50 Shades of Grey

I'm very important and stare out the window.
"Mr. Grey will see you now."

Hello friends and welcome. After a brief hiatus, I did some soul searching, and then decided that there was only one right thing to do on the night before Valentines Day. Call up my male friend, and go see 50 Shades of Grey. You fucking people asked for it, so I did it, god help me I did it. Before I even talk about the movie... and I have plenty to say there, let's talk about the experience of physically attending a showing of this film, which was surreal in and of itself. For starters, having to actually buy a ticket to see it was the first time I'd experienced real embarrassment over such a thing in approximately ever. I felt a mixture of shame and annoyance, because I was actually paying money to see what I knew would be a pile of garbage, based on its premise alone. Once inside the theater I found myself no less unsettled. My friend turned to me and asked "Notice anything interesting about the audience? Like there's... a certain kind of person here?", and right he was. I would say the theater was composed roughly 50% of what I would describe as tweens, girls who one would have to imagine were almost certainly there with a mom chaperon. Every part of that sentence makes me feel seriously grossed out. Worse yet I noticed these girls were dressed like... what I imagine a 15 year old might think was sophisticated (one girl kept stumbling in high heels down the stairs to leave the theater, it was awkward). So now I'm sitting in a theater with my friends and mostly teenage girls and their moms, watching a movie presumably about a man having sex with some girl and hitting her until he cries. What a Friday night.

Is that receptionist lady from Tron? I think she is.
It's only fair to mention that I have not read the book. One can only expect so much of me. I have read excerpts, and that was similar to how I imagine I'd feel after being exposed to large amounts of radiation. I felt drained and powerless, and intensely ill. Anyway, I mostly base my observations strictly off the movie. That being said, I have experienced the shittiness of the book, in brief. Now let's talk about the thrilling movie itself. For the uninitiated, 50 Shades of Grey is a film that started out as a piece of AU (Alternate Universe) Twilight fan-fiction. So this is a sort of fucked up secondary consequence of Twilight happening. This original piece was called Master of the Universe, and was written by author EL James, under the username Snowqueens Icedragon. No I'm not fucking joking. Anyway, this piece evolved into the book 50 Shades of Grey, and its two horrid sequels, about a young hot billionaire bachelor who has a chance encounter with a liberal arts undergrad, who is intrigued by his forbidding asshole exterior. Little does she realize that beneath that kind of douche exterior, there is a COMPLETE SHITBAG who is into S&M stuff, mostly the S part. We will talk more about that part in a bit. First let's take a quick look at the characters as they are presented. We know of Christian that he has a detailed set of likes and dislikes, and that he has a long and storied past. We know of Ana (Anastasia Steele god help us) that she likes books in that vague "oh I'm a book girl" way that bad characters are, and that her mom gets married a lot. Amazing. This is a familiar pattern and makes perfect sense considering that Ana is based on Bella. Still, Ana is probably the most bearable part of the movie, when she is not being actively seduced and boned by Christian. Either by design or because of the sheer ludicrousness of her lines and the movie, Dakota Johnson injects a fair dose of sarcasm wherever possible (how do you think Don Johnson feels about this role?) and this leads to some of the least terrible moments in the film, particularly I enjoyed one scene where she was drunk and mocking Christian and basically the movie, almost as if the film had become self-aware. Alas these moments were few and far between.

