Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Demo Reel

Since this blog is me writing about things that wander into my head, here's my two cents on Demo Reel. If you don't know That Guy With The Glasses (TGWTG, for short), have a look, they have lots of awesome review shows. </ad>

If you do know TGWTG and Demo Reel, read on.


Full stop here. I don't hate Demo Reel. That said, I don't like it either. And what I'm doing now is kind of an experiment. This post will consist of two parts. The first part is what I write now, having only watched the first episode some time ago. That doesn't mean that I'll disregard the second one, especially since Doug realized that things weren't working out (and made a rambly video about that fact). Kudos for that, by the way.

Part one: The Thing That was

First, I'll talk about what the hell I still remember about the first Demo Reel episode, aside from that feeling of general unpleasantness. But more on that one later.
The characters: There's three four characters. Actually, it's three cardboards and Carl, who is made of awesome. He didn't do much, and most of what he does is classified anyways.
The others are Donnie, the black dude and the squeaky chick. I'm sorry, but I literally can't remember the names of these two, and it took me some time to remember Donnie's. The fact that this happens says a lot already. These characters are not memorable, but I'll try to get my details together anyways.
  • Donnie's a douchebag. He thinks he's a great filmmaker, but he just sucks. My main problem with him is that he has no redeeming qualities. And no, that supposed charisma everyone keeps mentioning does not count. To those who compare him to the Nostalgia Critic: The NC wasn't a character. He was a persona. Except for what happened in the specials, his actions didn't have consequences. We didn't need to sympathize with him. Donnie, on the other hand, is supposed to be a full-fledged and fleshed out character. He needs a good side.
  • Black dude, aka writer, is, as the alternate nickname says, a frustrated writer/actor. The sheer fact that he's working for Donnie for more than one episode of this is baffling and hitting my suspension of disbelief with a sledgehammer. I'm sure that working in accounting and sending scripts to random directors would be more satisfying than working for that guy.
  • Squeaky chick is... oh god. Memory, don't fail me now. I remember that she was squeaky and mainly did some acting. I don't remember any behind the scenes scene with her. Or, more exactly, I don't remember her doing anything. At least black writer dude had his conflict with Donnie.
  • Carl is an awesome ex-Gestapo/Stasi dude who operates the camera. He hardly did anything, but I still felt like there was something to him.

The plot:
The Dark Knight Begins Rising... yeah. There isn't really much plot in that episode. I don't know, but for a pilot episode, there should have been more plot, maybe some backstory that's not just every cast member standing in front of the camera and talking about themselves. Most of the episode is really just them making their moive with tons of green screen.

The gags:
And most of that moive, in turn, consists of gags. And here's another major problem of that episode. Demo Reel tries to parody the movies, as well as bad parodies of them. Like the Seltzer and Friedberg (Seltzerberg) approach. The problem with that is that, instead of making fun of Seltzerberg, Demo Reel ends up falling into the same traps.One of the scenes I remember is the clothing change gag, where Bruce changes into various costumes, including a Mario one. Which he takes twice. And oh my god, this scene is so drawn-out it's not even unfunny any more. It's just tedious. I don't remember much else, but that scene is representative of what doesn't work about the approach Demo Reel takes here. You can't pull that many gags out of just one movie, or even a movie series. There's only so much you can say about this Batman trilogy. And most of the gags were just meh.

Part two: The Thing That is

So I just watched the second episode. And hey, I now know that black writer guy is Tacoma and squeaky chick is Quinn. And I took notes. Note that this episode has been remade after they noticed that the first one wasn't really what they expected.

The main difference is that it's way less focused on the movie. It's barely about Wreck-It-Ralph at all. And that's good, since the movie scenes are still not really funny. Instead, we get more backstory, mostly in the form of Quinn and Tacoma trying to talk to their relatives, who turn out to not like them very much. I have to say, the actors aren't that bad, and we finally got some chemistry. But the thing that, in my opinion, lifted this episode up was the presence of Carl. The only scenes that caused me to actually laugh had Carl in them.

The rest of the humor is still... eh. Theoretically amusing. I can see what's supposed to be funny, and I appreciate the effort, but it still doesn't work out like that. And the ending scene where Donnie gives his in movie ending speech with somewhat ironic cuts to what's happening is not funny either. It's just a practice that hasn't aged all too well.

