So, yes, we all know the story. Woman writes Twilight fanfic. Twilight fanfic gets repurposed as erotica series known as “50 Shades Of Grey”. Woman makes money. People make fun of situation.
Really the only problem as a progeek for me is the latter one – the mockery.
From what I hear about “50 Shades of Grey” is, to put it mildly, is rather purple and the content is may disturb some. It’s not Shakespeare or Pratchett, and there’s elements that sound rather squicky. But really the only criticism that seems relevant to me may be some of these quality issues, and even then there’s only so much I can say because I actually watch films like “2 Headed Shark Attack.”*
Here’s the thing – a woman took her fannish interests and succesfully repurposed them to make a load of money and fame. This is a success story, and one where the two constant critiques I see are both kind of irrelevant:
“It’s Repurposed Fanfic!” Yeah? So what. Look a lot of authors repurpose other works, and that doubtlessly includes fanfic. Hollywood writers keep scenes and bits they reuse when they’re left out of a script.
Fanfic is a learning experience. As long as you’re really good at scrubbing off the serial numbers and making it original, as long as you don’t plagarize or do something else unethical, knock yourself out. In fact you can’t separate your fannish experience from your professional in many cases because inspirations are inspirations, as we all know.**
Fandom can be practice, it can be learning, it can be raw materials. Saying no one should use that is ridiculous.
“It’s Mommy Porn.” So was a lot of the romance novel industry (even though romance has a lot of male realders), and no one complained about that for a few decades. If you’ve got no problem with porn or erotica, you shouldn’t have a problem with “Mommy Porn.”
Of course you don’t see people saying “Lesbian Spank Inferno”*** is “Daddy porn,” it’s just kind of accepted. It’s a weird, degrading, and oddly sexist statement to say something is wrong with “50 shades of Gray” over the fact women may enjoy it and are the target audience.
There’s a market for this stuff. You may not like that – or care – but singling it out due to gender/demographic interest is just kind of dumb.
So look, issues aside, let’s look at “50 Shades of Grey” as a fandom success and learn from it. Talking down about it means we’re missing the lessons we could be learning. Criticize it on many levels, but the critiques I hear the most are also the most useless.
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach for professional and potentially professional geeks, fans, and otaku. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/
* The “surviving leads” were the best part of the film and should get a series where they are like Hart To Hart, but fighting B movie monsters
** For some reason I have a habit of creating priests/holy men in stories where at least one is influenced by Father Mulchahey of M.A.S.H. I can even remember the scenes that inspired it – but I keep forgetting I do it.
***Name the reference, I dare you. Oddly, it connects to Doctor Who, if you need a clue.