back on it.

      With the internet, the social forces with helped people distinguish the very-stupid from the less-so were gone.

      The fairly small number of less-than-braindead people in the world is now drowned out by an ocean of liberated idiots, who empower each other with positive reinforcement. “Wow! look at all the other people who think the Fat Cats in Wall Street sent our jobs overseas? WE MUST BE RIGHT!”

      I’m not sure the underlying dynamic is actually any different than its ever been. But i do think the internet medium has lowered the ‘lowest common denominator’ by a factor or so.

      1. This explain the ubiquity of “nerd culture” the last few years maybe?

  33. I’ve always wondered what an English PhD is really for.

    now i know.

    1. If you got one to do anything but seduce dewy-eyed teenagers but telling them their terrible poetry is “beautiful,” you are doing it wrong.

        1. Don’t need an English Phd. Just move overseas and teach with a BA. I got my MA here, and it’s accredited and inexpensive (about US$2,000 per semester for tuition). For some reason, diplomas really impress Asians.

  34. 50 Shades For Men

    “Oh, no, honey,” I said, “I forgot to clean the gutters!”

    “Don’t bother with that,” the widow Rockefeller replied, “I pay people to do that. Now it’s time for you to do what *you’re* paid to do!”

    [several hours later]

    “That was absolutely the best!” she sighed. “If you want a beer, there’s plenty in the fridge right next to the bed.”

    “Oh, and just got a Harley and want to make sure it drives well. Can you test-drive it for the next few weeks?”

    1. “But do make it quick, the game is on soon!”

    2. I came.

    3. You forgot all the inner dialogue where he feels ashamed about being a kept man and agonizes about whether the widow Rockefeller is truly right for him.

      1. “50 Shades For MEN”

    4. “That was absolutely the best!” she sighed. “If you want a beer, there’s plenty in the fridge right next to the bed.”

      WTF? B*tch is making me reach for my own beer? *slap*!

  35. Alternatively, you can just watch Secretary, which is a far better movie and actually BDSM relationships, rather than the limp wrist fantasies of Twilight fanfiction writers.

    1. Seconded.

    2. Right on. I enjoyed Secretary.

    3. Yah, Secretary was pretty erotic.

    4. Agreed. But I think Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader require trigger warnings.

      Good performances and all that, all around. Just, as a man, would’ve preferred someone other than Maggie more and female cohorts have expressed similar views about Spader.

  36. They need to call the sequel 50 Shades of…Just try anal already.

    I mean seriously-all this hooplah about BDSM, violence and then the ‘God didn’t make us want to like want to have sex this way y’all.’ Bullshit. Women like this book most cause they’re curious about anal but don’t want to feel like a whore for trying it. And because Ana is not a whore, maybe they wouldn’t be considered one either? End of story.

    1. That is awesome Agnes.

    2. There’s no anal in 50 Shades, as far as I am aware.

      1. I’ve never read it because I choose to get drunk and watch free porn, but all my friends say there is a bunch of butt plug talk-butt plug/anal..ehh puttin things up the other other hole is one in the same although some of those butt plugs are scary as hell looking.

        1. Don’t conjure the Butt Plug

    3. Probably true. Women don’t want to be made to feel responsible for the sexual fetishes they are interested in. This way they can have it and not feel like they have to own it. Probably explains a lot of the rape hysteria too.

  37. This describes/explains the ubiquity of “nerd culture” the last few years you think?

  38. “Mocking the literary merits of work that generates intense audience engagement is, quite frankly, the cheapest sort of criticism.”

    You know who else generated “intense audience engagement.”

      1. Keep me out of this.

    1. Chris Benoit?

  39. In Defense of Edward Cullen

  40. What a total load of BS. Fifty shades of garbage.

  41. Porn name: Ice Cream Man

    “Ice cream man is coming!”

  42. one in five women will be raped within their lifetime, according to the CDC

    Speaking of fantasy

    1. You don’t understand since you don’t socializeenough with Democrats. The CDC counts everyone, including nieces and interns of the Kennedy’s, Clintons, Biden’s, and Edwardses.

