The Thing Speaks for Whatever

50 Shades of Grey: Ruminations on Purple Prose, Consent, Commiseration, and Katie’s Ongoing Submission to the Subjunctive

In Back Door Book Club B!tches 4: Back in the Saddle, Because fuck you exploiters. Fuck you., I read this entire post and all I got was this lousy T-shirt, Katie, Pornocracy, Ridiculously Long Pocket Guides, Rooks, This verges on the ridiculous, Verbs are people too on May 30, 2012 at 3:57 am

Oh hey!  Yeah, sometimes hiatuses happen.  Whoops!  Life!  It occurs!  Our bad!

However the gears at RIEtc. are slowly turning once more (seriously, you should see the sheer cornucopia of draft posts on the dashboard), cranking up to cranking out plenty of awesomeness for your summer pleasure.  After all, when you get a flyer from Good Vibrations advertising a Shades of Grey shopping guide in your email, it’s really, really, really, really hard not to feel prodded to say something about the state of the world in which we live.

50 Shades of You’ve Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me.

So Katie, forgetting that I probably also got this email, forwards me [ed. note: Katie forgot no such thing. Rooks was off being too busy to entertain Katie in her mono-tastic stupor, and forwarding seemed the most efficient way to clearly identify the subject of discussion] the aforementioned e-flyer and says the words I’ve been tring to avoid ever since I saw that one buzzfeed post, namely, “I almost feel like I should read it. But I don’t think I can bring myself to.”

Why oh why must there be strength in numbers?

Thus the first ever RIEtc. Book Club was formed.  Right now it’s just Katie and me, so we’re contemplating a name that’s something completely ridiculous and appropriately porny like “Back Door Book Club B!tches 4: Back in the Saddle”, you know, something that reflects the sincerity and merit of our incredibly serious literary aspirations, but if anyone eventually wants to share our pain, as well as love of entendres and sly references, we’re not sure how long an acronym like BDBCB4:BS is gonna fly.  Maybe we’ll just call it Hump Day Reads.

To be clear, we have zero plans to recap 50 Shades of Grey as such beyond an absolute minimum – other people have done it and done it well, and besides, that’s not really our speed, since we tend roll in a more “snark & conquer” format – but we’ll gladly tell you everything that blows about it.  This way, if someone asks you what you think about the shittiest phenomenon since Twilight (funny how that works), you can dis it like you’ve read it, but without destroying any of your own precious, precious brain cells.  Or, if you’ve read it already, you can commiserate and bitch here.  Or, if you’re going to read it, you can . . . commiserate and bitch here.

I know, we’re givers.

Right now the plan is to do three chapters a week in a loose dialogue format, though for this first post we’ve only done the first one – the plan was hatched just this past weekend, so time was limited and we’ve got better shit to do than read a book that we already know we can’t stand.  Think of it as live-blogged MST3K for a bestseller list near you.  (Actually, this isn’t the first time an RIEtc. blogger has selflessly read a shitty book on the public’s behalf; I dare you to ask Docta K what she thinks about The Da Vinci Code.)

Read along with us!

Rooks: I kind of can’t believe we’re going to do this.

Katie: Well, I read the first page, and I already hate this chick – wah wah, my roommate is so pretty, I’m so plain. It’s fucking She’s All That, with kink.

Rooks:  I do not think that was the plot of that film.  Total points for “ugly pretty girl” syndrome, though.

Katie: Also, I couldn’t remember the name of that movie, so I looked at IMDB . . . Freddie Prinze Jr. was in an episode of Family Matters as “Tough Guy,” and I really want to dig up that episode. Actually, BAM.

Rooks:  :::snort:::  Freddie’s got a gun . . .

Katie: God bless the internet. I hope we can discuss this in our first post.

Rooks: And perhaps this, too:  I’d say spoiler alert, but it’s hard to spoil something you know is going to be shitty as fuck from page one.