The Bottom Line

Demo Reel got better, but that doesn't mean it's good now. I feel like shifting the focus to Carl is merely a temporary solution. The acting was better than the script that was acted out and the parody is still not funny. I'm not looking at the third episode now, since I feel like the biggest change was between the first and second one.

The Below the Bottom Line

The thing that made me write this post was a discussion I had with a friend lately. We were mostly talking about what Demo Reel did wrong and, actually, some of the things I already mentioned came up. The other thing we thought about was how Demo Reel could be better.

Clearly, the main thing to fix is the parody segments. They aren't funny and fall into the same traps as the things they want to parody. The reason why is that, as we figured, the parody focuses on the wrong aspect. As I wrote above, you can't really get many good gags out of one movie (series). Our solution was to shift the whole thing to a genre parody, to turn Demo Reel into a bunch of people who want to cash in on general popular fads instead of specific movies. Now that The Hobbit came out, they could go and try to make a fantasy movie. It wouldn't need to draw its jokes from The Hobbit itself, but from the genre and its tropes. It would try to subvert them and utterly fail because Donnie was being stupid about it. Or he didn't get the genre. So many things to do there.

The second thing, which has already been improved in the second episode, was the behind the scenes part. The characters feel a bit more like characters, even if they have a long way to go. But hey, at the end of that way, Carl is waiting with a cup of coffee.

Right now, Demo Reel is in no shape to take the NC's place as the site's flagship show, but I really hope that this changes, or that there's another format that will do so.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dark and Edgy

Okay, this is going to be difficult. First of all, the reason I'm ranting about this is that I'm on Twitter. I follow comic fans on Twitter. I see these comic fans talk about how various companies turn their beloved heroes into grim and gritty versions of themselves. And that makes me want to punch a wall, presumably while stating that I am a man (which I'm not). Also, keep your rotten tomatoes ready, because I'm gonna talk about things as I see them and may spout some BS

Dark? Edgy? What?

First, what's dark and edgy? There's not a fine line between dark and edgy and... bright and round? Dunno, but it's more of a scale of idealism versus cynicism. And I get why not everything needs to be sugar and sunshine. A well-written anti-hero in a dystopian city can be fun to read too.
But on the other hand, dark and edgy is a dangerous tool of storytelling.

The Dangers of Dark and Edgy

There's a few many misconceptions and dangers with dark and edgy settings/versions of things. Most of the times, it's what good dark and edgy writing is or isn't.
Dark and edgy is...
  • ...always relative. When you darken and edgify (?) a setting, be aware of the initial brightness. I think that, for example, it's perfectly possible to write a dark and edgy My Little Pony story. The thing is that, since it's f-ing My Little Pony, it will still be lighter than, for example, dark and edgy Power Rangers. Or really, pretty much any other dark and edgy thing. It's talking ponies, ffs!
  • ...not guaranteeing that it's cool. Yeah, we all love these people in black longcoats shooting each other in a city that doesn't seem to pay its electricity bills. But just because something's dark and edgy, it doesn't mean that it has that cool feeling. Badly-done dark and edgy settings are often just drab and unpleasant. They make you cringe and throw the medium of choice onto the ground in disgust. Sure, there's a market for that, too. On the other hand, cool things can also be light-hearted and funny.
  • ...not necessarily realistic. To hell with you, generic first person shooters! Reality is not brown. Or gray. It's green, blue, sometimes beige or maybe hot pink. Sure, brown and gray do exist, but damn, don't overdo it with the gray. And like that, while dark and edgy exist in our world, there's also idealism. Not everything sucks. So, if you're writing dark and edgy, you might end up being worse than the world as it is. That's okay, if it benefits the story. Just... please, be aware of it.
  • ...not about gore. Urgh. Also, no Al Gore joke here, sorry. I just hate it how, very often, darker and edgier settings are also bloodier. No. No no no. You can be dark and edgy without throwing blood like it's going out of style. (Which I hope it does.) Blood is like f-bombs. You're not looking more mature or more edgy just because your characters' vocabulary consists of (m)f, a, s, c and similar things. The same goes for dismembering characters. Just because Tarantino could make it look cool, that doesn't mean you can.
  • ...full of clichés. That's true for original settings as well as... well, non-original ones. There's tons of pits you can fall into when writing dark and edgy. For an original setting, there's enough stock characters to fill a city with. For dark and edgy versions of existing settings, people either follow common stereotypes for the characters and environment (how often have we seen mushroom-abusing Mario now?!), or, in an attempt to defy that path, derail the setting until it's barely recognizable any more. Do I even have to say why that's bad?
  • ...difficult. Hell yes. Writing an independent dark and edgy setting is hard enough. Too less and it's not convincing, too much and it's ridiculous. But darkening and edgifying (!) an existent setting is hard. Even when sticking to the aforementioned things, you can end up messing it up because you started from the wrong end.

