Sometimes things backfire. An author knows this best, as do many world leaders I’m sure. But today this saying took a whole new meaning on Twitter. EL James, author of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, either decided herself, or her publicist decided (it’s not real clear) to do a Q&A session on Twitter. The basis of this was to ask her a question and she’d respond. Hashtag: #AskELJames
Few things to get clear here:
1. We live in a society where bad news is reported before good news. Bad news also sells. You can turn the channel on any news or weather station and see this. It’s human nature that we go looking for the biggest piece of something that will refuse to let us look away. Train wreck anyone? And today on Twitter, this was a prime example.
2. I’ve read the FSOG series. I wasn’t a true fan, could barely get through them, but pushed on. There are several reasons for this, but none of it had to do with the decisions or actions of these fictional characters (okay, that one scene had me gagging, but that’s different). It was the writing. Plain and simple. The writing turned me off. The concept behind the story was the only thing that kept me turning those pages.
3. That said, I will admit that in the beginning of the #AskELJames session, I laughed a few times. While a few tweets were snarky, they were also funny. However, that humor quickly took a turn for the worse and this Twitter session soon turned into a nightmare (let’s call it what it is). The bashing on an author, for whatever reason, got to be a bit much. So much so that I had to shut down Twitter. But of course, that human nature part of me reopened it again an hour later. And I tell you, it had just gotten worse.
Now, none of this is going to change people’s opinions of Ms. James. I’ve heard many of them, some of which are rumors, and some of which come from those who have experienced her actions first hand. This spans a big range of time going back to when she first attended a breakfast with her fans here in NY years ago. I tell you, the writing industry isn’t that big of a place. And word gets around very quickly. So authors behaving badly, or behaving great, or stating their opinion about something controversial, any of it, is going to get around the community quickly.
But the point I’m trying to make (and trust me, there is one somewhere in here) is this is just a book. Sure, it contains some sensitive material, some controversial topics, and may or may not show a character who exhibits some mental instability, but it’s just a book. This book should only be read by adults and those adults should be smart enough to make their own decisions between right and wrong. One book (or four!) isn’t going to change that. If that were the case, more people (than the few we already have out there) would be making horrible decisions on a daily basis.
If you don’t like the book(s), don’t read it (them). Simple as that. Move on with your life and focus on what’s important. Don’t let the sensitive topics of books bring you to a level that could be classified as bullying. If we were to bash all authors for what they write, there’d be a hell of a lot more on that list, some of which are big favorites. I mean, just look at other books, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. That right there should have more people up in arms. But it doesn’t. And you don’t hear about it. At all.
So sure, EL James may act a certain way to some, she may come off short to others, many may not like her books, some may love them, and we all know she may not have originally created these characters, but Ms. James wrote a series of books that hit the market and took it by storm. People bought them. Some loved and hated them. She made a whole slew of money. End of story. Nothing is going to change that, nor do I doubt she’s crying in a corner over how she was treated on Twitter today.
I’m not discounting women who have been victims of domestic abuse or rape. Trust me. I get it. More than you will ever know. But what I am saying is this is just a book. It doesn’t outline how people have to live their lives, nor does it dictate how someone should act.
And in the end, it’s the world looking at those mean and nasty comments and judging you. They are looking at you and wondering why there is so much hatred, why so much negativity, and especially if it’s an author, they are wondering just what kind of individual you are. I don't know Ms. James personally, nor am I writing this to defend her. But I was honestly embarrassed for many on Twitter today, so much so that it turned my stomach. Bashing or bullying someone online isn’t attractive, nor is it a trait of anyone who is healthy. Just take care, try to remember that there are often VERY REAL people on the other end of the computer (even if they are famous!) and again, remember…it’s just a friggen book.