Katie:  Love! “Let Christian Grey seduce you over and over again through the voice of Gilbert Gottfried.” I think I’d actually prefer that to reading it, which . . . is saying something. If it was Gilbert Gottfried and Fran Dresher, I think they’d really be on to something – finally, a narration as annoying as the text! Wait, fuck, “were.” It’s “were,” isn’t it. God damn it.

Rooks: Yes, it is “were.”  Have you noticed that neither of us have really actually read anything yet?  We are filled with some seriously epic avoidance right now.  From the comments of other people on the internet, I think for optimum commiseration we should probably just go with simultaneous reading time.  You ready?

Katie:  Ok, yes. Commence Operation: “Oh My God, Why Did We Do This.” GO.

Rooks:  The introduction to this book is already annoying as fuck.  “Plucked up the courage to put pen to paper”?  YOU PUBLISHED FAN FIC.  FAN FIC OF SOME OF THE CRAPPIEST BOOKS OF ALL TIME.  It’s derivative as shit – of shit – from jump, and I’m supposed to applaud her pluck?  GTFOH.

Katie: Please, have you seen the dedication? If I ever call anyone “the master of my universe,” please kill me.

Just sayin’.

Rooks: I’m just saying, Twilight was terrible as terrible can be, but at least sparkly vampires were a bit of a new take.  Stupid and silly, but new-ish.

Katie:  Right? THE PERFECT PREDATOR. I bet Christian Grey doesn’t sparkle . . . naturally, anyway. Regardless, “I must not sleep with it wet” is an excellent start to a book about sex.

[In which Ana, the main character, stares into the mirror a lot, then gets off her whiny ass to go interview an unknown tycoon on behest of her sick roommate, Kate, who edits the school paper.]

Rooks:  I’m still trying to figure out who has the time or inclination to perfect their hair during finals.  What the hell kind of college does she attend?  She only has to write an essay?  Like, one essay?  Where is this school?!

Katie:  She has bigger problems, you know. Because she’s pale and big eyed! She’d be perfect if she didn’t have brown hair! BUT SHE HAS BROWN HAIR. OH THE HUMANITY. LIFE ISN’T FAIR.

Rooks:  Perhaps she should go switch and tame Garnier into submission.

Katie: Perhaps she should go hop back into the shower and then braid her hair as opposed to making us read about it. Also, who the fuck cares about an interview for a student newspaper? Who the fuck cares about student newspapers, unless they’re busy being incredibly racist, sexist, or rape-tastic?

Rooks:  HEY.  I CARE.  I ran a paper, after all.  Though, having done/assigned the occasional interview, I can tell you that the first general rule, especially if all parties are busy and no one’s getting paid, is to see if your subject will do it electronically.  I suppose the second general rule is, “Don’t wear your jammies to the interview . . . Profit.”

Katie:  SORRY, BUT I MEAN, REALLY. Your paper was excellent, but, during finals, would you have driven 165 miles for an interview, filling in for your roommate, to interview some jackass you’ve never heard of?

Rooks:  I mean, if my roommate were you-

Katie: . . . I would never bother to interview some jackass.

Rooks: -and it were vital to you getting an “A” in your journalism class or something, maybe.


Rooks:  More importantly, we clearly need to know where she goes to school – what universities are within a ~165 mile radius of Seattle?  Oh, she’s in Vancouver.  Thank God she’s not American.

Katie:  It’s Vancouver, WA.

Rooks:  FUCK. WSU should sue the author for libel.  Jesus God, this writer is such a fucking comma splicer – she may as well be genetically altering the human race, she splices so much.

Katie:  Sorry, I got distracted by all the blonde. Strawberry blonde, exotic blonde, gamine blonde. The send off from her sick roomie is so dramatic, too.  “Go.”

Rooks:  Really, the moral of the first chapter is that bitches named Kate will suck your ass dry, if you let them.  Does that mean we can stop now?

[In which Ana drives her roomie’s car in what seems like the wrong direction, only to arrive in a dystopian office building where the only colors are black, white, gray, and blond(e).]

