Worthy candidate for most irritating phenomenon of year
Did we mention stupid Star Wars? No? Well, don’t fret. Now that Disney has revived the franchise, we find ourselves doomed to talk about little else until the heat death of the universe. The days when news stories complained that 98 per cent (or some other made-up figure) of internet traffic was pornographic in nature already seem unimaginably distant. An even greater portion is currently taken up with speculation as to the colour of Boba Fett’s helmet.
Let’s not waste any more time. Setting aside all the unmediated monsters and unspeakable tragedies, there is really only one serious candidate for the most irritating, unstoppable, brain-numbing phenomenon of the year. Stand up Fifty Shades of Grey; your time has truly come.
The first novel in E L James’s mucky trilogy – originally devised as Twilight “fan fiction” – actually emerged back in 2011. But the erotic series did not achieve unavoidable status until the early part of this year. In this instance, the overused analogy with a virus really does stand up. On Tuesday you were entirely unaware of the condition. By Thursday morning you were vomiting violently while clutching your sides in desperate agony. By Friday evening you found it hard to believe there was a time when the Grey trilogy did not exist.
James’s prose may be fairly wretched, but it is significantly less terrible than the chaotic spew of pedantic adjectives that adhere pungently to the pages of books bearing Dan Brown’s name. The nauseating notion that women can achieve empowerment by allowing themselves to be ever-so-slightly beaten up hardly needs disentangling.
What truly grates is the slavish obedience of the reading public. If you really want to learn about “submission” – a key theme of James’s novels – then recall how unquestioningly punters fell for the inexplicable craze. In one news report, booksellers wearily recalled customers bringing the trilogy to the counter and, while their card was being processed, casually asking what the blasted thing was about. Meanwhile, a hundred stupid columns used the phenomenon to draw insecure conclusions about the state of society.
Hang on. Isn’t that what I’m doing now? Pay no attention. Read Fifty Shades of Grey. Or don’t. Oh, do what you like.