Wednesday, February 4, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 3 part 2

Hey I need a new band name so help me out if you can. Or if I should accidentally string any words together on accident that work as a band name in the midst of this post I'll try to notice them. One of my pals suggested picking a band name based on some of my post tags, which led her to "Gazpacho Fingerblast" which is totally available on bandcamp if you want it. I mean I like it, obvs. But I don't love it. I mean, I love it but I'm not in love with it, if you get me. You get me, right? Cool.

SO last week we were pretty much just talking about how the book objectifies Ana, and now we're going to talk about that some more. Hurray! I mean that's basically a theme throughout but sometimes it's way worse than others and it's worth taking some extra time to address now and then.

First, we  had the whole thing with all the hickies that appeared on Ana after they did sex and she was angry about it and rightfully so. Her reasoning was largely just to complain that this was a pretty high school type of move for CG to pull and she was totally right but also? It's pretty gross how CG demands to quite literally control Ana's appearance as proof that he possesses her.

He was pretty explicit about it: "Well, you won't take your top off again." I am going to mark you as mine. You are a thing and I own you. 

And then his other thing was getting just way too excited about Ana shaving her pubes. That whole section was pretty gross, just because even when Ana takes a little bit of initiative and tries to make a decision about her sex life, CG has to barge in and take charge again. It doesn't even really bother me that she did it for him, with nothing to gain herself other than the pleasure she she hoped to take from pleasing CG. That's a perfectly legitimate reason to do a thing.

What bothers me, I guess, is that CG pretty much operates like a shitty boss. He's like the boss who takes credit for every idea anybody around him comes up with. At the end of the scene he might as well say, "Wow! Sure was smart of me to insist you shave your lady situation!" (Editor's note: Lady Situation is like, 4/10 as a band name.) 

And he just bullies his way in and pretty much mansplains Ana's vulva to her. Right? "Hey I'm much more familiar with this sort of thing than you are, silly girl, so let me take over." Ugh.

Hey do you remember how this book tried to convince us that Ana only started shaving her pits after she met CG? That Ana was like, an adult woman in America who hadn't decided not to shave her pits for her own, personal reasons, but like, wasn't aware that this was a thing that adult women in America tended to do? That was funny, huh? Good times.

And now, I guess we're primed to continue! Neat I guess.

Our story thus far:

Ana Steele is married to billionaire / kink-enthusiast / child-abuse survivor Christian Grey. He is domineering and they are usually upset with each other except for when they're having sex. 

  1. Ana takes her top off on a beach while reminiscing about the wedding and Christian gets mad.
  2. They ride a jet-ski back to their honeymoon yacht and riding jet-skis cheers up Christian a bit. Then they have sex. 
  3. Ana discovers that Christian gave her a bunch of hickies and she is angry. 

Anyway. After they make up and everything, there's Ana's flashback about her pubes and I'm struggling to figure out what to put as like, the one-sentence description of each chapter because everything is just a pointless flashback while our heroes dick around on their fancy boat. Whatever.

Flashback complete, Ana is all "Hmm . . . payback time" and hey I gotta be honest? This part where she shaves CG's balls because hey it's only fair? It's actually pretty compelling! First time in the whole series where you feel like she actually kinda gets the better of CG because hey! She's got a razor! And his balls! So yeah, nicely done EL. Gotta hand it to you.

J/K! No, she shaves his face and it's even better! She was totally pulling a long con! She slices his throat and steals his boat and goes on a crime spree with Taylor and this book is the greatest!

Ugh. J/K again. Tho she does actually shave CG's face and I'm not impressed because what's the big deal? Hardly a fair exchange. I'd let practically anybody shave my face. There are even people out there who'll do it for money. Sickos, obviously. But still. It's a real thing! I think they're called like, professional face-shavers or something. Doesn't matter. I just really don't think it's at all equivalent to CG bullying Ana into letting him lather up her low, low belly.

