One particular corner of twitter turned into somewhat of a hot mess on Sunday, all starting when Mara Wilson (former child actress known for her lead role in Matilda) tweeted that she’d been blocked by 50 Shades of Grey author E.L. James. Things spiraled from there: twitter user @MrJulioLuna began a conversation with James, saying “Oh and by the way, you’re the most wonderful person in the world. for blocking Mara Wilson, hahahahahahahahaaha *evil laugh*”—I wish I were kidding—and James proceeded to either play dumb or genuinely have no idea who Wilson is. Regardless, the whole exchange reads like a mad scientist and their crazed assistant (at one point @MrJulioLuna refers to James as “my mistress” and uses a “:-)” emoticon) and you can practically hear them hissing at anyone who tries to point out their lunacy. The crux of the conversation is when James refers to Wilson as a “sad fuck,” and though that specific tweet has since been deleted, the evidence is all over both Wilson’s and blogger Jenny Trout’s twitter accounts.
But what, might you ask, did Wilson even do to warrant such a reaction?
Well, rumor has it that James tends to block anyone who even remotely suggests that her 50 Shades series promotes unhealthy, abusive relationships, and apparently Wilson mentioned James and her books one too many times. She clearly has a lot of feelings about them, given her numerous retweets on the subject (“We’re often accused by fans of not understanding kink/being anti BDSM. Simply not true. Do some research & you’ll realise EL James didn’t,” from @50shadesabuse; “I get so cheesed thinking about all the people wading into BDSM off that book not understanding the VITAL role of consent,” from @kateleth), as well as her own words on the subject: “It’s a standard defense mechanism to write off haters as sad people. Most of them are! But people with legitimate objections are different,” she said in a tweet, then followed it with “I don’t like 50 Shades because it’s a poorly written apologia for domestic abuse masquerading as BDSM and liberation.”
Blogger Jenny Trout also jumped into the conversation, tweeting “Sad is refusing to address the concerns of DV survivors who just want to open a dialogue about the cultural phenomenon you’ve created.” (Trout has already shared her thoughts about both James and her books.) Indeed, James has been criticized by many for her lack of tact when confronted with less than positive feedback. In January of last year, after seeing her tell fans “I wouldn’t feed the trolls if I were you,” (in response to someone telling a Christian Grey role player that the character is a wife beater) blogger Kody Thomas asked James to “Please consider the fact that those who see domestic violence in your books aren’t trivializing it, since they actually lived it.” Thomas, who did not accuse, blame, or name call, was promptly blocked without a reply.
Thomas is hardly the first voice to be silenced—multiple sources confirm James’s strict No Criticisms Allowed policy, and even a refusal to acknowledge the commentary of actual domestic abuse survivors, no matter how respectful or pleading. She’s even been quoted as saying that “Nothing freaks [her] out more than people who say this is about domestic abuse,” which is super awkward since Christian Grey’s behavior toward Anastasia hits most, if not all, abuser indicators. So we have Mara Wilson, a former child star who now calls both problematic authors and creepy subway stalkers out on their shit, and who has guest starred on uber-feminist Laci Green’s SEX+ YouTube series, being called a “sad fuck” by a woman who’s twice her age and has made a fortune off of horribly inaccurate portrayals of BDSM.
That’s what I call Fifty Shades of Irony.