Friday, 13 February 2015

FIFTY SHADES? THERE'S HOPE FOR US ALL ...

Once more unto the commercial rip-off masquerading as Valentine's Day. It gets short shrift around these parts. Extortionate tea roses or a dozen half-dead red ones for a fiver at Tesco, take your pick. Double-priced, over-booked, poorly-cooked meals in restaurants, look at me, I love her, I brought her here. No thanks. Will I be marking the occasion by going to see Fifty Shades of Grey? Don't insult me.

A friend and I were discussing this over a long-overdue lunch yesterday. How on earth did author E.L. James get to throw her weight around on set, we wondered. Writers are never afforded this privilege. We sell the rights to something we've written, they pay up nicely, then tell us they're going to change the ending because the one we've imagined and grafted over doesn't work for them, and we go 'Oh, yes please! Do whatever you want! I couldn't have ruined it better myself!' As it turns out, it's because E.L. James is the co-producer. She owns the set. She can do whatever she wants. Push Sam Taylor-Johnson around why don't you, tell that scrawny director what to do, go on, wipe the floor with her, she's begging you to.

I watched E.L.J. on the news today, being interviewed on the grey carpet at the London premiere. She is mumsy. Chunky. A bit common. Significant boobage. Nay, saggage. I can't say that, can I. I just did. Let me rephrase. She fails, at least on an aesthetic level, to represent whatever contingent gets off with a squid, or has been known to handcuff the odd one to the bed for a laugh. So all the pennies dropped. I thought, that's why.

I was reminded, as one is, of Adam Faith. Of a remark that Lionel Bart made, a few years back. 'Adam's thing was - the TERRIFIC thing - was that he couldn't really sing! The whole appeal of his throwaway delivery was that people listened to it. Kids listened to it, and said, 'Well, I can sing as well as that!' It was the secret, in a nutshell, of how to make pop music popular.'
Exactly that. If Adam could do it, anyone could do it. It gives hope to the rest of us. 

Echoes of Susan Boyle. As legendary pop manager Simon Napier-Bell said, in response to my question 'Why?', 'Everyone has a misfit maiden aunt.' In other words, a gauche, inappropriately-dressed, hopelessly-coiffed oddball of a family member, the One Least Likely To, who didn't so much lose their way in life as never had a way to lose in the first place. If Susan Boyle can do it, there is hope for all. Factor in Cowell, his all-pervading TV clout, social media - it was that Demi Moore tweeting about the Hairy Angel that got them all going in the first place - and you have a gazillion youtube hits and an instant global phenomenon. It barely mattered, what she sounded like - which wasn't that bad. Just not 'great'. She has banked more millions than she will ever spend.

Meanwhile, back at the exquisitely-timed cinematic release of the century. Did you read the books? I didn't. I read a page. I'm not into porn, not mad about anything that promotes sexual dominance or domestic violence, or makes deviant stuff like that seem the norm. Not that E.L. James could care less. Not on your Nellies. Whatever the masses think, whether you darling Valentines out there like her movie or not, she has won the literary lottery. Whatever the critics write - and they haven't liked - she's quids-in. Or even squids-in. Mrs Ordinary has won. Which spells hope for the rest of us. 
That's why.

No comments:

Post a Comment