Any author who says he doesn’t pay attention to reviews is lying. Same goes for celebrities who claim to never read what is written about them. Authors are forced to deal with reviews because readers do consider them when making a purchase. Poor reviews, regardless of what motivated them, hurt the author’s income directly. The effect isn’t quite so direct for actors. Tom Cruise is going to get paid, whether you like him as Jack Reacher or not.
I bring this up because I was curious why there was such a dichotomy with E. L. James’ Fifty Shades, especially book one. It seems most readers love it or hate it. I wondered if this phenomenon was going to bleed over to my parodies. It did and that bothers me. If I were selling 75,000 copies a day, like James, I would similarly not give much of a shit. Since, for me, reviews translate into sales, which translate into a dinner of hamburger and happy hour draft or chorizo penne and pinot, I need to give quite a shit. So, I tried to find the reason for the polarity of the reviews, and believe I have succeeded.
Many women who love her book, hate my parodies and vice versa. I believe the root cause is battered woman’s syndrome. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Hear me out.
The main figure in her book is Christian, who is domineering and abusive. He makes innocent Ana do things against her will. He strips her of her privacy, innocence, and virginity. He controls her, much as he has controlled many women before her. Naturally, there’s no talk of him causing physical harm. Still, make no mistake: A man like this in your life may bring you to orgasm, but don’t be surprised when he goes too far.
As I read her books, his character angered me because the last thing I want to see is a woman turned on by a beast like Christian. We all know five years hence she’ll be telling an officer and coworkers she got the bruises from falling. She’ll defend him because his love is intense. It’s an addiction. The high is worth the pain of the prick.
So, in my books I played off this character and called him out for what he is: a disgusting, self-entitled, deranged, misogynistic animal who doesn’t know how to treat others properly. Women who love James’ books and love her Christian character, defend him by abusing me in reviews. They can’t attack my character (Mormon), because he’s a gentleman. Instead they attack his creator, without regard for the fact that my books are humorous parodies.
If these 1-star reviewers don’t find my books to be funny, I can live with that. I can’t teach funny. But, they write these hateful reviews and attack me and my trade personally, instead of being honest with themselves and other readers about why my books make them uncomfortable. They’re suffering from battered woman’s syndrome, and don’t want the man-in-the-mind exposed for what he is.
I wish I could have psychological profiles done on the reviewers. I bet the 5-star reviewers would be women who see the real Christian and refuse to submit to abuse. That’s my kind of woman: strong and intolerant of anyone attempting to control them. To you, my dears, I give SIX STARS!
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