Katie:  True, but no, it doesn’t, because you need to tell me who the fuck calls a Mercedes a Merc.

Rooks:  I call a Mercedes a Merc when I hire it to depose my enemies in foreign lands?  Conversely, I need you to tell me why, if she’s headed to Seattle, the highway sign says “Portland.”

Katie:  Maybe the author did such good research she discovered you have to head south to get the freeway? Of course, Vancouver, WA is south of Seattle, so . . .

Rooks: And speaking things no one says, you either floor it or put the pedal to the metal, however one does not ever “floor the pedal to the metal.”

Katie:  She was really in a hurry. At least she didn’t floor the petal to the medal?

Rooks:  That would be awkward, since the author’s a Brit.  “Dear London 2012 games, I got you these idiomatic flowers for the podium, but I dropped ’em.”

Katie:  Though I’ll send this woman a cookie if she refers to the vulva’s “petals” and there’s a metal dildo involved, later. Oh! ANOTHER BLONDE. DAMN THEM.

Rooks:  Insidious bitches, being all pretty everywhere.  Oops, gratuitous outfit description is in the works.  I saw someone else who did this on the internet point out that the outfit described is basically Anne Hathaway in the beginning of The Devil Wears Prada to a tee.  That person has a serious point.

Katie:  Honestly – sensible brown knee-length boots? I . . . don’t really think of knee-length boots as sensible, as a general matter. That is, I just don’t really think knee-high boots are likely to be defined as sensible, especially by someone who owns only one skirt? Those seem like probably the fanciest, most exciting thing she owns.

Rooks:  Maybe they are ugly boots?

Katie:  Like these?

Rooks:  Those are extremely sensible, if I am interviewing the Abominable Snowman.  Well, if we’re going to take a fashion tangent anyway, what’s a “formal blazer” and why does Ana regret not wearing one?

Katie:  Not clear. Isn’t a blazer by definition less formal than a suit jacket? I mean, I don’t know — it’s a real question.

Rooks:  Having just seen the YSL exhibit, I really hope it’s this, but with like, blingy epaulets.  For an interview.  It would’ve been such a better idea, clearly!

Katie:  Can you tell me how one determines that “visitor” is “very firmly stamped” on a badge? Whatever, it’s not as important as the fact that SHE DOESN’T FIT IN HERE. EVERYONE IS PRETTIER THAN HER. SHE IS MOUSY. QUICK, SOMEONE TAKE OFF HER GLASSES AND SWEEP MASCARA ON HER LASHES!


Katie:  This girl is the most insecure ever, and I say this as someone who has/has had some serious self-esteem issues. C’mon now – SHE’S LAUGHING AT ME INSIDE, HER SMILE CAN’T BE REAL, I DON’T FIT IN HERE, I AM SO AWKWARD. Whatever, the people at this office dress boringly – grey and white, black, black and white.  What about a pop of color?

Rooks:  I dunno, they match the decor?

Katie: Is it meant to be a reflection of Ana’s repression? By the end, will everything be blooming into color, like her vagina blooming around his cock?  Man, I should write romance novels.

Rooks:  Totally, you should.  You’re a late bloomer.  I’m mildly concerned, however, that Ana appears to be, like, the last brunette in captivity or something.  Things would make a lot more sense if this is a dystopian world of pneumatic blonds.  OMG, they’re all cylons!

Rooks has decided that every woman in the 50 Shades of Grey universe that isn’t Ana looks precisely like this. Trust us, you have to make up your own levels of depth in this book.

Katie: “Get a grip, Steele.” Heh, I see what she did there. CHRIST, ANOTHER BLONDE. BLONDE COUNT: 4, PAGE: 12. Oh. A black guy. Ok, not everyone is blond.

Rooks:  You don’t know, he could be blonde.

Katie:  Oh, true. His short dreds may be blonde.

Rooks:  Did she seriously just ask if hiring only blonds was legal?  Really?  I mean, really?  Of all the inanities we’ve already had to fucking suffer.