Ana only started operating a razor herself like, a month ago or whenever it was that they met so sure, she's a novice when it comes to shaving, but the danger level here is very low. Or, at least, I assume it is because I assume that CG is using a cartridge razor, and it's legit pretty hard to cut yourself, or anybody, with a cartridge razor. EL never offers the details I'm curious about so I have no reason to assume that CG has anything but the most widely-used razor Also it only takes her like, one second. So there's just not any reason for the reader to think any sort of thing about the fact that Ana shaves CG's face. Please. Forget that this episode even happened. I already have.

Oh and also there's no indication that she's rinsing the razor so I like imagining that big globs of shaving cream are falling off and landing on CG's fancy clothes or whatever cause I hate him and his fancy clothes.

That chore finished, CG suggests that they drive up some hill to look at art and maybe buy some for their new house. Ana takes this no-stakes suggestion and tries to change it from molehill to mountain:

Holy crap. I lean back and gaze at him. Art . . . he wants to buy art. How can I buy art?
“What?” he asks. “I know nothing about art, Christian.” He shrugs and smiles at me indulgently. “We’ll only buy what we like. This isn’t about investment.”
Investment? Jeez.
“What?” he says again.
Please take note of this: CG is being chill and Ana is being weird. Weird, right? But accurate. It's a reasonable suggestion, and Ana is a doofus. This is pretty gross, tho, right? She doesn't even trust her ability to like, enjoy art? What a bummer.

I shake my head. “Look, I know we only got the architect’s drawings the other day—but
there’s no harm in looking, and the town is an ancient, medieval place.” 
Oh, the architect. He had to remind me of her . . . Gia Matteo, a friend of Elliot’s who worked on Christian’s place in Aspen. During our meetings, she’d been
all over Christian like a rash. 
“What now?” Christian exclaims. I shake my head. “Tell me,” he urges. 
How can I tell him that I don’t like Gia? My dislike is irrational. I don’t want
to come across as the jealous wife. 
Ughhhhhhh. Why is this even happening? Why is this offscreen character being introduced into the works at all? Ick. I don't know which part I find more distasteful: Ana's constant jealousy, or the conceit that somehow, every heterosexual woman that CG encounters ever is ready to take the onramp for the highway to the danger zone. And like, what? CG doesn't notice because absolutely everybody wants to fuck him and it's like that thing where if you live next to the harbor eventually your brain just blocks out the smell of dead fish? Is that what we're supposed to think here? FTB. I know that EL puts in these little moments of jealousy as a way of reminding me that CG is desirable, but it doesn't work. Every time another lady gets the hots for him, it pulls me out of the story. I just don't believe it.

Anyway they go up to their art hill or whatever. Here's some fun writing:

We pass a tree-covered square where three old men, one wearing a traditional beret in spite of the heat, are playing boules. It’s quite crowded with tourists, but I feel comfortable tucked under Christian’s arm. 
Oh hell. C'mon EL. Why not throw in a mutterflushing mime, too? Or some other, even more cliché images of "France"?

Also, what, Ana's default is to feel uncomfortable around tourists? Is that what she's saying there? Good thing CG is there to protect her from tourists! Whatever.

They see some nekkid photos and then some paintings of vegetables and CG drops 5k euro per painting on some number of vegetable paintings. Also the painter? She's basically like, "Hey why are we even bothering with this whole art market thing? Why don't you have sex with me instead?" That part I quoted is not in the book verbatim but it's pretty much implied. But c'mon. They buy literally the first paintings that they see. Cool story.

Oh here's a gross part:

“You asked me why I braid your hair,” he murmurs. His tone alarms me. He looks . . . guilty.
“Yes.” Oh, shit.
“The crack whore used to let me play with her hair, I think. I don’t know if it’s a memory or a dream.”
Whoa! His birth mom.
He gazes at me, his expression unreadable. My heart leaps into my mouth. What do I say when he says things like this?
“I like you playing with my hair.” My voice is hesitant. He regards me with uncertainty. “Do you?” 
“Yes.” It’s the truth. I grasp his hand. “I think you loved your birth mother,
Christian.” His eyes widen and he stares at me impassively, saying nothing.

