As they are want to do, the comments section took the idea and ran with it, each individual taking their turn on the soapbox to throw off their "hell yeah!" or "hell no!" or their theories on what was really going on. Some floated the idea that Fifty Shades popularity was driven by it's origins as a Twilight fanfic. Others theorized that it was the result of it's reputation as a train-wreck of a book that had to be read to be believed. One especially popular analogy was that it was a Twinkie: a piece of literary junk food devoured as a guilty pleasure.
My own response went in a different direction: Beat on the Brat. With a baseball bat.
No, no, no, I don't mean to go around assaulting people with blunt objects! >_< Jesus, internet, you take everything so seriously. I meant this:
That song is from The Ramones, godfathers of punk rock. And when you think about it, the analogy from punk rock to Fifty Shades is pretty apt. While they didn't coin the term, punk rock embraced the ethos of "Three chords and the truth." It was an explicit response to rock acts of the 70's, which were often bombastic, pretentious, and/or overproduced. And frequently, all this stuff was in the service of a message which was vapid, incomprehensible, or just not there. Punk rock put forth the idea that you didn't need any of it. You didn't need talent, you didn't need training, you didn't need thousands of dollars of recording equipment. What you needed was authenticity. What you needed was a message that your audience understood, one that they heard and said "Yeah, right on!" to.
Listen to that song again, and note two things: One, how little is actually in there. The song is one riff repeated endlessly. The lyrics are two verses and a chorus. The two verses are each two identical stanzas of four lines, of which three lines are identical. A grade-schooler could write this song. Two, it's still awesome. You can head-bang to it, or just tap your foot if that's your thing, and either way it'll be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. It's about as stripped-down and minimalist as you can get, and that's all it needs to be to connect with you.
E.L. James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, doesn't have talent. She doesn't need talent, because she has something much better: an idea that resonates with her audience. That's the first consideration, and probably the only one that really matters: speaking to your audience. And if James can do it, then who are we to object? What gives us the right to stand in judgement of good literature or good taste? Should not the reader have the final say as to whether or not the book he paid for was worth his money?
If we are to take a lesson from the success that Fifty Shades has enjoyed, it should be this: the only people that have to be pleased by a work are the author and the reader. If the audience doesn't have a problem with a book's poor writing, why should anyone else? It is less important for us to write lyrical prose or have perfect grammar than it is to tell an interesting story. All the rest is mere technicalities.