Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Brie

If there's anything I've learned over the past three years, it's that Brie and I are kinda the same person. Rather than drown her feed in a pool of my mushy feels, I'll leave the birthday princess with this:

What Iris Wishes for Brie on This Spectacular of Birthdays
1. Love
2. Happiness
3. A new Justin Timberlake album
4. Men to STFU and GTFO over women's reproductive rights
5. A Drarry lemon acted out by Dan and Tom
6. For Larry to confirm their love via wedding pictures (with Louis in a Vera Wang dress)
7. A lifetime supply of Detroit-made car commercials featuring the operatic version of "Lose Yourself"
8. For the people at her office to realize that she has better things to do than work while on the clock
10. A reenactment of this by all the original participants:

Happy birthday, gorgeous! I hope your day is full of all the wonderful things, because you deserve nothing less.

Bonus goodie:


  1. 1 of 3
    From Master of the Universe to Fifty Shades of Grey; Book to Big Screen.
    An Essay in Dis-illusionment.

    I read Master of the Universe as a work in progress and LOVED it. Totally. It is still one of a large number of fan fiction stories that I would read again; falling in love with the story and characters each time. It still gives me all the feels.

    When Icy gave us warning that she was finishing it and then pulling to publish, I didn't mind. I saved the PDF. I was proud that a fandom author could make it work, wished her well and bought the books. I did not take sides when the factions in the fandom attacked or in turn, defended her; quoted arguments she'd had or rehashed 'things they'd heard on the grapevine' about her, good or bad. Nuh uh. I stayed neutral, appreciated the gift she'd given us and respected her decision to stand behind her words and publish them as EL James. Still do.

    Okay then, keep that all in mind. Stay with me here. Hear me out. Are you ready?

    I cried, fumed and raged when I left the movie theatre after seeing Fifty Shades of Grey.

    I felt betrayed.

    Let me explain why.

    The initial high of seeing the fic up there on the big screen soon plummeted. Jamie and Dakota? Actually, they were okay. I never expected to fall in love with them because while I can appreciate their beauty, and they're both good actors, my brain superimposed my own ideals. I couldn't feel any oomph between them, but I saw that as my clouded expectations, so didn't regard it too much - initially. I can't blame them for that. But there was no passion between them, no sizzle or sparks. Maybe it was the editing, right?

    The joy of seeing Escala, his apartment, the city, the graduation, Taylor(!) made it easy to forgive the OTT lip-biting and pencil chewing (we noticed it the first thirty times, donut push it, Dakota! Less is more dontchaknow?). We got the 'in-jokes', Twi references and knew that the script had been lifted faithfully from the fic/book. [more on this later]. Ms James stayed true to her vision, our vision and was seen canoodling with our -and her- fandom friends all over Facebook. See, she remembered us?

    Bullsh*t. I call bullsh*t. I'm judging each of you and myself here. Listen why.

    What you watched, you observed through the filter of the in-depth knowledge of a Masters student preparing a dissertation. 'We' knew the inferences, the nuances of the relationship, the backstory, the reason why Ana/Bella sucked up his moodiness, aggression and stalking. Think about the fic or book. Indulge me. Really think about how you felt when you read it.

  2. 2 of 3

    We understood what attracted her to Christian/Edward wasn't his money. If anything, his wealth was a barrier to their union. She saw a troubled and vulnerable (abused) soul, she made us want to reach out to him and see what no one else took the trouble to discover. He saw someone who sparked his interest with her empathy, compassion, gentleness, intellect and honesty; and therefore the reader was swept along on their all-consuming wave of love, feeling the confusion and terror from both of them.

    Their hearts and souls knew what they both needed despite the obvious disparity of their situations; financially, emotionally and sexually. They connected on a deeper level. It gave them both pause for thought, much soul-searching but that instinctive pull gave them both courage to try things that terrified them - to find a compromise they'd never have considered for anyone else; to understand each other and their relative perspectives. He gave her 'more' and in return she showed him unconditional love and gave him a reason to accept it; he found a desire to moderate his sexual preferences and find something that freed some of his many demons without needing the extremity of his lifestyle choice.

    I remember the heady days of the heart-stopping, heart-wrenching draw of the updates. Questioning whether or not they could find a way. Forums, groups, fandom friends all gasping and crying in unison, because Their Love was compelling, despite everything. It seeped off the page.