The Obligatory Paragraph Where I tell you that I don't hate Dark and Edgy

Because that's always there. And no, I don't hate good dark and edgy. If well done, it's an interesting take on existing settings. As for original ones, Cyberpunk is mostly dystopian, and I like it. Fun fact, even Cyberpunk has undergone a certain darkening and edgifying (!!!) process. I read William Gibson's Neuromancer trilogy (it's awesome), and it wasn't nearly as dark and edgy as I would have expected. Sure, it was, but damn, that shows that even things that are already dark and edgy can become even darker and edgier.

Last but not Least

What do I want to say with this? Simple: Don't think that dark and edgy is generally more awesome/mature because it's dark and edgy. You still need to write things well, and there are things that just don't work when they're darkened and edgified (:D) beyond a certain point. And I'm sure we all have someone to death glare at right now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Architecture and art. Art and architecture. First of all, I don't have anything against either. When I was in high school, I wanted to become an architect, and even if I don't get some of it, I can appreciate art.

But that doesn't mean that these two go together especially well!

Why I'm writing this

I think I need to go into details here. The reason I'm ranting about this now is that, a few days ago, I saw an article in our local newspaper. It was about an architecture prize for either the whole country or just our state, I don't know any more.
The point is that it had a category for public buildings, which I was curious about since the newest additions to our university's campus are the second reason for this rant. While the architects for these things were nominated, they didn't win.

First thought: Phew, there's some common sense left in this world.
Second thought: Why the hell were they nominated in the first place?

Art vs Architecture

While they go together, that doesn't mean they should. Thing is that art and buildings are... kind of different. And if this were You Don't Know Jack, I'd be playing DisOrDat with you now.

For one, there's the main purpose for both. Art is there to be, in one way or the other, experienced. That could mean looking at it, smelling it, licking it... I don't know, art is weird. Buildings, on the other hand, are mainly there to be used. People live in them, work in them, visit them... they should be, in some way, practical.

I'm not saying that these two don't go together, but, and that's a big but, you have to have your priorities set straight. I'm perfectly okay with buildings that are also art. What I don't ever want to see is art that is also a building.

Case study: These accursed university buildings

I'm not going to use names, but those who are familiar with this unholy trinity of design are going to know anyways.

