Friday, 15 June 2012

Shades of Shit and superhype

What 50 Shades of Grey has in common with its predecessors, Twilight and the Da Vinci Code is not just that it's unreadable, semiliterate, cackhanded drivel. It's that its fans are either thick or profoundly snobbish. Hyped bullshit like the aforementioned appeals predominantly to people who think they are too good to read genre fiction - or people who don't read much fiction at all. You see, generally people who like to read erotica, or vampire stories, or conspiracy theory fiction are looked down on by those who read Proper Books - or who don't see the point of reading books when the Jeremy Kyle Show won't watch itself, or they've got a shed to build or something. People like this get underwear-stainingly excited over the lamest, most obvious tropes of the relevant genre simply because they've never read anything like it before. If you've never picked up an erotic novel - or ever had sex that wasn't a matter of missionary-position fumbling in the dark on a Saturday night, the mere idea of someone tying someone up is going to get your sockets jumping: bwaaaah! How incredibly daring and shocking! Similarly with films: the Blair Witch Project was badly lit, badly shot, badly acted with plot holes you could drive a bus through, but people who had never seen a horror film before were shitting on cinema seats over a basic set up of something going 'Boo' in the dark, though I do concede that I was probably one of only a few people who spent the whole film looking out for the big van that would have had to have been lurking out of shot carrying the 500 extra batteries those bloody Betamax camcorders would have needed were they actually to keep filming through a week of hopping about in wet bracken. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with books that are not beautifully written: JK Rowling is no great prose stylist. However, the Harry Potter books are that very, very rare thing, a series that deserved the hype. Rowling is a cracking storyteller with a generally brilliant sense of pace (OK, The Half Blood Prince drags a bit) and some genuinely original ideas. Dan Brown got taken to court for having nicked his whole concept from THe Holy Blood And The Holy Grail, and probably only won his case because his opponents were such tinfoil-hat-wearers - mind you, when he started hinting that actually his poxy book was based on The Truth he perhaps should have been made to hand the money back. But still, looking on the bright side, at least good erotic fiction should get a boost from 50 Shades of Shit readers who have had a bit of a, er, awakening as to the power of bedtime reading.

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