Today on Twitter a prime example of what happens when a hashtag gets hijacked occurred after Best Selling Author EL James publicity machine thought it would be a great idea for the fans to tweet her some of their questions regarding the 50 Shades series.
As is so often the case, the hashtag also provided critics of the successful series with a platform to ask some more direct questions about James’ opinions on domestic violence, rape and abuse.
While I personally have not read – nor have any interest in reading – the series or the new novel told from Christian Grey’s perspective, it is an excellent example of the danger of using social media as a promotional tool. With no ability to ensure the use of a safety word, it is very easy for brands – and authors – to get tied in knots with no way to stop the onslaught.
What magic did Christian use to lick his own eyebrow? #AskELJames
— Castiel (@_OrionC) June 29, 2015
#AskELJames which do you dislike more, healthy, supportive relationships, or the English language?
— Liz Hardiman (@HardimanLiz) June 29, 2015
I have so many questions to E.L.James, although most of them are just screaming “WHYYY?!” at the top of my lungs #AskELJames
— Nadin (@NadinP85) June 29, 2015
#AskELJames MINIONS ARE DISGUSTING AND THEY ARE TAKING OVER 50 SHADES. THIS IS HELL. pic.twitter.com/qq1zb1BtVg
— gracie (@gracieeeedavis) June 29, 2015
#AskELJames how does it feel to have such a big role in perpetuating abusive relationships and sexism in pop culture?
— Rhonda Rogombe (@RhonniRogo) June 29, 2015
But it wasn’t all bad news for the author responsibly for turning Twilight Fan Fiction into a world wide phenomena with many fans and twitter users jumping to her defence.
Hey, if you guys get tired of lashing out at #AskELJames, you can come buy 125 million copies of my book and show me.
— Carrie Bailey (@PeevishPenman) June 29, 2015
Hey feminists attacking #AskELJames for writing fiction…..women in the middle east are stoned for showing their ankles. Priorities.
— Jiggery-Poke Me (@JalenCantEven) June 29, 2015
This #AskELJames hashtag is chock full of some weapons grade crazy. Blaming a book for abusive relationships is….insane.
— Heather (@hboulware) June 29, 2015
E.L. James has had enough abuse thrown at her tonight to produce at least five more novels with her as the main character. #AskELJames
— Mush Mouth (@GirrlGenius) June 29, 2015
It’s fiction, why are there idiots going on about it being abuse and not love? Learn the difference between reality and fiction #AskELJames
— Croatoan (@FilipaMcQueen) June 29, 2015
Whether you agree with James’ trilogy or not, it’s hard to argue that the series has tapped into a market. I’ve lost count of the amount of “50 Shades” rip off’s I’ve seen, the clumsy attempts to tie into the market, I’ve even seen a conference brochure with the tag line “50 shades of EA/PA.” There is nothing inherently evil in literature, and while I admit to a chuckle here or there while reading the hashtag this morning, I can’t help but wonder “When did we all get so caught up in being outraged, we can’t differentiate between fact and fiction?”