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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Don't critics get the horn?

There's a book at the top of the best sellers called Fifty Shades of Grey. I haven't read it but I want to to because lots of people have told me it's rubbish. They can't agree what's rubbish about it. Joanna Biggs in the Literary Review said it was "insanely badly written" while Jenny Colgan in The Guardian thought it was "eminently readable". The reason these people and lots of others have gone out of their way to point out its shortcomings - through think pieces in the big papers and waspish exchanges over Sauvignon Blanc - is that it's what when I was at school they called a Mucky Book. Nowadays they call it erotica. Its purpose is to give people the horn, just as the purpose of house music is to make people want to dance.

This all seems straightforward. So straightforward that I've never been able to understand why people who've been to university in general and critics in particular always claim that while things like this give the rest of us the horn, it doesn't have the same effect on them. Oh no. They always pretend they find it funny, which is pretty condescending of them when you think about it.

They were the same with The Joy Of Sex, Nine and a Half Weeks, Bouquet Of Barbed Wire, Pirelli calendars, Madonna's Sex book, Emmanuelle, all the rest of the salacious phenomena that the rest of us went out and bought, watched, read or at least stole surreptitious glances at in our millions. It might have the rest of us walking like tripods or squirming in our seats but it simply doesn't make a dent in the steel pants with which these people's critical acuity has apparently armoured them.

It doesn't make sense. Even the most in-bred food critics can appreciate a McDonalds once in a while, can't they? Not everything in life has to be run through the same elevated filter. Some things in life you're just supposed to feel. Or is it possible that they did feel it and they're not telling the truth about what they felt?