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Portarossa2720 karma

Hey Tim,

You've kind of been defined by your role on Parks & Rec, but you've had a long and impressive career. Is there one movie or TV show you've been in -- other than Middle Man -- that you'd recommend to people looking to see a little more of you? A performance you're particularly proud of?

Portarossa2647 karma

I write smut for a living, and I've always found that people are really eager to talk about their sexual fantasies when they find out my job and feel that they're not going to be judged for them.

Have you found that when people find out your line of work, they open up really easily, even outside of a professional setting?

Portarossa1961 karma

In-universe: The problem isn't particularly that Christian is bad at BDSM; in fact, he's actually pretty good at BDSM (with some notable exceptions). It's made very clear time and time again that consent lies with the submissive and that everything stops when Ana says so -- and as far as I can remember, there's no point where he doesn't abide by that. He is, however, quite pushy with the whole contract thing -- but that still takes them most of a book to negotiate. If you look at the parts of the book that are BDSM-centric (less than you'd think, weirdly), there are thousands of people who live that life in a way that works for them. And that's the issue. He can't separate the Red Room out from real life.

The problem is that he's an utter shit as as a human being, even beyond the kink. He stalks her. He puts a GPS tracker on her phone. He completely disregards her wishes when it comes to spending lavish amounts of money on her. He tries to control her diet and her birth control even when she doesn't seem thrilled about it. Everything about Christian Grey the person just screams red flag.

The thing is, though, he does all of that outside the boundaries of what (it's made clear in the book) is supposed to be a very regimented relationship. He does that even when they're actively not engaging in kink. Christian isn't a bad Dom; he's a bad person, and that's why, when he's supposed to obviously be the hero in Fifty Shades Freed, it doesn't mean anything. He might get his kink 'under control' (whatever that's supposed to mean), but there's nothing to suggest he's less of a liquorice-scented prick the rest of the time. If he was a better person outside of the kink, I don't think the depiction of BDSM would have come in for quite such a beating. No pun intended.

Out of universe: The book is pretty badly written, but I've definitely read worse in the genre -- and in terms of hitting its niche ('I read Twilight and now I want something a bit more raunchy'), it's an absolute masterclass in giving the people something they didn't even know they wanted. You've kind of got to respect that.

Portarossa1626 karma

If someone asked you to sum up New York City in three blocks, which three would they be? What's the microcosm of the New York experience?

Portarossa1526 karma

Romance is quite a nice genre to write in for many reasons, not least because it doesn't really require you to be horribly original. You don't really need a high-concept story to get the job done; there's no 'Dinosaurs run amok on a theme-park island' or 'A young boy goes to wizard school', because most of the time people don't demand it. That's not to say that there aren't high-concept romance novels out there, nor that they're not worth doing, but ultimately everything has to serve the love story: that's what people are paying their money for. 'Boy meets girl' (or 'boy meets boy' or 'girl meets girl') has a billion different permutations, but they all basically aim to answer the same question: how do I get Person A to a Happy Ever After with Person B in the space of ninety thousand or so words? After that, it's just a case of finding characters that your readers can fall in love with -- easier said than done -- and choosing initial conditions. Whether he's a rock star and she works in a diner, or she's a bridesmaid and he's a jazz musician, or he's a gynecologist and she's a former nun, or he's a criminal on the run from the Yakuza and she's a magician's assistant who dreams of something bigger, it's all pretty much the same formula.

That sounds a little dismissive, perhaps, but it's not meant to be. Romance is almost unique in terms of popular fiction genres because (most of the time) everyone involved knows what the ending of the story is before they even start. The originality comes in making the journey fun, and there are plenty of ways to do that that don't rely on particularly out-there ideas, if that makes sense.