This February saw the release of the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ sequel, ‘Fifty Shades Darker’. The film, being both one of the most anticipated and dreaded sequels of the year is currently number two at the box office with a current estimated American gross of 68 million dollars. A copious amount of people, including myself dread the release of Fifty Shades, and still ponder over why the series has achieved such high praise. The answer is simple; people like sex, but what still baffles me is why this has become the signature erotic film of the century.
People enjoy discussing sex, joke about it and experience it in artistic mediums. That’s a simple answer for why the Fifty Shades series is so popular, but as I said before I still do not understand why this series has become the pinnacle of erotic fiction.
To prepare for this editorial I forced myself to read the first book and watch the film adaptation, but could only make it halfway through both. The plot is horrendously stale, the dialogue is laughably bad and the characters are boring and thin. Then there’s the component that everybody enjoys it for: the sex, which is probably the worst part. The sex is mind-numbingly boring in the book and more over halts the plots than progresses it, it’s not even better in the movie partly because of the limitations of an R-Rating but mainly because it’s being adapted from awful material. The success of this series blows my mind for two reasons: one is the fact that there are way better works about how sex is handled, including films like “Eyes Wide Shut, Brokeback Mountain”, “Y Tu Mama Tambien”, “The Handmaiden”, “Blue is the Warmest Color” or the works of D.H. Lawrence and Anais Nin that all have better sex scenes, but are also enjoyable as masterpieces of art. The second part of this is that despite all the works I previously mentioned as having artistic merit and better erotic scenes, they have all faced more scrutiny than Fifty Shades, which has no artistic merit and isn’t even enjoyable as a film. Then there’s still the pinnacle criticism being that the series completely misrepresents BDSM culture and glorifies an abusive relationship. Stated already by multiple members in a guest column for the Hollywood Reporter of the BDSM culture, “the depiction of BDSM is inaccurate and normalizes an abusive relation as BDSM.”
Professional dominatrix Lady Velvet Steel lays outs the problems with the depiction in the first movie. She explains that while she doesn’t have many criticisms towards the techniques and props used in the film, what concerns her is that the relationship is abusive, and it is being depicted as a BDSM relationship is both misleading and concerning. She explains that an S&M relationship is about consent, and none of those values are present in the film with Christian’s stalking and abusive nature. Anastasia obviously does not enjoy it, but is only participating to impress Christian. She then cites the 2002 film “Secretary”, which is a much more accurate representation of a BDSM relationship. After watching the film, I was convinced that it was another work that E.L. James ripped-off to write her first novel, which was already a rip-off of Twilight.
Please stop giving money to the Fifty Shades franchise. The books and movies are poorly written and filmed, just rip-offs of more popular and better written works and horrifically ignorant about BDSM culture. Romanticizing abusive relationships is not something that we need in the modern era. You are better off watching the films and reading the books I stated previously, or just watch “The Lego Batman Movie”, a movie that took number one at the box office this past weekend.
Sure it doesn’t have sex, but it is a better written and well-made movie which is more than you can say about “Fifty Shades Darker”.