February 14th, 2015
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apparently the movie 50 Shades Of Grey is a huge success on its opening weekend. That must be because of reviews like this:
A movie based on one of the worst books in the history of the English language ought to change a hell of a lot if it wants any hope of being a movie that doesn’t top next year’s Razzie Award list. If the film’s directors and editors and producers hadn’t omitted certain scenes, the film would play like a hypersexual Glitter meets Showgirls meets tampon-flinging. Which, as a habitual hatewatcher and hatereader, is kind of a shame.
Anastasia’s inner monologue and “inner goddess” are both absent from the film. Gone from the film is the infamous scene where Christian orders Anastasia to spread her legs and removes her tampon before flinging it into a toilet before fucking her in a bathroom (to experience that scene in all its glory, you’ll either have to read the book or watch this creepy fan-made animation). Gone is the scene when Anastasia delivers her first blowjob, while Christian uses her pigtails as handlebars. Gone are all of the blow jobs and penis-touching in general; Jamie Dornan’s Christian Grey is apparently able to achieve a rock-hard erection simply through the power of the brain that sits behind his unsettlingly enormous eyeballs.
Filmmakers undoubtedly understood, when trying to build a cinematic silk purse out of the most bovine of sow’s ears, that filmgoers would not accept a Christian Grey that was as abusive and shitty as the Christian in the book. They pared back details from Christian’s “sub contract” that dictates Anastasia must work out five times a week and maintain her physical fitness. His neuroticism around forcing Anastasia to eat is tempered, and he never refers to his mother as a “crack whore” (or “the crack whore”) as he does with increasing frequency in the book; instead, she’s a “prostitute who was addicted to crack.” Even the physical violence between the two is minimized; in the film, Christian ferociously whips Anna six times in the penultimate scene; in the book, he subjects her to eleven lashes.
But every change the film makes to the original text isn’t deleterious. Dakota Johnson has somehow turned Anastasia Steele, one of the most boring, childish, and unlikable characters I’ve ever read, into something endearing, sweet, and cute. Book Anastasia is humorless; movie Anastasia is cheeky and, in moments kind of funny. Perhaps the most noteworthy difference between the book and the film: the book is historically terrible; the film isn’t.
It’s not a BDSM novel. It’s ‘The Ultimate Guide’ to revoking all the hard work sex-positive sex educators have done over the past 30 years to create a culture of informed consent around kink and keep people from sticking household objects up their asses. It’s not a romance. It’s a book about a rapey douchebag with borderline personality disorder who obsesses over an invertebrate whose insecurity should win her a Darwin Award. Instead of reading Fetish Sex, people are reading 50 Shades and sticking dangerous things up their butts. Instead of a sexy, relevant, redeeming film version of the book directed by Erika Lust or Anna at FrolicMe, we got another reminder that Hollywood and the mass book market for sexual content hasn’t quite grasped this whole internet fad.