Tara Tuesdays! Where I reveal my list of the worst Christmas songs EVER.

Hello Readers! Guess what? It is now offically five whole days after Thanksgiving, and you know what that means!

CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE Christmas. I love getting to see my family, I love all of the delicious goodies, I love the decorations, and I definitely love the music. I have not one, but TWO playlists dedicated just to Christmas Music on my Ipod. I recognize though that for many of you, Christmas music can be the worst part of the Holiday. I know the argument, it gets over played, there haven’t been any new songs since 1958, yeah yeah yeah, blah blah blah. Stop complaining, we listen to “White Christmas” once a year, how much is it really making you suffer?

Now that I think of it though, are there Christmas songs that are genuinely hard to listen to? Are there holiday songs out there that make you want to curl up in a ball and die? Well, you are about to find out because I have made a list for you of my personal worst Christmas songs ever. Enjoy! Or cringe, I should say.

7.Christmas Tree-Lady Gaga and Space Cowboy

There comes a point in every Pop Star’s career where they feel obligated to come out with a Christmas song. For Mariah Carey it was “All I want for Christmas is you”, for Britney Spears it was, “My Only Wish(This Year)” and for Lady Gaga it is “Christmas Tree”. Finally! Just what we were waiting for, a song that uses clumsy innuendos to make you think of Lady Gaga engaging in girl-on-top sexual intercourse.

Yes. The world saw this and asked, “how can we combine this with Christmas? And sex.”

Honestly I’m just…baffled by this song. I had to listen to it three times before I could register any feelings besides loathing. Let’s delve into some of the deep, symbolic lyrics:

“My Christmas tree is delicious.” What does that even mean? What part of her body is supposed to represent the Christmas Tree? I’m afraid to consider any of the possibilities.

“Under the mistletoe. Yes everybody knows, we will take off our clothes. Yes, if you want us to we will.” No!! We definitely don’t want you to.

I discovered this song on the “Now That’s What I Call Christmas! 4” Album. They were really scraping the bottom of the barrel with this one. The whole thing is an onslaught of terrible, terrible music. Among the other songs included is a version of “Happy Xmas(War is Over)” performed by the always reliably awful Maroon Five, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid, and a cover of “Little Drummer Boy” by Sean Kingston that is almost worse than the Justin Beiber version.

“Christmas Tree” really takes the cake though. It is so repulsive that I feel dirty after listening to it. Not even because Lady Gaga isn’t the sexiest popstar around, but just because it is awful. Megan Fox could be singing this and it would still be about as sexy as your grandma doing it.

Everybody knows we take it all off under the mistletoe!

My favorite part is how Lady Gaga and Space Cowboy repeat their names over and over again at the end of this song. They want you to know definitively that no, you haven’t gone insane, all that pot you’ve been smoking hasn’t started to make you hallucinate. No, Lady Gaga really did sing something that is this mind bogglingly worse than her normal music.

And that’s an accomplishment.

6.Christmas must be something more-Taylor Swift

Sigh. Ok, I don’t hate Taylor Swift. I was an angsty teenage girl who listened to country music when she first hit it big, so that’s scientifically impossible. What I do hate is all this phony “War on Christmas” nonsense that always pops up around this time of year. You know, the time of year when YOU CAN NOT ESCAPE CHRISTMAS, AND IT IS EVERY WHERE YOU GO.

Every time you say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” an angel loses its wings.

And I’m not saying this as an Atheist, I am an active Christian who goes to church on a regular basis. I’m just saying that this seems to be a complaint about a problem that doesn’t exist. Like when people complain that society is taking the Christ out of Christmas when they say “XMAS”, and reveal themselves to be total morons.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XMAS

So already I am not destined to love this song. Let’s look at some of the lyrics though, to see what deep thoughts Miss Swift has to impart about the true meaning of Christmas:

“Would you still wanna kiss without Mistletoe? What would happen if God never let it snow?”

Well if there was no mistletoe Lady Gaga might stop threatening to take off all of her clothes. That’s a win.

“So here’s to the birthday boy who saved our lives. It’s something we all try to ignore, and put a wreath up on your door.”

Pictured above: Society ignoring Jesus

Also, I don’t like how she calls him the birthday boy. When I think, “Birthday Boy” I think of this:

Or this:

Not exactly how I picture Jesus. And hey Taylor, you’re the one who says we’re ignoring him, you could call him by his name in the song. Especially since Jesus wasn’t even actually born at Christmas.

http://www.ucg.org/bible-faq/when-was-jesus-christ-born-was-jesus-born-december-25-christmas-day

Besides, we already know what happens when all the fun secular stuff gets taken out of Christmas. A green goblin brings back all the stuff he stole as long as you sing about how you don’t need any of it! Yay anti-consumerism!

5.What do you get a wookie for Christmas? (When he already owns a comb)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Star Wars Christmas Special is the greatest disaster to ever happen within the Star Wars universe.

Ok, second greatest.

I’ve never seen the show, but thankfully this great song lives on. The ridiculously long-named, “What Do You Get A Wookie For Christmas?(When He Already Owns A Comb).” That is an excellent question. How about a gun to shoot himself with so he doesn’t have to listen to this anymore.

