Fifty Shades of Babe: Duke Nukem Reads E. L. James

I thought about photoshopping an image, but my brain balked at the terrible and possibly illegal possibilities

I had been worried that Duke Nukem would never, ever make me laugh again. Then I listened to his voice actor Jon St. John reading an extract from ubiquitous rutting tome 50 Shades of Gray in character as Duke, and a multitude of recent sins were forgiven.

This happened at the recent Connecticon 2012 convention, and was orchestrated by Team Four Star, who do something I don’t understand to do with Dragonball Z, which I also don’t understand. Young people today, eh? Or, to be more precise, older people pursuing the interests of young people. That’s ok, though – I run a gaming blog for a living, after all. Anyway, take it away Duke. Probably NSFW, presuming you work somewhere repressed and fearful.

Dunno about you, but I’m feeling aroused. It’s as though it was written for him. I think we can all agree that St. John needs to voice the official audiobook.

I have no particular opinion on 50 Shades of Gray itself, bar vague bemusement as to why half the world is so annoyed that loads of women might want to read something sexy. I have, however, been wishing that every other Tweet and headline I read isn’t about E.L. James’ mega-selling bonkfest. Now I’m as guilty as everyone else of adding more coal to its perpetual Zeitgeist engine. I’M THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION.


  1. Jimbo says:


  2. Kollega says:

    Duke’s voice was MADE for reading vulgar nonsense. I think that at it’s best, he should pull the same kind of jokes Leslie Nielsen’s characters do.

  3. NarcoSleepy says:

    I’ve actually never played any of the Duke Nukem games, but now I want to.


  4. Teovald says:

    From what I have seen, 50 shades of grey is hilariously badly written. I can’t wait to hear duke recites some passages.

    • Kdansky says:

      link to

      Here, a long and detailed summary with tons and tons of snark and cynicism. Great read if you’ve got a few dozen hours to kill.

      TLDR: It’s a badly written re-telling of Twilight with equally shallow and incoherent characters, pretends to be about BDSM, when in reality it’s just a badly abusive relationship (a social worker offered a check-list in the comments, and the main characters manage to check about 80% of all red flags, which is “get the police before someone dies”-territory), and BDSM-people passionately hate it because it’s the complete opposite of what they actually like. It’s also baffling how something so bad can be so popular. I mean, Harry Potter wasn’t as good as it sold, but this is just horse dung!

      • MordeaniisChaos says:

        No offense to the BDSM crowd but plenty of them are in similar relationships, or write about similar relationships, or have been in similar relationships. I speak from somewhat personal experience, and a member of the fringe of that particular community.
        Sounds like a hilarious read though :3 Is it literally a retelling of Twilight, or more of a rip off?

        • Teovald says:

          It started off as a Twilight fanfiction (yes, seriously).
          Then the history was altered in order to do not have to be sued.

        • Kdansky says:

          The book pretty much concludes that for BDSM to enter your life, you need to have shitty parents and get raped at the age of 15 by an older women. I’m not joking, that’s actually the back-story of the male protagonist (who is into SM). That’s about as correct as “video games make people into killers”. True in some sick and twisted corner cases, but generally speaking entirely incorrect.

          Twilight: It started out as fan-fic, and you can tell after two lines which character is which apparently, if you’ve read both books, it’s still that insanely close.

      • malkav11 says:

        It’s not really that baffling to me. Twilight, Eragon, The Da Vinci Code, the Michael Bay Transformers movies (especially 2), Atlas Shrugged, and many other egregiously terrible works have done huge numbers. (Not to mention the success of things like the Jerry Springer Show, Jersey Shore, etc.) The general public has at best questionable taste.

        • Jesus H. Christ says:

          the reason is it is easier to sell stupid shit to smart people than vice versa. That’s why everything is written at a grade five level.

      • JackShandy says:

        “Necrophilia is not my thing. I like my women sentient and receptive.”

        Smooth talker!

      • RegisteredUser says:

        Regardless of theme or content, it kind of saddens me as someone who has been to writing workshops and knows people who can actually, actually WRITE(and more mindblastingly awesome and poetic at age 16 than some will ever manage, partly due to actually still being in that state of age and mind) that these authors “get away with being bad writers”.
        And not just that – they become stars and multi-millionaires.
        Then again we’ve got a similiar story for movies and music, so its not as huge a surprise. Its just more near and dear to my heart for the writing world, because I always – illusion, I know – held that kind of secret belief that books were very, very special.

