The story around how the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon shot forth from the loins of Twilight is really the stuff fan-girl dreams and literary critic nightmares.
After becoming completely besotted with the Twilight novels, a four-book series in which a clumsy teenage girl falls in love with a brooding vampire sporting a bad attitude who sparkles in the sunlight, author E.L. James (not her real name) decided to let her imagination run wild and give the story a kinkier edge.
If you haven’t yet watched the latest Fifty Shades movie and have no plans to, here’s a step-by-step recap of every heinous moment.
So she started posting her own stories about a clumsy young woman who falls in love with a brooding millionaire, who doesn’t sparkle in the sunlight but still has a pretty bad attitude,on Fanfiction.net. An online forum which provides a place for rabid fans to post stories they have concocted themselves based on the settings and characters found in popular franchises.
Despite the fact that this site was littered with (often disturbing) fan fiction rips of Twilight, there was something readers clung to when it came to the BDSM filled story of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.
The online serial, originally titled Masters of the Universe was eventually picked up by a mainstream publisher, for an obscene amount of money, and renamed as Fifty Shades of Grey. Both the book trilogy and the accompanying film franchise have been hugely financially successful.
As has the Twilight saga, and while even in it’s heyday it was never dubbed a critical success, it’s also somehow been able to escape the disdain, venom and abject hate this is always lumped upon the Fifty Shades franchise.
LISTEN: We debrief on the biggest, funniest, and most cringeworthy talking points from the second Fifty Shades of Grey film.
Which I think in many ways is an unfair way for the cards to have been dealt, because while I agree that neither series should have it’s name up in lights, the Fifty Shades franchise is ultimately less damaging and, yes I hate myself for saying this… more empowering for women.
At this stage of the story I’m sure you’re ripping your hair out in a very non-sexy red room of pain kind of way and rolling your eyes up to the heavens, asking why we are still giving these two less than stellar franchises any kind of air-time?
The answer is that as much as audiences continue to loudly proclaim they hate them… they still continue to consume them. Enough to keep them both at the top of Best Seller lists and box office takings, cementing their place forever in the pop-culture lexicon. So, you brought this all upon yourselves, people. Now may God have mercy on your souls and let’s talk this out.
In Twilight and Fifty Shades, leading ladies Bella and Anastasia are both emotionally abused and manipulated by their grump-faced paramores Edward and Christian. All under the totally forgivable and not at all disturbing guise of true love, of course.
Throughout their courtships, both Bella and Anastasia are forbidden from going to specific places and seeing certain people under the rules of Grumpy and Grumpier, and both are initially a little resistant to the idea of being locked up in a gilded love cage (in Anastasia’s case, I’m talking literally locked up) but in the end, both heroines give in.