“What can you get a Wookie for Christmas when he already owns a comb.What can you get in a hurry for a furry kind of friend to take home?”

Actually that’s a valid question. What can you get a furry? Um…sanity?

Ugh, this song is hard to get through. It is not even so bad that it’s good. It’s just boring. It’s like they took a Christmas present discussion between two parents wondering what to get their kid, and just put in the word “Wookie” to make it Star Wars related. Next.

4.A Very Very Merry Christmas-Shelly Duval

Ok, lets ignore how Shelly Duvall feels the need to introduce herself at the beginning of this, like we all don’t recognize her high pitched squeal 2 seconds into the song.

Lets ignore the baffling and annoying tempo that is impossible to keep up with.

Lets ignore how the production of this song sounds like some 8th grader put it together on his laptop.

No, this is what I want to talk about: I think that this song is secretly a deleted scene from The Shining. To me, there is a very clear, slow descent into madness for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. He starts out at just a Jack Nicholson level of crazy, but gradually digresses into ape-shit insane by the end of the film.

Play an insane character named Jack? That’s going to be a stretch.

I think this song is from a deleted  scene in that movie where Shelly Duvall’s character Wendy realizes that her husband is going insane, and desperately tries to salvage the situation by having a really upbeat Christmas. She puts up red and green streamers in their little apartment, she makes Danny wear a Christmas sweater, then she has father and son sit down together to watch her perform this little song that she came up with. She sings it frantically, with a desperate pace, while Jack Torrence looks on with growing rage, as madness slowly blots out all reason.

To be fair though, any man would go insane with you as a wife, Shelley Duvall.

3.The Christmas Shoes-NewSong

You shouldn’t be surprised to see this song here. It might be one of the most famous “worst Christmas songs ever.” This song is played persistently and frequently every year on Country music stations, even though I have never met anyone who admits to liking it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t moving, on the contrary, you have to be a soul-less monster to not be moved by this song. It’s like those commercials on TV where they play the sad, Sarah Mclachlan music over photos of pitiful looking abused animals. You feel too guilty to look away from the TV. Which is why I hate this damn song, it guilt’s you into suffering through it.  We all know “Christmas Shoes”, but I never hear anyone humming it fondly, I never hear it requested at Christmas parties. Carolers don’t sing it at your door.

We hope you enjoyed that, also we ran over your dog on the way into the neighborhood. Merry Christmas.

I take other issues with this song though beyond just the basic message of, “Your family is dying, happy holidays”. First of all, why is this little boy out shopping alone? Does this poor family not even have any friends who are willing to drive this kid to the nearest foot locker? And what kind of Dad sends his young, ragged, depressed son out alone to shop on Christmas eve?

Pick me up a bottle of Jack too.

They actually made a long depressing movie about this where the mom is played by Brad Paisley’s wife, otherwise known as that girl from Father of the Bride. This is what happened to Annie Banks after she got married, she got sick and died at Christmas.

In the movie adaption of Christmas Shoes the sales clerk is also the biggest asshole in the universe. When the kid doesn’t have enough money to buy the shoes the guy says, “It’s not enough, did I stutter?”

You’re mom’s dying? Well I’ve been working at a terrible paper company for 15 years. What else ya got?

Admittedly in the movie the sales clerk doesn’t know the kid’s mom is dying, but still, who would ever be that mean to a kid who can’t afford to buy a Christmas present? Was the sales clerk Hitler?! The general neglect and cruelness the child endures leads me to believe that “Christmas Shoes” must take place in an alternate world where the only two decent human beings are the narrator and this little boy. Oh well, at least he got those shoes. But who knows how long he was out alone wandering the streets on this Christmas eve, judging by the tone of this song his mom will be dead by the time he gets home.

She’s gone son…those shoes will look nice in the coffin though.

Thanks Country music, for reminding us that even the happiest holidays are full of unendurable sorrow. I mean, what could you possibly do to top this song?

2.Daddy’s drinking up our Christmas

This. This right here is why country music is mocked relentlessly. I try so hard to defend country music. I remind people that it’s the genre that brought us Patsy Cline’s soulful croon, and Johnny Cash’s bad-assness.

Tell this man that Country Music is stupid. Go right ahead.

 And then things like “Daddy’s drinking up our Christmas” come along and ruin everything. If there is one thing you can say about “Christmas shoes”, it is that at least it pulls at your heart strings. It might be terrible, but it does make me feel something. This song doesn’t make me feel anything except my gag reflex flaring up. At first I can actually kind of get behind it. “No tree, or Christmas, or presents, just bottles of Christmas cheer.”

Sounds about how my Christmas unfolds.

 Then of course it goes on to explain that there will be no presents for mom or the kids. Or Rent Money. Or phone service. Or Daddy, apparently. He gets arrested at the end of the song and the family has to scramble to bail him out on Christmas morning. This song is so ridiculously sad and over the top that I can’t even sympathize with it. I almost picked “Please daddy, don’t get drunk this Christmas” for this slot because they are basically the same song, but I take issue with “Please daddy, don’t get drunk this Christmas” because it has a kind of happy, upbeat tune. Like this is all just normal, Christmas stuff. WTF?!  Is this just expected behavior? Why are the dads in Country Christmas songs so damn awful!?

