Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fifty Shades of Flapjacks

One of my RL friends is a guy named Yuri. He is a font of stories about a fairly interesting life with some really oddball living situations.

Unfortunately, he often forgets which stories he's already told to a given person. This results in some of his friends hearing a story they've heard a number of times before. Time and repetition have led to some of us using the oft-repeated phrase "This is not a new story, Yuri" in order to stave off the repetition of a story heard many times before.

This is not a new story. 

When I first started hearing about Fifty Shades of Grey and its two sequels, I sort of shrugged. Another mainstream book about bondage? Whoopie

Later I discovered that it had its origins in a fan-fiction set in the Twilight universe, and I wasn't sure how to feel about it. I decided to take a cue from Elvis Costello on this one -- I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused. 

Still later, the book became a cultural touchstone for the concept of bondage/dominance sexual relationships; bookstores began to feature the book along with 'kits' or gear to make your own Fifty Shades steamy sex events at home, and parodies arose everywhere. (My personal favorite is Fifty Shades of Chicken, a cookbook, because the title makes me giggle every time I see it.) We've all heard about the video clips of Ellen DeGeneres reading parts of the book aloud, and other talk shows getting audience members to read it in sexy voices in time with music, and so forth. 

But what I'm here to say is... this is not a new story. 

Why people think that writing a book about a d/s relationship is new and exciting is beyond me. Nine and a Half Weeks, anyone? This is really not a new story, and moreover, it's not even a sincere story, because its origins lie in another writer's work. My opinions on Twilight aside, at least Stephenie Meyer was writing her own work. The world is full of derivative works of all sorts, yes, but this really seems to go beyond the normal 'inspired by' sorts of derivative works and branch right out into the Jumping the Shark Land of Literature. (Note, the link leads you to Bone the Fish, which is an attempt to recreate the Jump the Shark website, which was sold in 2006 to TV Guide -- its own episode of shark-jumping.)

The shark-infested waters are not blue. They are fifty shades of grey. 

What about the flapjacks?

Personally, I think the best comment on the whole phenomenon came from an English columnist, Victoria Coren, who came to the conclusion that the whole thing is not so much about sex as food. Among some of my friends, this led to me randomly saying, "Eat the flapjacks, bitch!" whenever the topic of Fifty Shades came up. 

Why? Because damnit, 'flapjacks' is a funny word. It's hard to take anything too seriously when it's connected in your mind to flapjacks. 'Pancakes' is nowhere near as funny a word. 

So, yeah. Flapjacks, the new symbol for the BDSM scene. 

(As an aside, let's hope Yuri forgives me for using him as the lead-in to a blog post about Fifty Shades.)


  1. From what I can tell, the story itself wasn't what, uh, turned people on. It was the relative novelty of having such a story packaged and sold to people who would never have been caught dead buying Hustler Taboo (well, the fact that it was only words and not pictures probably helped).

    They're planning a movie version, to which I say, hey, didn't anyone see Last Tango in Paris? Or, for that matter, In the Realm of the Senses (which is admittedly less about the BDSM side of things and more about the erotomaniac side, but has the nerve to go all the way to the end of its obsessions)? Or, heck, even the movie version they made of The Story of O, which got audiences on both sides of the Atlantic all hot 'n bothered?

    1. I suppose you have a point -- but is the whole idea of this such a novelty? Really? With 'whips and chains' jokes so prevalent as to not even make people bat a lash any more?

      The Story of O has other issues, notably one of character ethics, but I won't get into that here.

      That said, I'm going to bitchslap the next person who suggests that Christian Bale should play the male lead in this excrescence posing as literature. Excuse me, ladies, but Mr. Bale can actually ACT, thanks.

  2. I think the real buzz about the movie is just that they're getting Emma Watson.

    Though I'll admit to being mildly curious as to just how close to hardcore porn it'll be. Will they squeeze the entire book into one film, or will they just do the first sex act in realtime? >.>

    1. ...the idea of a SERIES of films based on this book makes me want to shoot myself.

      Although.. I admit I might go to see the breakfast scenes just to yell 'EAT THE FLAPJACKS, BITCH' at the screen. I'm just contrary that way.