He had just hit her over the head with his club.
Mostly what we were treated to was boredom, and some of the most implausible and terrible dialogue I have ever had inflicted upon me. It is a mark of their craft that any of the actors in this film could deliver their lines without bursting into laughter and tears, because I don't think I could do it. My friend kept jokingly finishing Christian's lines, but then he'd actually say those things. After watching this movie I decided that from now on when anyone asks me if I do a thing, I will instead answer "I don't do X. I fuck. hard." I would say this because that is an actual line that an actor had to say, in a deadly serious manner. Then he had to go "I'm fifty shades of fucked up." I know it sounds like I'm making these things up, like this couldn't possible be true, but it really is. Where was I though... oh right boredom! So this movie is incredibly boring, and maybe it's just me but no matter how much sex is happening I just don't find it sexy when the girl is constantly crying because of how mean and rapey her boyfriend is. Or not boyfriend because he "doesn't do romance." See what he does instead is give Ana a contract where she will be his full time sex slave, and get out of it I guess the joy of being a spanking fuck toy for some asshole rich guy. Wonderous. By the end of the movie we had seen a lot of Dakota's boobs, a fair amount of both their butts, and some thrusting and like spanking or whatever. It was about as erotic to me as a bowl of cereal, but not a really good bowl. Like plain corn flakes maybe. Only there would have to be a girl crying because she was just savaged with a belt by someone who claimed to care about her. So not a balanced breakfast overall.

Sexy kiss, or sexual assault? Her hand makes it tough to tell.
Now that I have explored briefly how ridiculous and shitty the movie is, I can talk about how offensive it is. Make no mistake too, as human beings we should all be offended. This movie is not about BDSM. It is about a bunch of really textbook psychological cases crashing into each other at high speed, under the guise of BDSM. Christian Grey is a man who was orphaned by his crackwhore mother at age 4, adopted by rich parents, and then sexually abused by a sadomasochist woman when he was 15, and for six years afterwards. He developed into a controlling narcissist who derives pleasure from dominating and inflicting pain upon women. Bondage is merely the tool he uses to do this. Anastasia Steele is a young woman with no particular aspirations or drive, with a mother who's been divorced three times and can't be bothered to fly out for her own daughter's college graduation. This is all starting to line up right? What you also have to understand, is that this movie is telling us that BDSM practices are part of how messed up Christian is, and if Ana can just make him act like a regular person then he would be free of his dark past. So the liner notes are 1)if you are into anything kinky you are a rapist deviant who was probably molested, and 2)a truly devoted woman can cure a man of his being abusive and twisted, by loving him enough. Both of those are really repulsive ideas, and the fact that this movie is sold as some sort of saucy romance is abominable. The movie watches more like a really boring episode of Law & Order SVU more than anything else.

These are people too I guess.
Given my extensive exposure to Twilight, it was easy to see how the main characters translated into their Twilight counterparts. Christian is broody and doesn't sleep, and plays the piano a lot. Ana is a listless enabler dope. Jose is Ana's close friend who she just doesn't like that way, which means he is obviously Jacob. Still... and I'm so mad I have to say this... the characters in Twilight are much better. Edward is creepy controlling jerk, but he is essentially boyfriend of the year next to Christian Grey, and I just... can't believe I've been forced to compare something unfavorably to Twilight. At least Edward has impulses to hurt Bella that originate from him being a vampire, and not just an asshole. Speaking of, the scene where Christian gets immense sexual pleasure from brutalizing Ana is one of the most uncomfortable things I've ever watched... and I briefly wrote a column where I reviewed hentai so... yeah think about what I'm saying.

Imagine this scene with this playing.
On a final note, I found it hilarious that this movie was scored by Danny Elfman. Now I know, he's scored all SORTS of movies, but I just couldn't stop thinking about 1) Oingo Boingo and 2)The Nightmare Before Christmas. Then I imagined Ana doing "what's this" in Christian's Dracula Sex Dungeon. The takeaway here is that this movie was impossibly terrible, on virtually every metric that a work of fiction can be terrible on. The fact that this is a fantasy so many people have had that it rose from fanfiction to a movie grossing no doubt hundreds of millions of dollars is absolutely wretched. Can't you at least have a sexy fantasy about a rich hot guy who treats you nice? Or maybe you're the rich one, and you just have sex with whoever you want, and have crazy helicopter adventures because you're so goddamn rich. Have better fantasies. That's all for today, join me again on Thursday when I end this romance nightmare, and review something else. Don't you dare miss it, or I'll take you across my knee (real dialogue I'm not kidding).

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