These buildings aren't practical. I feel like the architect(s) in question didn't think about the fact that, yes, there are going to be people who are going to work in these buildings. Each has their own oh so specific flaws, which I will list in the order they pop up in my head now:
  • Colors: I know, white walls are boring. Gray walls are boring too. You know what isn't boring? Green. Green like this! A list of things that are green in this building: The walls. The doors. The floor, even though they had mercy on us and put some gray fibers in there. The toilets. Yes, you read that right. The whole toilet room (except for the bowls, most likely because they couldn't find any that weren't white) is in this damn green tone.
    The good thing is that people complained and the architect(s) listened. The second building got white walls. Too bad that the rest was still yellow! And yes, there was more complaining.
    So the third building got its main color changed from orange to a really unhealthy shade of brown. And beige for the most part. Congratulations, it only took you three buildings to start using a decent color scheme! Oh, and guess which one of these three colors was used for the toilets...
  • Layout: You know you're doing it wrong when you look at an M. C. Escher painting and think "I want to build that." For reference:
    Hey, it's perfectly reasonable design!
    This point actually managed to get worse over the course of three buildings. The first one, which I will call the green house from now on, has a reasonable layout. It's got four floors wherever you look, the stairs, while aligned in this fancy non-rectangular way that screams "look at me, I'm art," are actually gathered in one part of the building, and they had the foresight to put some tables in there for students who are waiting for their lectures. Or typing rants. The second one, yellow house, starts out with having the ground floor split in two, with one entrance on each side. The stairs kind of look like the architect(s) forgot about them and just put them in wherever there was space left and we get some glorious things like three elevators, not all of whom reach all the floors. When I last tried to describe my way to get to a specific part of a specific floor to someone, that person lost me after the first time I had to use an elevator because there were no stairs. I think that the most reasonable part of this building is the emergency exits.
    As for part three, (I'm so tempted to just call it shit house), I haven't looked into this one that much, but I'm sure there's some madness in it too. But mostly there's holes in the floor where space for additional tables could have been.
  • Impractical artsy things: The layout at large is bad enough, but there are so many things that would have been better if they had gone for practical use instead of being artsy. Like the aforementioned holes in the floor. Because yeah, whenever there's space that's not needed for closets or fuse boxes or the occasional bridge, there's holes. And, for additional artsiness, there's neon tubes hanging from the ceiling on wires. So yeah, if you have vertigo, these are not your buildings. Oh, and yellow as well as brown house have elevators encased in glass, which leads to a nice "aah, hole in the floor" effect. Would it be that bad to just simulate railings with sandblasted glass? And again, if you have vertigo, these are not your buildings. Not to mention that these holes are huge wastes of space.
    Talking about huge wastes of space: Someone really loved slanted things. If a wall doesn't need to contain a door, chances are it's not straight. And again, I get that straight things are boring. But walls that have, like a 30° angle, are just dumb. They cut down the usable space of a room and most of the time, you can't even place shelves at them. And let's not even talk about the random slanted pillars in some of the rooms. I mean, I'm no engineer, but I don't think they're carrying anything. Again, giant waste of space.
    And then there's stuff that just raises my eyebrows, like the freight elevator in the yellow house. You know, a big potentially people-squishing platform. It the danger zone marked with a tiny yellow house yellow line on the ground. Well, it must be legit because they got through with it, but still, what? I mean, I'd be okay with it if it was in an area you don't really come to as an ordinary student, but it's directly on the way to the toilets and one of the elevators for that floor. You can't do stuff like that, it's kind of stupid!
tl;dr: These buildings suck, and if this design won a competition, I'd like to see the others. And to architects out there: I don't care if your art gets rejected by everyone, but that's not an excuse to put artsiness before practical use when you're designing a f'ing building!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mary Sues

I'm going to admit, this one isn't as uneducated as the others, but I do have my opinions on Mary Sues as characters, the term itself and its (ab)use.

Mary Sue, who are you?

I'm pretty sure someone else used that one before.

Mary Sue is, essentially, a term for a certain kind of badly written character. And while it is female (as it was named after a female parody character), I'll apply it to characters of all genders. Because, surprise surprise, male Sues do exist. They're also called Gary Stu, Marty Stu or whatever pun on Mary Sue you can find.

The Mary Sue is, shortly, too perfect. They can do anything. Everybody likes them, except for the bad guys, who want to tie them to a railroad track. But they won't succeed, because the Mary Sue is their opponent, and Mary Sue has to win. They're also good lucking and going to get their love interest of choice, after some painfully contrived misunderstandings and drama.

Okay, I may have exaggerated that, and not each of these elements always happens, but as said, they come in all varieties.

Sues and Gender

The term Mary Sue is female. This could lead to the conclusion that all Sues are female, which is just not true. Characters of all genders can be Sues.

That whole female thing also leads to people calling the term sexist. And people to use it in a way that's really sexist. So before I start rambling on about this, one thing: Just because a character is female, that doesn't make her a Sue.

Another point, where people actually have a point, is a certain double standard. Before I get to that, however, let me introduce to the number one killer argument:

So, there’s this girl. She’s tragically orphaned and richer than anyone on the planet. Every guy she meets falls in love with her, but in between torrid romances she rejects them all because she dedicated to what is Pure and Good. She has genius level intellect, Olympic-athelete level athletic ability and incredible good looks. She is consumed by terrible angst, but this only makes guys want her more. She has no superhuman abilities, yet she is more competent than her superhuman friends and defeats superhumans with ease. She has unshakably loyal friends and allies, despite the fact she treats them pretty badly.  They fear and respect her, and defer to her orders. Everyone is obsessed with her, even her enemies are attracted to her. She can plan ahead for anything and she’s generally right with any conclusion she makes. People who defy her are inevitably wrong.

