The Internet, its relative anonymity, and apparent promise of impunity, is always a breeding ground for more-aggressive-than-normal behavior, and the #AskELJames session on Twitter was no exception to the rule. She may have landed herself a movie deal, but despite the relative commercial success of the 50 Shades of Grey franchise, E.L. James learned the hard way on Twitter that critics are often louder (and more conspicuous) than fans.
In what may have been the worst PR mistake of 2015, E.L. James decided to participate in a Twitter question-and-answer session, which ended in tweets filled with more shade than James’ entire trilogy. With many accusations regarding her oft-perceived glorification of abusive relationships and misrepresentation of BDSM culture, the gloves came flying off on Twitter in a setup that was 50 shades of yikes.
The books, if you haven’t had a chance to indulge, are Twilight fan fiction gone sexually astray (even more so than they are already by merit of being, well, Twilight fan fiction). The relationship between protagonists Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey is, at best, kinky, and at worst, abusive (much like Bella and Edward of Twilight). Participants in the Twitter barrage were quick to point out this uncomfortable truth, not sparing anyone’s feelings when it came to asking questions like the following:
Then, there was the running commentary on just how awful the tweets were (at James’ expense, of course), with tweeters expressing facetious concern about the state of James’ feelings following what could only be dubbed a Twitter evisceration.
With respect to the writer’s new book, Grey, a narrative from the character, Christian Grey’s perspective, The New York Times doesn’t just give the novel a scathing review; they throw shade at her, too, and it’s impossible to ignore.
Especially since James has gotten quite the diva reputation as of late, after many big names, including director Sam Taylor-Johnson, opted out of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie sequel because of big-time creative differences. According to the rumors, James is quite the control freak when it comes to her books.
But The New York Times clearly doesn’t think she has anything to brag about.
“Condolences to the 1.1 million people who rushed out to buy E L James’ Grey in the first four days after its United States publication,” the first line of the article begins. “All you got was a rehash of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ the first grand-slam effort by the same author (word used advisedly) to turn soft-core bondage porn into an e-book bonanza.”
And the review only got worse (or better) from there.
The powerhouse newspaper went way further than trashing the novel. It’s a review that’s so hilariously scathing, it might be the most hated book ever published. The Times despises the book so much that the review even uses the words “author” and “book” advisedly.
“Ms. James, a former writer of fan fiction who is nothing if not shrewd, has managed to outshine the many authors who write similar, better or crazier material than her own,” though the newspaper has seemingly no answer for her success.
“Her own fans write better stories about Christian Grey than she does,” the reviewer unflinchingly adds, and seems to take special offense to Christian’s inner conversations with his penis.
Yup, you read that right. Christian Grey’s penis has a voice in the book.
“Ms. James’ own imagination is limited, and she has already taken it about as far as it’ll go.”
Click to read the full New York Times review of E.L. James new book, Grey.