1.Oh Come All Ye Faithful-Bob Dylan

God, I don’t even know where to begin. If you have no idea what Bob Dylan sounds like (that is, if you live in a basement and don’t interact with pop culture), it’s a little bit like someone gave a microphone to a male version of Joan Rivers. To be honest, I could really have chosen any of the songs off of “Christmas In The Heart”, hell, I could have made the whole list out of songs from this album. “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” sticks out though because of the latin at the beginning. Latin Christmas songs are best when sung by choirs, opera soloists, or Bing Crosby.

Bing Crosby is so Christmas-y he could sing “California Girls” by Katy Perry and we would still think of Santa Claus.

Bob Dylan stumbles through the words like a 9th grader trying to read through a text book passage in his Latin class. The beginning of this song sounds like the karaoke that happens at 2am after a drunken Christmas party. No, you know what Bob Dylan singing Christmas music sounds like? It sounds like someone gave a microphone to your great uncle Alfred who  just had throat surgery because he smoked for 40 years.

Happy Holidays!

 You spend the first half of the song just hoping desperately that there will be a musical interlude of flutes or harps or something, just so you can escape from Bob Dylan’s growling. Finally, a choir of women begin to sing, but even they are awful. They sound deeply depressed during the whole chorus, but then again I would be too if I had to be a part of this joy-less, 15 song monstrosity of an album. Also though, they aren’t even in tune. It sounds like Bob Dylan went and recruited a middle school treble choir group for this song. And that must be the case, because I can only imagine that any sane, adult musical artists laughed in his face when they heard the words, “Christmas album” and “Bob Dylan” in the same sentence.

And that’s it for today folks! I’ll never listen to Christmas music the same way again…

UPDATE: 15 minutes after finishing this post I found out that Ru Paul came out with a Christmas song entitled, “Ho Ho Ho”, and that Snoop Dogg has an album creatively titled, “Christmas on Death Row” So obviously there will have to be a part two. It will have to wait though, because honestly if I listened to any more of this terriblness tonight I would have to kill myself.

-Tara

Tara Tuesdays! Where I go see Breaking Dawn Part 2, and Kristen Stewart almost achieves acting

I hope you guys appreciate the things I do for this blog.

I find that since I started it, I’ve become much braver about doing things that have the potential to make me look like an idiot. I look at the world around me and say, “Hey, this is what other women in the world are doing right now! I’m a woman; I should check it out, regardless of the consequences!” So I try these things, and then, because I am awkward at doing life, I always have hilarious mishaps. I mean, I’m not a cartoon character, but a lot of my life feels like slapstick. I might take a little creative license when telling you stories, but I swear that at least 90% of the things that I describe have been true.

And you are lucky, because in my family we believe that self-deprecation is the BEST kind of humor. Why else would I share photos like these with you:

Every time I make my mother take one of these photos for the blog she reminds me that this is why I don’t have a boyfriend.

I also like to address pop culture phenomenon that I feel affect young women, such as myself. So, since I just reviewed Fifty Shades of Grey for your entertainment purposes, I figured that there was another highly talked about and highly anticipated piece of pop culture for me to talk about

Hey, have you guys heard about that book series called Twilight?

Of course you have. You’re a person living on the planet. I feel like even this guy knows about how vampires are sparkly now.

I have seen the first Twilight movie, and found it very unremarkable. I haven’t bothered with the other films. On Thursday night however, one of my male coworkers posted on facebook that he had been dragged to go see the movie with his girlfriend. The next day I almost jokingly asked him, “Sooooo, how did you like it?” And then he said that he liked it! Even after one of our other coworkers called him a “Mas Puto!” (Which is spanish for…something unmasculine I guess) he said, “Yeah, it was good.” After hearing that my masculine coworker found this film passable, I decided to give the franchise another shot. I got off at 4:30pm and decided to swing by the theater before it got too  busy and see the film.

Yes. I went to the movies alone. Before we continue I have to make all of you come to terms with the idea that going to the movies by yourself is actually a great idea. It is not pathetic in any way. Let me give you three reasons,

1. Even at a crowded showing I can always get a seat. People try to leave a seat between them and strangers, so nobody invades personal space. Think about how weird it would be if you went into an empty theater and sat right next to the only other person in the place. Because of this, there are always single seats sprinkled throughout the theater. Of course this means that you get to get cozy with strangers, but since it’s a movie, where you are expected not to make noise, you are spared the burden of awkward small talk.

So…you come to slasher movies often? I do…a lot.

2. Meeting friends for movie showings is one of the things I hate the most in this world. I hate the experience more than I hate it when people abbreviate the word family to “The Fam”’ or post passive aggressive status updates on facebook. Someone is always late to the movie. I arrive 25 minutes early, so that there is time for buying tickets, snack retrieval, and chit chat. Like a sensible person. When you are meeting other people there is always one person who doesn’t show up until 35 seconds until the movie starts, and I spend the rest of the movie mad at them because we missed previews, and no matter what people say, everybody wants to see the previews that they could have looked up on youtube 3 weeks ago.