This paragraph is then followed by a statement like "what a Sue, right," only to reveal that it's a description of genderflipped Batman. Okay, yes, this sounds like a pretty huge Sue. Now let's "re-genderflip" it and read it again.

So, there’s this guy. He’s tragically orphaned and richer than anyone on the planet. Every girl he meets falls in love with him, but in between torrid romances he rejects them all because he dedicated to what is Pure and Good. He has genius level intellect, Olympic-athelete level athletic ability and incredible good looks. He is consumed by terrible angst, but this only makes girls want him more. He has no superhuman abilities, yet he is more competent than his superhuman friends and defeats superhumans with ease. He has unshakably loyal friends and allies, despite the fact he treats them pretty badly.  They fear and respect him, and defer to his orders. Everyone is obsessed with him, even him enemies are attracted to him. He can plan ahead for anything and he’s generally right with any conclusion she makes. People who defy him are inevitably wrong.
It still sounds like a pretty huge Sue. You know, the thing that keeps characters like Batman or Sherlock Holmes from being blatant Sues is the fact that they have depth and are well-written. Sure, their characters include many things that are also classic Sue traits, but they use them better than your average Sue. You know, I'll go on a tangent here and explain why Batman works, based on this.

Why Batman works

Batman has gathered a fair amount of Sue traits. I admit that. But the above paragraph isn't really Batman. It's Batman, as seen by someone who either does not care about the inner workings of Batman, or someone who wants Batman to be zomfgawesome. Let's pick this apart, and please don't whack me with rolled-up comic books if I get something wrong.
He’s tragically orphaned and richer than anyone on the planet.
Ah, yeah, a tragic backstory. Sue trait number one.

How is this a Sue trait? Tragic backstories in Sues basically spit in the face of everyone who has been through similar events. The two main reactions Sues show to traumatic events are to either shrug it off or to shove it in everyone's face.
Why does it work here? Traumatic events like, in this case, the murder of Bruce's parents by a criminal, change people. They have to learn how to cope with these things. Bruce Wayne coped with it by being Batman. He did a lot to become Batman, and even now, that event is influencing him. The fact that he doesn't use guns is one of these influences.

Being rich can also be seen as a Sue trait, but I'll let it slip because it makes sense with the rest of his character, including all the nice toys.

How is this a Sue trait? As seen here, being rich is an enabler. A rich character already has the money and doesn't need to work for it, hence they have more free time on their hands for wacky antics.
Why does it work here? Okay, Batman's totally guilty of that. He inherited his money/company from his father. Still, in this case it's kind of a necessary trait, and makes the tons of gadgets more plausible. It's kind of neutral here.

He has genius level intellect, Olympic-athelete level athletic ability and incredible good looks.
Ah, yeah. A classic super genius.
How is this a Sue trait? Being a genius is often used as an excuse to have a teenager do what adults do, and shove them into a group they're too young for, just because they're smart. Not to mention that it's not enough to have your super brain, you also need to fill it. There's no super physics without knowing physics first.
Why does it work here? While technically also a Sue trait, I'll shove that one into the same category as the money: It justifies some other aspects, like how he could learn all that stuff and come up with his plans. Also, Batman's intellect is basically his superpower. If we can believe that a man can fly, we can believe that a man can be really smart.

Of course, Batman's super fit.
How is this a Sue trait? Similar to above average mental abilities, being harder better faster stronger than others is used to get the character in question where they really shouldn't be. And of course, Sues hardly train for their abilities. They just got them.

Why does it work here? It's not like he was born super strong. Batman worked for what he can do. Sure, it's a biiit much, but he has some sort of justification for being able to do all that stuff. Also, he has this goal of stopping crime and his parents' death probably gave him the determination to go through with it. Don't think he didn't do anything for it.

Okay, I think I've made my point. I'll stop here because every other trait I'd be picking apart would look like this:

Batman has a Sue trait.
How is this a Sue trait? Most Sues have this trait without really exploring the consequences.
Why does it work here? Batman explores the consequences and has it in a context that makes sense.

And that would be boring. In the hands of a competent writer, Batman's a deep and interesting character with his edges and flaws. If done wrong, however, he sparkles like a Twipire in sunlight.

