Has anyone here seen the "Fifty Shades of Grey" moves?

The posters and movie descriptions make them sound wonderful but they’re really panned by Rotten Tomatoes. Given the subject matter, maybe the issue is just that they’re not really for a mass market audience? Has anyone here seen one of them and liked it?

Although I’m not into the BDSM lifestyle, or anything close to it, I read and loved the Kushiel’s Dart series by Jacqueline Carey that featured BDSM pretty prominantly. If this movie franchise is similar to Carey’s book world, then I may love it, too.

Hated them. I don’t like the fact that they glorify his control over women. And they are slightly pornographic. Not straight porn. But enough that it is uncomfortable to watch in mixed company.

I suggest anyone thinking of watching them first see the Netflix/UK series “The Fall.” :wink:

The posters and movie descriptions are SUPPOSED to make them sound wonderful. The reviews are supposed to give you the truth.

Saw the first one. It was poorly cut and didn’t translate the elements that made the books so much fun–specifically, the narrator’s inner monologue. A better director could have pulled it off, and a better producer could have improved the shit-show editing.

Read the books, and if you don’t read books, fuggedaboudit.

I am really into BDSM and did not watch the movies on principle. The books are an abomination, glorify abuse and mischaracterize BDSM. I don’t think the BDSM is the issue - the books, despite being terribly written, were wildly popular. It appears to have been just a really bad movie.

I tried reading Kushiel’s Dart and didn’t make it past the first page. The narrator just seemed really haughty and formal. Maybe I should give it another chance. I’m currently revising a science fiction romance novel with BDSM erotic elements but I didn’t want it to just be about nothing but sex. There’s a whole philosophical foundation to BDSM that I think gets glossed over too easily - a foundation that 50 Shades pisses all over with impunity. So I wanted to show that it’s about more than kinky sex. And I really wanted to explore issues of trauma and consent, which again, 50 Shades pisses all over with impunity.

I haven’t seen (and am not interested in seeing) any of the 50 Shades movies, but I read a lot of movie reviews and it doesn’t sound like they’re too edgy for mainstream audiences. It sounds like they’re just not very good – there was a lot of criticism about the male lead (Jamie Dornan) being miscast and having no chemistry with the female lead (Dakota Johnson). On the plus side, Johnson (daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) is reportedly better than you might expect.

The only woman I know who admitted to having seen 50 Shades of Grey said it wasn’t funny bad, it was just bad bad, and that it didn’t even get the BDSM stuff right.

Yikes, okay thanks guys! I may check out the books but will take a pass on the movies.

I think you should give it another try. The narrator’s voice in the first three books is that of the main character Phedre, and she’s speaking as an adult telling the story of how she came to the current day. It’s interesting that you felt she was haughty and formal. She definitely had a flowery, expressive manner of speaking. (BTW, in the second trilogy, the narrator is her son and there is a very clear difference in his voice compared to Phedre’s voice. As there should be.)

Also if you give it a chance, you’ll get into the world-building which is detailed and colorful, and also her culture which is based on the “love as thou wilt” philosophy. The houses of entertainment in her country are closely tied into their polytheistic religion, and since the house she belonged to was essentially the masochistic house it was handled with (I thought) grace and delicacy. It may not be true to our real world BDSM, but it was perhaps a romanticized version. When she later travels to other countries with different cultures and religions she is treated like a whore would be in our real world, and it’s interesting to see how deftly she navigates that. She’s not a whore, but more like a very high class escort, which she has to enforce to earn respect in the high society of other cultures.

Thanks. I think ‘‘flowery’’ is a better description than ‘‘haughty.’’ I just have a certain style of writing I prefer - punchy, direct language. Think Bradbury, Salinger or Chuck Pahlaniuk (so basically no romance novel ever.) It’s not that I never would read any other style of writing, it’s just something that takes an adjustment for me. I probably gave up on it too soon. I only ever read one BDSM sci-fi book I enjoyed, Interstellar Service & Discipline: Book 1, which is about as ridiculous as it sounds, but it was a lot of fun.

Reading Kushiel’s Dart would be useful to see what else is being written in the genre, because I’m still trying to figure out where my book fits in the commercial fiction world. It’s a soft sci-fi setting, definitely covers the standard romance conventions, but it’s also kinda literary, and it’s very sexual but it only really has two explicit sex scenes so I wouldn’t call it erotic fiction, either. Also the language and style can be fairly… I dunno if gritty is the right term, but it strives for a kind of realism that some might find disturbing. I do think it will sell if I can convince the right audience to give it a shot.