The appropriate response to missing the trailer for Kung Fu Panda 4.

3.Movie popcorn is one of my special treats. No, let me rephrase: the fake yellow liquid butter that is available to pour onto your popcorn with is one of my special treats. To an obscene amount. The movie going experience is not the same for me if I do not drown my popcorn with butter-flavored motor oil. I like to put so much in fact, that I am embarrassed about it when I go to the movies with other people. Going by myself spares me the shame of receiving disgruntled and concerned looks from friends.

This is a good idea too.

Anyways, I got into the theater without being late, I got a good seat because I was alone, and I had my own tub of liquid heart disease all to myself. Since this was opening day after 5pm, the place was packed, and when the lights went down for the previews everyone started cheering. People started screaming, “Team Jacob!” and “Team Edward” all over the theater.

Can’t it be both? I’ve never understood the need to choose.

I always hate it when people yell out things in the theater, because it makes me feel awkward. Like strangers yelling at me from across the street. It was at this point that I wondered if I should yell out some random character’s name, just to make everyone in the theater feel uncomfortable.  “Team Marcus!!!!”

Mmm yeah. Wish he would take off his shirt.

The previews were decent except for one that was supposed to be for the second movie in the Hunger Games Trilogy. I would rate my level of excitement for the Hunger Games to be more than Twilight, but less than Harry Potter. So I was sort of excited to see a preview. Then the “preview” turned out to be the stylized logo from the book cover, which exploded in fire to reveal a movie release date. Dear Hollywood, showing me a movie title does not constitute a preview.

Finally, the movie begins. We start by panning over majestic pacific northwestern scenery. I don’t know if I’m the only one who’s ever noticed this, but why do the Twilight movies spend so much time showing us postcard images from Washington State? We get it. Washington has breathtaking scenery, but it’s always cloudy. It’s beautiful, and yet dark. LIKE VAMPIRES.

Twilight, the greatest allegory of our time.

I didn’t see the previous film, but I gather that it starts right where the last one left off.

If you haven’t seen the Twilight movies or read the books, let me fill you in. Bella the human falls in love with Edward the vampire. But he is a good vampire, who makes the moral choice not to eat people. He lives forever and sparkles in the sun. For the first three books Edward acts like their inter-species romance is the most tragic and unsolvable problem that could ever happen. Then, in the 4th book, he finally remembers that he can turn Bella into a vampire, and then they wouldn’t even have to worry about it. But first he marries her, and gets her pregnant…because boy vampires can make human women pregnant. Not the other way around. Only in the way that benefits the plot.

Stephenie Meyer tries to explain the biology of this for like 15 pages in the book, but in the end you’ll still be confused.

Pregnant Bella is not a good thing though. Since the baby inside her is half human/half “creature that historically likes to kill and devour humans”, it proceeds to slowly kill her from inside. So I’m assuming that Breaking Dawn Part 1 was a horror movie. Then Bella has the worst delivery ever, where the baby basically kills her on the way out. It’s ok though, because right before she’s about to bite it, Edward turns her into a vampire like he should have done two books ago.

This is the moment that the new Breaking Dawn movie starts off from. Bella wakes up as a vampire. The first thirty minutes of the movie shows us Bella exploring all of her new powers. Like being really strong, and running really fast, and viciously attacking and eating a mountain lion. Seriously, there is a scene where Kristen Stewart attacks a mountain lion with the same look on her face that I assume serial killers have when they are approaching their victims.

And since Kristen Stewart is half the actor that Charlise Theron is, the scene is just awkward.

Anyways though, that’s only the first awkward scene to happen in this movie because the next part of the movie is where Bella finds out that apparently sex as a vampire is the most amazing thing in the whole world. Bella and Edward go to bed together for the first time as vampires, and we the audience are treated to slow motion, extreme close up (but avoiding actual nudity because the director had to keep it PG-13 so all the 16 year old fangirls could get in) sex. This might have been the best part of the movie for me because there’s a part where Edward goes, “This is the bedroom, the bed isn’t for sleeping…” and a sassy black woman sitting two seats down from me went, “Well DAY-UM!”

Oh hey, Bella had that kid in the last movie, what’s she up to?

Meet Renesmee. She’s really cute except for that in the movie her forehead looks two feet long in every scene.

Renesmee is awesome and everyone loves her. Supposedly she is half human, but she has almost all of the invulnerabilities of a vampire. Everyone hangs out as one big happy vampire family for a while, but then one of the Cullen’s friends come to visit, sees Renesmee, and thinks that she is an immortal child. A human child who is turned into a vampire. Apparently this is a big no no in the vampire universe. The “friend” then goes off and tells the Volturi,a sort of vampire mafia who kills any vampires that don’t fall in line and keep the secret, and the Volturi head towards Washington with a massive vampire army, intent on killing the Cullen family.

The Cullen’s amass a vampire army of their own, and eventually we finally reach the point in the movie where all of the boyfriends in the audience who got dragged there by their girlfriends have something interesting to watch.

