Fifty Shades is a hundred shades of controversial
It seems that everyone and their mother took a trip this weekend to see the hotly-anticipated movie adaptation of E.L. James’ erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey. As of Sunday, the movie had made over $81.7 million at the box office.
However, contrary to its blockbuster status, the movie’s reception has been less than positive. IMDB gives it a 3.9 out of 10 stars, while its Rotten Tomatoes average falls in at 26 percent.
While plenty of people doubtless saw Fifty Shades “ironically,” and hardly expected it to have cinematic merit, the intensely problematic nature of the book and now the movie cannot be ignored, especially considering the massive popularity of both.
Fifty Shades broke taboo and brought erotica to the mainstream in a huge way. Had Fifty Shades empowered women’s sexuality more than it romanticizes domestic abuse, The Tartan would stand behind it in support.
Unfortunately, Christian Grey is a textbook abuser dressed up like “The Dream Guy,” and his egregious behavior toward Anastasia is excused by virtue of them being in a contractual, ostensibly consensual bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (BDSM) relationship.
However, real-life BDSM communities have continually spoken out against James’ novel, calling it grossly misrepresentative. The central motto of BDSM is “safe, sane, and consensual,” and Christian and Ana’s relationship is none of those things. Christian stalks Ana, abandons her after potentially-traumatizing sexual experiences, and takes control of her life to the point of alienating her from family and friends. Fifty Shades paints Christian Grey as an ideal, when in reality, women should take one look at him and speed-walk in the other direction.
Many Fifty Shades fans have defended it from criticism with the phrase “it’s just a book/movie.” However, no fiction exists in isolation; movies like Fifty Shades spread erroneous, harmful ideas to very real people. Someone intrigued by this falsified version of BDSM could get themselves hurt. Someone could also be trapped in an abusive relationship, thinking their abuser is someone they should want.
In the words of Jamie Dornan, who plays Christian Grey: “Mass appreciation doesn’t always equate to something good. Think of Hitler!” Fifty Shades has much more baggage than its erotic facade implies.