This Valentine’s Day, lovers all over the world went to watch a new movie. Along with their popcorn, they might just have taken handcuffs and whips. Because the movie which ‘dominated’ the box office was Fifty Shades of Grey, a film directed, written and scripted by women. It grossed $85 million in three days, beating the entire crop of 2015 Oscar-nominated films combined.
The ‘mommy porn’ three-book series the movie is based on has already been dissected, reviewed, trashed and sighed over by fans since it was published but the author, EL James, is now reportedly “invulnerable to criticism because she has more money than God.”
I must confess I couldn’t get past the first chapter of the first book. Not because I’m a prude – far from it. The storyline is ho-hum – tender young virgin Anastasia Steele is stalked by and falls for damaged but oh-so-handsome billionaire Christian Grey. What differentiates this ‘love’ story from other romantic fiction are the shenanigans that take place in Grey’s Red Room of Pleasure and Pain. In short, BDSM – Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM).
What hurt me more than flogging was the banal writing. Intrepid readers have logged the words ‘gasp’ and ‘flushes’ no less than 70 times, ‘murmurs’ 200 times, ‘whisper’ another 200 times, ‘lip’ 71 times (Ana loves biting her ‘lip’). And – sigh! –Ana’s ‘inner goddess’ was channelled 58 times. Not to mention ‘Oh my’, ‘Holy Moses’, ‘Holy Cow’ and sundry other ‘gasps’ during sex scenes.
Overall, Fifty Shades has been polarising. On one hand, social media is filled with frantic articles on the fallout of youngsters getting swept away by the glamour of what’s in reality an abusive relationship. Today, where violence against women is a real concern, there’s a feeling that a ‘vanilla’ woman may not be able to deal with Grey-type men who hide darker, controlling personality traits under the guise of swashbuckling romance. A subject for real, necessary debate.
At the other end of the spectrum, instructional workshops on how to use sex toys correctly and dress like a millionaire are currently hotter than Christian’s six-pack abs. And social media is flogging the subject for laughs: check out spoof Twitter handle @FiftyShedsofGrey. Again, a leading porn website has reported a 40 per cent increase in searches for BDSM related words like ‘submission,’ ‘spank,’ ‘bondage’ ‘whip,’ and ‘leather’ by women on the day the movie released.
Well, review site Rotten Tomatoes has called the movie ‘creatively better endowed than its print counterpart’, so it may be worthy of a dekko. If for nothing else, than for a giggle as Ana moans “my inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils.”
Fluffy pink handcuffs, anyone?