Why I Won’t Be Buying “50 Shades of Grey”

Let me preface this by saying that I do not and will not discourage others from buying/reading/enjoying this book. If you want to buy the book, go right ahead. However, I also won’t discourage others from finding the PDF and reading it for free as TwiFiction. This is mainly a way for me to air my feelings and opinions about a controversial topic going on in the TwiFic fandom right now.

As I’m sure you are all well aware, Master of the Universe was my favorite work of fan fiction at the time of the Twilight DeCal. It has been in my top favorite stories since I’ve read it, and have encouraged you all (on more than one occasion) to read and enjoy it. Shortly after the beginning of our class, Icy, the writer of MotU was given a deal to turn her FF into a book that is now titled 50 Shades of Grey. Since then,  50 SoG has gone onto to massive commercial success and popularity, but also much backlash from the fandom.

Here is the situation as I understand it: the fandom is angry, because 50 Shades is a cash-grab, meant to take advantage of its built-in TwiFic fandom audience, and that Icy is generally not a nice person in how she treats/views the fandom and her part in it. Many people in the TwiFic fandom against Icy, now accuse the story of being poorly written and undeservedly published. Many of these people have been accused of being jealous and spiteful of her success and are being anti for the sake of being anti. Let it be known however, that not even Icy thinks the work is a masterpiece, and for the most part 50 Shades and MotU are practically the same book though she has denied any links between the two and the fandom in general (yet later admitted them).

Personally, I loved MotU when I read it. I thought it was interesting and well-written (especially compared to a lot of other Twilight Fan Fiction stories), and I still stand by that. I enjoyed it for the same reasons I enjoyed Twilight; it was an entertaining story. I don’t care that it won’t win any prizes for literature, so I don’t really care if others think that it’s poorly written — a lot of books are poorly written, and yet they get published and find popularity in spite of that (most books are published on whether or not their marketable or will sell, not on whether or not they’re forms of literary perfection) — but there will always be people who say a book is poorly written once it gets popular (that’s kinda the backlash/anti default argument). What I do care about, is the fact that I like it better as Twilight fan fiction and I identify the characters as/with Edward and Bella. Meaning that I don’t want to pay money for a book that I already have that simply has a few words and character names changed. There’s no point in doing that, I’d rather spend my money on something else. It’s the same reason why I wouldn’t buy Gabriel’s Inferno (The University of Edward Masen) or Sempre Forever (Emancipation Proclamation) and the publication of both of those books are supported by the fandom, just as MotU was in the beginning.

However, the reasons for me not to buy these books are not only monetary, and I’m going to be honest with you: it’s not the fact that Icy got published that bothers me, it’s the way she acted after she got published that bothers me. It has nothing to with her interaction with individual people in the fandom or anything she’s said (all of which suggest she isn’t a very nice person — check linked articles), but more to do with what I felt when she pulled the majority of MotU II before it was even finished. I understand the need to want to publish something that you’ve worked hard on, however, for me it sort of felt like a cash-grab. MotU II was only up for maybe a month after it was completed before it too was yanked for publication.

To me this kinda screams disrespect to the readers because not everyone had gotten to the end yet. Not only that, but she worked really hard in the beginning to separate herself from the fandom, trying to erase any and all association with it. And if you consider the fact that many in the TwiFic community had a hand in helping her write it through Betaing, reviewing, essentially being a focus group, and promotion I think they deserved a little bit of respect in this regard. The success of this book was not organic, and didn’t come out of her great skills as a writer or a compelling story, it came from the fandom. Without the TwiFic fandom base this book would not be a bestseller, or possibly even published at all and the success should be attributed to them. It’s sort of like she’s saying “I know you helped me get this far, but fuck you! If you want to finish reading it you’ll have to pay for it!” Which kinda seems like a slap in the face to me because her actions suggest an exploitation of the fandom.

For the record, I don’t hate 50 Shades or Icy. I don’t feel jealous or spiteful about the book’s success, good for her. I just don’t like the blatant disregard and lack of respect for the people she stepped on to get there. MotU will, I think, always be one of my favorite works of fan fiction regardless of the controversy surrounding it, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read it again. I don’t think I would be able to enjoy it as I once did, and more likely than not I’ll probably skip the movie adaptation as well. Besides, this is just one story and there are many other great stories to read that are just as good as this one.

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