        That, on top of not actually being any good on a CRAFT level, these authors also have horrendous world views reflected in their material just makes it all the worse.

        I’m going to just stop thinking about this now, it gives me both a head- and stomach ache, and pretty strong ones.

    • gunny1993 says:

      1 rule I always adhere to when choosing a new book to read …. if lots people who don’t tend to read (People who only read on holiday I’m looking at you here) rage about a book being amazing 8/10 times it will be absolute trash …. examples are: 50 shades, Twilight and Hunger Games.

      • Apples says:

        At least those books had better punctuation than your post.

        • caddyB says:

          I didn’t read it, but if I did it would be for the plot.

        • Claidheamh says:

          Nobel prize José Saramago doesn’t punctuate his books, and they’re pretty good. But then, he’s a Nobel prize winner.

        • gunny1993 says:

          Good for you; in a informal forum you have spotted some bad punctuation …. SOMEONE GIVE THE MAN A FUCKING MEDAL.

      • uh20 says:

        all popular books are trash, pick up the back isle books instead, i have only seen one bad series soo far by avoiding the popular books
        minus harry potter, was not bad in the beginning books

        and that bad series was not bad to me because it edited worldwar1 with dragons, which is amuzing

        • RegisteredUser says:

          My mind kept trying to autocorrect that to “Black Isle”, until I realized you just can’t spell “aisle” properly.

          Black Isle did have some terrific reading though.

          By the way: A lot of popular stuff may be shit, but something good isn’t shit just because its also gotten popular.

  5. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    Words escape me.

    Need. More.

  6. The Random One says:

    When life names you Jon St. John, you spend it being awesome.

    St. John had already earned my respect by loaning his voice to a real satire game that was called something like Stab/Shoot Many Guys 2: Revenge. I don’t know if that ever got made, but he’s OK in my book.

    • westyfield says:

      You’re thinking of Dudebro: My Shit Is Fucked Up So I Got to Shoot/Slice You II: It’s Straight-Up Dawg Time.

  7. Zenicetus says:

    Gilbert Gottfried does it better:

    • Claidheamh says:


      • LionsPhil says:

        Like most things from the ’90s – we should have left it there.

        Now there’s a contentious statement for a PC gaming site. 1995, smack-bang in the middle of the decade? Dark Forces, Descent, Full Throttle, Command & Conquer, Wing Commander IV, Flight Unlimited, Worms…

        • sinister agent says:

          Yeah, but at the same time as all those games, we had piles and piles of mediocre and awful games as well. Same as it ever was.

      • Man Raised by Puffins says:

        If you want to hear Gottfried expounding further of the subject on the subject of vaginas, I must heartily recommend his roast of Joan Rivers: link to

        It’s quite the thing.

      • lurkalisk says:

        @F3ck – “Like most things from the ’90s – we should have left it there.”

        If most of the ’90s should have been left behind, then the ’00s were such a cultural wasteland, so utterly devoid of value, that any survivor should be considered an absolute fool for not having committed suicide in order to avoid as much of the decade as possible. For that matter, stick the ’70s and ’80s in the same category (albeit it by a milder qualification). The ’90s, relatively speaking, we’re pretty good, and the Duke is part of that. Also the Duck of Death, but that’s another chapter of: “the ’90s were way cooler than you were alive to know”.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I love him.

      I wish there’d be more standup of him.

  8. Obc says:

    DragonBall is Owned by TOEI ANIMATION, Ltd. and Licensed by FUNimation Productions, Ltd.. All Rights Reserved. DragonBall, DragonBall Z, DragonBall GT and all logos, character names and distinctive likenesses thereof are trademarks of TOEI ANIMATION, Ltd. This is nothing more than a Parody made for entertainment purposes only.

    • subedii says:

      Please support the official release.

      Most people probably won’t get DBZ Abridged, I suspect it mainly clicks with people who watched the original and hilariously bad series that stretched everything out for dozens of episodes at a time. So seeing them shrink everything down to 10 minute intervals somehow ends up being funnier and at the same time more cohesive.

      • sinister agent says:

        I have always hated and loathed Dragonball Z. Some of my best friends adored it when we were in school, but I thought and still think it was fucking terrible.

