There are a lot of reasons not to see “Fifty Shades of Grey” this Valentine’s Day weekend, or probably ever, according to a quick emissions test on the Internet’s Takes Machine.
The inevitable adaptation of E.L. James’s popular book series arrives in theaters this weekend. It will probably be very successful, and a lot of people want to see it, and I wish it all the best.
But for those who are waiting to see this film on the 14th of Never, we’ve collected some of the reasons against buying a ticket for your convenience. Which reason will be the reason you tell your loved one over a romantic dinner? It’s hard to choose.
One of the film’s stars literally compared “Fifty Shades of Grey” to Hitler
As far as I can tell, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is about two characters who are supposed to be sexually attracted to each other. This is a form of chemistry. The actors who play these characters in a movie are expected to have some chemistry — or, at least, be able to fake it really well.
So the press tour for the film has worried (or, if you’re hate-consuming “Fifty Shades” culture, delighted) many potential viewers. That’s because Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson do not appear to be able to muster very much fake chemistry.
Here’s one of Johnson’s best efforts to sell the film’s sex scenes on her press tour: “I think [the sex scenes] are really sexy. People will be very happy.” She pauses. “God, I hope so. Or we have a giant failure on our hands!” That’s … not great.
Neither was Dornan’s decision to compare the appeal of “Fifty Shades” to Hitler’s rise to power. “Mass appreciation doesn’t always equate to something good. Think of Hitler! But I think, in this case, it must. It simply must,” he said.
Defamer makes an incredibly exhaustive and convincing case that the co-stars really don’t get along. And that’s okay! People don’t always get along. It’s just a little awkward when those people play characters who are supposed to epitomize obsessive love.
And again, one of the film’s stars compared its appeal to that of Adolf Hitler.
Science says it won’t turn you on
Maybe you’re a fan of the books. Maybe you found them, well, you know. Looking for a repeat performance with the film? Think again, science suggests to women.
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Women’s browsing habits suggest they like to leave certain things to the imagination — and their imaginations are a lot more detailed that those of their male counterparts. In a seminal study conducted at a California university in 1990 and published in the Journal of Sex Research, psychologists found that men’s fantasies revolved around the physical aspects of the sex, whereas women liked to focus on details.
The article adds that fans of the books “have long imagined themselves in Anastasia’s heels. Seeing that fantasy translated to the screen will likely be more enjoyable for the boyfriends dragged to this film than the female fans themselves.”
Maybe just read the book again.
The director and the book’s author can’t stand each other
Director Sam Taylor-Johnson has, in several cases, all but said that she and author E.L James can’t stand each other. Here’s an example from a recent Hollywood Reporter interview:
Q: EL James was very hands-on with the film. Is that an experience you’d recommend to other filmmakers?
A: It’s difficult. When you have an author and an auteur, it’s a difficult and challenging relationship. I’m not saying that at times it wasn’t helpful, but there were times when it was really, really frustrating.
The two main characters appear to be in an abusive relationship
Although “Fifty Shades of Grey” has never pretended to be anything more than a fantasy, the dynamic between the two main characters has been problematic for many. Conservative anti-porn groups have said that the film could cause domestic violence, as have some advocacy groups working on domestic violence issues.
The BDSM community — represented in the film by Grey — has also taken issue with the dynamics.
From Emma Green at the Atlantic:
As several experienced BDSM practitioners emphasized to me, there are healthy, ethical ways to consensually combine sex and pain. All of them require self-knowledge, communication skills, and emotional maturity in order to make the sex safe and mutually gratifying. The problem is that “Fifty Shades” casually associates hot sex with violence, but without any of this context. Sometimes, Ana says yes to sex she’s uncomfortable with because she’s too shy to speak her mind, or because she’s afraid of losing Christian; she gives consent when he wants to inflict pain, yet that doesn’t prevent her from being harmed.
Over at Jezebel, it should be noted, Kelly Faircloth raised some caution about the claim that the “Fifty Shades” series causes domestic abuse, even if the relationship it depicts is clearly unhealthy.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” is too traditional!
Quoting A.O. Scott from the New York Times:
“Fifty Shades” is both daring and conventional, falling back into traditional gender roles even as it plays with transgressive desires. Christian’s sexual tastes are intriguing to Anastasia, but they are also the result of emotional wounds that she sets herself the task of healing.
For those who are expecting a story that transgresses certain sexual boundaries, “Fifty Shades” is actually a conservative depiction of what are usually referred to as “traditional gender roles.”
A piece in First Things, a generally conservative publication that focuses on religion, cautiously cites this as a positive aspect of the film while discussing the franchise’s popularity:
One answer is that there’s a hunger that’s not being satisfied: Namely, for men who are unabashedly masculine, who aren’t afraid to take control, and to lead. That is, there’s a longing (even a lusting) for men who aren’t afraid of what’s classically been called “headship.” To this end, while Fifty Shades subverts Christian sexual morality, it subverts the modern crusade for “genderlessness” all the more.
In the end, from this perspective, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is basically a film about a heterosexual couple who meet, fall in love, and get married.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” is a threat to tradition!
Several socially conservative groups are boycotting the film on the grounds that it promotes things they believe to be morally unforgivable. A petition on LifeSiteNews, with 80,000 signatures, says the film “promotes misogyny, abuse, and sado-masochism.”
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And Archbishop Dennis Schnur of Cincinnati argued on Facebook recently that the story “is presented as a romance; however, the underlying theme is that bondage, dominance, and sadomasochism are normal and pleasurable.” He adds:
This movie is in direct contrast to the Christian message of God’s design for self-giving and self-sacrificing love, marriage and sexual intimacy. The movie is a direct assault on Christian marriage and on the moral and spiritual strength of God’s people.
Pastor Robert Jefferees went several steps further, arguing that “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a sign of the coming of the Antichrist and therefore a worldwide existential threat.
Meanwhile, for a much more nuanced take on the issues “Fifty Shades” raises for those who are concerned with its moral or cultural messages, here’s Christianity Today’s film critic.
Trailer: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey'(0:32)
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson star in the adaptation of the bestselling book. (Universal)
“Fifty Shades of Grey” might be copyright infringement
Back in the day, “Fifty Shades of Grey” was called “Master of the Universe,” and it was “Twilight” fan fiction. In the original story, Christian and Anastasia were called Edward and Bella, just like in “Twilight.”
In order to be published, E.L. James had to assert that the book that became “Fifty Shades” was vastly different from the original fan fiction, which is likely (but not certainly) considered a “derivative work” of the “Twilight” series.
Some fan fiction authors have been outraged by the ascension of “Master of the Universe,” arguing that it undermines the one argument that keeps fan fiction sites from takedown notices: its authors aren’t making money off of them.
But on Post Everything, Christina Mulligan, an assistant professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, argues that fan fiction authors, including E.L. James, shouldn’t have to worry about the distinction:
The solution is simple. Certainly, new artists who riff off existing works should be required to disclaim association with the original authors and publishers. However, when it comes to the substance of works, courts should permit unauthorized stories that don’t merely restate another work but rather build — and effectively comment — on existing characters and settings.
The “Fifty Shades” release is connected to a rise in sex-toy injuries
The number of people going to the emergency room for sex-toy-related injuries has doubled in the past eight years. WHO IS TO BLAME? It might not be “Fifty Shades of Grey.” But then again, maybe it is.
As Wonkblog explained, at least one market firm tracking the rise in the sex toy industry over the past few years has credited the book series with popularizing the toys over the past few years.
So while there’s no definitive proof that the series played a part in the specific hospitalizations tracked by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it’s not unreasonable to presume that it played some role.