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This Year’s Valentine’s Color is Grey, And There Are Not Nearly Enough Shades of It



This is an attempt of an opinion piece on the freshly released Fifty Shades of Grey. No, I haven’t and won’t ever read the books. I’m not desperate housewife enough for those. Yet.

Well, there isn’t really much to say about Mr. Grey and Anastasia that people don’t already know.
They’re both brave actors. Mr. Grey is handsome Belfast-export Jamie Dornan, who presents himself fully clothed next to Gillian Anderson in BBC’s The Fall. There, he plays a serial killer who ties girls up and murders them. Entirely... different from what he does in Shades. Much heart-felt kudos has to go to Dakota Johnson, Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson’s lovely daughter. To expose oneself thus in front of camera and film crew does surely take some balls.

Speaking of which, do not get too excited about catching a glimpse of ball or pendant. Mr. Grey’s genitals remain coyly covered. (Go watch Gone Girl if you want to see Ben Affleck’s schniedlwutz. That’s quite satisfying.) But not to disappoint the hopeful voyeur, Shades offers an abundance of butt shots, and I trust to know Miss Johnson’s nipples better than my own at this point. I dunno. I’ll have to check.

The writing is jarring for the most part, and doesn’t rise off the page with grace. This, I believe,could be the fault of the original material by EL James and not screenwriter Kelly Marcel. Sex is an internal more than external sensation, and the internal bit just doesn't translate well into visuals. There was also a lot of hubbub about the rewrites of the script. As a result, the story suffered major injury and at times, you just wish you could fast-forward to the sex scenes. Kinda like you watch a porn.

But enough of that.

Apart from being stinking rich which always keeps young girls from making the right decision, Mr. Grey exhibits the most inconsistent supporting character traits than anybody ever before. He says he doesn’t make love (“I fuck. Hard.”), he says he doesn’t do romance, and he says he doesn’t sleep in the same bed as the submissive. Well, he does all three of these events kinda regularly to Miss Anastasia. He says he doesn’t do dinner or movies, but in the next scene, they go for a romantic walk. I’m confused, and I bet Mr. Grey is, too. 

The assumption of virginity is stupid at best and doesn’t have any payoff in the movie whatsoever. Mr. Grey, who doesn’t make love and never sleeps in a bed with a girl, “rectifies the situation” by taking Anastasia to bed, making love to her, and falling asleep with her. God help Mr. Grey. This poor rich gorgeous man just needs a hug like the rest of us.

One might also wonder about what or who the antagonist is. Is it the flogger? Who knows? Who cares? And then further, what’s at stake? Nothing really. What if Natasha, I mean Anastasia, doesn’t agree to Mr. Grey’s terms? Nothing. What will she lose? The attention of a pretty rich man. Oh, boy.

Let’s say the stakes aren’t necessarily Titanic.

I appreciate the discourse of sexuality and norm that one of the fifty shades suggests. It‘s amusing to see what a modern virginal woman like Anastasia (aka the writer) is taught by society about what is normal in relationships and love life. 

Fifty Shades of Grey are fifty shades of puritan imagination of BDSM. BDSM stands for a mad acronym combination of Bondage and Discipline (B&D), Dominance and Submission (D&S), Sadism and Masochism (S&M). [Thanks, Wiki.] There’s even a little graphic for easier understanding: 

"BDSM acronym" by Handcuffed - Own work, based off by Spankart. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


According to Fifty Shades, everything going beyond Missionary is considered deviant/abnormal/grey. He/She who is into those grey pleasures must have experienced a trauma of some sort. Anastasia feels dear Mr. Grey has a troubled soul, or else why would he do all those really, really weird and disturbing things? Luckily, the explanation is only a teardrop away:

Mr. Grey has been the (reluctant?) submissive to a Mrs. Robinson when he was only half of Dustin Hoffman’s graduation age. And there are scars on his chest that could be burn marks, so perhaps he’s also been in the hands of a sadist. Tataa! These are the reasons why Mr. Grey is a sick puppy and likes to think of himself as a dominant. These are the reasons his sexual taste deviates from the norm. Because clearly, a perfectly happy childhood leads to a perfectly happy Missionary. You know, the thing normal people do.
Anastasia wants that normality in her life, movies, dinner, Missionary. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy: Anastasia is the girl who wants Mr. Grey to take her to the movies on Valentine's Day and watch Fifty Shades of Grey.

Ugh. 

As a result of this (boring) focus on sexual norm, the real issue at hand is entirely absent, namely the threshold between pain and pleasure and the high level of intimacy that BDSM, by nature of practice, relies on. That’s the difficult bit to put on screen because it happens internally, but that's also the story I would have found intriguing. But it would have also pushed the R rating to NC-17, or my favorite: X.

Despite the fact that Fifty Shades was developed in the hands of London girls Kelly Marcel and Sam Taylor-Johnson (director), it exhibits a puritan and incredibly shy mindset. In an interview back in 2013, Kelly Marcel claimed that “It will be rated NC-17. It will be raunchy.” (The Sunday Times) I’m sure it was a financial trade-off that caused the raunchiness of Fifty Shades to resemble kindergarten porn. You will not find yourself inspired to spontaneously ovulate. 

But the really good news at the end: 

Toss away your wax and razors. Lush pubic hair is back, with a vengeance.

So dear people, in spite of all my bitching, I find Fifty Shades of Grey worth watching on your Valentine’s Day date. It offers enough pulp for sexy conversations of philosophical nature, and enough skin for the low maintenance and/or puritan kids among you. The sexy soundtrack will make one hell of a great Valentine’s gift for the ones ready to dive into X-rated action without movie foreplay. 

Whatever rocks your boat, I say, and wish you an enjoyable Valentine’s Day!



For those of you, who will spend Valentine’s alone (like me), here are some links where you can watch and read stuff, and fondle your own solitary genital. Good luck.


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