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The Grey Area of 50 Shades of Grey

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By Issy McConville

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So, the day before Valentine’s Day I did what a lot of people have done recently, I went to go and see ’50 Shades of Grey’. Due to some confusion with the Dutch cinema website I almost booked to go and watch it the day before my friends, which would have been a disaster because I needed emotional support to get through what I can only describe as a TERRIBLE film. It’s a film with little to no plot, with the one and only selling point being its ‘sexy’ reputation, the two leads have absolutely no chemistry. I’ve seen better acting in school productions (I once played Wolf Two in ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’at school, so I think I’m a pretty good authority on this issue). Also – where is all the sex? Dakota Johnson does get her boobs out a bit, but Jamie Dornan spends the whole time in jeans – presumably his special ‘sex jeans’due to their risque ripped nature (also ripped jeans are v trendy, good work Jamie). I saw a bit of wrist tying, a selection of blindfolds and that was about it. I think I would have been more excited if I’d spent that two and a half hours staring at the wall in my room in complete silence. Judging from the extreme fits of giggles erupting all over the full cinema, everyone else thought it was a bit of a joke too. My personal worst moment of the film – Anastasia is lying in bed, recovering from a heavy night on the drink, eating some toast that Christian has just ordered her to eat; when he slides up her and says something like ‘if you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week’and takes a munch of her toast. I could only laugh. When did toast become sexy?

However – my issue with this film goes a bit deeper than my distaste for the weak script and casting choices. As one of my friends said after seeing it – this film made us feel uncomfortable. I know the premise of the story is that Mr Grey is an unreadable and cold character versus the innocent virginal Anastasia. But some of his actions are genuinely concerning. He literally stalks her across various states, and says weird controlling things like ‘ANOTHER COSMOPOLITAN??’- at this particular point, Anastasia is with her mum, and has had 2 cocktails, not exactly bordering on a life-threatening situation. He clearly things Anastasia is incapable of making her own life decisions, and that she should only do things exactly the way he would like them, for instance part of the ‘sex contract’involves Grey controlling what Anastasia eats, and engaging in any sexual activity he might feel like at any time. Also, Grey is really not that bothered by what Anastasia wants. She wants to do things like going to the cinema and have a little post-sex cuddle, but instead he encourages her to gain her pleasure by pleasing him and doing exactly what he wants. If a man did this in real life, I would be genuinely concerned.

There is some sense that Anastasia might be a powerful female character, as the only girl who has ever had power over Christian Grey. She says things like – actually no I’ll go home instead of having sex with you on this table right now, and he’s all mad and we see sexy shots of him gripping the table in lust. The film ends with her leaving his house after he has beaten her with a stick until she’s crying. I don’t know much about the BDSM community, but I think that leaving your partner crying and terrified is probably not what its all about. This is not an equal relationship in any way. And Anastasia is not a feminist character. This is not what every relationship should be like, every girl should be able to say no, and be an equal sexual and emotional partner to a man. Also, fundamentally – why does Anastasia even like Grey? He’s got no personality as far as I can see, he’s just a powerful rich man who takes her on rides in private helicopters and buys her expensive presents like a car. This literally couldn’t be a more stereotypical relationship, between the idealised virginal girl and the powerful, dominating man.

In conclusion – this film is offensive – to my eyes, to the medium of cinema, and to ideas of gender relations. 0/10  would not recommend.

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