Shocker of all shockers: the Fifty Shades of Grey movie sucked so hard it left a gaping hole where my soul used to be. Not that I didn’t anticipate maximum suckage since the book was also terrible, but I suppose I held out a vestige of hope that maybe the movie version would be less unrealistic, misogynistic, trite, ludicrous and the direct opposite of sexy — and sex-positive. Here’s five reasons why.
5. The two main characters have zero chemistry.
Congrats, Fifty Shades the movie! I didn’t think there could be worse chemistry between leads than the drama-sodden, forced romance in the Star Wars prequels, but the relationship between Jamie Dornan’s Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson’s Anastasia Steele made about as much sense as Jar Jar Binks making sweet, kinky love to the fuel tank of the Millennium Falcon. Watching Ana’s waifish, naïve passive-aggression and Christian’s stilted Dom-bot, one-dimensional pursuit of a bad D/s relationship made me want to go back in time and apologize profusely to Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez for saying they were the worst on-screen couple in film history.
It stands to reason that a smoking hot, chemistry-balanced Hollywood couple could have helped make Fifty Shades into a slightly less horrible film dump, but I doubt it.
4. The BDSM sex is boring.
While sitting through the whopping twenty-odd minutes of kink/sex in this 100-minute movie, I asked myself what was worse: the Cinemax-lite lame kink in the book or the ridiculously snoozy slop in the movie? I threw up deuces to both, because unrealistic kink and soap opera intercourse are equally inadequate, and I cannot fathom how hordes of bored mommies, hormone-charged teens and BDSM noobs could not feel completely ripped off by paying for tickets to this rube hoedown.
I know it’s been said before, but if people want to see a movie with a decent portrayal of a D/s relationship, with some bite to it, stay home and watch Secretary. James Spader makes Jamie Dornan look like a Wal-Mart greeter.
3. The movie is just as pro-creepy stalker as the book.
I took issue with the borderline-terroristic stalking that book-Christian was into, and movie-Christian didn’t improve upon the creepy. In fact, it may have even been more disgusting watching Count Domula stalking doe-eyed Ana on the big screen. The fanatical fixation Christian displays toward Ana (or more accurately toward coercing her into a twisted version of a D/s arrangement) is gross, and even more appalling is the skeevy way he goes about trying to force her into servitude by stalking her at her job, at a bar, and all the way out of state to her mom’s house, which in real life isn't so much romantic as grounds for a restraining order.
His complete inability to be interested in her in any kind of healthy way isn’t something that should be endearing, sexy or romancy. It should be, and is illegal.
2. The sad Cinderella trope of a movie plot needs to be put out of our misery.
The same sadly outdated and oft-used dynamic of sheltered, gullible virgin girl and sophisticated, powerful man was maybe interesting and hot in some vintage, dog-eared romance novels, but these days movie plots can and should be more nuanced, and well…modern. Women being cast as weak, lifeless dolls who are aching to be controlled and bought off with money and gifts isn't real, and the example of wealthy men with severe emotional problems who prey on gullible young women (instead of becoming Batman like they should do) is tired, feeble and outdated.
Bruce Wayne had mommy issues. He had daddy issues as well. Dude turned shitty childhood anxiety into proactive bad-guy chasing and belt-gadgets, not abusing inexperienced ladies with Hot Topic Halloween props.
1. The movie, like the book, presents BDSM as being for emotionally damaged, abusive sickos.
Having a red room filled with expensive kink accoutrement doesn’t make you a dominant any more than sitting in your backyard with a running hose makes you a birdbath. Fifty Shades of Grey the book and the movie both get BDSM wrong by making audiences believe that being into kink equates to being a mentally unstable perv who uses abuse, manipulation and non-consent while ignoring limits, boundaries, negotiation and trust. In the real world, “dominants” like Christian Grey are at best a joke, and at worst are inmates, and while BDSM communities do have their share of damaged assholes looking to prey on newbies, they are the exception rather than the rule.
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The Fifty Shades movie is a gateway medium for people interested in power-exchange dynamics, but it should be treated as such — and not as a blueprint for a healthy relationship. If you insist on watching it, leave most of what it teaches you about kink in the garbage along with your half-eaten box of popcorn.