50 Shades of Offensive
With the recent release of the 50 Shades of Grey movie, based on the best selling novel, young women across the world thought it would be a hilarious idea to go see the erotic film with their significant other or friends as a Valentine’s Day activity.
At least that’s what my best friend and I had in mind. And man, how our mindset changed from entering to exiting the theater.
As we set out to see the film, we had both read the book as a joke, as many people did, knowing it was based off Twilight fan fiction. But this is a most extreme case of how different books can be from their movie adaptions. We both definitely recognized there would be a lot of sex in the movie but we had not fully thought out that along with that, we would have to watch graphic scenes of a woman being beaten.
For those of you who do not know, 50 Shades of Grey is about the BDSM relationship between Christian Grey, mysterious CEO of Grey Enterprises, and Anastasia Steele, senior at Washington State University who meets Christian through an interview for a school project. Christian (so sweetly) asks the virgin Anastasia to be the “submissive” to his “dominant” and claims he “doesn’t do romance.” This becomes an issue when Anastasia reveals she is in love with him, which is the only reason she lets him do these awful things to her.
The first issue with this movie was the acting. As her first leading role in a major motion picture, Dakota Johnson (Anastasia) did not bring much to the table (unless you’re talking about the table she got beaten on then that’s a different story). Jamie Dornan (Christian) did a …better job. But overall, the acting was just plain cheesy. I felt as if I was watching two attractive actors do a dramatic reading of the novel. And obviously, trying to act out Twilight fan fiction in a serious manner is hard but I just have high expectations for actors who are getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to, well, act.
Which brings me to my next point—the marketing of this film. This was a big issue for me. I really had faith from what I had seen in interviews with the actors and from the advertisements that the movie was truly going to try to focus more on the romance between these two. Well, both of those were extremely deceiving. The advertisements make it look like some forbidden love story and spoiler alert: it’s not.
Which brings me to point number three—the content. May I first say, what upsets me most about this movie is that once it gets released and becomes accessible to people of all ages, preteens are going to watch this with their friends as a joke and think this is normal. I’m not talking about BDSM – it is not BDSM that is not normal. This movie does not depict it in the way actual BDSM relationships work. The BDSM community was not happy with this film and there are many articles online describing why but that is not what I’m here to talk about.
The content of this movie does not reflect the advertisements. Instead of a forbidden love romance, the film focuses on just an extremely male-dominated relationship. It disgusts me how meek this makes women look. Since Anastasia has never had any sort of sexual relationship with anyone, she is obviously intrigued by Christian. But he literally tells her to stay away from him and guess what? She goes right back to him and then lets him do whatever he wants to her because, as we later find out, she loves him.
You may wonder, why does she love someone who basically abuse her and warns her from the beginning he “doesn’t do romance?” In my opinion, it makes women look like these little vulnerable beings who run back to men that make them “feel” something because they’ve never “felt” before. But the difference is that Christian literally uses these women as objects to give himself personal pleasure as he “pleasures” them. All because, shocker, his first sexual relationship was a BDSM relationship where his mother’s friend was the dominant and he was the submissive.
I don’t love watching on screen sex, but in this case I was begging for more of it to save me from having to watch a women get beaten on screen. These scenes were NOT done in a classy manner. I felt physically uncomfortable and felt the want to leave the theater every time I had to watch these graphic beating scenes.
If this had been a consensual, healthy relationship, I do not think I would have had such an issue with the film. But the fact of the matter is, it was not consensual, it was not a love story (despite the way the advertisements make it look) and it was just not good. I truly went into the film giddy and hoping they made it somewhat classy and left in a feminist rage, angry I gave my money to it.