About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Dross By Holly Searle




In the mid eighties many women of a certain age, were suddenly prone to the odd unexpected “Ohhhhh, Hellooooo Mr Rourke”, when a film was released called 9½ Weeks

Based upon the the book by Elizabeth McNeill, 9½ Weeks was an erotic drama that featured Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger in the lead roles as two people whom during the course of the nine and half weeks that their relationship lasted, embark upon a journey of unsolicited smutty behaviour that involved not only an appalling misuse of food, but also a private screening, that left absolutely nothing to the imagination of the voyeur.

Originally made in 1984, but released two years later, the film received mixed reviews.

It was one of those stylised MTV generational movies that had already been successfully formatted by American Gigolo that had been released several years earlier in 1980.

And just like American Gigolo , it was all about the designer clothes, the Venetian blinds, and financially successful yet unfulfilled hedonistic demographic that was endemic in the 80's.

But unlike American Gigolo, which was at its heart a thriller. 9½ Weeks had no worthy narrative content other than being a rather unfathomably soft porn vehicle in which Kim Basinger got her kit off and then mooched about in a post coital delusional haze wearing socks and watering house plants and feeding pets, that had both been neglected in the intervening weeks.

It was no big deal to us, this movie, apart from the fact that Mickey Rourke was quite fit and we all laughed about its content and then simply dismissed it and got on with our lives.

A few years later I found the original book by McNeill whilst on holiday.

I decided to read it and was slightly amused by its narrative. And while I will admit to finding some bits of it a tad erotic, it certainly wasn't a great work of fiction.

Like the movie, the book was only able hold my attention for a short period of time, before it too was stored in the dark and dusty loft space of my noggin (or a box somewhere).

Thirty years later, I am working with a small group of women. One of whom drew my attention to a book that they had all read and she asked me if I would like to borrow it.

I asked her what it was all about and she informed me, with a wry knowing smile and a glint in her eye, that it was a fictional book that featured the sexual exploits of one woman entitled The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Marker: An Erotic Memoir.

I feign my interest, and as I wanted to be accepted by the group, I borrowed it thinking to myself " Haven't we all been here before?"

I was in no rush to read it.

When I did eventually pick it up to give it a go, I found that it it wasn't even worthy of its predecessor.

It was, in essence, just a one dimensional series of pornographic vignettes that featured a middle aged woman involved in a sequence of rather dull and lack lustre sexual encounters.

I got so bored with it, that I skimmed it for good measure (subject to questioning) and then mentally shelved it and picked up, and got on with reading a proper book with creativity and depth.

I returned the book and thanked her for lending it to me and avoided telling her what I had actually thought of it.

And now yet again a new series in this genre has been produced.

But unlike its predecessors, it has literally, captured the imagination of a generation.

My Mother asked me if I had read it, and I said no I had no intention of doing so.

She agreed and said that she had read the first three sample pages on Amazon and it had left her cold.

We are both of us avid readers, my mother and I.

Sometimes I have several books on the go at once, while she can read that many in a week.

Information is everything to me, as are well constructed narratives and well thought out plots. To me the order of words and the delights of imagination are everything.

And the thing is, this kind of work of fiction is nothing more than a readable version of any soft porn short you can access via Porn Hub.

The general point of these tiny x rated movies (as far as I can determine) are to produce a sequence of events that eventually lead to an all encompassing and yet non emotive version of sexual intercourse and nothing more.

They do not pay host to a complex plot line interspersed with dialogue, but rather just centre around a static easily identifiable location where the action takes place.

To be honest, they are what they are and their audience accepts their content for what it is.

And guess what? They have a huge audience as do these works of fiction.

Initially I was overtly critical of this newly produced written form of this genre, as it isn't one that holds any great attraction for me other than my curiosity of why they are suddenly so popular, and more intriguingly, why now?

So let's go back to 9½ Weeks.

The 80's began as decade of Dionysian excess where money was the God that people prayed to and played fast and loose with.

But as it evolved, this was juxtaposed with the recognised fact that not everyone in the world was so fortunate. While business men got rich on stocks and shares, pop stars pleaded with the public to donate their money to benefit those who were staving to death.

Thirty years later, nothing much has changed. Business men are still rich and people are still suffering.

But, there is a financial crisis that as a direct result of this past excess, has affected us all in the present day.

The recession has hit us all. Debts pile up and as businesses fold, and more people lose their jobs, there is a general consensus, that it may be a some time before the rocky road we are all travelling on gets a smooth new coating of tarmac.

And here is what I think.

I think that this genre of books has found an audience because it is a form of escapism in this current financial climate.

It has offered an affordable treat for those who were once able to invest in a new car every year, but who now have to keep a tight hold on their purse strings.

It is as simple as that.

And so it would seem that grey times produce grey fiction for grey matter.

And for women by a woman.

It saddens me that women have taken this series of books on in the way that they have, as I wonder if it it reveals more about their unfulfilled and unexplored sex lives than they realise.

It is all very curious as are these works of fiction.

And just like 9½ Weeks, the fiction has now become film with the soon to be released screen version that features a pair of unknown actors (graduates of the porn industry no doubt) dressed I should imagine in the style of Tom Ford for good measure and acceptability.

Safe to say, I won't be queuing up to buy a ticket.

No, there is enough colour in my life and grey just isn't one of them.


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