I'm not much of a novel reader. I missed the boat on
50 shades of Grey. I did notice how its mention
made chicks all squirmy. i love vulnerability.
Anyway, it turns out this book is about making
love to yourself, with your greed muscle. It's
not about sex as much as about money.
The sex, except for some expletives,
wouldn't shock your grandfather. In fact, it
would put him to sleep.
It just goes to prove my mantra about novels,
they're designed to control minds with just
enough sizzle to keep people from having
their own lives.
Here, the baffler kicks the shit out of 50SoG.
Get the whole piece.
Fifty Shades of Late Capitalism
[from The Baffler No. 22, 2013]
While we are still recovering from the trauma that finance capital has inflicted on our public world, a late-capitalist fairy tale manages the pain in the more private and intimate reaches of the sexual daydream. In one version of the story, a wide-eyed mermaid cleverly disguises her essential self in order to win the heart of a prince (The Little Mermaid). In another, a hooker with a heart of gold navigates her way to a happy ending by offering some happy endings of her own (Pretty Woman). Or there’s the sassy secretary who shakes her moneymaker all the way to the corner office (Working Girl).
Fifty Shades of Grey follows this long history of class ascendancy via feminine wiles, but does so cleverly disguised as an edgy modern bodice-ripper. Forget that E. L. James’s three-book series captures the intricacies of BDSM about as effectively as a “Whip Me!” Barbie doll decked out in a ball gag, dog collar, and assless leather chaps. Although admirers of the series sometimes credit it with liberating female desire by reimagining pornography for ordinary women (and introducing them to the unmatched thrills of leather riding crops and hard spankings), the story of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey isn’t really about dominance or bondage or even sex or love, despite all the Harlequin Romance–worthy character names. No, what Fifty Shades of Grey offers is an extreme vision of late-capitalist deliverance, the American (wet) dream on performance-enhancing drugs. Just as magazines such as Penthouse, Playboy, Chic, and Oui (speaking of aspirational names) have effectively equated the moment of erotic indulgence with the ultimate consumer release, a totem of the final elevation into amoral privilege, James’s trilogy represents the latest installment in the commodified sex genre. The money shot is just that: the moment when our heroine realizes she’s been ushered into the hallowed realm of the 1 percent, once and for all.
The fantasy life of Fifty Shades certainly isn’t focused on the sublime erotic encounter. The sex becomes hopelessly repetitive sometime around the third or fourth of the novels’ countless, monotonously naughty encounters. Each dalliance begins with the same provocative come-on: the naive college graduate Anastasia and the dashing mogul Christian describe their desire to each other with all of the charmless unpredictability of servers mouthing their prescribed scripts at an Australian-themed steakhouse. Awkward openers (“I think we’ve done enough talking for now,” “Now let’s get you inside and naked”) conjure the raw provocation of “How about a Bloomin’ Onion to get you started?” Even tougher to take are the coy responses (“Oh my!” “Why, Mrs. Grey, you have a dirty, dirty mouth!” “You’re insatiable and so brazen”), repeated with gusto despite a total lack of shock value in evidence. Readerly expectations tick up ever so slightly as Grey issues some bossy commands—Stand here! Undress! Bend over! Spread your legs!—which seem at first blush to foretell a curve in the carnal road. But no such luck. Give or take a blindfold here or a butt plug there, the same hands explore the same places in the same ways with the same results. After the fifteenth or sixteenth time Anastasia and Christian “find [their] release together,” they start to resemble tourists with no short-term memory, repeating the same docented visit to Graceland over and over again, drooling over the claustrophobic upholstered pool room and the mirrored wall and the fourteen-foot-long white leather couch afresh each time. By the third volume in the series, as every word out of Christian’s mouth (“I see you’re very wet, Anastasia”) still triggers an overheated response from his paramour (“Holy shit!”), readers may find themselves hissing, “Mix it up a little, for fuck’s sake!”[have you ever had a chick scream holy shit in the heat of the moment? me neither. that's a guy talking through a female character- Cos67]
What Fifty Shades of Grey offers is an extreme vision of late-capitalist deliverance, the American (wet) dream on performance-enhancing drugs.
But let’s not mistake sex for the main event. The endless manual jimmying and ripped foil packets and escalating rhythms and release-findings are just foreplay for the real climax, in which Anastasia recognizes that she’s destined to abandon her ordinary, middle-class life in favor of the rarefied veal pen of the modern power elite. Until then, like a swooning female contestant on The Bachelor, Anastasia is offered breathtaking helicopter and glider rides, heady spins in luxury sports cars, and windswept passages on swift catamarans. She is made to gasp at Christian’s plush office, with its sandstone desk and white leather chairs and its stunning vista, or his spacious, immaculate penthouse apartment, with its endless rooms filled with pricey furniture. She is treated to Bollinger pink champagne and grilled sea bass. She is offered a brand new wardrobe replete with stylish heels and gorgeous gowns and designer bras. She is lavished with diamond jewelry and flowers and a new luxury car of her own....