By Edwina Cooper and Michael Holmes
50 Shades of…Nope
By Edwina Cooper
You know it is coming. You have seen the trailers. The book that sold over 100 million copies to bored housewives and giggling teenagers, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” is finally opening in a theater near you. Or maybe not, as some theaters are thinking of banning the film. And for a good reason. Fifty Shades is heavy on the hype and light on the consent.
E.L. James must not have researched bondage-domination-sadism-masochism (BDSM) before writing her bestselling trilogy. If she had, she would have known that contracts are not there to be broken, that a novice’s tastes are slowly broadened, and that there is always aftercare. The creed of real BDSM is “Safe, Sane, Consensual” and in Fifty Shades, all of these rules are broken. For example, nowhere does Christian Grey discuss safe words with Ana. Safe words, or safe signals if speech is impeded, are essential to maintain a safe, consensual relationship. They are an off-switch to immediately terminate a BDSM session if one of the players is feeling uncomfortable. Certainly, if an individual would initiate a non-negotiated act, a safe word would be immediately employed. But when Christian Grey breaks his contract with Ana by going beyond the agreed upon terms, not only does Ana not have a safe word to use, it is unclear if Mr. Grey would have listened anyway. In one episode where Ana blatantly says no, Christian Grey threatens “If you struggle, I’ll tie your feet too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you.” This is not a romantic overture, this is a threat. In contrast, the BDSM community understands that any sexual act committed without explicit consent from everyone is rape. E. L. James and her characters apparently do not understand this.
Can we reassure ourselves that this fad is only a fluke and has not done any real damage? Two murder cases inspired by events in the book occurred within a year of Fifty Shades being published. In San Diego, CA and in Umea, Sweden, young women were found dead through sexual abuse at the hands of predatory men. Of course, E. L. James is not to blame for these acts of cruelty, but by promoting unsafe sexual practices and misinformation about BDSM, she is contributing to the problem. Her “love story” makes abuse socially acceptable and allows predators to get off easy. And these stories are disturbingly similar. Young and inexperienced women are charmed by much more experienced and pathological men. Slowly, these women are seduced, abused, and apologized to, only to be abused all over again. Christian Grey fits the bill perfectly with his controlling attitude toward Ana—buying the company she works at, dictating how she spends her time, what she eats, and who she sees. When she thinks about leaving, he retorts, “I would find you. I can track your cell phone – remember?” In James’ happy, fictional wonderland, Ana eventually makes an “honest man” out of Christian Grey. But in real life, two women ended up dead.
You might be saying: that is the book and this is the movie, it will be different, right? Yes, it will be different. It will be worse. Instead of having ambiguous words and the confines of your imagination to pretend that there is anything other than abuse happening, you have an R-rated movie that fails to deliver on its ‘super sexy’ premise and two costars who probably can not remember why they signed onto this movie in the first place. According to Defamer and Jezebel, the press tour for Fifty Shades has been a train wreck due to the mutual dislike between the two stars. Furthermore, there was constant tension and arguments between James and the costars. It is possible that the innate unhealthiness and abusiveness of this relationship soured the actors against each other, against the movie, and against the author herself.
Bottom line: of all the things to spend money on, do not spend it on another women-hating, abuse-enforcing false romance. And if that does not discourage you, know this—the ‘kinky sex’ is not even good.
50 Shades of…Dope
By Michael Holmes
Initially I never intended to watch the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” because after reading the first paragraphs of the book I was instantly bored. However, after watching the film, I realized that Christian and Anastasia have the ideal relationship. They make a point to set clear boundaries for themselves by openly expressing what they do and do not want from each other.
I believe that many people could learn from a relationship in which the dominant and submissive roles are clearly defined and enforced by mutually agreed upon rules. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is arguably the best movie I have seen in the last six months. While many critics argue that this movie reinforces negative stereotypes about men and the dominant and submissive relationship dynamic, I understood this movie to be the perfect love story.
The movie opens with a graduate English major Anastasia, filling in for her friend by conducting an interview with young mogul Mr. Christian Grey. Christian finds himself dangerously attracted to Anastasia as the interview progresses, and eventually his true intentions shine through. The movie focuses primarily on Christian’s journey finding the perfect submissive person for his dominant personality. I would encourage anyone that goes to see this movie to have an open mind, because most people do not engage in such unconventional relationships. As a result, many viewers will be instantly turned off by the formality of the situation: signing non-disclosure agreements and even negotiating the terms of their relationship through a legal contract.
What you will not see in this movie is the typical romance between a man and a woman. You will see her being courted, but you will not recognize it. You will see him devote his entire being to Anastasia, but you will be convinced that she is being used. However, this film will teach its viewers that relinquishing control in one aspect of a person’s life can enhance or even restore power in other areas.
I would rate this film five out of five stars, because it does exactly what it intended to do. This movie introduced the mainstream audience to a new form of romantic films by openly expressing the core boundaries and desires of the main characters. This film allowed audience members a voyeuristic view of interpersonal relationships and the sexual fantasies that can occur behind closed doors.
(c) The Current 2015