The Mary Sue Litmus Test

If you google Mary Sue Litmus Test, you'll find a quiz with a whole bunch of checkboxes, asking you stuff about the character in question. You do the quiz, click the button and it tells you how much of a Sue the character is. Theoretically. However, the symptoms are not the illness. As I pointed out with Batman, Sue traits don't necessarily mean that a character is a Sue. I could probably go and tell you to which Sue traits all these questions allude. Most of these things are often carelessly applied to characters, without thinking them through. If you invest some time in thinking about the consequences of a character being like they are, you'll find out that these traits aren't inherently bad. So don't blindly trust the tests, and ask other people what they think of your characters... okay, don't blindly trust them either, but you get the point. Still, the litmus test is a good tool for outlining what has been accumulated in your character and how well thought out they are.

Personal Opinions on Sues

No, I'm not going to rant about how people dare to like Sues, or how people dare to criticize other people's power fantasies. If you want to write your personal power fantasy, remember that it's yours, and not everyone else's. While you might find it cool, special and interesting, other people might find it ugh, lame and boring. That's called opinion. If someone calls you out on your character being flat, and that someone actually gives constructive criticism, listen. Even if it's your personal fantasy, it can be written in a way that's interesting for other people.

The point

There was a point in there, right? Ah, yeah. The point is that Sue traits don't make the Sue, the writing does. Also, Sues are not automatically female. And, more important, female characters aren't automatically Sues. Same goes for characters who're somewhat outstanding. So, please think first before you call a character a Sue.

You may now throw the rotten tomatoes.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Idea Guys

My trains of thoughts are weird. They started at door frames and somehow ended up at Idea Guys and how I hate them.

Now, what's an idea guy?

While I picked up that term in the context of game development, it extends to all kinds of creative media. An Idea Guy (gender neutral) is someone who has that super special awesome idea... and then nothing. That idea is all they have, and then they expect it to turn into something whole.

But EF, you ask, didn't XYZ do the same thing with character ZYX? Nope, probably not. What XYZ had was a concept. Big difference there.

"So there's this guy, and he dresses up as a bat, and he fights crime!" That's an idea. Some things that sound pretty nifty to you, as the idea-haver. But how do you turn an idea into a concept? That's more or less simple: You give it some thought. You think things through, expand on it, expand on the implications...

"So there's this guy. He's stinking rich, but his parents were killed. So he becomes a vigilante. He mainly wants to scare criminals, so he dresses up as a creature of the night, a bat. He doesn't have super powers, but he has money to buy cool gadgets. And he fights crime!" That's a concept. See the details? The thoughts behind things, the motivation of that character?

The problem with Idea Guys

The Idea Guy wishes for their idea to be turned into something complete. In terms of game development, I've often seen people who look for a spriter, a scripter, someone who designs the levels and, in some cases, a writer. The stock question at these people: "Then what are you going to do?" Answer: "The story. I already posted it, duh." No. Just no. Some vague synopsis is not the story. It's more like the idea for a story.

Most often, these Idea Guys won't find the support they need and wonder why the heck not, since they have this brilliant idea. Now let me make that clear: Everybody has ideas. Place me in front of a conveyor belt and let me do the same thing for ten hours almost straight and I'll have tons of them. Or I'll mentally write cracky fanfic, but that's not the point.

The point is that ideas are worth nothing if you don't expand on them. Hell, if you have a concept, if you put thought in things, maybe throw out some kind of demonstration of your concept in action, you're much more likely to get your support.

If you ask for such a demonstration, you'll often get something like "but I can't do anything, that's why I'm asking for help in the first place." Uhm... I doubt that. Everybody can make rough sketches, even if they're stick figures. And if you say that you can't draw or compose anything visual at all, give us some textual stuff. A script, a screenplay, some description of how you imagine things to play out. Otherwise you'll just be someone who stepped up and shouted "I have an idea!" while proudly holding up a lightbulb.

Bottom line: If you really think you can't be anything else, at least try to be a Concept Guy.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

Everybody's talking about it, so I'll just jump the bandwagon and talk about it too. Fifty Shades of Grey: Twilight fanfic, mommy porn (what) and, apparently, bestseller.

First of all, I haven't read it, and my research is mostly looking it up on the internet (oh, and that one newspaper article I'll talk about in detail later on). So bear with me, correct me if I got something wrong and remember the name of this blog. Also:

This post may contain spoilers and traces of nuts.

