July 7, 2022

Market and Financial News

Market and Financial News Aggregator

Rags-to-Riches Stories Are Actually Kind of Disturbing

2 min read

The origins of “Fifty Shades of Grey” are perhaps more widely known than those of BP Capital or Koch Industries. “Fifty Shades” sprang from the mind of Erika Mitchell, an English television executive who in 2009 wrote a fan-fiction riff on Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” vampire-romance series under the name Snowqueens Icedragon. When the work picked up readers, Mitchell rewrote it, removing any references to Meyer’s material but keeping its spirit, and sold the resulting work to an Australian publisher as “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James, in 2011. The small-press book became a sensation that resulted in a seven-figure deal, one that transferred the rights from the original press to Vintage Books, a division of Knopf Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House. It’s the kind of deal that could form a chapter in one of the billionaire memoirs, a complex transfer of capital that spawned a billion-dollar book-and-movie franchise, even before estimating the cash value of the many books that have sprouted like mushrooms in its shadow.

“Poor [expletive]-up, kinky, philanthropic Christian,” the narrator of “Fifty Shades,” Anastasia Steele, muses about her billionaire, the eponymous Christian Grey. Steele is a graduating college senior and virgin who meets the 27-year-old “telecommunications” billionaire when she interviews him for the school paper. Grey has a large and mostly unexplained business empire that leaves him plenty of time to pursue his interest in sadomasochism, dominance and control — pursuits, we are told, that stem from a tortured childhood with a “crack-whore” mother and teenage sexual abuse by a much older woman. When he is not courting Steele or pressuring her to join him in his sex dungeon as a submissive, he is issuing gruff instructions about “Darfur” on the phone. In this setup, Grey is Ragged Dick reincarnated, the orphan made good, paying it forward to “Darfur” but also playing fairy goddaddy…

Lydia Kiesling

2022-04-07 15:42:40

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