[In which Ana meets our “hero,” Christian Grey, and proves to be the shittiest interviewer evAr, which is good, since he’s a pretty terrible interviewee.  And, you know, person.]

Katie:  She’s clumsy!

Rooks:  Well, how else was she gonna end up on her knees in front of this dude only halfway through the first chapter?

Katie:  Whatever, we found her flaw! Other than her brown hair!

Rooks:  And her pathological insecurity!

Katie:  Wait, “unruly dark copper hair.” I need to find Twilight to see how Edward’s hair is described, because I’m pretty sure that’s just identical. What a shocking coincidence!

Rooks:  Wasn’t there a lot of stuff about his long, fine-boned/artistic hands, too?  It is, after all, supposed to be Edward as a dom magnate.  Of course, Bella as Ana is even more ragingly insecure than she already is, like we’re starting the book with hopeless Bella after Edward leaves “for her own good.”

Katie: So basically we’re saying that this book might really just take some of the most offensive parts of Twilight and make them worse.

Rooks:  Where unfortunately “worse” equals “into another bestseller.”  God help our society.

Katie:  Oh, he “[raises] the ordinary to the extraordinary” – I see what she did there.

Rooks:  Fuck that, his whole office is white?  Sweet baby Jesus on a biscuit.  Also, what is up with these interview questions?  If her roommate could hear this girl botch what were not the strongest questions to begin with, she would fucking shoot her.  And his answers . . . lordamercy.

Katie:  Oh, HE IS A MAN. HE MAKES DECISIONS BASED ON LOGIC. LOGIC AND HIS GUT INSTINCT. I mean, in one sentence, logic and facts, in the next, he has an excellent gut. Which is it, douchenoz? Oh, is it that you follow your gut and then things work out so you think that confirms your instincts and therefore it’s the LOGIX? Bah. I hate him already.

Rooks:  Clearly it’s just both.  He’s Gibbs from NCIS, but less silver foxy and interesting and sensibly tortured and more . . . Edwardian.

Katie: OMG. “I am successful because I work hard. There is no luck involved.” Yeah. Right.

Rooks:  Ok, fuck this fucking bootstrapper.

Katie:  In more ways than one, probably, AS I’M SURE WE’LL DISCOVER. You know, if we keep reading, and use teh MAN-LOGIX.

Rooks: He’s not privileged or lucky!  He just works!  Must be nice for it to be that effing simple to build a massive corporation by the indeterminate age of “under 30”!

Katie:  He’s hot but controlling. I want him. [/sarcasm] But really, I already hate this guy so fucking much.

Rooks:  You know who this guy makes me miss? Roarke from In Death.  Now there’s a hot bastard in a middling book who knows when to control shit and when to relax.  I’m resolving to read a Roarke book right after this, or maybe watch The Thomas Crown Affair, if only to restore my faith in fictional billionaire magnates.  Seriously, can I have Thomas Crown instead?

Katie:  Okay . . . I have a serious problem with this philosophy, especially followed by comments about how he likes to control himself and those around him: “A man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.” Megalomaniac, much?

Rooks:  Carnegie, Firestone – I mean, it seems like the author has a hard-on for some sort of Rand-ian robber baron ideal. (If so, fuck you, you union-busting asshole.  [That probably needs a citation.])  And if that weren’t enough, he conceptualizes his power in terms of how many people couldn’t make the mortgage if he sold his assets off.  Ass.  That might be the most jackhole-riffic system of measurement of all time.

Katie: I would get up and leave. I hate him. How is anything about this man attractive?