The two vampire armies meet on a giant snowy plain. At this point I stopped taking the bad guys seriously, because they showed up to the epic vampire battle like this:

Seriously, you’re immortal vampires, you can pick outfits from any point in history, and you chose “foppishly gay British soldiers”?

Undoubtedly though Michael Sheen has to be the creepiest part of this movie. He plays the leader of the vampire mafia, a guy named Aro. He can read thoughts when he touches people, and he demands to talk to Renesmee. The look on his face as this child-vampire approaches him can only be compared to that of a pedophile looking on at a crowded playground.

Hey, come here and let me touch you. Your thoughts tell me you like popsicles. I got some popsicles in my van.

 At this point in the movie you find out that the problem isn’t really about Renesmee being an immortal child, it’s that the Volturi sees The Cullen family as a threat, because Edward can read thoughts, and Alice, another character, can see the future. Alice shows Aro the future, and then reveals to everyone that he doesn’t care what Renesmee is, he just wants to fight, and then the bloodshed begins!!!

Well, uh, actually not really. Apparently in this vampire universe the only way vampires can be killed is by being dismembered and then burned. What follows is a 30 minute onslaught of really pale people getting their heads popped off like grapes. I’m actually not exaggerating here. I GUESS the movie is violent because of this, but there is no blood. Heads just get twisted off with a popping sound, and then that’s it. It just doesn’t look right.

There are a lot of close ups of Dakota Fanning in this part of the movie looking scared and worried, because her side, the volturi, are getting their asses whooped.

You also get to see just what a terrible job the make up person did with her eyeliner.

Then she gets killed too…the most violently of any character. The scene where she dies is kinda gruesome. She doesn’t just get her head popped off like all the other vampires, she is dragged to a waiting werewolf, where she is ripped to shreds. It was just…unpleasant.

No never mind, she totally had it coming.

The fighting goes on until finally Aro is killed. Wait just kidding! Everything is fine. It turns out that the whole fight scene was just a vision that Alice was showing Aro. She was showing him the consequences, should he choose to fight. He of course backs out of the fight like a pussy, and the day is saved!

Who would have thought that a guy dressed like this WOULDN’T be up for an all out physical brawl!?

After the almost-battle, the Cullen family happily resumes their lives. The audience is treated to a montage of all the romantic Bella and Edward scenes from the previous movies, and Bella says to Edward, “Now you know, no one has ever loved anyone as much as I love you.”

Because the love you had for the guy in higschool you met when you were 17 is more pure than all of the other love stories for the rest of time.

THE END

So, I guess you’re waiting for the part where I say that I hated this movie just like I hated Fifty Shades of Grey. Where I talk about how it was awful, written terribly, and sets a terrible example for women. Well…

I sort of had a thing for the Twilight series in high school. I’m not going to say that I was the biggest fan, but I certainly enjoyed the books. The best way I can describe how I feel about the series now is that I just…grew out of it. When I got a little older the relationship presented in Twilight stopped being appealing to me. It stopped being something that was worth fantasizing about. I feel like everyone is familiar with the feminist criticism of Twilight, so I’m gonna try not to beat a dead horse. The basic point is, Edward is controlling, Bella is freakishly obsessed, it’s just a text book unhealthy relationship.

That being said, the movie Breaking Dawn Part 2 was not bad. I will say that you probably need at least a basic knowledge of Twilight to understand what’s going on, but that’s true with sequels of any series.

Ok, so the guy who plays Mufasa is the BAD guy in this movie?

The pacing is pretty good, and the changes that were made from the novel were very good decisions. In the novel the vampires do not have a big battle at the end, (because Stephenie Meyer doesn’t understand what a climax is) and a lot of people hated that. There was all this build up for nothing. I thought that the movie was very clever in solving that problem. You get to see an action-packed fight, but it still stays true to the book. I’m even going to say that this movie is better than the book, and I’m willing to bet that it’s also the best movie so far.

I think this is because by the second part of Breaking Dawn, Bella and Edward finally have a healthy relationship. This isn’t something that I find realistic, (controlling people don’t typically just change their personality) but I’m glad it happened. When Bella is a vampire she is Edward’s equal, instead of his human pet, who he has an obsessive need to control. They are parents and partners, making choices together. Bella acts like an adult in the second half of Breaking Dawn.

So the movie is watchable. The romance is more believable now that they act like two equals, and there is enough action and special effects to keep you entertained. If someone is dragging you to go see it, don’t despair, at the very least you get to see this girl ripped apart!

And who isn’t looking forward to that!

That’s all for today. I hope to post witty things about the holidays soon, so stay tuned. Also, Happy Thanksgiving!

-Tara

Fifty Shades of Grey Review: Part Two, where the characters “gasp” entirely too often.

Ah, we made it. Here we are, part two. I have a confession to make. It was hard to read this book. Not because I am illiterate, but because reading this book made me angry. About halfway through this book I stopped reading it from a funny, “We’re writing a blog review! Yay!” perspective, and started reading it from an, “indignant feminist” perspective.

I went to google and image searched the term “angry feminist”. This is the stock photo it gave me. I’m confused.

