Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Why Fifty Shades of Grey When One Shade of White Will Suffice?

An anonymous contributor as part of a posted comment sent in a link a good few weeks back to a fashion photo set entitled INSTITUTIONAL WHITE as photographed by STEVEN KLEIN (click on his name to visit the original set on the Interview Magazine site).

I had down loaded the pic and had it all set up to post while away in Brighton after the London – Brighton cycle ride.  But as you now know, due to changes in the way Blogger works and its incompatibility with the browser supported by my portable notebook computer (coupled with my inability to update said machine) I was unable to upload any graphical content while away from home.  I have been back around a week now but what with various personal dramas and yet more health concerns I have done little until now.  I did get quite a lot written in the pubs in and around Brighton though; the place is just so inspirational in one way or another – of which more next time (I took pics on my phone which promptly died on me and so I’m waiting until I can persuade it to let me download from it!).  

Back to the photo set and having followed the link and looked through the pictures I have to say I found this one the most evocative.  The nurse or institution wardress uniform is not really my cup of tea as you know, preferring to imagine (and evoke in my writing) the more traditional British nurse or hospital matron’s uniform of the 1960s and early 70s but the steel key ring dangling from the belt as a sort of badge of office or token of authority is just perfect.  It's these little details that go to build the picture - and write the story.  The same can be said for the protagonist’s facial expressions:  There is that look of despair and desperation on the face of the patient as she senses her mind, her personality, her very soul, being drawn from her by the rigid control and strict discipline of the bleak institution she has been placed in.  As a counterpoint there is the passion written across the face of the nurse or carer as she knowingly and lovingly works towards that very end, not so much driving the girl out of her mind as gently guiding her, expertly dismantling her sanity piece by piece, perhaps for her own ends, perhaps to satisfy the aims of others.  Whatever the woman's motives, the look of utmost passion on her face is enough to assure one that her methods would only be those embodying the most exquisite subtlety.  

As a teller of the tale, then, the question for one's imagination becomes exactly what those techniques might consist of.  Given, say, six months before the girl comes up before a psychiatric review panel, the question becomes; how best to ensure her tenure in the institution is extended when the time comes?

Well, there is food for thought!  And why Fifty Shades of Grey?  Because some misguided pundit recently emailed with the comment that certain parts of my work constituted “The Fifty Shades of Grey for the really kinky!”  Personally I don't think there's enough eroticism in the content of much of what I write for such a comparison (not overt eroticism anyway - although there are quite a few apparently who find the fattening up aspect in volume 3 appealing), but nevertheless praise indeed!  


Anonymous said...

A tale of discipline, betrayal, will, and obsession. Now that's my kind of tale.

I agree with you that the white uniform in the shoot sort of calls attention to itself, and because its so fetishistic, doesn't work as well as he uniforms in your stories. And yeah, the look on the patient's face in that picture is priceless, and that is the best picture in the bunch.

As for the eroticism in your stories, or lack thereof, I actually think your stories can be powerfully erotic, in an unconventional kind of way. Eroticism doesn't require conventional sex scenes. Power can be very erotic, and in the Institution they weild it.

The fattening up isn't erotic for me in and of itself, but the total control over the patient's body is. Likewise, the diapers, incontinence and such aren't erotic in and of themselves, but the dependence, loss of control, and helplessness are. The total lack of physical and emotional privacy is powerfully erotic as well. In the Institution, girls are stripped, completely, and being stripped means a lot more than simply having their clothes removed.

The orgasm denial is MAJORLY erotic.

The Non Victorian Chick

Charles said...

Good points NVC. Surely Garth's stories are all about power and control? I find the transfer of power, the subjugation and the ultimate degredation of the innocent victims extremely erotic.

Are there any 'conventional' (whatever that means) sex scenes in these novels at all? Does that make them any less powerful?

Each to his/her own of course. All I would say is that 'conventional' is ten a penny whereas these stories in my opinion have the distinction of being unusual AND erotic.

By the way does anybody else think that 50 shades is desperately ordinary?
The author is like the Dan Brown of erotica - extremely average and yet inexplicably popular.

Anonymous said...

Average? Try extremely crappy. But her popularity is not inexplicable.

