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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Can we express disdain for a book we haven't read?

A man I know thinks that we shouldn't criticise/ disdain a book, in this case, Fifty Shades of Grey, before reading it. Which is true, generally- just think of all the people who refuse to read Lolita because they think that a book about paedophilia is immoral and disgusting, for example.
But how about something like 50 Shades?
Can we say "Life is too short to read 50 Shades" (disdain)*?
Or can we only say "I'm not interested in it"?
Do we have to read 50 Shades to make any comment on it, otherwise must remain absolutely silent?
How much do we have to read?
Do we have to read the whole trilogy? Or 1 book is enough?
Do we have to read the whole book? How about 100 pages? 50 pages? 20? 2?
How about a few quotes, a few passages?
(Can we tell bad writing from good writing based on sentences?**)
What do you think? Discuss!





*: Disdain for 50 Shades does not mean contempt for people who enjoy it. 
You may ask why not simply ignore it and mind our own business. Let's put that aside for a moment- it's not like I'm going around telling people that I hate 50 Shades. But considering that the film will come out this month, the ads are everywhere, the poster, the trailer, all the articles, all the hype, and some of my peers have asked me about it or even suggested reading it.., it's hard not to have some certain thoughts in mind, the same way I couldn't ignore Twilight, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber..., going to class with people who loved them and constantly talked about them. 
**: Please have a look at this post: 
https://cassandraparkin.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/adventures-in-trash-fifty-things-that-annoy-me-about-fifty-shades-of-grey/

33 comments:

  1. I don't know about disdain for books, but I certainly avoid plenty of books because of critical appraisals by others whom I respect; in the case of 50SOG, I cannot think of anyone with a decent critical resume who has said anything positive about what is by all respected accounts a dreadful book. So, whether I am right or wrong in my decision, I will continue to avoid the book, and I will certainly avoid the movie. The bottom line is this: life is too short to waste even a moment on 50SOG.

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    1. Same here.
      There are some people who read bad books on purpose (e.g to make fun of them), but I guess I'm too lazy for that. And read too slowly.

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  2. Personally, I find 50 Shades hilarious. Not that the writers meant it to be so, but the way she goes on and on about the "inner goddess" and the "subconscious" burst my tummy. I skipped over most of the BDSM scenes though - they were too boring. I have seen better written stuff in fanfction. Do check the funny quotes - the "inner goddess" is said to be holding pom-poms and doing gymnastic feats and the "subconscious" looks severely over half-moon glasses (or something disapproving). The subconscious appear to be fully conscious. And silly things like "hot fudge brownie sex with a cherry on top" which made me go "what?!" But I think if you read the whole book you'll find it boring.

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    1. Uhh, what? Sounds crazy. And stupid.
      Did you click the link I posted above? I've also seen some quotes here and there, and know about the "inner goddess" and the talking "subconscious". Also had a look at E. L. James's fb page. Unbelievable.

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    2. Yes, I've read the post some time ago. Check out 50 Shades' relation to capitalism and snobbery: "But let’s not mistake sex for the main event. The endless manual jimmying and ripped foil packets and escalating rhythms and release-findings are just foreplay for the real climax, in which Anastasia recognizes that she’s destined to abandon her ordinary, middle-class life in favor of the rarefied veal pen of the modern power elite" http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/fifty-shades-of-late-capitalism

      And also the REAL erotic appeal of 50 Shades, a funny article by Victoria Coren: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/29/victoria-coren-fifty-shades-of-grey

      Personally, apart from the "inner goddess" and "subconscious" moments, the only parts of the series I enjoyed were the food descriptions. I basically skimmed through the rest. The first book alone contained 12 orgasms, so you can imagine how repetitive it is.

      What's funny about EL James' FB page?

