50 Shades of Grey Conspiracy Theory

I had to see what the fuss was all about, so today while the family and I were at Costco, I picked up one of their several hundred copies of 50 Shades of Grey, opened to the middle, and read three pages (the end of chapter 18 and the beginning of chapter 19).

Wow.  Everything I’ve heard about it seemed confirmed in just those three pages: an insecure, immature female narrator finds her security in submitting to a powerful man whose own stability is less than healthy.

So basically, it’s Twilight, except that the writing here is absolutely execrable.  I know we all make fun of Twilight, but Stephanie Meyer’s writing really isn’t awful, just servicable–it’s a plain, dull instrument, but at least it’s competent.

But E.L. James’s writing is so bad it’s scary.  I haven’t seen supposedly professional writing this bad since Eragon.  I read plenty of labored narration and stilted dialogue in just those three pages (“Holy cow!  I’m going to meet his parents!” sticks out in my memory right now), as well as botched metaphors and hilariously juvenile descriptions of sex.

It’s so wretched that I have to wonder if it’s on purpose.  Here’s my theory: 50 Shades of Grey was actually written by a group of misogynistic 12-year-old boys.  These jerks have a twisted plan: they want millions of women to fall in love with this stuff, identify with it, and publicly proclaim allegiance to it (a blockbuster movie is in the works).

Once stage one of the plot is complete, the boys will reveal their scheme to the world.  They wrote the book to embarrass women everywhere.  They want to confirm every pitiful anti-woman stereotype out there.  Fans of the book will be exposed as emotionally damaged, and women’s public image will be set back half a century.

So far, their plan is coming off without a hitch.

Be suspicious, ladies.  Be very suspicious.  I smell a trap.


No Pulitzer For Twilight

For a review of the semester in English 101 last week, I had everyone bring in an excerpt of something they thought was well written and asked them to briefly explain to the class what made the writing so good, using the tools that we’ve studied and practiced in class.

One young lady brought in Breaking Dawn, the final novel in the Twilight series. Her excerpt started with the line, “It was bewlidering. I was bewildered.”

After her presentation, I quoted that part again and asked, jokingly, if she really thought that was good. When she affirmed her high esteem of the piece, I suggested that if that was good writing, then something like this would have to be just flat-out amazing:

“It was bewlidering. The bewlidering way in which it bewildered me, bewilderingly, was bewildering. It bewildered me with its bewildering bewilderments.”

Style Imitation Exercise

As the year winds down in American Lit, I assign a style imitation exercise to review the major works we’ve read and the styles of some important authors.  The students’ job is to write a brief version of any four stories, each in the style of a different author.  Either the story or the author has to be one we studied in class. 

Here are two examples I gave them (I know, neither Shakespeare nor Star Wars is American Lit, but I had the idea and couldn’t resist):

The Empire Strikes Back, as written by William Shakespeare

VADER:  Fair young apprentice, it is I who am the father of thy fleshly tabernacle!

LUKE:  Oh, forswear it, vile wretch!

Never shall the days come when I shall agree

To partake of the black compact thou hast proposed.

The very seraphs of heav’n shall blow their mighty trumps

Ere I rule the galaxy with thee!

Napoleon Dynamite, as written by Emily Dickinson 

Alas and woe is me,

For bereft of the sweet tots am I.

My lily-white palm reaches–

Out–to cast away the button of

The flippin idiot who–

Votes for Summer in place of Pedro–

My heart drops and yearns for…

Ninja skills!

They came up with some pretty impressive stuff.  Here are some ideas, just to give you a sense for their creativity:

  • Twilight, by Mark Twain (he highlights the pathetic flaws in every character by sarcastically mocking their lame, emo worldview)
  • William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow,” by Herman Melville (a sixteen-word poem becomes a stark, 1000-page epic: “So very much of the innermost intensity of our eternal, ethereal souls depends upon the minutest particularities of crimson hue inherently blasted, seared into the fibre of the side of the wheelbarrow…” etc, etc)
  • A Walk To Remember, by Edgar Allan Poe  (The way it was meant to be–less corny romance, more gory phantasms torturing the dark secrets hidden inside us all.  The girl still dies.)
  • William Faulkner’s “A Rose For Emily,” by Dr. Seuss  (“I would not, could not with a corpse…well, maybe I could.”)
  • The Crucible, by Dorothy Parker (the men accuse all of the women of witchcraft because they’re neurotic and needy–the women tartly retort at first, but end up agreeing and hanging themselves.)
  • Moby Dick, by Stephen King (Ahab can’t kill the whale because it’s a psychic, flying alien!  But Ahab turns out to be a vampire from another dimension!  Now we’ve got a story.)
  • The Great Gatsby, by Mr. Huston (everybody dies on page 2)

Gay Marriage “Twilight” Protest?

Just wondering: since a lot of people have decided, in light of the LDS Church’s advocacy on behalf of California’s Proposition 8, to boyott anything even remotely Mormon (including the Sundance Film Festival, because it’s held in Mormon-heavy Utah), will proponents of gay marriage also boycott the new movie Twilight?  The Twilight books were written by Stephenie Meyer, a BYU graduate and active Mormon. 

This could cause something of a conflict of interest for the pro-gay marriage crowd out there, especially if any of them happen to be melodramatic 12-year-old girls.

Twilight Saga, Abridged

BELLA: “I’m so smart and emotional, but I just wish some macho yet mysteriously sensitive guy would come and rescue me.”

EDWARD: “Hi, I’m basically a girl’s fantasy: a superhero emo kid who won’t take advantage of a girl no matter how much she throws herself at me.”

BELLA: “That’s true.  I also know that my friend Jacob really likes me, and I let him think there’s hope for us, even though there’s not.”

JACOB: “I’m a loser.”


There, guys, I just saved you about two thousand pages of reading.  Seriously, that’s about all you missed.  You’re welcome.