I’m stood in a queue on the Champs-Elysées waiting for a film. The line is snaking all the way down the road further than we can see without moving and losing our space in the queue. Can you guess the gender of most of the members of this line? Well, if you can’t then I had better tell you. It was mostly groups of women aged 18-30. What were we all going to see? The 50 Shades of Grey film.
As someone who hasn’t read the books I was intrigued to see whether all that I had heard was true. Would it really be sex scenes every five minutes? Was it poorly written? Would I be hooked by the characters and the plot? I can answer that briefly. No, Yes, No. There was not as much sex as anticipated. Obviously there was a bit and I wouldn’t advise small children to go and watch it but it was by no means all the time as I had imagined it might be. The dialogue is shocking. My lasting impression is that I would love to go through it with a red pen and re-write at least 50% of the interactions between the characters. The jittery, forced words said by people who are meant to be in love with each other just didn’t feel natural but in fairness the actors did do the best with what they were given. I’m by no means hooked by the franchise but it does throw up interesting questions for me.
From what I’ve read around the subject it is clear to see that there are scenes of abuse throughout the books, something we don’t see in the film. The representation of women in the film/books also makes my skin crawl slightly. As someone who has been brought up to know that women are not commodities and can do anything they want to it makes me uncomfortable to see the main female character treated like an object when people applaud the series for liberating women’s sexual freedom. It feels like this is some kind of oxymoron to me.
If you like the books and the film then that is absolutely your right. But just take a moment and think about them. Would you like to be in a relationship that is so volatile? I certainly wouldn’t. On this the most “romantic” of days I think a point of reflection about what women expect from society is important. Don’t just brush this off as “only a film” because that is like saying The Communist Manifesto and The Satanic Verses were “just books”. Any form of literature is propaganda whether it is mummy porn or political ideologies and it is our right to criticise either in a fair and balanced matter.