’50 Shades’ Casting Dominates Internet: 49 Reasons Not to Care Gina Vaynshteyn

Okay, so I’m not actually going to give you 49 reasons, but hear me out anyway. The casting of 50 Shades of Grey, the fastest selling book series of all time that focuses and explores an S&M lifestyle, has finally been announced. Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy is going to play Christian Grey, a beautiful and troubled millionaire who likes to beat the sh*t out of women. Dakota Johnson, a fairly new actress, is set to play his bookish, virginal playmate. Just like with Ben Affleck’s upcoming role as Batman, many people are either extremely upset, excited, bemused or simply unimpressed. Ultimately, there are a LOT of emotions over the casting announcement; there’s even a petition that demands Johnson and Hunnam be replaced. But everyone just needs to chill out and consider the bigger issue at hand.

Which is: how does one translate 50 Shades of Grey into film? I was talking to my mom and saying how crazy it is that they are going to be filming a porno (essentially), and it’s going to be playing on the Big Screen. She said, “oh, you used to be able to watch porn at the movies in the ’70s. Haven’t you seen Taxi Driver?” So, why are we freaking out over who is playing who when a movie about explicit sex is going to be playing in mainstream movie theatres?

This trilogy is going to be huge. It’s going to be stretched out for as long as possible; it’s going to be the new Twilight, but a thousand times more raunchy and probably written just as badly. People are extremely invested in 50 Shades, to say the least, so it’s understandable that fans want actors who can portray the perfect Christian and Anastasia.

And who says Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson can’t? First of all, I’m sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but none of the characters in the trilogy are complex. They’re just not. E..L. James follows a formula that has been utilized since romance novels were born. A mysterious, gorgeous man or “bad boy” with a dark past is afraid of commitment (or in this case, a “vanilla” relationship) and he meets a smart, delightful, “different” girl who forever changes him after she realizes why he is the way he is. Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele are stereotypes. Archetypes, actually.  These characters are so basic, any actor-in-training should be able to play them flawlessly. Since Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson have proven to be decent if not talented actors, I have full faith they can play their respective, simple roles.

The second reason why I’m assuming why there is so much backlash in response to the casting decision, is that fans have decided the actors just don’t look like how they imagined Christian and Ana to look.  Christian is supposed to have copper hair, Ana has blue eyes, etc. I honestly don’t even remember E.L. James going into detail about this couple. At least, not their faces, if you know what I mean. In my opinion, both actors are attractive, and hair dye and colored contact lenses do exist. However, over this past year, fans have been nominating their favorite actors (which include Emma Watson, Alexis Bledel, Robert Pattinson, and Matt Bomer), so they have, in a sense, already developed an association and attachment for and to their beloved characters.  People have already envisioned who should play Ana and Christian, so when it turns out that not a single speculated actor was chosen to play the parts, people FREAKED.  Also, it’s widely known E.L. James based Christian Grey’s character off of Edward Cullen, so I can understand why fans would want Pattinson to embody that role. Fine.

But it’s not happening.  Dana Brunetti, 50 Shades producer, explains: “There is a lot that goes into casting that isn’t just looks. Talent, availability, their desire to it, chemistry with the other actor, etc. So if your favorite wasn’t cast, then it is most likely due to something on that list. Keep that in mind while hating and keep perspective.”

A lot of actors may not have wanted to be associated with the franchise. They may really not like the book, or they could possibly hate the characters in it. They might not want to get naked and kinky in front of a camera. I actually think it’s really brave of Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson to take on these roles, because they are going to have to bare a lot of themselves to the world.

As kind-of promised, I have one reason to care about the casting, and that’s whether these actors are going to help make this a film about sexual discovery, mutual sexual consent, and unconventional romance and NOT about abuse, Stockholm Syndrome, and the idea that every girl should tolerate a sexual lifestyle they’re not comfortable with just because their partner is hot and wealthy. If Dakota can bring more life and intellect into Ana’s character, or if Charlie can somehow make Christian compelling, then I give both of these actors my blessings.

Featured image via USWeekly

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  1. I started reading the books and got so bored… I couldn’t finish. I kept thinking there has got to be more to this and nope. I think the most horrible part was reading the expressions- “gah.”

