Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Thousand Shades of Viral

by Maria Geraci

I'm not going to get into the Fifty Shades of Grey debate. You either like the book. Or you don't.

What I want to talk about is how this book got so darn popular (Okay, so it's a different sort of Fifty Shades debate.) And if you don't know what I'm talking about, then you must be living under a rock because almost everyone I know has either read or is currently reading this book. Even my dog is reading this book. (That's a joke, but honestly, any minute now I expect Truffles Geraci to come trotting out to the living room with a copy clutched in her paws).

I first heard about this book on a well known writer's blog. A writer I happen to adore and think very highly of. She was confused by how many of her friends (none of whom regularly read romance or erotica) were reading this book, talking about this book and actually recommending this book to others.

Naturally, being the curious writer that I am, I had to read the book. And yes, I did read all 3 books because the books' author, EL James cleverly broke her story up into 3 smaller books so that in order to read the complete story, you'd have to buy all 3.

After reading the books, I have to confess to being confused. Did I love the books? No. Did I hate them? The answer to that is also no. There were parts I liked, parts I skimmed, and parts, well, that made me blush. But overall, it wasn't my cup of tea.So is my taste so out of tune with the rest of America? How did these books become what seems like, an overnight cultural phenomena?

Is it because the original story (titled, Master of the Universe) was Twilight fan fiction? Is it because Good Morning America labeled it "mommy porn" sending the housewives of America into a twitter? Heck, the book has been mentioned on everything from NPR to Dancing with the Stars. It's... well, like I said it's a phenomena. One that has me scratching my head, because I'd love to know how this thing went uber viral.

Maybe Malcom Gladwell can shed some light on it.

11 comments:

  1. Maria, I'm going to go with great minds think alike on our little phenomenon today! Appears that we also drew many of the same conclusions! I would say that the staggering popularity of the book(s) is almost inexplicable!

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  2. Oh, BTW, your blog title was way better than mine!

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  3. I know it's not something I want to read--but I guess the idea is to catch all those older women who read The Twilight series and make it more "grown-up" for them. If more sex equal "grown-up."

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    1. Yes, I think that's the marketing hook that made it a phenomena.

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  4. I think we're looking for depth in a shallow puddle.

    May as well ask how the following got so popular:

    Pet Rocks, the Kardashians, Leg Warmers, Snuggies, The Bridges of Madison County (the novel), the "Friday" song, the Honey Badger, vampire-crap TV, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

    My deeper suspicion is that none of this is or would be popular, or as popular, if it wasn't for an increasingly lazy and under-funded journalistic media that loves to latch onto things by whim and then tell everyone over and over again just how much we out here are really into it until the point everyone believes it was the general public that fueled the fire. My happy hind end.

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  5. My sister just read the first book and said it was pretty boring and poorly written. I'm not even tempted to read it; but then again, I didn't make it through the whole TWILIGHT trilogy so I'm probably not its target audience. If we could figure out what makes some things popular (I was thinking "pet rocks," too, Vicky!), we could all be millionaires and international bestsellers! I think it's got an awful lot to do with timing and dumb luck.

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    1. Yeah, timing is everything. Plus, I really think that Twilight fan fiction base she had going into the self pub thing pushed it over the edge.

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  6. I think that this is a phenomenon that happens over and over-the triumph of poor taste and poor quality over anything else because-drum roll please-sex sells. There are a lot people out there who dream about the lives of the Kardashians, and the people in these books and imagine how much better their lives would be if only...
    I remember reading that these books make our lives bearable. I would put in a vote for emotional seriousness, and how books reflect my values, and teach me others. Just MHO.

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    1. The book is total fantasy (although it's not my fantasy!)so I agree with you about that. Complete escapism.

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