Rooks:  Well, apparently he’s pretty ’til he opens his entitled, privileged, megalomaniacal mouth?  I do totally like how they say “the University” though, as someone who occasionally talks in ragingly inappropriate caps.  (Yeah, ok, I don’t actually at all.)  . . . OMG, he just said, out loud, in an interview in the age of the Internet, that it’s “shrewd business” to feed the poor, not like he actually gives a fuck or anything. Given what we know about him, maybe ok, I might buy that that’s how he feels, though I’m sure we’ll discover later that he secretly cares and cries the tears or whatever.  Hell, maybe it’s even admirable in a certain light since, as an arguably ruthless soul myself, the end result is people eating, and as such I don’t much care how he feels about it per se.  But never, ever, EVER should the mega-business golden boy dude who never does interviews, yet who’s apparently SUPER GOOD at manipulating the masses say something like that in a published, Google-able interview.  NO MA’AM.

Katie:  Right? Also, he woudn’t accept an interview from someone other than the scheduled person without any notice, don’t you think?

Rooks:  Much less tell random new girl that he wants to deserve to possess things.  Like, apparently, people.  White Man’s Burden is straight tough, yo.

Katie:  It’s something I experience everyday.

Rooks:  YOU’RE A MAN?!?!?!

Katie:  Well, you know, I pretend to be. Corporate law and all that.

Corporate Lawyer’s Burden.
(When they aren’t working 100 hour weeks.)

Rooks:  Can we discuss how this girl is phenomenally terrible at subtext?  Like, abysmal?  And how, despite the fact that he’s like, master of all he surveys and all knowing and all seeing and all blahblahblah, he somehow doesn’t get around to asking “who the hell are you and where is the normal interviewer” until after she’s asks if he’s gay, probably a solid twenty minutes into the interview?  If I were this man’s PR team I would chew his ass out, and not at all in a pleasant way.

Katie: Right?!

Rooks:  Like he would have to give interviews on one of those little blue leashes, because clearly homeslice cannot be trusted with his own reputation.  Oh hell, the blondes are back – apparently they are suddenly individuals with names and stuff.

Katie:  Blondes don’t deserve names.

Rooks:  Well, so far all the newly named office blondes have six letter names that end in “a.”  It’s not like she worked at it.  Also, Ana is like, the most wishy-washy girl of all time.  She’s graduating from college, but-

Katie:  -has absolutely zero plans. None. I know. She’s planning to, umm, like, pack, and umm, like, move? And stuff? I mean, I guess? Or something?

Rooks:  Well, she majored in english lit, so of course she has no plans.  (Just kidding all of my english major friends!  Many of y’all are totally reasonably driven and gainfully employed!  I kid because I love, and because I majored in theatre!)


Rooks:  This is like, worse than remedial crap romance novel writing at this point.  “His burning gray eyes gaze at me.”  That gerund does not really suit that verb – I mean, gaze seems so . . . lambent (which, btdubs, would’ve been a much better descriptive choice).  Oh dear God, Katie, be a good friend and don’t let me start to edit this; I could end up locked in a room somewhere for my own safety.

Katie:  Ha, we should make Bezuidenthustra edit it.

Rooks: Um, he would end up locked in a room somewhere for our safety.

Katie:  Hahahahahahahahahahaha. <3  Ok, “when will we ever meet again?”  Oh, maybe when he hands you your diploma in a couple weeks, which you were fretting about 5 pages ago?

Rooks:  This is right up there with her complete inability to use Google how it was clearly meant to be used – stalking.

[In which we finish this shit, only to realize that we have another 25 or so chapters to go.]

Rooks:  Ok, done.

Katie: Done.

Rooks: A mathematical explanation of my feelings thus far are as follows: [# of chapters I’ve read] – [# of chapters total] = [how many more chapters I’d like to read], or [1] – [26] = [-25] , as in I want to unread this chapter, and then unread 24 more, preemptively.

Katie:  I think I’d rather have a colonoscopy than finish, at this point.

Rooks:  It’s the butt polyp of books?

Katie: I think that’s insulting to butt polyps.

Rooks: Existence is insulting to butt polyps; they’re used to it.

[We’re thinking the addition of some sexytimes will make this work of excremental fiction a modicum less shitty, but we don’t exactly live in hope.  In the mean time, to tide you over, we can thank someone on Facebook for our knowledge of the existence of the tumblr 50 Shades of Suck.  See ya next Hump Day!]