Okayyyyyy. SO right after this CG freaks out and is like, ugh why do you bring up this shit? When, in fact, it was he who brought it up so it's not really something he can blame Ana for.

Hey let me just address this next bit to the fellas. The rest of you? You can read on and like, confirm that I'm right.

Ok fellas: if there's a thing that you like to do in the bedroom, and it's related to some shit you did with your mom when you were a toddler? Keep that to yourself. Here's a better answer for CG:

"You asked me why I braid your hair." He tucks a strand behind my ear with a long, deft finger, then grasps a lock and plays with it, feeling the ends against his fingertip. "Truth is, I just like it. It's beautiful." He shrugs. "I'm a bit jealous of it, to be honest. Probably why I invested in those hair salons. Probably why I like the way your sweaters feel. And all your other clothes."

What I'm saying is this: this confession here, that I just made up? That's better. "I like wearing women's clothes" is way, way, way easier to deal with then, "Oh yeah I used to play with my mom's hair. NBD. Jocasta had lovely hair. Yeah and I just like playing with hair. In a sexual way, because I associate my mom with sex. That's normal, right?"

Oh also I'm still really uncomfortable with the way CG refers to his mom as "the crack whore" because that's just the worst. I've brought it up before. I don't feel like going into it again because it's awful. All of this is awful of course but that's just like, a unique flavor of awful that I find particularly distasteful.

“You know I don’t like talking about all that shit. It’s done. Finished,” he
says quietly. 
No, Christian, it isn’t. The thought saddens me, and for the first time I wonder if it will ever be finished. He’ll always be Fifty Shades . . . my Fifty Shades. Do I want him to change? No, not really—only insofar as I want him to feel loved.  

Ugghhghghgh. For the first time, Ana, you wonder if CG will ever develop a healthier attitude about his mother? First time? Really? And you don't want him to change? Really? Really? Cool! But I mean, I gave up imagining this guy changing kind of a long time ago so I guess I'm not bothered. This is nothing new. It's the saaaaaaaaame over and over. And that's why I'm saying the same jokes over and over because the same bullshit just keeps happening over and over.

Peeking up at him, I take a moment to admire his captivating beauty . . . and he’s mine. And it’s not just the allure of his fine, fine face and his body that has me spellbound. It’s what’s behind the perfection that draws me, that calls to me . . . his fragile, damaged soul. 
Wait so what is it that draws you, again? Could you take a sec and let us know, at some point? Two books in and I'm not getting it. I mean I guess the money is nice. Cool that he's rich. That's kind of attractive probably. But otherwise I'm not sure.

Anyway they have spent like, two minutes looking at art so it's time to go. CG looks at Ana's wrists, bruised from wearing handcuffs earlier in the book, and buys her an expensive bracelet so nobody sees her wrists and thinks he's a shitty husband. Seems healthy!

EL does this super fun / cute thing where she keeps getting the French bodyguard twins confused. Hehe! It's funny because they look alike! Since they're twins! And they're French or whatever so they're certainly dressed the same. How could anybody tell them apart?

These guys totally agree with me!
I'm  hustling through this because I'm sick of it.

I'm sick of the fact that all I write these days are these jokes about this dumpster fire of a book. Why don't I write my own book? I don't know why. I mean, I feel like, in some sense, I've proven that I have some sense of the things that a book needs in order to like, be a book. Yet I haven't like, done it. I can spend all day (Editor's note: or in fact, nearly two years. Two. Years.) complaining about EL James but hey! She did it! She wrote a book! Three books kinda! Even though they're really just one long book that needs an editor. But she wrote a book. What the hell did I do?

