Under normal circumstance, I’d be happy about the greenlighting of two romance films, even if they’re book adaptations rather than original projects. But I feel this overwhelming sense of “meh” when I hear about 50 Shades of Grey and its cinematic sequels.
I’m not sure what it is. The movie has high-caliber screenwriters. It looks better than your average Nicholas Sparks adaptation (not really romance since there’s no HEA but typically one of the three “romance” features that come out any given year).
But I’m filled with a deep unease. Maybe I’m jealous. After all, I’m never going to write anything that sells 100 million copies. And in all likelihood I’ll never write the film adaptation of anything that sold 100 million copies (or one million for that matter). I’ve never actually read the books, so I’m taking everyone’s word for their quality. Well, it’s not the quality I mind (a trashy book is always better as a film without the shoddy prose in the way), but rather the glamorizing of an abusive relationship. That my choices for male leads are either wannabe artist losers like the guy in Her or abusive alpha douches like Christian Grey.
Neither is my kind of man.
So, I guess, you could say that I resent the importance of this movie. If it were just a movie, just a book, fine. But it’s all there is in the romantic film world. It’s a fucking institution to the point where my father is asking me why women love this book about a controlling douche. And I tell him, how the fuck should I know? I haven’t read it, but I doubt I’d enjoy it as I didn’t enjoy books with similar themes and characters. And I can’t stand when NA heroines get married and have kids at 21 or 22. Probably because I have no internal instinct and hate children.
You could say that I resent everything it represents–that trashy, poorly written, wish-fulfillment fan fiction can sell so many copies while stories with real depth and character development go unnoticed. That I’m jealous, again. And I am. Money aside, I’d kill to write something that 100 million people read.
I guess all the posters and trailers are constant reminders of my failure. I, Fiona Fire, will never see any of my romantic comedy dreams make it off the ground. The only romantic films to make it to theaters are adaptations of obscenely popular books. And, even then, they don’t offer much for me as a viewer. If a girl isn’t into domineering asshole or tearjerker melodramas, where is she to turn? The Mindy Project, I suppose, but now (spoilers) Mindy Lahiri is pregnant so that show will probably go down the toilet.
Resent is right, but it’s not really 50 Shades of Grey that I resent. It’s that 50SoG has a role of such importance. It’s the only romance anyone knows about and it’s still presented as oh-so-scandalous what with all the explicit sex (or so I hear). If I mention my not so illustrious romance writing career, I am undoubtedly met with comparisons to 50SoG or Nicholas Sparks. And, well,I’m not exactly interested in explaining to people why neither of those things is the least bit relevant to me.
And I resent this stupid divide in romance, the popularity of the alpha douche billionaires at the expense of guys who aren’t assholes, the fact that I am a sell out willing to make my next project about one of these alpha billionaire types.
If I’m being totally honest, I’m exhausted and clueless. A year ago, I was finishing up a rom com feature I loved, tutoring a lot, and reasonably sure of where my life was going. Now, I’m finishing a novel trilogy that has been in the works since November 2013 (my timelines overlap, but fuck that noise). That’s nearly 15 months. And, in about one more month, I’m going to release (and re-release book one) it all to the world. Whereupon it will surely not get 50SoG sales.
Come Monday, I’m shipping my three books off to the proofer, and I have two weeks worth of work to do in that time. It’s not the least stressful thing. And my private life is equally full, in both great and horrible ways.
I’m not going to see any movies this weekend. I’ll be writing to my deadline the entire time. But I would so like if I could check Rotten Tomatoes without a sense of dread in my gut. Or a feeling that I’ll never be good enough to even get by.