What with the upcoming release, I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials lately for Fifty Shades of Grey. My question is simple: What the fracking bull?
I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey, or Fifty Shades Darker, or Fifty Shades of Pissed Off Writers Everywhere, or whatever the sequels are called. “Mommy Porn” that originated as fan fiction of an already terrible series does not interest me. Learning the notoriously naughty BDSM the story boasts is vanilla at best, and, at worst, secondhand, drove my interest even lower. I have no issue with YA fiction, romance novels, or erotica, but something about E.L. James’s skyrocket into the “literary world” bothers the shit out of me. How these books were published is beyond my understanding.
Even worse: they’ve made a movie out of it…
And here’s where American Capitalistic Opportunism wins out over Moral and Creative Integrity. Not only has a publishing house republished a terrible story with a slight twist, now Hollywood has produced a movie they’ve already made. Because we should, none of us, forget the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight fan fiction.
When Hollywood made the Twilight movies they cast actors who actually, sort of, mostly resembled the images of the characters I had in my head while reading the insipid novels. Cedric Diggory made a great Sparkly Vampire, and Never-Learned-to-Smile made for an exquisitely boring heroine. A pretty English boy and a symmetrical American girl made us believe in vampires, if only for the one hundred twenty minutes each movie runs.
Now with Fifty Shades, a story that appears to be primarily
porn about kinky sex, the casting director, who had her fucking job cut out for her, failed to deliver. Or, if it wasn’t that person who dropped the ball, it was the makeup/costuming department that failed.
They took a pretty girl:
and made her incredibly homely:
Which, perhaps, is more true to the character (again: I have not read the books). But if you’re going to put a book reported to be one big sexy, handcuffed romp on the big screen why not make her attractive? (Especially when you’ve cast an already attractive woman?)
And the dude (because straight men are not this movie’s target audience):
They cast one of Calvin Klein’s interchangeable parts (who looks way sexy with facial hair), shaved him down to his baby-face and made him look like he’s trying on daddy’s suit for the first time:
Not attractive. Not alluring. Mostly creepy. If a real, live dude looked and dressed and behaved how they portray Christian Grey in the clips and trailers any curious, sane, crazy, intelligent, or insecure woman would, hopefully, have a voice in her head telling her to run… run fast. Dude is creepily aggressive half the time, and eerily emotionless the rest. If he were a vampire his behavior might be acceptable. As it stands, he’s got “sociopath” written all over him. No one is going to let their friend date a person like this without either saying something, or at least watching them very, very carefully.
But, as far as I know, no one stops Anastasia from letting this jackwad bind her and assume control over her person in the name of Love. And the audience is supposed to believe he cares for her more than he wants to control her. We are supposed to buy into this illusion of romance so much that the fact it’s being released on Valentine’s Day (not February 14th, Valentine’s Day) shouldn’t creep out the American public.
It’s fucking twisted. The trailer features an amazingly creepy clip of him feeling her up under the table at a dinner party with his voice over telling us that he “doesn’t do romance” leading this American, heterosexual woman to believe the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is not intended to be Romantic in any regard despite the movie’s release date.
I believe there are romantic, loving couples who enjoy a healthy, consensual bondage-based sex life. And that they should celebrate! To each, his own, I say! I’m not about to get in your way or pass judgement. None of my qualms about this work come from my puritanical beliefs about sex and love, but from my standpoint as a woman and a writer. The story is about an insecure young woman being entirely enveloped by an aggressive alpha male. She subsequently disappears entirely into his way of life, rather than growing and developing as her own person. As a woman that makes me sad. So many real life women are lost to other, stronger willed people as it is; sometimes it’s a partner, sometimes it’s family or friends. No matter the situation, it’s unfortunate that women so easily disappear into someone else’s idea of who they should be.
As a writer, I’m pissed Twilight fan fiction is being hailed as anything other than what it is: poorly written porn. These books, and subsequent movie, are a travesty of American literature.
It has, however, inspired some great sarcastic Internet memes*:
This query from Claire Standish:
As well as this brilliant advice from Ellen:
And a comic of what the actual story should have been:
*I got most of these from typing “Fifty Shades of Bullshit” into a Google Image search. Which, it turns out, is a pretty funny anti-Fifty Shades Tumblr: FiftyShadesofBullshit.