Now, my friend Katherine did a great post about the trend of Fifty Shades of Grey and why it sucks from both a literary and a cultural point of view. I didn't plan on touching the subject again.
And then this happened. And I got enraged. But I stayed quiet.
And then Twitter called me out on the fact that I was quietly enraged and asked that I be enraged publicly.
And this is me being enraged publicly.
While Ellen Hopkins' is more enraged at the fact that everything is spiraling out of control after the phenomenon of Fifty Shades, I have less of an issue with the idea of erotica and porn and such. Porn can be sexy, when done right; there's plenty of well-written erotica novels out there.
My problem comes not with what it is, but who it is.
Why spend your time changing the classics and making them... well... worse?
It's not the first time that this has happened.
But it's frustrating.
Not because it's porn, but because they're putting it out as literature that will be fun to read and make sense and - you know, it doesn't make sense.
My problem with this is not what it does to the texts. Jane Eyre has a great modern adaptation called Jane; there have been sequels written to Pride and Prejudice that aren't terrible; there's plenty of time-travel versions where characters go back in time and watch the events play out and whatever.
But in this case, it's not a matter of taking the characters and changing where they are or having them interact with other characters or new situations.
It's taking a character and having them do something that they wouldn't actually do.
Let's look at Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite classic texts of all time and Jane is one of my favorite characters. She's strong-willed, managing to keep her spirit despite multiple events to take it. She tries to keep the relationship between her and Rochester as chaste and professional as they possibly can, even after they get engaged - and once she discovers that he's been previously married, she refuses to let her love of him win out to the point of fleeing his house and nearly die.
Jane is also hyper-religious and doesn't believe in having any sort of physical relationship until marriage.
And in the new version, well...
‘Jane, be still a few moments: you are over-excited: I will be still too.’ Mr. Rochester sat quiet, looking at me gently and seriously. Some time passed before he spoke; he at last said — ‘Come to my side, Jane, and let us explain and understand one another.’
‘Jane, be still a few moments, you are over-excited. I will be still too.’ My master captured my wrists and secured them behind my back, imprisoning me and preventing my movements… He exerted the force of his will as effortlessly as he schooled my person, relentlessly and with an inexorable force, he commanded me against his body… No matter how I controlled my mind, my very flesh was weak.
Not only do they have Jane having sex all over the book, but they have Rochester raping her (or taking her and not having her refuse) -- something that is also highly out of character for Rochester. Rochester was interested in winning her and having Jane come to him, not just taking Jane. It's why he spends so much time making her jealous, making her want to come to him, and not the other way around.
If the sex took place after marriage, that would make sense within both Jane and Rochester's character, and it might have even been a liberating experience for Jane. But the way they do it just takes away from Jane as a character and changes the entire novel.
What happens to strong Jane, who stands her moral and religious grounds and refuse to be sucked into the vortex of Rochester's passion?
She's destroyed and replaced with somebody who has no control over herself - and if there's one thing Jane has, it's control.
The same thing applies to the other characters in the other texts. Is Elizabeth's hatred of Darcy throughout the novel replaced by hate sex? Why does the strong platonic relationship between Holmes and Watson, whose sexual undertones has been the fuel of many a fire for years, have to be replaced by outright sexytimes?
Why does the fun of sexual tension have to be replaced with sex?
Why do characters have to be destroyed for nothing more than poorly written porn?