  43. I’ve seen all the feminist articles from HuffPo, NYT, etc. talking about Fifty Shades in the context of rape and ‘violence against women’ being listed on the side of my google news page. I’m so jaded, I refuse to read any of them.

    But I am absolutely certain that the phenomenon caused by this book written by a woman, bought and loved almost exclusively by women, somehow, someway, is men’s fault. Somehow, it’s men deceptively foisting rape culture on the poor women using EL James as a marionette. That I do know.

    This is American women’s issues in the 21st century. Men not being misogynist enough to justify feminism, now women have to promote misogyny so the feminists can somehow blame it one men and keep their existence justified.

  44. The problem the elites have had with popular entertainment since the end of the 1920’s is that the goal of Serious Artists (and writers, and musicians) stopped being to do something good that was popular, but do do something so out there that the common man despised it. And then the common man DOES despise it, and declines to try to force himself to like it (they way his ‘Betters’ do), and all of a sudden the elites have all the High Art to themselves and nobody gives a fat damn unless they are asking us to pay for it.

    The work of novelists up to, say, Steinbeck will last because they told solid stories. The work of whatever twits the New York Times Review of Books is pushing this year won’t, because nobody gives a damn about a Long Island writer’s angst.

    1. 2 relatively recent “literary” writers bucking this trend: Michael Chabon, and before him, Tom Wolfe.

      Bonfire of the Vanities was serialized in Rolling Stone back in 1984, so it isn’t that recent, but Wolfe was trying to write an actual plot, dealing with the issues of the day, and not just using the novel as a conduit for style.

      Chabon has actually written genre fiction, and edited anthologies of it.

      Kevin R

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  47. Even if rape has gone down, the number of fatherless households keeps increasing.

  48. It goes to show that sex is still Americas last frontier. We’re even ridiculed by the French and rightly so. Our magazines have perennial titles “What Men Really Want In Bed”, I know I have seen this topic for at least 20 years now. And our absurd obsession (ignorance) in our curiosity of what kind of sex ancient civilizations had ? Are you serious, is usually my thought when I encounter these shows while flipping through channels. As if we’ve convinced ourselves there has to be some mystery that has eluded us for centuries, some secret instruction we’ve been denied. This is where my own “WTF people”, your mind makes good sex and if it takes you fifty shades to get there who the hell is to know ? Why are people always taking notes of other peoples’ sex ? I personally can’t think of any thing more pathetic and sad. We will have our Story of O, Fear of Flying, and Fifty Shades of Grey, because fiction is a safety net of possibilities.

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  52. nick,
    you’re waxing a little too philosophic about soft porn. I remember the last time they made this movie when it was called 9 1/2 weeks. Turns out that in order to get a guy to watch moronic storylines with their lady, you have to have some T&A.

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  54. I’m late to the 50 Shades hysteria, but I think, Nick, that you might have a different opinion if your kids were girls instead of boys.

    Like your boys, my son, Chris, & daughter Caroline were raised with thoughtful guidance. Our kids watched and learned as they saw Dad treat Mom with selfless love, tenderness, and respect. (Even post-breakup, I’m sure that your boys have watched you continue to respect & care for their mom.)

    You and I know 50 Shades is fantasy because my folks as well as yours raised us with minds that easily discern between reality and Hollywood fantasy.

    What about young women who don’t have parents or grandparents like ours?

    I’ve seen first hand how young co-eds follow trends from TV shows, movies, friends, or celebrities.
    When Caroline was at GA Tech, her sorority sisters emulated the Sex and the City characatures. But she and her close friends were grounded; they recognized and laughed about the absurdity of Carrie buying $400 shoes on a journalist’s salary.

    Today’s college students are pitifully immature. They, in fact DONT have minds of their own.

    Will THEY recognize fantasy when they see it? Or will they admire and want to be like Ana? Will they experiment with BDSM with a loving husband, or with an online boyfriend they’ve known only for a minute. That’s my concern.

    It’s scary to think about, especially now that we have 3 grandaughters. (Here’s hoping the rest will be boys.)

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