Should we really be all that excited for the ’50 Shades of Grey’ movie?
If you regularly hang out on the Internet, chances are you’ve run into the newest 50 Shades of Grey trailer. If you’ve watched it (no shame there, girlfriend), you’ll know that it’s basically just an extension of the first trailer —but with just a LITTLE bit more NSFW footage. You know, like Christian’s “Red Room of Pain,” a few naughty shots of Anastasia Steele in her underwear, Christian Grey sans shirt, and oh yeah — some racy clips from all those bondage scenes. Suffice it to say, the trailer is pretty heavy and has caused the web to basically implode on itself from sheer excitement. But is this a movie we should really be supporting with such gusto?
TIME Magazine promotes the trailer with the subheading, “More Christian, more anticipation.” People’s headline is “50 Shades of Grey Gets a Second Trailer That’s Even Hotter, and Cooler.” Additionally, dozens and dozens more websites and magazines are celebrating 50 Shade’s imminent release in theatres. But should we really be so quick to jump on the 50 Shades fanboat?
If you haven’t read the trilogy, here’s a quick synopsis: 50 Shades of Grey centers on Anastasia Steele, a bookish, mousy girl with a penchant for tea and all things average. She meets Christian Grey, CEO of Grey Enterprises, when her roommate asks her to interview him for their college paper. After the interview, it’s game over. Or rather, it’s game on. Christian introduces Ana to his world of BDSM and there are rules, and things get intense. Yes, there are literal rules —a contract, which Ana has to sign in order to sleep with Christian.
But that’s not even what bugs me [slight spoilers ahead!]. I actually think it’s great that female sexuality is being explored in a less conventional light, and we do need more conversations about the normalcy of the various types of sex we engage in. However, 50 Shades doesn’t exactly provide steady footing for such a conversation, nor does it portray BDSM very accurately or comprehensibly.
In the books, Ana and Christian have a really unbalanced, unhealthy relationship. Christian is depicted as a tortured Type A personality who is really controlling of Ana. The bottom line: this story just doesn’t illustrate or promote a positive view on women. 50 Shades pegs Ana as a meek, hyper-dependent young girl who is willing to let go of her identity for a man. This love affair doesn’t just consume her —it completely destroys any sense of self she might have had.
So when we celebrate the movie and movie’s trailer, are we perpetuating the problem? Are we saying this kind of dynamic between a couple is OK? Or are we brushing this inconveniently precarious and questionable plot aside because 50 Shades is hot and mildly entertaining and we want to keep it one-dimensionally so? Arguably, 50 Shades of Grey probably isn’t the go-to marker for every person’s idealized relationship, but like most cultural phenomenas, it’s bound to have some kind of effect on some of us. So maybe let’s tread lightly with this one.