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    3. Thank you for the links. Interesting take on this trilogy, the capitalism article. I'll have to read it again sometime. Have you read all 3 books? What happens in the last one?
      The Victoria Coren article is hilarious. Oh gosh. I must send it to my friends.
      About E. L. James's fb page, I don't know how to explain it. But you can have a look here: https://www.facebook.com/ELJamesAuthor?fref=ts

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    4. Well, the capitalism thing actually isn't just a 50 shades thing. It's in Twilight, where the lower-social status Bella becomes the bosom buddy and accepted by the rich and sophisticated Cullens. And everyone else is beneath her. You'll find this very common in wish-fulfilment romantic fiction, whereby the heroine somehow becomes beloved by the upper-class characters. In addition to ensnaring the handsome rich upper-class hero desired by every woman. At least Jane Eyre wasn't so blatant and unrealistic.

      Yes, I read all 3 books in order to snark them. In the last one, Ana is married to Christian Grey, and they have lots of misunderstandings, in which he tries to control her. Lots of luxurious scenes too, with gratuitous designer-name dropping. She gets pregnant by accident, which makes Grey furious. After a series of misunderstandings, involving the kidnapping of Grey's sister by a man who tried to rape Ana before, husband and wife reconcile. Grey breaks off with Mrs Robinson. The Greys live happily ever after *bleurgh!*

      I find EL James's FB page boring to be honest. I heard her husband is funny though.

      You seem to read a LOT of literature. Are you a literature academic?

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    5. Wait, who is Mrs Robinson?

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    6. Mrs Robinson is the older woman and Grey's mother's friend who seduced him when he was only 15. She introduced him to BDSM. They remain friends and business partners even after they break off their BDSM relationship. Ana hates her because of her and Grey's shared past. Plus she's a paedophile.

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    7. Oh. I see. Thanks for that.
      Have you watched Nymphomaniac?

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    8. Nope, never heard of it. Is it funny?

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    9. Funny? No. Not at all.
      A film by Lars von Trier, it's 1 of the most shocking films of the year. Deals with sex addiction (nymphomania), homosexuality, bisexuality, masochism, sadism, paedophilia... with unsimulated sex scenes. But it's more than simply a shocking film, Nymphomaniac is also brilliant- there are some discussions on sex or sex and religion, analogies between sex and fishing or classical music...
      I don't think any film can surpass it in the exploration of sexuality, at least for a long while.

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    10. Wait... Come to think of it, there's some humour in it. Yeah, there is. It's just not a film you can call "funny".

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    11. Oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh.
      Look at this: http://variety.com/2015/film/reviews/film-review-fifty-shades-of-grey-1201429062/
      They call it "Jane Austen with a riding crop, if you will, or perhaps Charlotte Bronte with a peacock feather".
      Shoot me.

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    12. Hilarious. Speaking of which, the movie was released yesterday (I think) and apparently the actors had no chemistry. They should have done an anime version with the Inner Goddess and Subconscious and comical exaggerated gestures. The Inner Goddess and Subconscious parts just won't work with real-life actors.

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    13. Hahahahhahaha. I like that.
      What did they do about that part though? How did they bring it to the screen?
      Reminds me of The Host. I didn't read Stephenie Meyer's book, but watched the film. It's about parasitic aliens that take over the Earth and insert themselves into the bodies of human beings, replacing the hosts' consciousnesses, except in the case of the protagonist- in whom there are 2 "beings", the girl and the alien, 2 minds, 2 personalities, 2 voices. And these 2 voices talk to each other. I suppose reading that in a book might have worked, somehow, but in the film it's laughable.

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    14. I forgot: in The Host, the girl has a bf and the alien in her falls in love with someone else.
      That's what complicates everything.

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    15. They didn't put the Inner Goddess and Subconscious to the screen, thus losing comedic value. I never thought I'd say this about 50 Shades, but I think the book is better than the movie. At least the silly bits are. Oh yes, I saw the Host. Terribly dull. I think it lowered my IQ, but I was on a plane at the time and had nothing better to do.

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    16. Hahahaha. I don't even have an excuse.
      Not sure what I was thinking then. But I've learnt a lesson.
      Did you actually watch 50 Shades? Is there lots of voice-over?

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    17. Nope, I didn't watch 50 Shades. But I read the reviews, and was most disappointed they didn't put in the Inner Goddess and Subconscious. In the movie there's not much chance to laugh at EL James the writer.