  1. Please note: There is no such thing as the RIEtc Book Club. At least, not if *this* is what’s supposed to be on the reading list.

    • Also, I’m going to go through this post later and eliminate all the redundant extra spaces. I know you folks will thank me.

      How’s THAT for editing? HA!

      • Bez, no. If you do I will hurt you, especially since out of love for Katie, and only love for Katie, I formatted her responses with one space while continuing to do mine with two. Afterwards I felt dirty, but if you and she wanna be icky one-spacers, who am I to judge?

        Also, let’s just all agree that Back Door Book Club B!tches 4: Back in the Saddle can be the Shitty Book Auxiliary of RIEtc.’s Hump Day Reads, which I’m sure will chockful of high flown literary ideals.

        • I just realized you meant in the ellipses. I actually contemplated that one myself, because I don’t like the way the overhangs format on the blog, so if you want to condense the ellipses, you officially have my permission to do that and only that. Unless having my permission makes it less titillating and naughty, then NO. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL YOU CHANGE A HAIR ON THIS POST’S HEAD.

  2. Oh, thank you thank you! I actually clawed my way through all three books in what was clearly an episode of intense self-loathing. Or maybe it was morbid curiosity, although morbid curiosity wasn’t enough to lead me into the Twilight morass. All I have to say is Just You Wait.

    Now, I don’t want to drop any spoilers (hehe), so let me just warn you that this fucking bitch is about to strain credulity well beyond its breaking point. Repeatedly. I mean, I’m as willing as the next guy to suspend my disbelief in order to find out what would happen if Lifetime Movie Network hired Chris Columbus to make a BDSM-lite triple feature. . . .but only to a point. I spend approximately the final 5/6ths of the series sincerely hoping that they’d all be killed in some kind of freak helicopter accident.

    • Oh God no – IT GETS WORSE?! I can’t even imagine. Like, i strenuously doubt we’ll make it past Book 1. (Ok, I might for the sake of cultural literacy, since, like I did with Twilight, I feel the need to read these should I be teaching the college kiddies again so I’ll be able to respond and critique their reference points, but Katie has no such impetus, so I dunno how that’s gonna go.)

      I mean, feel free to chime in over here any time, regardless – we’re always happy to have a sane voice among the clearly delusional masses who made this crap a bestseller.

  3. Thank you for this, for making the sacrifice for me. All of the sales girls in my office have read it and (trying to not generalize sales girls, I’m sure there are some that are lovely and smart and quick on the snarky uptake, I just haven’t met many) I need to be able to keep up with conversation without having to actually read the thing.

    • You and I might still end up having some sidebars on this one, if things are about to get as ugly as I believe they are, but we’re happy to do the public service. Well . . . happy might be relative. :D

  4. Rooks:  I’m still trying to figure out who has the time or inclination to perfect their hair during finals.  What the hell kind of college does she attend?  She only has to write an essay?  Like, one essay?  Where is this school?!

    Katie:  She has bigger problems, you know. Because she’s pale and big eyed! She’d be perfect if she didn’t have brown hair! BUT SHE HAS BROWN HAIR. OH THE HUMANITY. LIFE ISN’T FAIR.

    Both of these comments are amazing. AMAZING.

  5. […] Previously on Res Ipsa Etc., we started a terrible book.  This week, we continue to blaze an intrepid path through the literary desert, a wilderness of suck, if you will, on everyone’s behalf.  Suffering:  All the Cool Kids Are Doing It.  (No really, they are!  Docta K has acquired a copy of 50 Shades of Grey and may be joining us in some future posts!  Woot!)  Anyway, BDBCB4:BS continues on with chapters 2-4 of what is arguably the worst book either of us have ever read.  We snark because we care. […]

  6. […] Katie: But then again, I also think they fucking deserve each other. I’m really, really angry at Good Vibes for being the proximate cause of our suffering through this. […]

Whatever, yo.

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