 I’m going to try my best to give my review from the first perspective, or else this is going to turn into a serious analysis essay for a College Women’s Studies Class. Seriously, I could probably write a book about all of the psychological issues in this novel. But now is not the time for that! Now is the time for giggling and funny pictures!

First of all, let me give you the general synopsis:

Anastasia Steele is an innocent young woman who is just graduating from college when she meets Christian Grey, a rich young business man who has, (as the back of the book says) “singular erotic tastes”.  The book unfolds as they try to balance Ana’s innocence and need for a meaningful relationship with Christian’s strange tastes and difficulty with intimacy. That’s my back of the book description. Here is my real, honest description:

Fifty Shades of Grey is what would happen if Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from Twilight tried a BDSM relationship. Ana spends most of the book blushing and gasping, while Christian stares broodingly at her. Occasionally there is sex.

You know what would make us more interesting? Whips and orgasms.

What’s that you say, Edward and Bella from Twilight are in this book? Surely not! Oh surely yes. While I was doing research on the book for this blog I discovered that Fifty Shades of Grey was originally begun as an online Twilight fan fiction. After it became popular the author moved it to her own website, and it snowballed from there until it became the scandalous sensation it is today. So yes, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele were originally Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. And believe me, it shows.

I will give E.L. James credit for this one thing, her characters are exactly like Edward and Bella. If you know anything about the world of fan fiction you know that sometimes the stories can go horribly awry,and the characters are nothing like the original ones from the original series that you know and love. Not the case with this book. If you took the vampire element out of Twilight and added kinkiness in its place, Fifty Shades of Grey is just what it would look like.

There is a Harry Potter fan fiction where all of the characters are gothic. And vampires. And fans of the band Good Charlotte for some reason. Everyone just take a moment to let that sink in.

I’m going to break this review into three main parts, Characters, Plot and Sex, and my final impression of the novel. Let’s begin shall we?

Characters:

Anastasia Steele: First of all, she likes to be called Ana. She tells this to Christian, but he’s a jerk, so he proceeds to call her Anastasia for the whole book. She is a self described, “pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face.” Oh yes Ana, I’m sure your eyes are HIDEOUS. Women with dark hair paired with big blue eyes are always described as so repulsive.

Jesus Christ, someone get these women some bags to put over their heads!

She is a lot like Bella Swan from Twilight. She thinks she is totally unattractive, but men are swooning over her. Ana is pursued by every male character in this book, but she has to make us female readers feel bad by saying things like, “ I hardly ever wear make up- it intimidates me.”

Lucky for me, I don’t have that problem.

She also never eats. Every time she is with Christian in this novel they sit down to eat at some point and she is never hungry. She is so mystified by his presence that she no longer needs to provide her body with fuel. I’m not joking, this happens in the novel at least five times.

Being too intimidated by men to eat is also NOT a condition that I suffer from.

She has no discernible personality traits, so she is very easy to remove from the narrative, and replace with yourself. That’s one of my theories as to why Twilight is so popular. Bella is so generic that it is very easy to fantasize yourself being in her circumstances.  “I am clumsy and ordinary, but someday someone extraordinary will love me passionately.” All girls have self esteem issues, we all think we are clumsy, we all worry that we aren’t attractive enough, so the idea that a (perfect) man would be interested in us is mind boggling and amazing. That is Ana Steele.

Christian Grey: He is a (well, he is supposed to be)  multi-faceted character, with many talents and problems, who Ana literally calls, “Fifty Shades of Fucked Up.”   (I guess the play on words is supposed to be clever, and it would be, if the author didn’t reuse the phrase 100 times.) Christian Grey is the owner of a highly successful, multi-million dollar company at the ripe old age of 27. Because that totally happens in real life.

All CEOs

He is good at everything, except being a decent human being. He’s a jerk, but we’ll get to that part later. About the being good at everything; any hobby, or skill, or activity that is mentioned in the book, he is always good at it:

“I’ve been a fully qualified pilot for four years Anastasia.”

“Christian is at the piano, completely lost in the melody he’s playing. His playing is stunning. Leaning against the wall at the entrance, I listen, enraptured. He’s such an accomplished musician.”

“What have you two been doing up here?” “Showing Anastasia my rowing trophies.”

I could continue to give you examples, but reading them honestly makes me start to throw up in my mouth a little bit. Long story short, he is an accomplished business man with an entire financial army at his disposal; he is generously endowed downstairs if you know what I mean,

In Ana’s wide eyed, gaspy words, “It’s so big and growing!”

He can speak fluent French, he was an excellent rower, and he is gifted at lovemaking. Some of these talents are just listed as afterthoughts.

I dabbled in being an astronaut in between my Noble Peace Prize work and my second Olympics.

So basically he’s 27 with the list of accomplishments of a 75 year old, with the looks of a dashing young supermodel, and the temper of raging bull. Seriously, Ana will like, blink at him, and he’s all, “Time to spank you for being defiant!!!”(because yes, Christian’s favorite thing to do is spank Ana) That is Christian.

Now that I’ve introduced you to the characters, let’s move on to the actual novel.