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    18. Haha. OK.
      http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/2vy5ug/redditors_that_work_at_movie_theaters_what_is_the/.compact

      And look at this too: https://argumentativeoldgit.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/literary-standards-and-prolefeed/

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    19. Pure curiosity: Are you against 50 Shades also on political/ feminist grounds (glorification of domestic abuse/ violence against women), or only on artistic grounds?
      By the way, C, are you going to watch the Oscars? Watch it with me :D

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    20. I am against 50 Shades on primarily artistic grounds. And on feminist grounds as well. But the main reason I am against 50 shades is that it's stupid, unrealistic and boring and yet everyone is going bonkers over it. I have read lots of better fanfiction that has never been published and probably never will.

      I can enjoy a book by an author who doesn't necessarily share my views (for example, Charlotte Bronte hated Catholics. I feel nothing about Catholicism). I also dislike Mr Rochester and Heathcliff and yet I understand why both books were masterpieces.

      So you're the anon who asked me about the Oscars on Tumblr! I thought it might be from some people I stupidly shared my blog url with (whom I want to avoid).

      Sorry, I never watch TV XD There isn't a TV on my floor, and I have to go all the way down to a cold, dim basement to watch. I'm afraid I never keep track of movies, and award ceremonies make me impatient. But I would like to know whether the Stephen Hawking film wins anything.

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    21. I am against 50 Shades on primarily artistic grounds. And on feminist grounds as well. But the main reason I am against 50 shades is that it's stupid, unrealistic and boring and yet everyone is going bonkers over it. I have read lots of better fanfiction that has never been published and probably never will.

      I can enjoy a book by an author who doesn't necessarily share my views (for example, Charlotte Bronte hated Catholics. I feel nothing about Catholicism). I also dislike Mr Rochester and Heathcliff and yet I understand why both books were masterpieces.

      So you're the anon who asked me about the Oscars on Tumblr! I thought it might be from some people I stupidly shared my blog url with (whom I want to avoid).

      Sorry, I never watch TV XD There isn't a TV on my floor, and I have to go all the way down to a cold, dim basement to watch. I'm afraid I never keep track of movies, and award ceremonies make me impatient. But I would like to know whether the Stephen Hawking film wins anything.

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    22. Hahahhahaa.
      OK.
      So far it hasn't won anything. The Grand Budapest Hotel has got 2.
      I'll post the results of the main awards.

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    23. I can live without TV for a while, but there are things I must watch. The Oscars, for instance, every year. World Cup, Eurocup (football).
      And I love cinema (almost) as much as I love literature.

      Feel the same about 50 Shades. I object to it mostly on artistic grounds. Still irritated with the guy I fought with the other day.

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  3. Ah, this person raises an interesting point:
    http://blackchampagne.com/wordpress/2012/11/sex-sells-unnaturally/

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  4. this is funny
    http://www.vox.com/2015/2/14/8038261/50-shades-of-grey-movie-review

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    1. I like that. Must share it.
      Here is my favourite review of The Host:
      http://dcw50.com/2013/03/28/the-host-aliens-with-awesome-shoes-review/

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    2. Caroline, this makes me cry: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2012/11/why-50-shades-of-grey-is-great-literature/

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    3. OMG. I weep for humanity, I really do. This reminds me of the time I read a Booker shortlisted author said that EL James put so much passion and sincerity into the book you can't help feeling it, compared to her imitators who just wanted sales. I was like "WHAT? Seriously, why are you even praising EL James?!" Though I have to say that blogger has a point about pretentious prizewinning novels that nobody likes to read.

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    4. Usually I'm careful with the word "pretentious". Some writers I like such as Nabokov and Flaubert have a small number of devotees (compared to, say, Tolstoy- though Tolstoy is not popular in the sense of the best-selling authors of little worth I shall not name, among classic authors he's still read and liked by lots of people). I also happen to love The Sound and the Fury- its haters call it the emperor's new clothes and think that those who claim to like it only pretend to.
      I still use the word now and then, but I'm careful.
      Anyway, that sounds ridiculous. Think of the people who compared Twilight to Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

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  5. C, check this out:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OU0yHAtqe4k

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