        But Dragonball Z Abridged is absolutely brilliant. For the uninitiated: look it up on youtube. They re-edit Dragonball Z, telling roughly the same stories, but with all the garbage and 45 minute scenes of absolutely nothing happening removed, and a truckload of jokes and quality voice work added. It really is a fantastic bit of comedy.

        • Obc says:

          the jokes are hilarious and i love ghost nappa. there are so many great one liners in the show. i also like that about everyone besides vegeta is portrayed as a moron and it s glorious whenever vegeta has a ragefit because of other peoples stupidity .

          “are you ok in there?”
          “yeah i’m fan-fuckin-tastic! nothing but gum-drops and icecream in here.”
          “oh really? can i come in too?”
          “i’m surrounded by idiots”
          “i though you were surrounded by gum-drops and icecream?”

        • uh20 says:

          now i have to watch it, will edit what i think

        • Voon says:

          eh, the anime was pure horeshit anyway but not the manga. now that, I absolutely adore. fights are much faster, there. better humour too, if you count pre-Z Dragonball

        • RegisteredUser says:

          This video contains content from ABGroup, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.

          Always with this internet oceans / IP shit.

  9. Soon says:

    I photoshopped it for you instead, Alec. Should probably be illegal.

  10. Lev Astov says:

    I’ve had the good fortune to meet John St. John a few times. He comes to MAGFest every year now, it seems. He’s a really great guy and puts on an exceptional panel about voice acting and such, pulling shenanigans like this on request. I hear he’ll also make a voicemail answering message for you for a very reasonable fee.

    • EOT says:

      He did one for a site I used to stream at for $50. Not bad considering.

  11. LionsPhil says:

    That guy on the left sure is enjoying it.

  12. elmo.dudd says:

    “I have no particular opinion on 50 Shades of Gray itself, bar vague bemusement as to why half the world is so annoyed that loads of women might want to read something sexy.”
    Maybe its because of it being stocked in the grocery store impulse aisles rather than among publications of equal content? It doesn’t always have to do with someone being inferior to you Alec.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      Heh, if you look at the books sold in grocery stores, this is pretty par. Most romance novels feature at least one explicit (if vanillamissionary) sex scene, with the main characters worried about orgasming inside the woman and what haves you (yes, actually read these).

      And then there are the mens magazines, almost every niche publication features a monthly shoot of some model with fake tits posing in a bikini ontop of a flaming motorcycle, and don’t even get me started on Sports Illustrated SI edition.

      This is all 3 feet to the left or above of childrens books.

      • sinister agent says:

        Seriously. There is far, far more explicit stuff going on in hundreds of books in every library, much of it freely mixed among the general fiction, and there has been for decades. Kids won’t read fifty shades of grey because they simply won’t give a shit about it, assuming they even notice it, which is unlikely.

      • Apples says:

        Yeah, I always wondered why books didn’t have age ratings. Mostly after every time I picked up a stack of random books in the library as a kid and opened one only to find a scene about (usually really bizarre) sex.

        Ironically the book is really not sexy unless you’re already into BDSM – I read some over a woman’s shoulder on the tube and it was so poorly, blandly written it was one of the least erotic things I’d ever seen. And I’ve seen deviantart. I mean the part he reads here is described with all the eroticism and sensuality of a routine medical procedure.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Visual imagery is much more immediate than language, to understand a books text the reader is required to have a pre-existing understanding of the concepts that the words code for, with films and pictures a great deal of the code-key is provided with the information. books in many ways have an intrinsic age rating. Which is why when my son asks why Harry Flashman is galloping with a lady after breaking into my study and raiding my bookshelf I can calmly explain that they were horseriding together and stick a hobnob in his mouth to prevent any further interrogation.

          • Apples says:

            I dunno man, I once started on a book when I was young and it pretty much opened with a woman, er, using a gun in a way it was not intended for. Now, I knew what was going on there, but it still wasn’t appropriate! A kid can know the mechanics of sex without all the attached baggage like power dynamics, fetishes, sexual assault etc being fine for them to read about (or see). And sometimes the verbal descriptions get just as detailed as a visual image. I mean yeah, I read a load of pulp sci-fi stuff as a kid and the naked ladies therein didn’t exactly scar me for life, but the fact that anyone can read American Psycho but you must be 18 to see a naked blue bum in Mass Effect is amazing.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            I think the difference is that you were curious enough to read that book, and had developed enough conceptually around the subject matter to understand it, whatever age you were. Films on the other hand can be shown to children that have no understanding of the concepts and can be viewed passively rather than having to be actively engaged with. I think the difference with your example is that the examples you give of what might be inappropriate related to ideologies and discourses rather than subjects (I’m not explaining the difference very well I know), and while ideas can be extremely damaging I think restricting access to books because of the ideology that they promoted has uncomfortable historical precedents!

