We need to have a talk about Fifty Shades of Grey.
No, not because of its origins in fandom.
And no, not because it’s a problematic depiction of the BDSM community. (I mean, it is. But that’s mostly unrelated.)
No, we need to talk about Fifty Shades of Grey because of how it’s being treated by the mainstream media; namely, because it’s not being taken seriously.
You may have heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first installment of an erotica trilogy that began life as the alternate universe Twilight fanfic Master of the Universe. For fans, it’s a story that’s both delightful in the sheer amount of drama involved and a bit troubling in how visible it’s making a piece of fanfiction, considering the possible legal repercussions. For non-fans, it’s a story of a fan turning pro. But there was one particular non-fan’s reaction that intrigued me. Over the last week, Jason Boog, the editor of GalleyCat, has covered the story for both GalleyCat and NPR. Both pretty much ask the same question—“Will the success of Fifty Shades of Grey inspire more fan fiction writers to convert their work into straight fiction?” (In fact, the NPR piece assumes that “James’ success will undoubtedly spawn a wave of repurposed fan-fiction erotica in the coming months”.)