Stop donating your used copies of the book!: https://www.boredpanda.com/50-shades-of-grey-book-fort-goldstone/

And just listen to the audiobook, as read by Gilbert Gottfried: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkLqAlIETkA

The movies weren’t even decent porn. Nothing about them made me interested in reading the books. But Gottfried’s dulcet rasp has now piqued my interest.

I haven’t read the books but I watched the movies to see what the fuss was about. The “acting” and dialog were cringeworthy and tough to take. I know that’s not the main draw, but the romance/sexiness weren’t good either.

I know people complain about this, but BDSM erotic fiction doesn’t have to portray a realistic or SSC scenario. Yeah, you wouldn’t want to model your real life BDSM relationship on 50 Shades of Grey. In real life billionaires don’t become sexually obsessed with librarians. In real life brooding loners with tragic backstories make terrible boyfriends. In real life non-consensual sexual assault can land you in jail.

However, a novel isn’t real life. And reading about stuff that isn’t safe, that isn’t sane, that isn’t consensual, actually is safe, sane, and consensual, because it’s not happening in real life, it’s just pretend.

I don’t recommend confining your teenage nephew to a closet under the stairs, but it’s OK for JK Rowling to write a book where a teenage boy is confined to a closet under the stairs, because it’s fiction.

Note: I haven’t read the books or seen the movie because that’s not my bag, baby. I’m just talking general principles, I’m not into that sort of weird stuff at all.

It’s not really, though. I mean, I’m torn on this. On the one hand, everyone’s entitled to their fantasies. On the other hand, these are really terrible social attitudes that affect real people in the world today. Secondly, not everybody knows about or understands BDSM and I think it really just propagates a lot of terrible mythology about it. Plus, if you are actually into BDSM, I imagine it’s about as easy to get pulled out of story by the inaccuracies as it would be for a war veteran to get pulled out of a shittily researched war movie. And you would be really pissed off that a bunch of people are embracing some shitty movie about war that’s misrepresenting you or the way things are really like, especially if they are criticizing war as defined by that movie.

Let me give you an extreme example that I think highlights my issue. I once read a really dark romance novel about a woman who was abducted and made a part of a sexual slavery ring. This is not a terribly uncommon theme, actually… sex slavery is a whole subgenre of erotic romance. In this case, the hero was her ‘‘owner’’ but he was really secretly undercover or something… He was basically a reluctant perpetrator. He raped her several times.

It didn’t really gloss over the horribleness of sexual slavery, or trauma, for that matter, but I was really shaken up by the fact that these scenes in which women are being repeatedly raped and beaten are obviously being used for spank material at the same time as it’s occurring in real life. The rape scenes were really long and explicit and brutal. The author was asking us to both be appalled by the woman’s victimization and also turned on by it, at which point I really wanted to say, ‘‘You can’t have it both ways!’’ That particular book was not remotely sexy to me, but it was a riddle my mind couldn’t let go of. I couldn’t give it a rating, I didn’t know what I thought about it. I ended up reading the second book, which was mostly about the lovers trying to have a relationship in the aftermath of mutual trauma.

What do we do with that? I’m not in favor of restricting free speech. I’m not in favor of shaming people for their fantasies. But I am concerned about the broader cultural implications of embracing such a book. On the other hand, I’ve been turned on by some really morally objectionable shit. I already know my own brain’s not wired like most. Am I going to hand a young girl a story about some creepy-ass vampire who cuts a girl’s brake lines to keep her from going anywhere, so he can ‘‘protect’’ her? Is it different if you give that story to a teenage girl than if you give it to an older woman? Are the implications of *50 Shades *different if a handful of kinky women hide it under their mattress, vs. half the women on the planet read it openly on the subway and talk about how romantic it is?

I don’t have a universal answer. I don’t even have an answer for myself, as a reader. But my best answer as an artist is that I’m going to really seriously consider the social implications of what I’m putting out into the world. I crafted a story that turns me on but still allows me to sleep at night.

This analogy only makes sense if JK Rowling implied that confining a teenage boy to a closet was a good thing. There’s a difference between depicting something terrible, and depicting something terrible as positive.

I read a mainstream one where our heroine was kidnapped by a band of guys and supposedly raped, but they didn’t dwell on the reality of that. :rolleyes: At one point, they come into contact with a country woman who expresses a sort of jealousy of our heroine because of her own boring life, like at least something exciting was happening to the heroine. :rolleyes::rolleyes: It was a supposed parallel with the stereotypical bored housewife reading an escapist romance novel, but it struck me as pretty twisted.

