In a recent post, Dear Author mentioned the article “Whatever You Do, 'Don't Call It “Mommy Porn”': Fifty Shades of Grey, Fan Culture, and the Limits of Intellectual Property Rights” by Meredith Guthrie, University of Pittsburgh, in which Jane from Dear Author, as well as Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches Trashy Books and Jenny Trout, were interviewed about the post-Fifty Shades of Grey Phenomenon. Jane says that she believes people who read and love Fifty Shades will go on to read more romance:
“I definitely view 50 Shades as a gateway drug to more romance fiction. It’s a matter of those readers finding other romance stories...[Y]ou are beginning to see readers who were brought into the genre starting to mine the extensive backlists of some popular traditionally published authors.”
But there is some disagreement, according to the article. Paraphrasing Sarah Wendell, the piece suggests that instead of getting more people interested in reading deeper in the romance genre, Fifty Shades may have simply made them want more of the same, citing:
the sheer number of romance book covers that look eerily similar to the cover of Fifty Shades, the increasing use of deep first-person narratives and the popularity of a new genre, called “New Adult,” that features young 20-something female protagonists who are often unsure of themselves and enter into intense sexual and emotional relationships.
Jenny Trout sees this trend going even further, saying that initially optimism was high, but now “[W]hat seems to be happening is this really horrible effect of even more anti-feminist, abusive and grossly misinformed kink fanfic flooding the market.”
If asked in which way Fifty Shades affected the reading world, can we just answer with ”All of them"? Yes, there are more books with grossly dysfunctional relationship dynamics, horrible writing, and insecure young women. But there are also some great books seeing the light of day that would not have found a home otherwise, as well as people who were not readers before becoming readers, even if romance readers would disparage what they are choosing to read (an irony that should not escape any of us).
What have been the best and worst things about the Fifty Fenomenon?