You have to wonder what’s attracting people in their droves to the smut-fest that is 50 Shades of Grey. That relentless trundling juggernaut of hype, perhaps? Most probably but in my eavesdropping experience it’s a particular shade of person who’s getting hot under her M&S – rather than S&M – collar. Yes, it’s that woman of a certain age who would never have dreamed of dipping a court-shoed toe in erotica before everyone from the Women’s Institute to Mills & Boon started getting in on the act.
The laugh is just about everyone who has donated their money to the 50 Shades trust fund usually finds it necessary to use the following phrases when ‘fessing up: ‘not very good’, tragic dialogue’, ‘cardboard characters’, ‘rubbish’ along with ‘well, everyone else was reading it’. No doubt making those who have written erotica for years want to string up E L James and her ad team with a rusty old set of nipple clamps.
I, myself, am not bitter as that is not my area of writing. I did think about trying my hand some time ago but I tend to think that sex in novels should be treated like a very rich chocolate dessert – a small helping is very nice now and again… but a whole meal? Another reason is thinking back to the grief I experienced when I put my first novel ‘out there’. I was working in an office at the time and a fair number of co-workers bought a copy and were largely supportive until they reached ‘A SEX SCENE’. I could tell when that happened as eye contact stopped and I was generally treated like I had left something nasty on their doorsteps. Strange because they are the type of people who I’m very sure will be organising a shrieky gang-date with Mr Grey this very night.
That’s the thing with 50 Shades – it’s naughty, but nice. It’s kinky, but tame enough to be mentioned on Breakfast Telly. It’s Cinderella with handcuffs, Jane Eyre with gaffer tape It’s not going to change the world or frighten the horses. It’s perfect girls-night-out fodder for women who are no longer girls. The younger generation – as depicted on screen – will be too busy sorting out their own real-life revenge-porn cases and wondering what the hysteria is all about.