There’s a steamy Harry Styles fan fiction that’s following in the footsteps of Twilight fanfic Fifty Shades of Grey. It started out as a free-to-read online fanfic, but its popularity on Wattpad led to author Anna Todd landing a book deal. The next step is a movie, and one is already in the works.
Paramount Pictures has purchased the rights to Anna Todd’s After, a novel that re-imagines One Direction singer Harry Styles as a bad boy college student with a lip ring who entertains himself by using girls for sex. Instead of pursuing a singing career, After Harry’s secret dream is to become a writer. Author Anna Todd, a 25-year-old Army wife, described her book as “the vanilla version of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey'” during an interview with E! News (if you’re interested in reading the fanfic or book, stop reading now — major spoilers lie ahead).
After is actually more disturbing than Fifty Shades of Grey when it comes to the fanfics’ questionable relationships and controlling male leads. Harry Styles isn’t a billionaire with a sex dungeon who tries to turn the book’s heroine, Tessa Young, into a sex slave, and there are also no whips or handcuffs in any of the fanfic’s explicit sex scenes. However, Harry does do something pretty terrible to Tessa.
Styles can’t stand the goody two-shoes virgin when he first meets her, so he makes a bet with a friend who just happens to be named Zayn Malik: Whoever takes Tessa’s virginity first will score a large sum of money. This proves to be a difficult task for Harry Styles because he and Tessa really, really hate each other. So, in addition to Fifty Shades of Grey, the fanfic has shades of Cruel Intentions and 10 Things I Hate About You.
Tessa is completely clueless about Harry Styles’ bet throughout most of the After fanfic, and she ends up falling in lust with him and losing her virginity to him. He’s possessive, violent, verbally abusive, and cruel, and he doesn’t stop messing around with other girls while toying with Tessa’s heart. Harry also keeps the bloody sheets that Tessa lost her virginity on in the trunk of his car as proof of his conquest. Tessa forgives him over and over again, even after finding out about the bet and the sheets.
At least Anastasia Steele knew what she was signing up for in Fifty Shades of Grey — Christian even had a contract detailing exactly how she would be treated. Anna Todd tries to make Harry Styles a more sympathetic character by explaining that his bad behavior is the result of something horrific that he witnessed as a child, but his actions are so vile that they should be impossible for a girl to forgive. Tessa also isn’t as angelic as she first seems to be — she cheats on her extremely nice, forgiving boyfriend with Styles, and she toys with the hearts of plenty of other boys while she works on changing Harry. Tessa also drags a good friend by the name of Liam Payne into her wretched relationship with Styles, relying on him for emotional support every time Harry treats her terribly.
During an interview with Re/code, Anna Todd revealed that she fell in love with One Direction fan fiction after discovering it on Instagram.
“I was an avid reader, and started I reading fan fiction, One Direction fan fiction specifically, on Instagram.”
Todd actually wrote her Harry Styles fanfic on her phone.
“I think as I got used to it, it seemed easier to use the small keyboard. Most of us are on our phones 90 percent of the time. I’m actually more familiar with the text keyboard than I am with an actual laptop, so it just seemed easier.”
This is the woman whose words are influencing millions of teen girls’ views on love.
It took Todd just over a year to complete After. The fanfic had to be heavily edited when it was turned into a book, and the names of characters based on One Direction had to be changed. Harry Styles became Hardin Scott, Liam Payne became Landan, Zayn Malik is now Zedd, Niall Horan is Nate, and Louis Tomlinson is Logan.
Anna mentioned that many of her readers are younger One Direction fans, but After is definitely a rated-R read. It’s going to be interesting to see what Paramount does with the movie — the production company might want to cut out the very repetitive sex scenes to make After marketable to a larger crowd. It’s also disturbing to think that millions of teens now picture manipulative Hardin Scott as the perfect guy. Harry/Hardin continues to find new ways to hurt Tessa as they make up and break up countless times, and his obsessive, possessive feelings for her are extremely unhealthy. How many impressionable One Direction fans already have a romanticized view of emotionally abusive relationships because of After?
Anna Todd would love for the real Harry Styles to play Hardin Scott in the After movie, but she knows there’s little chance of the singer signing up for the project.
“I would love Harry to do it, but I can’t imagine him getting into that kind of role. He is too sweet to play him. Douglas Booth is my other dream cast. Indiana Evans was cast as Tessa when I was writing the fan fiction on Wattpad, so that’s who I would want to play Tessa. However, I trust the producers to pick the perfect Tessa.”
Judging from some of the comments on the E! News article, many Harry Styles fans hate After because they believe that it’s damaging Harry’s image by casting him as a character who is emotionally abusive. As The Inquisitr previously reported, Anna Todd experienced a huge Twitter backlash from Styles fans after releasing an After prequel titled Before.
If you’re actually tempted to read more about the terrible exploits of Anna Todd’s re-imagined Harry Styles, After is currently available for purchase. It will be followed by After We Collided, After We Fell, and After Ever Happy.
[Image credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images via Fuse]