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