As a writer — and one whose topics so often lean towards sex — it gets hard not to roll your eyes at any mention of Fifty Shades of Grey, a book that is to the erotica genre what a white suburban teenage band is to deep funk.
Sure, maybe not everything about it has been terrible. The popularity of the book — and now the movie — did spark at least some kind of kink discussion in social circles that normally wouldn’t have welcomed it. Like it or not, they can reach much larger masses than some of the good erotica that will never touch your average middle-aged housewife nightstand. But it’s also hard not to criticize its lack of self-awareness and cringe-inducing cheese. I know plenty of people that have made a statement along the lines of, “I’m not even a writer, but I could deliver better erotica than that.”
Well, it seems you don’t even have to be a person to do so. Not now that the Fifty Shades Text Generator exists!
The very self-explanatory platform was created by Lisa Wray, an MIT engineer and developer advocate at Google, and started getting attention when a friend of hers posted it on Reddit.
Wray built the text generator on recursive grammar using a system called the Dada Engine. “The engine recursively generates your text, but you need to write the ‘grammar’, a set of rules and vocabulary,” She explained on the generator’s FAQ. “Essentially, you’re listing every tiny decision the engine needs to make so that the text comes out sounding like 50 Shades of Grey, and not, say, the Dalai Lama.”
The results sound pretty damn similar to E.L. James’ attempts at hot prose. Check a few examples out; all of them randomly generated when refreshing the page.
There are clichéd teasing scenarios like:
“He leans in, and my heart starts pounding in anticipation. He softly kisses my throat, tasting. He plants a soft wet kiss on my lips, tasting, igniting my blood. His skilled tongue invades my mouth, and dark desire unfolds throughout my body. His fingers curl into my hair, holding my head in place as we kiss, forcefully. My subconscious has stopped dancing and is staring too, mouth open and drooling slightly.”
Overly serious pussyfooting dialogue like:
‘”Do you want me?’ he breathes, his voice low, and an electric thrill thrums through me as desire unfurls deep in my belly.
‘Yes.’ My voice is barely audible.
‘Good. Good girl.’
‘Don’t make me wait,’ I whisper.”
Or classic pseudo-sensitive douchebag lines like:
“‘You. Are. So. Beautiful,’ he growls, staring intently into my eyes.”
The whole thing is pretty fun, and it does make you wonder how many sequels you could regurgitate if you would just quit your job and started putting out Fifty Shades-like material for profit. When that moment passes, just keep reading aloud with a partner, and celebrate you still have each other. And cynicism. Always cynicism.