Let's say you’re an author, you write a best-selling erotica novel that’s turned into a hit movie grossing more than $500 million worldwide and your publisher asks you to participate in an online chat where Twitter users are invited to ask you questions using a designated hashtag. Sounds good, right?
Well, it wasn’t for E.L. James on Monday, when Twitter users crashed the “Fifty Shades of Grey” author’s social media event celebrating the release of “Grey,” co-opting the #AskELJames hashtag with messages criticizing the author for a series they say romanticizes abuse and glorifies rape culture.
And as the tweets below show, things got ugly rather quickly.
#AskELJames Is it only ok for Christian to stalk, coerce, threaten & manipulate Ana because he's hot, or is it also ok because he's rich?— 50 Shades is abuse (@50shadesabuse) June 29, 2015
My boss said no when I asked if I could kiss him and then I did anyway because no means yes right? Things at work are awkward. #AskELJames— Anna (@thatswedishgirl) June 29, 2015
#AskELJames what's it like telling millions of women it's okay to be in an abusive relationship as long as he's rich.Asking for a friend.— matt (@reginaIdkray) June 29, 2015
how do you feel knowing you've made your riches from convincing young impressionable girls that abuse is 'love'? #AskELJames— dione tennant // 29 (@alIonsytennant) June 29, 2015
Are you as homophobic in real life as your books are? Asking for a friend. #AskELJames— Jenny Trout (@Jenny_Trout) June 29, 2015
What do you dislike more, Independent strong woman or the English language? #AskELJames— Trevor Donovan (@TrevDon) June 29, 2015
When do you think your writer's block will kick in? Signed Ev R Hopeful #AskELJames— Angela Collings (@angieisthebest) June 29, 2015
#AskELJames Do you understand the meaning of the words-consent-abuse-a healthy relationship-manipulation because I don't think you do— laura (@rmusIupin) June 29, 2015
I visited my parents last weekend and my boyfriend didn't follow me without my consent. Is our romance dead? #AskELJames— Ponta (@typicalfeminist) June 29, 2015
#AskELJames Do all these negative tweets sent to you seem abusive to you? I think it's romantic enough to be turned into a novel!— Stephan Krosecz (@Krosecz) June 29, 2015
It’s unclear how many of the negative tweets the author saw, if any.
James, who conducted the Q&A from Twitter’s U.K. headquarters, did not answer any questions about the books purported perpetuation of rape culture — sticking mainly to fluffy questions from fans instead.
Off to meet the competition winners, now. Thanks so much for an interesting hour... :D— E L James (@E_L_James) June 29, 2015
James, though, may have the last laugh. According to the Guardian, she's now worth at least $58 million from sales related to the the bondage trilogy.