Now that that's said, I don't like this book. Yes, you can not like something, even if you haven't read it. And here are my reasons, not necessarily complete:

The fanfic is strong in this one

Wait. Put down the foul tomatoes. I don't resent fanfic. Heck, I read fanfic myself, and even try to write some from time to time. It's just that, in a place where everyone can publish their writing, the quality is going to be all over the place. It ranges from "better than canon" to "what is this I don't even." Fifty Shades gets closer to the latter. I've seen part of the original work, called Master of the Universe back then. The male lead's Edward Sparklepire, the female one's everyone's favorite Bella. I'm not going to comment on how it sucks because it's Twilight fanfic, because it's not. It's one of these "in name only" fanfics that have abso-fricking-lutely nothing to do with the original material, except for the names. Kudos to James for recognizing that and making it an original work.

Fifty Shades of BDSM

Before you even think about picking up the foul tomatoes again: I don't have anything against BDSM. If you enjoy that stuff, have fun with it. Your kink is not my kink, you know?
What I dislike, however, is what I read about how it is handled in Fifty Shades. No matter what that article in the local newspaper said, I don't think it's handled all that well.
Christian Grey, formerly Edward Cullen, is into BDSM. First we are made to think that this is because he enjoys controlling everything. But then it turns out that it's because he has issues. What issues, I don't know, but from what I heard, it's some kind of parental/childhood trauma thing.
And this is where I'm getting annoyed. Because this is, from what I heard, one of these things that keep popping up about BDSM: People do it because they have issues. It's some dark twisted thing.
Wake up, ladies, gentlemen and starfish! BDSM has nothing to do with that. You don't need to have a childhood that would give Freud a boner to like it.
You know, there's three words that are important with BDSM: Safe, sane and consensual. What do you think that safewords are for?
As for Grey's and Ana(bella)'s BDSM thingie... again, I haven't read the book, so I just know about it from the internet. And from what I know, she basically goes into this, barely knowing what BDSM is (or relationships in general). Part of the thing is that she signs that contract, which says that she has to keep herself well-nourished and fit, and that she shouldn't make eye contact with him or touch him and... okay, this is getting silly. You could say yeah, maybe he likes that whole forced distance thing? Maybe she likes it? Nope, he just doesn't like being touched because of his aforementioned issues. Ana, however... I don't know, but I remember reading about how she doesn't like it that way. Uhm, that's not how it works. If she doesn't like it, she doesn't like it. And that not in a "I don't like how I can't have the forbidden fruit" way. Oh, and then there's the NDA. Yep. Apparently, he has her sign a non-disclosure agreement. You know, these things that Coca Cola workers and Blizzard beta testers sign.
Again, I'm saying that I'm not that educated about BDSM, but to me it seems like it's about trust. If you have your rear end spanked, you'd better trust your spanker enough to stop when it gets too rough. Safewords, remember? And just how much does Grey trust Ana if he lets her sign an NDA to keep his lifestyle secret?

Ana needs an adult!

Grey then says, "I am an adult." Dragonball Abridged references aside, yes. That's what it feels like. Ana is hopelessly naive. She managed to get through college without having sex, getting drunk, or even owning a laptop. Then comes that guy a few years her senior and she instantly fawns over him. Even though he dumped enough hints about how he liked controlling people (she notices that). Then he drops by the hardware store she works at and buys some obvious BDSM materials. And he innuendos her. Seriously, that's creepy.
To the girls out there: If a guy creeps you out, get the fuck away. Same goes for guys who are massive douchebags. Forget what romance novels tell you, you don't have magical personality change powers of love. If someone's a douchebag/creep, they'll stay that way, no matter how much you shower them with your precious looove. They'll try to suppress their douchebaggery/creepiness, but it'll always be there.
And that's the vibe I'm getting from this. Ana tries to, for the lack of a better word, cure him from his issues. That's not how it works.

Another thing: I'm perfectly aware of how awesome it is that porn marketed at women isn't hidden away like we do it with porn. Just stop giving this thing actual literary merit. It's still "soft porn for women." Don't try to turn it into the next [insert your favorite great literary work here].

Now you can throw your tomatoes. Come on, I know you want to.