The Dom, whose reviews I appreciate, on the book:


and on the movie:

It’s a problem that has plagued romance novels for a long time. Rapey heroes used to be really common back in the day, when women were more inclined to feel ashamed about sexual desire. It’s less common now in mainstream romance but there are subgenres, I think ‘‘dark romance’’ is the most common one, where the hero is usually a rapist or something but that’s intentionally part of the plot. But with the exception of the novel mentioned above, (it’s complicated) I fucking hate every rapey hero in existence. I like the domination aspect of rape fantasy but get very easily stuck on the ethics involved. The fact that Christian Grey has Anastasia sign a contract, then immediately violates the terms of the contract by raping her, and then they call that fucking BDSM, bugs the shit out of me. The romanticization of real abuse turns my stomach.

It really raises a lot of questions (for me), about whether romance is intended as purely escapist fantasy or whether it can be made into something else. In my novel, the hero kidnaps the heroine (for reasonably understandable purposes), she attempts to murder him and escape, and in the ensuing tussle he gets very turned on and things just go downhill from there. He never actually does anything, he just wants to, and then he spends a good portion of the novel feeling like shit about it. She’s initially pretty traumatized by the whole experience as well. Then later she is sexually assaulted for real by a political enemy, so it’s all about… I dunno. What is the difference between being dominated and having your consent violated? Is being turned on at the thought of doing something the same thing as doing it? How does trauma affect sexual relationships? One of her major tasks is to push him out of his guilt complex about the past so that he can be there for her in her very real, traumatized present.

It’s fantasy in the sense that it’s got plenty of hotness, but I tried to think really hard about what I was saying.

Okay, according to the great video Rick Kitchen posted, she doesn’t sign the contract. He just spends a fuckload of time pressuring her to do so. I’m gonna get pissed off all over again.

You seem to have read a lot into a few words.

I’m not sure myself what this acquaintance of mine meant when she said the movie didn’t get BDSM “right”. I didn’t ask because I want to pry into her sex life, especially since she seemed like someone who might be happy to share more than I wanted to hear. But I’m pretty sure she understands what fiction is, and it was my impression that she thought the BDSM stuff in 50 Shades was dumb and unsexy, not that she had ethical concerns about it.

While I haven’t seen 50 Shades of Grey, I do remember critics saying the movie didn’t really deliver when it comes to the sex scenes. Here’s Slate:

And RogerEbert.com:

So getting back to the OP’s question, it doesn’t sound like the problem with this movie was that it was too kinky. I mean, I’m sure a mainstream Hollywood movie with a bunch of explicit, kinky sex scenes would have outraged some people, but 50 Shades of Grey apparently was not such a movie.

Upon watching the video review, I think the real issue is that Anastasia doesn’t want the things Grey is imposing on her. What she wants is to have vanilla sex with him and be a normal girlfriend. What he wants is to control everything she wears and eats, track her cell phone, decide who she is and is not allowed to talk to, and define her own sexual boundaries for her. And it’s the not the typical fantasy, ‘‘she says no but secretly means yes’’ sort of thing. She is legitimately miserable about the shit he’s doing to her. He is a creepy controlling abusive stalker and she hates it. She doesn’t want to be in a submissive relationship, not even in her deep down secret girl place. To the extent she goes along with it, it’s in an attempt to make him happy, not fulfill her own desires.

What it really becomes then, is a relatively accurate snapshot of an abusive relationship. I say ‘‘relatively’’ because not all dudes are millionaires. But the level of control he attempts to exert, and the way he manipulates and guilts her into doing shit she doesn’t want to do, is very consistent with abusive relationships. The more I consider the plot, I don’t think this is accidental on the part of EL James. I think she knew she was depicting an abusive relationship.

This doesn’t absolve her from responsibility for all the underlying implications of this work. In my opinion, it is a shitfest of rage-inducing socially irresponsible badness. As I understand it, as the story progresses, Christian Grey is healed from his Mommy trauma and is no longer an abusive bastard. They transition to a vanilla relationship. So there are three terrible things going on here:

  1. Abusive behavior, and the desire to abuse, is conflated with the desire to sexually dominate.
  2. The desire to dominate is treated as a sickness to be cured - A profoundly insulting implication about sexual dominants
  3. Most troubling of all, the implication is that abusive partners, given time, will change.

I’m not okay with any of those messages. I don’t like being told that my sexual interests are some kind of psychological problem to be overcome. And I really don’t like to see myths about abusive partners reinforced, because that is the kind of stuff that keeps people in dangerous situations.