If you’ve ever read RPF—Real Person Fiction, the genre of fanfiction that deals with real-world celebrities—then there’s nothing in Fifty Shades of Sin (Hopeless Love), a new fanfic being sold on Amazon in ebook form, that will surprise you.
The author, J. Lola, seems to be a member of Team Breezy (the common name for fans of Brown, many of whom blame Rihanna for “ruining his life”). The book, which clocks in at around 140 pages, is a breathless recounting of Rihanna, called Robyn in the novel, falling in love with Brown from afar:
Because I was also becoming famous and rich, finding a friend or any genuine person I could trust or connect with was impossible. Yet, every time I saw Chris on the T.V, [sic], I felt as if I was staring at a kindred spirit. It wasn’t too farfetched really: we were both young entertainers in the music business, quickly ascending into the heights of our careers. It wasn’t rocket science that we would have quite a lot in common, both good and bad.
Well, “good and bad” is one way to put it. If by “good” you mean “together they have the combined Billboard-topping powers of a Kanye/Jay Z miracle baby” and by “bad” you mean “once he put her in the hospital in a domestic dispute and served five years probation for felony assault.”
But it turns out that Fifty Shades of Sin holds all kinds of wisdom from the abused woman’s enablement handbook.
First, demonize other women: The author, writing from Rihanna’s point of view, vilifies Brown’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Karrueche Tran as a “prepubescent Asian boy with growth retardation”—and proceeds to refer to her only as “the Asian boy” for the rest of the book.
Even worse than being Asian, apparently, is the fact that Tran is a groupie:
For those who didn’t know what groupies were, they were women whose only goal in life was to fuck athletes, actors, and rich famous men in general. They didn’t care if the man was married, engaged, or had a baby dying of cancer. Yes, they were that heartless....
Rule of thumb: never allow a groupie near your man. Never.
Second, make excuses for your violent abuser’s behavior even before you’re in a relationship:
Men were weak sexual creatures by nature. They would fuck anything. It was that simple. Once women accepted that, things were easier.
And finally, believe that the only thing that can fulfill you is a relationship with the guy in question:
I knew I intimidated men with my over-sexified image. But it was all an act, something I used to shield the girl who got hurt too easily and was very lonely inside.
I couldn’t explain it, but I knew if there was anything that would wipe away the emptiness and loneliness of life from me, it was Chris.
After a round of hem-hawing and various public interactions between the two, along with a near-constant barrage of racism directed at Tran, Fifty Shades of Sin closes on a ludicrously terrible sexual fantasy of the troubled duo’s first time together. The promised sequel, which reportedly comes out this week, will delve into their relationship through the fight that put Rihanna in the hospital.
But while the media has done lots of handwringing over the way Fifty Shades of Sin romanticizes the Rihanna/Brown relationship, the story itself is actually pretty close to the narrative that the real Rihanna has put forward about their relationship and her affection for Brown:
[W]e fought, and we fought big. Then we made up. But because we were not addressing the core of our problem...the peace never lasted.
Writing about the story, Cosmopolitan’s John Switcher opined, “It's the sort of fanfiction that makes you question the whole genre of fanfiction.”
But Fifty Shades of Sin is a typical example of the RPF genre of fanfiction, in that it explores the inner life of a celebrity, attempts to humanize and personalize the very surreal experience of superstardom, and, yes, contains a love story.
Even the worst-written RPF, whether it’s Chris Brown apologetics or vehement attempts to out boy band members as gay, reminds you that fangirls are not under the control of the media narratives they consume—no more so than Rihanna was when she decided to start dating Brown again earlier this year.
Perhaps Fifty Shades of Sin’s subtitle, Hopeless Love, is not so much a misreading of Rihanna’s controversial music video for “We Found Love” as it is a straightforward interpretation that’s difficult for us to accept: Deep mutual affection marred by extreme violence, and a mix of stardom, societal, and media pressure that left two people to find love in a hopeless place.
Photo via alexandriapasse/Flickr