Showing posts with label Brad Neal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brad Neal. Show all posts

Friday, September 21, 2012

50 Shades of My Thoughts on 50 Shades of Grey

*For your enjoyment, a guest blog post by Municipal Bond Lawyer and friend of the Catapult, Bradley Neal.

For my recreational literature I almost exclusively read non-fiction (although I pounded through all five Game of Thrones books in the last year), but the book that seems to be everywhere right now is the “steamy sex thriller” by E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey and its two sequels.  Fifty Shades is at the water cooler, the author is on the Today show, the book is on the New York Times best seller list, etc... So I decided the next up book in my rotation, Steve Jobs, could wait and I’d give Fifty Shades a read. 

SPOILER ALERT!

If you want to read the book and don’t want the experience ruined... stop reading. (*Note: if you're thinking about reading this book, how did you end up on the Book Catapult? I'm just sayin'. -Seth)

Well alright!  You’re still here!  Let’s get WEIRD.


When I was in Junior High, I read Jaws IV:  The Revenge (which was turned into a movie that Richard Jeni did a tremendous rant on).  In Jaws IV, a shark kills a woman’s son, and she believes the shark is intentionally targeting her and the rest of her family, so she packs up and leaves New England and heads for... (wait for it)... The Bahamas.  As opposed to, say, Topeka, Kansas, where even a shark intentionally targeting your family would have a bitch of a time eating you.  Sure enough, the shark does, in fact, follow her to the Bahamas and tries to eat her and her family.  I laughed as I read it, knowing I would never read a book with a less believable plot than Jaws IV.  And I haven’t.  Until I read Fifty Shades of Grey.

Fifty Shades is BAD, yo.  I mean REALLY BAD, an Unintentional Comedy Treasure Trove of BAD.  In Fifty Shades, nothing gets tied up and beaten into submission more than Common Sense.  For a story like this to work, the characters themselves must be believable even while unbelievable things are happening (although given the popularity of this book, I might be in the minority on this point.)  So let’s pop the hood and take a peek at the Protagonist and the sexy, Oh So Sexy, Antagonist in Fifty Shades, shall we?

Let’s start with the Antagonist.  My greatest source of amusement from Fifty Shades was reading the author’s attempt at crafting Every Girl’s Fantasy Guy from whole cloth.  Want to meet him?  He’s Christian Grey, a 27-year-old self-made billionaire who employs 40,000 people over his vast business empire.  27 years old.  Self-made billionaire.  Whoa.  So he must be like a tech geek or something, like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, right?  Nope.  He is HotHotHAWT and has a body so good (and I’m quoting the author here) “Michelangelo’s David has nothing on him.”  Dayam!  OK, so he’s a 27-year-old billionaire workout nut.  He’s also a workaholic with little time for hobbies, right?  I mean, how else could you become a self-made billionaire at 27?  Nope. He’s got all sorts of hobbies, and plenty of time for them all. He’s an expert helicopter pilot, maestro piano player, an avid and astute art collector and a hiking enthusiast. He’s involved in many charities, including being a benefactor to his alma mater.  His tastes in music are eclectic and wide ranging - he likes opera, classical music, rock and (I’m not making this up) 16th-century European church chanting.  Oh, and he’s got a sadomasochistic torture chamber (he can land his helicopter on top of his house, did I mention that?) crammed with such an unbelievable array of devices that even the Marquis de Sade would put down his handcuffs and golf clap in approval.

Free rides for the ladies!
In sum, this guy is FREAKING SPECIAL. To give you an idea about how Special, on this planet of over 7 billion people, separate out all the “Under 30 Self-Made Billionaire Expert Helicopter Pilots.” Now take that group of zero people and discard all but the concert level pianists. Now keep only the brutally hot ones. This guy is a zebra striped leopard.

So, with so many of life’s blessings, he must be a super happy, well-adjusted guy with lots of friends and girlfriends, right?  Uh, no.  He’s dark, mysterious, moody, a control freak... and DANGEROUS (but, I dunno, the right girl could reach into his heart, touch him in ways he’s never been touched and show him happiness through love, right?  RIGHT?)  How do we know he’s dangerous?  There are subtle warning signs.  He tells the Protagonist (Anastasia Steele, more on her in a minute) “Stay away from me, I’m no good for you, I’m dangerous.”  Her roommate tells her “there’s something about that guy.  He seems dangerous.”  Her “inner goddess” (whatever the F that is) warns her he’s dangerous.  And he literally tries to make her sign a contract acknowledging she understands he’s really dangerous.  I’ll be honest, there’s a coin flip’s chance this dude will end up killing the Protagonist, but not until he’s given her, like, a thousand orgasms.  It’s a risk she’s just gotta take.  He’s that freaking HOT.

The comical caricature of the antagonist in Fifty Shades made me wonder what the female equivalent of Christian Grey might be like.  So here it goes.  She’s Amanda Russo, she put herself through college doing lingerie modeling until she dropped out to make her first billions inventing Birth Control Beer.  But she sold her beer company (for billlllllllions!) to buy her NFL Franchise AND her NBA Franchise.  She likes to lay around her enormous beach house naked watching Rocky I through Rocky IV back-to-back-to-back-to-back.  It makes her horny.  She doesn’t acknowledge that Rocky V or Rocky Balboa exist (you’re damn right she doesn’t acknowledge that Rocky V or Rocky Balboa exist!)  She likes to watch Family Guy post-coitus.  She’s a yoga expert, so she’s as supple as she is hot, which is extremely for both.  Yoga makes her horny, but it’s tough to tell because she’s generally pretty horny.  Her favorite food?  Tacos. Tacos make her... uh... she enjoys tacos.  She’s 23, but she prefers witty older men with glasses (author’s prerogative on that one).  Those guys make her horny.