50 Shades came out of the world of Twilight fanic. Now fanfic is almost by definition crappy, and this stuff is worse than most. But, because it came out of the crappy world of Twilight fanfic, it made it acceptable for the millins of Twilight fans to buy S/M erotica, even if its crappy S/M erotica, where they would never have bought S/M erotica by people who could actually WRITE, but weren't dealing in Twilight fanfic, or working the schoolgirls and vampires mines.

The Non Victorian Chick

Anonymous said...

My last comment is incoherent and full of spelling and grammar goofs. I'm not illiterate, it just looks that way sometimes. I can't type, and I should do a better job of proofreading. Actually, I can't compose anything on a computer screen. When I write, it's with a fountain pen, and then I type it up.

Inanswer to Charles' rhetorical question, no there aren't any "conventional" sex scenes in any of the books. Toyntanen is not a conventional kind of guy. Which is why we love him.

Yeah, his stories are about power and control. I'll tell you something I read somewhere, and I don't remember where I read it. It was about torture victims, and it talked about their experience. It said that a person being tortured was, on the one hand, completely isolated, but with no possibility of privacy, and that they were also completely exposed with no hope of companionship. That's the Institution in a nutshell. Total isolation, total exposure, total vulnerability.

And yeah, the nurse in that picture looks passionate, in the way that I imagine Dr Eccleston to be.

The Non Victorian Chick

Charles said...

I enjoyed your first comment - perfectly coherent as far as I'm concerned. I may be wrong but I'm sensing a little antipathy towards 50 shades? But you're right it is shit and worse it's very gig grossing shit

Thanks for your fanfic explanation it all makes a horrible sort of sense now.

Don't apologise for your passion, sometimes it nice to say it like it is.



Anonymous said...

There was always lot of dominance/submission theme in Twilight. THere's this abusive relationship between the vampire and the girl. And the vampire dude is SO dominant and strong. (Actually he's self absorbed and abusive, but a lot of girls, and a surprising number of grown women, can't tell the difference.) Anyway, he's got great abs, so he's dominant.

Now this book MUST be OK for teenage girls to read, because the chain bookstores stock it, and the girls, and their Moms, and a lot of grown women have been buying buttloads of them, and it's making money hand over fist. So it's GOT to to be acceptable, because it's a Young Adult novel that they sell in the young adult section of the bookstore. So it's OK, right?

But there is this D/S kind of undercurrent, and the books are basically playing to young, and not so young women's fantasies of dreamy, dominant guys. And then the movie comes out, and the fanfic monkeys get hold of it, and one of them actually starts writing the S/M that was always kind of latent in the story, and it's crap, but it's TWILIGHT, so it's OK. Because, ya know, Twilight is YA. They sell it to teenage girls. No S/M porno here. Nothing to see, folks. Move along. Whereas for years and years you couldn't even really STOCK actual adult novels in the chain bookstores, and if you did, women wouldn't buy them, and wouldn't want to be seen buying them. But now it's OK, because it was all done sort gradually, and subtly, and by stealth.

The Non Victorian Chick

Anonymous said...

So it's actually kind of like the Institution, and it works the same way. Think about it. Suppose Dr Anne Ecclestone said to a girl "I'd like to imprison you, and surgically implant hardware in your hoo hah, so that you can never have another orgasm, and you're made incontinent. Also, I'd like to subject you to a program of physical and psychological torture using canings, sensory deprivation, psychoactive drugs, hypnosis, and brainwashing that renders you unable ever to function in normal society, and leaves you nonfunctional and broken, with no hope of escape. Here, sign these papers, and we'll get started." Well, then the girl would say "Bitch, you're nucking futs", and call the police.

But that's not what happens. Dr E is subtle. She wins the girls trust, and gradually, using carefully calibrated suggestions, leads the girl place herself in the Institution, where the good Doctor proceeds to turn her inside out.
Whereas with 50 Shades, the idea of getting women to actually buy S/M novels in the chainbook store that the chain stores wouldn't even have STOCKED a few years back, and has been introduced slowly, and gradually, and now the women have been brainwashed into buying a totally shitty book.

The Non Victorian Chick