Anyway soon they're driving back to their honeymoon yacht and it looks like they're going to get bizzy in the backseat but they don't because tone of those mime twins is in the front and you know what they say about having sex too close to a mime. Also CG looks at Ana's ankles just like he looked at her wrists a few paragraphs back and he feels some sort of way about the marks on her ankles from the handcuffs. I mean ankle cuffs. I mean shackles. There! I solved it. He feels some sort of way that isn't happy about seeing marks on her ankles from the shackles so maybe they won't have any more shackle sex. W/e.

Oh hey it turns out I've been spelling hickeys wrong. According to spellcheck, it's with an 'ey' and not 'ies.' So that's cool, right? I learned something! I learned a thing about spelling and language and everything thanks to my buddy EL James! Thanks EL James! Yr great.

Anyway CG soon gets a call from his buddy Barney in Seattle and we piece together that there was a fire in CG's server room and also that he suspects it was arson, since he's asking who had access to the room lately or whatever.

Here's a fun part:

“Has he? Good . . . Okay. I want a detailed damage report. And a complete rundown of everyone who had access over the last five days, including the clean- ing staff... Get hold of Andrea and get her to call me... Yeah, sounds like the argon is just as effective, worth its weight in gold.”
Damage report? Argon? It rings a distant bell from chemistry class—an element, I think. 
Okayyyyyy. Ana is doing that thing where she understands less than the reader. Damage report? Yeah that would be about the fire that the grownups are discussing right now, Ana. Try to keep up!

But hey here's my fav: "Sounds like the argon is just as effective, worth its weight in gold." Okayyyyy. So it doesn't take an expert to figure this out in context: CG has some type of argon-based fire suppression system in his server farm, which makes perfect sense. Water isn't the most desirable way to put out an electrical fire, plus you'd assume water would ruin the equipment untouched by the fire. Argon is non-reactive and would smother the flames. Now, it must be heavier than air in order to be effective--if it were lighter than air, it would float away and wouldn't work.

So CG is saying that a gas is worth its weight in gold, and what I'm saying is that sure maybe but it doesn't weigh very mutterflushing much now, does it? Since it's a gas, and all? Groan. I spent kind of a long time trying to compare the price of argon and gold and honestly, maybe the dude is right since it probably takes like a shit-ton of argon to make up as much as a single ounce of the stuff so yeah. Maybe that was reasonable but stupid sounding. You'll agree with me that it's a stupid sounding thing to say, I hope.

Anyway, CG gets off the phone and has to re-explain everything to Ana because she is not as smart as we are, even though she's literally right there where everything is happening. Weak.

CG says that the fire was in the server room at "Grey House" and this part? This I find legit confusing because why? CG's actual home is a condo, so he wouldn't call it Grey House, would he? The only place that might be called Grey House would be, what, his parents' house? That doesn't make any sense. But more important: why would his servers be anywhere other than A) at his corporate headquarters or B) at some other piece of real estate owned by his business or C) some different place entirely because he's renting server space at a server farm somewhere? Why would it ever be at a house?

Well, it wouldn't, is the thing. It wouldn't ever be at somebody's house because that's crazy.

Oh and why would anyone try to burn up his servers? Why wouldn't they try to shut them down with a like, denial-of-service attack? It's a weird target for arson for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that CG doesn't seem to be a tech billionaire despite the fact that that would be the most believable backstory for him, as a young guy in Seattle. Whatever.

Since we learned at the end of Book 2 that Jack Hyde, sexual predator / former editor was behind the sabotage of CG's helicopter, we are supposed to assume now that Jack was behind this, too. But why? Why on earth is this the revenge method that Jack chooses? Nothing about this makes any sense but hey. At least the plot turned on, I guess! Can't get any worse now that the plot turned on, right? I mean I'm not saying that it's likely to get better. But I do maintain that it would be hard for this thing to get worse so whatever. Yay!

OH SHIT I just thought of a thing:

EL made the villain in this mess an editor of fiction. Think about that, right? Think about how poorly edited these books are. How static they are. How lacking they are every way. And then think about how the big baddy is an editor of fiction. I'm sure that's just coincidence tho! Or not!

Or not. Definitely, definitely not. 

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