So what kind of girl is Christian, The 27 Year-Old-Self-Made Billionaire-Helicopter Pilot-Piano Maestro-Art Collector-Sadist looking for?  A starlet?  A socialite?  An aristocrat?  A titaness of industry?  Someone as hot, smart and dynamic?  Lots of different women?  Nope.

Innocent Anastasia or billionaire sadist?
Let’s meet her.  The Protagonist is Anastasia Steele.  She’s a recent graduate of Washington State University, Vancouver, WA campus.  She’s decent looking and reasonably intelligent, but she’s not even the smartest and hottest girl in her own apartment.  She prefers jeans, t-shirt and Converse to dresses. She works at a hardware store, has little sexual confidence and even less sexual experience. Actually, she has zero sexual experience.  She loses her virginity to the billionaire sadist, and, after he’s given her multiple orgasms on her first time, he walks naked to the low lit baby grand piano and starts masterfully playing a gorgeous, melodic concerto for her.  I think we’ve all been there before.

The most offensive scene in Fifty Shades, at least for me, was when Anastasia considers signing the Dominant/Submissive Contract without having her lawyer review it first.  You don’t sign ANY contract without your lawyer reviewing it, much less a contract which allows the counterparty to hog tie you and hang you from the dining room chandelier if he so chooses.  At a minimum, I would have tried to negotiate for her three full Timeouts and three 20 second Timeouts per torture session, like an NBA game.

My favorite scene in Fifty Shades is where Christian dishes out some coital punishment to Ana.  In this scene Christian is angry with Ana (I forget why – I think Ana had an independent thought or took out her ben wah balls without permission or something), and, as punishment, Christian tells Ana to turn around to get banged from behind, but... (wait for it)... she’s not allowed to enjoy it.  Solid!  Best laugh I had since Christian landed his ‘copter on the roof.  Reading this scene made me wonder how this “sex as punishment” concept might go over at home with my wife:  “Honey, I think we both know you over-cooked the salmon tonight...”  Let’s just say that’s not our current “relationship dynamic.”  She’d laugh herself silly, then send me to the store for more salmon.

Fifty Shades includes one of the “Rich Guy, New Girl Romance” tools that always makes me laugh.  It's when the rich guy whisks the girl away impromptu to some incredible destination…but she didn't have time to pack a THING.  But it’s okay, you see, because the rich guy knows her size, thought ahead, sent his assistant to buy her an entire wardrobe, replete with daywear, evening wear, beachwear, lingerie, bras, underwear, every conceivable hair/skin/eye/eyelash/nail product and makeup, and when they arrive at the impromptu destination, all of her stuff is exactly what she likes and is already put away and hung up, prêt-a-porter.  It goes something like this:

RICH GUY: “Baby, I'm dying to take you to my place on the French Riviera, we’ll be at my private jet in half an hour.”

NEW GIRL: “Wait, WHAT?!?  I would love to... but I haven't packed and, besides, I have to work tonight!”

RICH GUY: “No you don’t.  I bought the restaurant you work at, fired the manager you hate, and Shelly is covering your shifts until we get back.  I sent my assistant Claudia ahead to make sure you have an entire wardrobe for the week.  We just met and I’m just guessing, but you seem like you’re about 5 5”, 113.5 pounds, size 2, 27-inch inseam.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to get the evening gown I need to see you in, so I’m flying Vera Wang out to meet us there.”

NEW GIRL, getting light headed, “OH MY!”

Editor's note: I just thought this needed
to be in here somewhere. -Seth
When they get there, everything fits, she loves EVERYTHING.  I can’t stress how impossible this seems to me.  I’ve been with my wife since 1999.  I know what she likes and I’d be terrified to try to pack her for a weekend in Vegas WITH HER OWN WARDROBE, much less buy all new stuff.  If you offered me a thousand dollars if I could go to the store and buy the shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer that my wife is currently using, you’d be putting your money back into your pocket.  I’m not sure I could even get myself to the STORE where those products are offered for sale.

How crappy is Fifty Shades?  Wall-to-wall crap.  Literally.  The author references crap 85 times, including 35 Holy Craps, six Double Craps, one Triple Crap and one Crapola.  I had trouble deciphering the respective weight of each of these crappy expletives.  Similar to the strength of hands in poker, it’s pretty easy to slot the relative weight of Crap, Double Crap and Triple Crap, one, two, three.  But where do Crapola and Holy Crap fit in?  Holy Crap sounds the weightiest, so I’m going to make that the royal flush of crap.  But what to do with Crapola?  To me it sounds weightier than Double Crap, but less so than Triple Crap. That’s completely arbitrary, reasonable minds may differ.  So my ranking goes, from least crappy to most crappy:

1. Crap
2. Double Crap
3. Crapola
4. Triple Crap
5. Holy Crap

Add in the 85 shits (including one shitload) the author references, and, scatologically speaking, Fifty Shades includes a shitload of crap.

Well, that's about all I've got.  I feel better now.  Time to get back to work for all of us I guess.  Crap.  No.  Double Crap.

-Bradley Neal