  2. I have no desire to read the books or watch the movie. It just doesn’t seem that interesting and I was especially checked out when I read that it started as Twilight fanfic. I do find it funny how the internet was in an uproar about the casting. There are better erotic novels and movies out there so I am passing 8-)

  3. I wonder why people is still concerned about explicit sex being showed in main stream cinemas, but not as much about explicit violence…

  4. yes the books were mildly entertaining if you had the choice between reading them and watching paint dry. The writing was awful (anyone else want to send E.L James a THESAURUS!) unfortunately the millions of women (and men too) who purchased the trilogy in such a high volume were simply caught up in a world-wide guilty pleasure. Its a naughty book, which became a trend., which became every second person on a bus, a beach, your office, reading and talking about the dashing Mr Grey. In my opinion, paperback is how it should stay. Its one thing sitting in your living room, with a glass of wine, giggling to yourself, blushing at the sexual antics… Than watching on a big screen with a bunch of strangers. The books gave women the opportunity to do something daring and different and to be able to talk about it, just not to the husbands (queue girly whispering and giggling) and ask their friends what chapter they are on and having a smile to yourself when you see someone reading it in public… but when it comes to a movie? Lets be honest, we are all quite happy to read the books and let our imaginations run wild, a sort of private perversion if you will, but there is something very non Sex and the City about going to see 50 Shades of Grey in the cinema with your girlfriends… you might not be so friendly when your emerge 2 hours later.

  5. Yay for groups of strangers and friends watching porn together! I bet Paul Reubens is going to seem normal after all this…

  6. Ok, so yes, the books are horrendously written. But, Gina, the last paragraph of your article you say: “I have one reason to care about the casting, and that’s whether these actors are going to help make this a film about sexual discovery, mutual sexual consent, and unconventional romance and NOT about abuse, Stockholm Syndrome, and the idea that every girl should tolerate a sexual lifestyle they’re not comfortable with just because their partner is hot and wealthy.”

    If you’ve read the book, you know that it’s not about abuse. Anastasia holds her own with this domineering gazillionaire. In other words, she has standards (even if they’re not typical), and she demands that he meet her somewhere in the middle. Which, when you think about the character’s age and inexperience, is a little surprising.

    Even still, I couldn’t care less who’s cast. I trudged my way through the book. I can’t see subjecting myself to this story twice.

    • I actually have read the books. I’m going to have to stick to my guns on this one. In every single book, Anastasia always has to check in with Christian, ask his permission to see her friends, and she even has to beg him to keep her job. One instance that infuriated me was when she wanted to keep her last name solely for her job/career to have a little bit of distance from her husband (who bought the company she worked for so that he could have more control over her) and he got upset and SHE GAVE IN. He chooses her food and clothes for her for fuck’s sake. That’s abuse. Controlling someone like that IS abuse. I do agree with you that she probably isn’t being abused physically, since she does communicated her “hard limits,” but often times I wondered if she just wanted to satisfy Christian when she would submit to being the “submissive”.

      Gina Vaynshteyn | 9/06/2013 03:09 pm
      • Agreed, Gina. The author telling us repeatedly that Ana is brave and strong and bright doesn’t make it true. She’s constantly worried about provoking him and she’s terrified of what he’ll do to her. That’s not a consensual BDSM relationship – that’s abuse. Whenever she does try to stand up to him, he tears her right back down and she’s back to being a meek sexual servant.

  7. upto I looked at the draft ov $6591, I did not believe that…my… brothers friend woz like they say trully bringing in money part time on there computar.. there friend brother has been doing this 4 only about 20 months and as of now repayed the dept on their mini mansion and bought a gorgeous Fiat Multipla. their explanation http://www.Jobs94.com

  8. I remember sitting at my last job while my co-workers talked about how amazing and steamy these books were. I tried to get through them and instantly realized that I would never be able to relate to these women. Seriously, did everyone skip English class in high school? It made my eyes bleed; but I digress. Both Alexis Bledel and Emma Watson commented how they would never be in a movie like this and that they thought the books were awful. Matt Bomber said repeatedly from the first rumors that he would never be able to play this role do to prior commitments. People are really losing it…

  9. I couldn’t even finish the trilogy, the writing was so bad. At the end of the first one, I was just like, “That was it? All this hype is for THAT?” I have NO clue how a movie is going to work. Ridiculous.
    And I love that everyone wants actors they love to play these roles that they would never actually do. I mean, Alexis Bledel? For real?

  10. She did not simply base Christian off Edward Cullen, this piece of literary trash started as a Twilight fanfiction. Let’s not forget that.

  11. I loved the books and I don’t think any actor/actress would have made me extremely happy. HOWEVER I really thought that Emma Stone would have made a great Anastasia, I wasn’t really big on who would play Christian. Like you said, his character isn’t complex… As long as he had that icey stare it’ll be good enough.

    Cant wait to see it!

  12. ….. I really like Charlie Hunnam! Not only is he gorgeous, but he’s also a talented actor! Booo to that!

  13. Thank you, my thoughts exactly. I’m not entirely happy with this movie being made but it’s going to happen so people should just calm down.

  14. Emma Watson?? Hahaha…like she would ever do a movie like this. Sigh.

    • Hahaha, I’m pretty sure she even tweeted something basically saying that she can’t believe people actually thought she’d be doing that kind of movie.