Let me start off by stating that I’ve never read the books, nor do I intend to.
However, when my friends “dragged” me out on Valentine’s eve to watch the release of the movie, I couldn’t say no. Like most people, I was curious enough to want to find out what all the fuss was about. By then, all I knew about Fifty Shades of Grey was that it contained an awful amount of sexual scenes and was poorly written; bar that, I was clueless. So going in with a sort of blank slate, I was ready to be amused.
So the movie starts, and Anastasia Steele meets the suave Christian Grey, and a chord is struck. Rationally, one could tell that the scenes were constructed so it seemed that they had this deep connection upon first seeing each other, however, the acting out of this chemistry was quite clumsy. I wasn’t sold about their “chemistry” but knowing that’s what was intended, I played along. Yes! They had amazing chemistry. ‘Now move along’ I thought as the film progressed to the next scene.
I won’t go on about the finer details of the movie, you’ll just have to watch it yourself or read a robust review elsewhere. But let’s just say I got what all the fuss was about.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to be taken on spontaneous jet trips, chauffeured around town and bought expensive gifts by a dashing, devilish handsome suitor? Count me in! So yes I enjoyed the thrilling nature of the movie, and being a daredevil who has jumped out of an aeroplane from 20,000 ft high, I found their jet adventure a brilliant date. But enough of what I enjoyed, let’s move on to the heavier stuff.
When I told a friend that I was going to watch the movie, she wondered whether the sexual nature of the plot wouldn’t make for awkward watching with other cinema goers, and I wondered this too. However, I applaud the director of the movie. The sex scenes were sensual and in no way vulgar or lurid. They mad bad look good, given the nature of the sex that Mr Grey was interested in.
Plot? There’s nothing to be said about it, because there was none. The movie could be summarised in a few words- Thrill, sex, anticipation. The end.
Now that I’ve said all the “rosy” things about this movie, I’ll move on to why I titled it ‘Fifty Shades Of Hate?’
Like I said, I’ve never read the books, and at the point of watching the movie, the only thing I had known about it was that it was full of sex scenes. However, what people failed to also
mention challenge, is the reasons behind Mr Grey’s obsession with Ana in particular, and his desire to have sex with her as the Dominant and her, the Submissive.
I don’t know exactly how these things work in the BDSM world(and I don’t care enough to look it up), but the pleasure Mr Grey derived from having intercourse that way became very evident to me as the film progressed.
The terms of the contract he drew up for Anastasia to comply to if they were to have any relations was telling. Without any previous information from the books that followed the first novel, I could tell that his BDSM obsession was a psychological problem, and not one of desire or preference. There were a few tell tale signs like the scars on his chest to know that he was abused as a child. His detest of being touched by her, and the “punishments” he sought to lash out if she was ever out of line was also telling.
After the movie ended, I mentioned my observations to my friends who had read all the books and they informed me that in the books that follow, Christian Grey revealed that he was abused by his mother and sought out women who looked like her to carry out his “sexual acts” on.
Finally it made sense. What I observed was indeed true. His preference for BDSM style sex wasn’t preference, it was an act of aggression towards the women he was sleeping with. In his twisted mind, it was a way of getting back at his mother for what she had done to him as a child. This is why I find this movie, and the book might I add, very disturbing and problematic!
What Christian Grey needs is a series of sessions with a therapist to start the undoing of his childhood and walk through his hate, aversion and aggression towards what had happened to him. What he doesn’t need, is Anastasia to save him from it.
It is disgusting that such a narrative was played out in the movie. Towards the end of the movie, it was made evident that Anastasia had began to change him, and suggested that he would eventually fall in love with her.
You see, what people don’t seem to understand or grasp is that, by choosing to have such sex with ONLY women who fit the description of his mother to act out his aggressive desires on, he has taken all women as a monolith and not only objectifying them and their bodies, but also saying that they deserve it, they just don’t know it yet. He clearly tells Ana in the movie that most people want this kind of pleasure but are just afraid. Umm, I think not!
But it’s just a movie, chill out! Yeah, it’s just a movie, but what message are we sending out to young impressionable people? That they can be beaten, gagged and choked when having sex? We are telling them that they really want it, only if they do away with fear? That if a dashing, successful person of the opposite sex is to take an obsessive interest in them, they should consider going into a relationship with them even if they don’t agree with certain things that the person is up to? That their sole purpose of being with a partner is to save them from their demons? That they should stay in harmful relationships because the oppressor will eventually fall in love with them, and all will be right in their world? That a mentally disturbed man is to be cured with love rather than help from a mental health professional?
I mean, what does this say about our present society and it’s future, if narratives like this continues to persist?
Yes to freedom of speech and to people creating whatever “art” they want, but who holds them responsible for putting out such insanity in public space? Or can they just laugh all the way to the bank as long as we’re having our fill of “entertainment”?
Should creatives, arty types, movie makers, Holly Wood, etc., have a social responsibility?
When can we say that fantasy has gone too far when it has the ability to influence reality and everyday life? These are questions that we should be thinking of even as we enjoy all these sensationalised movies, music videos, and mass media.
We are consuming all of these things at such a fast pace that it’s crazy scary at times!
I remember when I was growing up in Nigeria, after watching a film, the adults around would ask what I learnt from the film- things that were bad and served as a lesson, and things that were good to emulate.
But these days, do we sit and analyse what we’re consuming? Is it purely for entertainment or should it be serving a social purpose? Yeah, we can say it’s just entertainment, but that’s not what research shows.
There are been numerous psychological research that show the influence of violent movies or games on young people. Also, it’s evident that the issues most people face on body image is to do a lot with what is seen as desirable in media. Need I say more?
I’ll end with this, Fifty Shades of Grey was thrilling to watch, but the dangers in its narrative is highly sensationalised and as a result is taking the gaze away from it’s problematic nature.
It’s all well and good that I and some others are educated (and I don’t mean formal education) enough to see the underlying issues and it’s dangerous nature in informing young people with problematic issues as reality; but what happens to those who are not and see this as a great movie that could somehow be emulated and prescribed to their own reality?
If you’re still reading, then I’ve obviously got your attention. What’s your 50 cents on this?
Photo from Google.