It's very simple. Although it glorifies abuse, stigmatizes and misrepresents BDSM, and is just really, really, badly written, it's the fact that it's a rip off of Twilight that bothers me most. Now, Stephanie Meyer is not a good writer. But since her work is commercially available, and is under copyright, she desrves compensation if you read her book. I hate Twilight, but if you want to read something, the author should be compensated in some fashion. This is why I buy the books I snark rather than take them out of the library. If I rip into something, I might as well pay for it. Some people are unscrupulous, lack ethics but have a large desire for money
Enter E.L James. We all know FSoG started as Twilight fanfic. That's fine. It's not well written
fanfic, but that's not new or even wrong. Fanfic gets a bad reputation as being for perverts or shitty writers, which is wrong. A lot of fanfic authors are young and not used to writing, so they're using established authors as a template for how to write. Fanfic can be like training wheels for young writers, and I think constructive criticism can be very useful for amateurs. They don't always respond well to criticism, but as they mature in their craft, they will get better, or wallow in anonymity. Since they aren't getting paid, and they're posting the story as an offshoot of the original, it's not plagiarism. It's annoying to read, sometimes, but not unethical. But FSoG is Twilight with the names and superficial details changed. If I were to do the exact same thing E.L James did, but in a creative writing class, I would be either expelled or given a zero. E.L James had a movie made out of her "work". It's theft. I think people are willing to overlook that aspect because there's more immediate trouble with E.L James' work- intimate partner violence, the lack of good BDSM representation, mainly. Those are important, and I could fill an entire blog with why those are bad, bad, things. There's also the fact that the source material isn't actually that good. If she were ripping off, say, Harry Potter, I suspect people would be more outraged, because how very dare she try to make money off a good book she didn't write. Legally, I suspect, the books are just different enough to qualify as completely separate and therefor not a copyright violation. But morally, it still is. This is why I won't buy or pay to watch Fifty Shades. It's plagiarism.
Another problem I have with the whole phenomenon is E.L James herself. Unlike Stephenie Meyer, who is largely innoffensive when she doesn't have a pen and paper in hand, E.L James is a bitch. Take the whole "Mara Wilson is a sad fuck" business. Mara Wilson was a accomplished child actor, went to a prestigious school, and now writes herself. She is happy with her life, which is quite the accomplishment considering she was a child star. That's not sad, that's really really good. And Ms. Wilson didn't resort to a personal attack on E.L James. She just said "Hey, these books are problematic and promote abuse". So coming out with a "FUCK THAT BITCH, YEAH!" attack makes her look like the asshat, not Mara Wilson. Even more troubling, E.L James dismisses actual domestic violence victims who point out that her books are a steaming pile of abuse as trolls and encourages her fans to harrass them. E.L James is stuck in middle school socially, and she's 62 years old. Targeting people who are not only less powerful, but have also been fucked over by your shitty book is bad. Bad author. And if saying all that, calling a 62 year old version of Regina George out on her bullshit makes me a sad fuck, well, then I'm mighty proud to be a sad fuck.
And for those of you who can't separate abuse and BDSM, here's a handy chart.
Ana is not into BDSM. Ana often does not consent to, or revokes consent to, a lot of the things Christian wants. He bullies her into agreeing or accepting his desires. Even before a relationship, he tried to foist his BDSM and sexuality onto her in creepy, intrusive ways. He tries to bully her into liking or accepting something she doesn't want to. He's a bully. Sound familiar, E.L James?