50 Shades of Interviewing

Warnings: The Fifty Shades series is extremely sexually explicit and involves BDSM. Because of that, and because they are not exactly well-researched or high-quality literature, I will mention things such as abuse, rape, rape culture, male dominance, sexism, relationship violence, and consensual BDSM. Also, the books began as Twilight fanfic, so I will be mentioning Twilight (which is a major squick for a lot of people just by itself).

Every Monday, when I sit down to write about Fifty Shades, I think, There can’t possibly be anything else for me to say about this horrible book.  And then I reread the section I’m going to post about and realize that there is, indeed, plenty more to say.

In today’s episode, The One Where Ana Goes on an Interview, we get a fantastic combination of boring and silly.  This is followed up by a conversation that makes me like Kate less and another series of bizarre email exchanges.  Is anyone else sick of reading Ana and Christian’s online correspondence?

Ana is meeting with the good folks at Seattle Independent Publishing.  She describes the people who work there as “bohemian.”  Naturally, the people at the big, mean corporate publishing house are all dull people in suits; the independent publishers are artsy and casual-cool.  Is this supposed to make us root for them to hire Ana?  I also find it strange that she seems to think she will fit in there.  I need someone to explain this to me, because I see no evidence that Ana is the “bohemian” sort.  Nothing we’ve seen of her personality thus far would suggest that she’s the “artsy” type.  Or any other type, actually–she has virtually no personality apart from her interactions with Christian.

I don’t know which Twilight characters are supposed to be represented by the interviewers, if any.  Honestly, though, my first thought on reading Ana’s description of the editor, Jack Hyde, is that she’s being interviewed by Bill Weasley.  Long red hair in a ponytail? Check.  Earrings? Check (though hoops, not a fang).  Blue eyes? Check.  Attractive? Check.  Gah.  Dammit, E. L. James, you have now ruined a second book for me.  It doesn’t help that Ana feels sort of uncomfortable with him.  I think we’re supposed to assume he finds her attractive.  Naturally, since all men are obviously going to fall head-over-heels for Ana within 30 seconds of meeting her.  She’s just that hot.  It makes me feel super-duper icky thinking about anyone shipping Bill Weasley and Bella Swan Ana Steele (you know someone has done this).

When Ana meets the head of human resources, she can’t tell how old the woman is.  Do you know why?  Because the woman

. . . could be in her late thirties, maybe in her forties.  It’s so difficult to tell with older women.

Ana, screw you.  You seem to be calling me an “older woman” here.  I get it that you’re all young and hip and stuff, but please do not refer to women my age as “older women.”  I was actually looking forward to turning 40 in a couple more years, but now that I’m apparently already “older,” I guess I can just give up.  My life is clearly nearing its end.

Ana’s big criticism of Bill Weasley Jack Hyde is that he doesn’t seem interested in classic literature.  Well, who wouldn’t criticize that?  I mean, nothing of value has been written after 1950!  And it’s so shocking that a publisher would want new material.  I guess this is supposed to heighten our distrust of Ana’s future employer.  He finds her hot, he hates the classics.  Ooh…creepy.

Anyway, I guess we’re supposed to think this interview went well.  Ana returns to her apartment to have another “interview”–with Kate.  Ana remembers that she needs to have a serious talk with Kate about not winding Christian up because he’s the jealous type.  The conversation makes me want to punch Kate.  First she tells Ana that she was trying to “help”:

. . . He’s a real control freak.  I don’t know how you stand it.  I was trying to make him jealous–give him a little help with his commitment issues.

Um, what?  So, the best way to help someone who is a control freak is to make him jealous so that he becomes more controlling?  So, Kate wasn’t trying to get Ana to see what an abusive jerk Christian is–she was trying to make him “commit” to Ana.  As expected, Ana doesn’t tell Kate all about the Red Room of Pain.  Instead, she confesses that she’s fallen for Christian.  Kate, in a strange moment of not seeing Christian for the ass he is, tells Ana that she’s sure he’s fallen for her, too.  She says that if they haven’t professed their undying love told each other how they feel, they’d better get to it.

. . . Someone has to make the first move, otherwise you’ll never get anywhere.

Kate, you have lost all my respect.

After the job interview and Kate the Great’s grilling session, we have to suffer through another round of “Ana and Christian exchange emails no one wants to read.”  These are always awful.  I guess the only positive is that we don’t have to read about Christian wearing his pants “in that way” or Ana’s Inner Fucking Goddess.  Instead, we get to read Ana referring to their morning desk sex as “impeccable.”

Now, I recognize the fact that I’m particular about word choice.  When I proofread, I’m not shy about saying that despite its dictionary definition, some words just should not be used the way the writer has used it.  E. L. James’ use of “impeccable” here is one of those times.  Didn’t her beta readers or her editor catch this one?  Yes, the word can mean “flawless” or “above reproach.”  In the sense of how it’s defined, no problem.  But I just don’t think it fits here.  Ana sounds like she’s trying to use big, impressive words.  If that had been the goal, I could be cool with that.  The problem is that it’s not–we’re supposed to see this as evidence of Ana’s skill with words.  Oh, look!  The college English major can use 4-syllable words!

Then we get this impossible to decipher response from Christian:

I shall take impeccable as a compliment–though I’m never sure if that’s what you mean, or if your sense of irony is getting the better of you–as usual.

I have no clue what he’s talking about.  Irony–you keep using that word; I don’t think it means what you think it means.  There is nothing in the emails that even remotely hints at irony.  Is he saying he can’t tell if she’s being sincere?  Or that saying they had perfect sex isn’t a compliment because she would rather have had lousy sex?  I’m not sure.  Either way, this exchange, which I suppose is meant to be witty banter, just comes across as nonsense.

Finally, we finish with Ana discovering that Christian has upgraded her to first class.  You know, I understand he’s a control freak, but I’m kind of thinking Ana should be a lot more upset about the incident in the boat house than about the fact that he bumped her to have a more pleasant flight.  If it weren’t for the fact that we’re going to have to read about Ana’s trip to Georgia (after all, it’s her point of view), I would celebrate this chapter ending with her getting on a plane.  I’m tempted to hope the plane crashes on a remote island populated by polar bears, button-pushing Scotsmen, and Michael Emerson.  Betcha that would cure some of Ana’s problems.

On second thought, even I’m not heartless enough to wish Ana on anyone.

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