'50 Shades of Grey' Mania

12.20.12

50 Ways ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Has Changed the World

E.L. James’s 2011 erotic novel became a bestselling behemoth and global cultural phenom this year, with the sweaty saga of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, plus bondage, dominance, and S&M, enrapturing readers everywhere. See 50 changes the potboiler wrought.

1. Stimulated the economy … in all the right ways.

2. Made reading erotica on the subway acceptable (commuting has never been so titillating).

3. Made “Mommy Porn” an acceptable phrase in the English lexicon.

4. Introduced youths to a brave, new, bondage-loving world.

5. In protest of spanking bottoms, members of a British Domestic Abuse charity used the book to wipe their own bums.

6. Created a cooking class, complete with playroom pretzel ropes and bondage wrapped shrimp. Julia Child would be so proud.

7. Gave White House staffers something to read other than memos on the fiscal cliff.

8. Made us question the merits of literary masters—or our own literacy. Take our quiz.

9. Titillated us with the possibility of Ian Somerhalder or Ryan Gosling moonlighting as Christian Grey in the trilogy’s film adaptation.

10. Made Katie Roiphe Newsweek’s resident BDSM expert.

11. Gave us hotel packages complete with handcuffs and whips—and whipped cream.

12. Gave literary snobs yet another bestselling franchise to scoff at.

13. Inspired us to scavenge for even more erotic bedtime reading.

14. Rekindled the debate over banned books.

15. From the mailroom operator to the editorial director, all employees at Random House, which published the trilogy, got $5,000 bonuses this year.

16. Kept Barnes & Noble afloat.

17. Inspired real porn, because X-rated films didn’t have enough lame storylines.

18. Spawned hilarious parodies and shameless ripoffs, from Louisa May Alcott’s “memoir” to  @50ShedsofGrey, an anonymous Twitter feed of “Erotica for the not-too-modern male.”

19. Harvard University officially established its very own BDSM club, the Harvard Munch.

20. Inspired an official clothing line—underwear included—coming to stores soon.

21. Gave inner goddesses a thousand new reasons for existing.

22. Gave us the best phrase ever, courtesy of Mr. Grey, who admits he’s “fifty shades of fucked up.”

23. Gave sweatpants a sexy makeover (Christian’s were mentioned 14 times in the first book).

24. “Grey,” “Ana,” and “Anastasia” soared to the top of baby-name lists.

25. An unhappily married British woman referred to Fifty Shades as grounds for divorce, citing her husband’s vanilla bedroom etiquette as “unreasonable behavior.”

26. Allowed people to talk about porn at work: “I spent the year talking to inappropriate people about bondage, S&M, and erotica. Quite the change from the usual questions about “What should I read now?” and “How is the new Ian McEwan?” Heady stuff for a literary guy. And, no, I haven’t read them.”—Lucas Wittmann, Literary Editor, The Daily Beast

27. Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” a highlight on the Fifty Shades classical music album, will never have quite the same holy…

28. Made gray eye shadow hot again, courtesy of Bobbi Brown.

29. Provided boon to print magazines with a Fifty Shades-inspired glossy.

30. Made the typically stalwart Kristen Stewart blush

31. And Ellen DeGeneres giggle (during her G-rated version)…

32. And Gilbert Gottfried squawk

33. And Star Trek’s George Takei say, “Oh my!

34. Gave hope to all aspiring-fan fiction writers …

35. Along with a laundry list of synonyms they shouldn’t use in their writing.

36. Gave the investigators of Law & Order: SVU new fodder.

37. Provided proof that even banal-looking book jackets sell. (Really, a tie?)

38. Was grounds for a contentious talking point in a New York Senate debate.

39. Introduced us to made-up curse words (“kinky f*ckery”)

40. Gave us a cocktail party icebreaker: “Say, have you gotten your hands on a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey? I hear it’s a must-read.”

41. Sparked a baby boom on both sides of the pond.

42. Inspired an embarrassing Twitter war between Bret Easton Ellis and a producer of the upcoming Fifty Shades film.

43. Showed the true value of a Kindle—you can’t see the smut I’m reading!

44. Gave former Disney princess Selena Gomez an outlet to tell the world, “I’m all grown up.”

45. Proved that a woman who writes about sex and bondage is as influential as the president, at least if Time’s list of Most Influential People has anything to say about it.

46. Praised by Dr. Oz as the perfect tool to get husbands and wives talking about their marital sex lives.

47. Made “Holy Cow!” part of our daily vernacular.

48. Finally brought the worlds of condoms and literature together, according to Trojan.

49. Taught us how to say the phrase, “up and down like whore’s drawers” in more than 30 different languages.

50. Made it catchier than ever to make lists of 50 things.