Sexy times, and what can loosely be called the plot:

The way these two people manage to hook up with each other is the most bizarre thing I have ever read.  The book begins with Ana interviewing Christian Grey for her school newspaper. She thinks that he is breathtakingly attractive, and he is struck by her as well. After that they have a few follow up meetings, where she blushes a lot and says absolutely nothing of interest. After a boring coffee date, Christian feeds her the typical bad boy line, “Anastasia, you should steer clear of me. I’m not the man for you.”(Seriously, he actually says this to her)

Things finally take a turn towards the more serious when Ana calls him after she gets drunk at a bar, and he arrives to watch her vomit into a bush, and then pass out in his arms. For some reason, this makes him decide to approach her about entering into a sexual relationship with him. He takes her, drunk and unconscious, back to his penthouse and puts her to bed. And when I say, “puts her to bed” I don’t mean it in the “wink wink, nudge nudge” sense, I mean that he puts her in his bed with a pair of advil on the table and a trashcan located close by for easy vomit access. So after Christian witnesses this woman at her worst, he decides that he must have her.

Pictured above: Desirable and endearing.  

Ana meanwhile, is not bothered at all about basically being kidnapped, and agrees to meet Christian the next night to discuss their relationship. He admits to being attracted to her, but tells her that he won’t touch her until he has “written permission to do so.”

I know what you’re all thinking though, “Where is the sex Tara!? We were promised a lot of wild sex from this book, why else is everyone talking about it!?” I am right there with you. By page 100 there was still no scandalous sex, and I had to endure bad writing like this:

While showing Christian around the hardware store she works at: “With my heart almost strangling me-because it’s in my throat trying to escape from my mouth-I head down one of the aisles to the electrical section.”

Also at the hardware store: “His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel…or something.”

After waking up in Christian’s apartment after the night of drinking: “I eye Christian’s toothbrush, I feel the bristles on the toothbrush. They are damp. He must have used it already. Grabbing it quickly, I squirt toothpaste on it and brush my teeth in double time. I feel so naughty, it’s such a thrill.”

Oh i’m sure Christian would agree.Nothing says “thrill” like sharing a toothbrush with someone who just spent the previous night vomiting after an episode of binge drinking.

Finally, after 100 pages and 6 chapters of Ana blushing a lot, and Christian glaring a lot, the subject of sex finally comes up. Christian reveals that he is a sadist, looking for a masochist to share his lifestyle. A dominant, searching for a submissive. He shows her his play room which Ana dubs, “The Red Room of Pain”. In it, there are chains, ropes, shackles, whips, canes, paddles, and all sorts of other implements designed to cause pain. Christian explains that he is a dominant, and that he gains sexual pleasure from punishing his submissive when she misbehaves. He asks Ana to sign a contract that states that she will be his submissive for a period of three months. It is at this point that everything comes screeching to a halt, because Ana reveals that she is a virgin.  Because of this, Christian agrees to “vanilla sex”, to ease her into the world of sex slowly.

So FINALLY on page 119, they do the great deed. It occurred to me at this point that it might be good to listen to the audio book of Fifty Shades of Grey. It might be more arousing to listen to a woman’s sultry voice describing these scenes than actually reading them. So I went to itunes and listened to the sample excerpt. The girl they chose to do the audio book sounded like she was 12. Literally. So instead, I’ll post photos of celebrities with memorable voices, and you can read these sultry romantic scenes with their voice in your head.

Morgan Freeman: “I’m going to fuck you now, Miss Steele,” he murmurs as he positions the head of his erection at the entrance of my sex. “hard”, he whispers, and he slams into me. “Aargh!” I cry as I feel a weird pinching sensation deep down inside me as he rips through my virginity.”

Rosanne Barr: “I pull him deeper into my mouth so I can feel him at the back of my throat. He’s my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle. Hmm…I had no idea giving pleasure could be such a turn-on, watching him writhe subtly with carnal longing.”

Gilbert Gottfried: “Anal intercourse doesn’t exactly float my boat.” “I’ll agree to the no fisting, but I’d really like to claim your ass Anastasia. But we’ll wait for that. Besides, it’s not something we can dive into. Your ass will need training.”

Christian and Ana have lots of sex. In the bed, in the bathtub, in the shower, in his parents boathouse, on top of a desk, but it’s really all the same. They both have explosive orgasms every time. I’m going to be honest with you, I thought the sex was pretty tame for a BDSM erotic novel. He’s supposed to be a sadist, but he only goes as far as spanking her a few times, and using a riding crop on her in the “red room of pain”. Finally, at the end of the novel Ana asks for Christian to show her how painful it can get, and how intense he can be. He spanks her really hard, and this makes her realize that she is not cut out to be submissive, and she leaves him. The end.