    Now, put aside your prior knowledge, place your hand over your heart and answer me this - did the movie capture that? Was that powerful, compulsive love really on the screen? Was it as intense a LOVE as the written story felt? Did you understand that she HAD to try because of her inexplicable need to be with him? Did you get that she had the ability to break him; that in truth, the power was hers?

    If you're saying "no, well, maybe not - but come on, that's a tough call. That would be too hard to do". In reality, we, as viewers, had to fill in the emotional wasteland.

    Be honest, did you see what was there or what you wanted to see? Did it give you the visuals but not the emotions?

    If you can see my point, and find yourself agreeing, even somewhat, then the unpalatable truth is what you watched was a young woman persuaded to do things and enter a relationship that wasn't something she would have chosen. And a manipulative, powerful man with the means to make it impossible to refuse. In real life that's called grooming and abuse.

    If the instant gut-wrenching love connection isn't powerful for both of them - and meaningfully conveyed to the audience - then this film is just about persuading her to have sex on his terms and reflecting his petulance when he didn't get his own way. His insistence and persistence take on a sinister edge. The sex scenes become gratuitous and the story is an excuse to flaunt and shock.

    Who cares, right? It's fiction, just a story. Why do I get to feel betrayed? What I chose to read was a story of redemption through love. That's what I thought I had bought into, what I had a ticket to see. What I saw was the story of abuse dressed as a chick-flick. I was appalled that I bought into it.

    I have spent YEARS defending the story in all its forms. Explaining it wasn't about the BDSM lifestyle, but rather love, HER love, helping him find joy in life and feeling worthy of it. His love; teaching her that kinkery-fuckery is fitting as an expression of passion in one of its many enjoyable forms, finding the 'more' in love-making. But that wasn't in the movie.

  3. 3 of 3
    Don't tell me it will develop in the next one, because in the written stories we see and understand from the get-go the deep visceral pull which explains their need to try; push boundaries for each other and find a way together. Nothing else explains her acceptance of the situation.

    The movie would have been more loyal to the story and readers had it conveyed the emotion rather than used the actual fic references and dialogue. Without expressing their deep connection, the nods to Twi and the fic become an ego boost for a fandom that wants to bask in the reflected glory of the success of one of its own.

    The author starts to look smug that she got away with ripping-off the original, a sneaky one-fingered salute and a confident "I can do whatever I like" move. In the light of watching the movie to the end, and admittedly over-analysing, it feels like a cynical move. Is it an homage or a sneering put down? Perspective is everything.

    The movie in this form isn't a true reflection of what the MoTU lovers fell for. The movie is a story of abuse. Pure and simple. If the movie is a true reflection of EL James' vision when she was writing MoTU, and publishing FSoG then I apologise; it was me who projected love where there was none to be found - Mea Culpa. If, as we're told, the movie is how she intended us to interpret her words when we read the story, then I am saddened and disappointed.

    The story I read had depth and was compelling in its conviction that love conquers all. Our heroine had hope until she realised she hadn't appreciated the magnitude of what she was facing. She left; shamed, broken and defeated.

    The story I watched unfold on the screen was of a shallow egotist chasing a woman who said no but meant yes, then said yes, because she was impressed by him. Until she wasn't. Wait, what?

    Remove your fandom-enhanced bias and see the movie through clear eyes because it proved all the haters right. It seems we really can be seduced by sparkly settings, a helicopter, handsome face and an ice cube. As long as he's handsome and rich, right?

    No! Wrong. Very wrong! And THAT is why I feel betrayed. If you thought MoTU (FSoG) was about love, apparently you were wrong. It was about smut, sex and titilation; moreover we accepted an abuser as a hero and cheered him on as he groomed a virgin. Anything else was our collective naïvety.

    The joke is on us.


    A/N I went to the movie with a mixed group of seven women. Some read the fanfic, others the book and one had read neither. We had a riotous girls' brunch, cocktails and were amongst an audience of all women. We were excited to be there together.

    In post-movie discussions a couple were initially just thrilled to have experienced a fic come to life. Two of us were growling with rage at the unjust portrayal of a favorite character. None could see what the hype was about and one thought it was jumpy, didn't really understand most of it, except the sex, which she found cold and calculated. After we shared our thoughts over dinner there wasn't one of us who actually would have accepted Christian's proposal, with or without the contract. There was a unanimous consensus that he should have been arrested for assault, not even considering the gross invasion of privacy and her home. The more we analysed it (with our clinical backgrounds!) the more we felt we had been misrepresented as fans.

    I'm a 38yo married mother of three. A medical professional. I'm choosing not to include my real name or fandom name but my initials for both are the same.