            The way text is processed is very different to the way visual imagery is, as text is incorporated into an individuals knowledge verbally accessible memory, whereas images can be processed into situationally accesible memory in a similar fashion to traumatic experience. I think getting a kid to watch American Psycho would be much more damaging than their reading it.

            I do think the age rating for ME was stupid though.

          • Apples says:

            But I didn’t want to read that book, and I put it down immediately after seeing that because dang, that’s messed up. I had no way of knowing what its content was or how age-appropriate it might be or not be, because there was nothing saying it wasn’t for kids or young teens. For me it was the equivalent, or maybe worse, of seeing an image I didn’t want to see; I ended up recalling the surprise and distaste and weird shame of reading that a lot more strongly than I remembered any disturbing images (and I saw a couple of Lynch/Cronenberg movies at a very young age so I did see some!). Maybe it depends on the person. I’m not a very visual thinker and it took me a long time to be able to ‘read’/comprehend films at quite a basic level, whereas text affects me much more strongly.

            The movie version of American Psycho is incredibly tame compared to the book, I’d much prefer a kid to see the film! Even if the book were just cut down to the things that happened in the film, I’m not sure which one I’d rate as more potentially ‘damaging’. Yes, definitely one of them requires more active engagement, but if anything that makes it worse – you’re somehow implicit in a way you aren’t with a film, your brain fills in the details whether or not you want it to, you can’t just let the images go by passively. If they had to see one or the other… yeah, I’d pick the film.

            And deffo restricting books has a bad precedent, but I’m not really advocating ideological suppression. Rather, some kind of guideline for young people so they know that if they grab a book in the library, it’s not going to have a rape scene or a mass murder that really, really wasn’t hinted at on the blurb! We already at least vaguely restrict almost all other media content based on age, how did books slip through the cracks?

  13. Bhazor says:

    Was the person recording this huffing Scarecrow’s fear gas?

    And no Alec Meer, 50 Shades of Grey is absolute shit. Seriously. I’ve read more chick clit lit than any straight man should and compared to that Grey is terrible.

    I’ve seriously read MLP ship fics that had more passion. And certainly had more likable characters.

    It’s Twilight with even more blatant Mary Sue… ing. The author has even said it was just her midlife crisis fantasy and started as a Twilight fan fiction.

    At this rate the best seller next year will just be a 600 page description of being fingered by an Egyptian mummy.

    It’s bad bad bad and the people reading it should be ashamed.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I’ve seriously read MLP ship fics that had more passion. And certainly had more likable characters.

      It’s Twilight with even more blatant Mary Sue…ing.

      That context bait-and-switch was entirely intentional, wasn’t it.

  14. Frantics says:

    Haha great.

  15. Totally heterosexual says:

    Speaking as someone who actually does BDSM from time to time, this book is insulting and made of smelly bull whillies.

    Duke made it a bit better though. Thanks Duke <3

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      Are you saying you wouldn’t let Jon St. John insert his two silver balls into you and spank you for your pleasure?

  16. Grape says:

    “My inner Goddess is doing the Dance of the Seven Veils”

    Ouch. The Writing.

    • c-Row says:

      It’s so hillariously bad it even works with the voice of Max Payne.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      What’s worse than the writing is the critics not openly portraying it for the bad craftmanship that it is(whether you like the theme or not, there’s a difference between good writing and bad and this is just bad).

      The review industry has basically become an, er, what’s the english word for “Erfüllungshelfer”?
      Well, enablers should work, I guess. They’ve become coattail-riders of success and enablers of bad writers.
      I guess calling out shit for being shit while half the world is eating it up runs too much risk of reader ire or something. And since paper is dying as is, best not rock the boat?
      I have no idea what’s wrong with these people.

      Just another example of how provocation and buzz outdo quality.

  17. MeestaNob says:

    This video single-handedly rekindled my interest in the Duke Nukem series.