General impressions:

I did not enjoy this novel. You might be able to tell from how long it took me to post part two of this review(I apologize profusely for the delay!)  If you read reviews of this book online you will find out that a lot of people complain about the poor writing. For instance, one amazon.com reviewer counted, and posted this about the various overused phrases in the novel, “I have discovered that Ana says “Jeez” 81 times and “oh my” 72 times. She “blushes” or “flushes” 125 times, including 13 that are “scarlet,” 6 that are “crimson,” and one that is “stars and stripes red.” (I can’t even imagine.) Ana “peeks up” at Christian 13 times, and there are 9 references to Christian’s “hooded eyes,” 7 to his “long index finger,” and 25 to how “hot” he is (including four recurrences of the epic declarative sentence “He’s so freaking hot.”). Christian’s “mouth presses into a hard line” 10 times. Characters “murmur” 199 times, “mutter” 49 times, and “whisper” 195 times (doesn’t anyone just talk?), “clamber” on/in/out of things 21 times, and “smirk” 34 times. Christian and Ana also “gasp” 46 times and experience 18 “breath hitches,” suggesting a need for prompt intervention by paramedics. Finally, in a remarkable bit of symmetry, our hero and heroine exchange 124 “grins” and 124 “frowns”

So yes, the writing can be a bit annoying at times, but honestly that’s not really what bothered me. This is an erotic novel, brilliant prose isn’t really the point. It would be like complaining that the situations in porno movies are somewhat implausible.

Wait, you mean the repair man ISN’T going to ravish me on top of the washing machine?

What really bothers me about this book is the abusive relationship. Now when I say that, it’s not because of the dominance/submission sexual theme. Christian says at one point in the novel, “We are consenting adults and what we do behind closed doors is between ourselves.” And he has a point. If two consenting adults have a different view of what is erotic than I do, then who am I to judge? I have friends who are very free and open when it comes to their sex lives, and I have other friends who fully intend to wait until marriage before they have sex. I don’t really have a problem with either lifestyle, as long as people aren’t hurting one another. Emotionally.

That is the problem I have with this book. Christian is abusive and controlling. He tells Ana multiple times outside of the bedroom that she is “challenging” when she disagrees with him. He stalks her, tracking her cell phone and following her when she goes on a vacation to visit her mother. He buys her over the top gifts that she admits make her uncomfortable numerous times. He is fanatically jealous, becoming angry when she jokes about getting a massage from a handsome (gay) man, when she sees her friends from college, when she interacts with any other males, basically. He is very controlling, there is even one scene where he threatens to spank her because she does not let him finger her under the dining room table where they are eating dinner with his parents. As an explanation he says to her later, “No one’s ever said no to me before.” So…does that mean he’s raped women before, or we supposed to believe that this man is SO desirable that no woman has ever been able to turn him down? Christian tells her at the beginning of their arrangement that he is “not a hearts and flowers” kind of guy. That is the whole struggle of the book. Ana is inexperienced and wants a relationship, and Christian is an emotionally damaged man who wants someone for sex who he can control, absolutely.

The reason this book is popular is not because it branches into the taboo subject of S&M, because it doesn’t. Most of the sex scenes are very ordinary, no whips or chains involved. That’s the point, Christian is really the one that changes, not Ana. He tries to be a relationship guy for her.   Fifty Shades of Grey is popular because it falls into the same pattern and set up that many romantic comedies fall into:

Sweet girl meets bad boy. Bad boy seems irredeemable, and the two seem so totally different that things will never workout! But then the girl is so AMAZING,  and the bad boy falls SO in love with her,that she CHANGES him.

Want some examples? Here:

 This counts because Edward is a vampire. He is intensely attracted to her scent, his inner nature makes him want to eat her, to become an evil vampire, essentially. But instead he falls in love with her. She is so intriguing to him, that he decides to go against his inner nature, to CHANGE, and not kill her.

 Yes. Even this follows the bad boy theme. Rick is probably the ultimate reformed bad boy. Rick is closed off, he even says, “I stick my neck out for nobody.” Until his love Ilsa reforms him, and by the end of the movie he risks everything because of his love for her.

Should I go on? Do you need more examples? I’m not saying that every romance follows this formula, but a lot of them do. They are popular because women like to believe that even if we are ordinary, someone extraordinary will love us enough to make any sacrifice. They are popular because we like to believe that men who have problems and commitment issues would set those aside because they love us so much. We want to believe that even though we are ordinary, we could be so EXTRAORDINARY to that one special person, that he would conquer any obstacle, physical or emotional, just to be with us.

I’m not going to say that it is unreasonable to want someone to love you just for being you. We all want that. It is unreasonable however to expect someone to change their entire character. The fact is that most bad boys are just bad boys. In real life they don’t change, they don’t start being nice to their girlfriends all of a sudden, and movies like those up there, and books like Fifty Shades of Grey teach women to have unrealistic expectations. Christian is abusive in this book and there is no excuse.

Luckily though, this book breaks new ground! Ana realizes at the end of the book that Christian is so different from her that he can never truly engage in an emotional commitment, and she tearfully bids him farewell. Finally! A book that really shows that people don’t really change, and that sometimes you have to just get out of an unhealthy relationship, and-

Just kidding. There are two sequels where they get back together. Dammit.

And that my friends, is my very LONG review. I apologize for the length, and the time it took to post it. After this I promise there will be many more posts. I’m just starting this blog, and it’s hard at times to get into a schedule for writing. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on this book, and until next time, I am your girlish blunderer.

-Tara