The poetic, playful and prophetic musings of quintessential voices trying to keep up with life

Sunday, February 22, 2015

50 Shades of No

I saw "50 Shades of Grey" with a few law school friends on Thursday night. We were originally supposed to go last Saturday, but one of (it seems like) a zillion winter storms cancelled those plans for us.

I have not read the books. I thought about reading them for about a millisecond before I heard they were even worse writing than Twilight, which I previously considered the worst books I'd ever read. So I went into the theater with no idea what to expect beyond the basic plot. I had seen articles claiming it promoted abuse, so I was aware of that potential issue, but I decided to go in thinking of the movie as entertainment - that it was probably going to be terrible, but with the intention of giving it a fair shot. After all, many things I love dearly are terrible, like "Say Yes to the Dress" or "Toddlers & Tiaras." I'm only human.

Here's a play-by-play of my reactions during the movie (SPOILER ALERTS):
  • Wait, she's supposed to be 21?
  • Never in the history of time has anyone found parking in a major city right outside their destination. I believe that less than a millionaire playboy dominant falling in love with this awkward, faux-mousy, nervous 26-year old pretending to be 21.
  • I heard "50 Shades" was originally a Twilight fan fiction, and it was never more obvious than when Anastasia trips and falls the minute she opens the door to his office. I guess being clumsy is supposed to be an endearing and universally female quality, which I have never understood.
  • Dakota Johnson is actually pretty funny and her timing is really good. I am pleasantly surprised.
  • She bites her lip a lot. I can feel this is going to be reoccurring plot point because they keep zooming in on her lips dramatically.
  • OF COURSE HE'S ADOPTED. PROBABLY HAS A TRAGIC HISTORY WHICH HAS SCARRED HIM FOR LIFE. SHOCKER. It's like there was a contest for the least subtle plot point imaginable and E.L. James won.
  • Jamie Dornan has beautiful cartoon eyes but he was better in "The Fall." Also, I can hear his Irish accent at times, which I really don't mind. What I do mind is his lack of facial scruff.
  • The first third of this movie has actually been very sexy and kind of... nice to watch. I am delighted.
  • He shows up at her work and asks for serial killer things. I am laughing inside, because I just finished season 2 of "The Fall" where he is an actual serial killer and I'm wishing the plot would twist and this movie was actually a story about Paul Spector moving to America, getting really rich, and continuing to secretly murder brunettes until Gillian Anderson puts a stop to it.
  • My law friends and I are judging the non-disclosure agreement. Anastasia probably should have read it more thoroughly or consulted with a lawyer first. Please don't sign those things willy-nilly.
  • "I don't make love. I fuck. Hard." My friends in the theater audibly laughed at this line and they loved the books. I truly believe Jamie Dornan is doing his best given this terrible writing.
  • I am extremely grossed out by how excited he gets that she's a virgin. It's this incredibly patriarchal idea that women's worth to men comes from being her sexual "teacher," and if she knows what she's doing, or how to please herself, or what she likes, or what you might even like, then it's not exciting anymore. Ew, dude. You're being an asshole.
  • So is she basically a whore??? Like, they're not dating, and she gives him sex, and he gives her stuff in exchange for the sex???
  • Anastasia does not seem fond of the rods and whips and whatnot. I'm sure other people are really into that but some of those things looked really fucking painful and I'm just not sure that's my thing. Or hers. Which is a perfectly ok feeling to have, Anastasia. *pats her on the back gently*
  • It doesn't seem to me like they're looking for the same thing in a relationship. In fact, their expectations are both waaaay off. I BET THAT'S NOT A CONFLICT IN THE MOVIE AT ALL.
  • Ok, that's a lot of butt. They both have very fit bodies. And we see about 96% of them.
  • That's a looong shot of her nipple. Like, I'm not shocked by breasts or anything, but I just watched a close up of her nipple for about 15 seconds and I'm a little uncomfortable by that.
  • I guess they live in a world where losing one's virginity is a pleasant and not-at-all-painful experience.
  • I'm bored now. I guess she's not into the whole submissive sex thing, which again, is a perfect okay feeling to have. There's about 20 minutes of her being like, "IDK" and him being like, "PLS???" I do like that she's sassy about her "IDKs." They have sex at her house and there's ice and more gratuitous nipple shots. It's a little rougher than I was comfortable with, but we all have our limits.
  • The best part of the movie, in my opinion, was their negotiation of the sex contract. My law school friends and I were very interested in this part, haha. I thought she could have gotten a better deal out of it, but again, she didn't consult a lawyer.
  • I feel like for the first half of this movie, she's really been the one in control and she seems to like that she has power over Christian.. So why on earth would she give that up and suddenly be a submissive if that's not something she's actively seeking?
  • I clearly don't know enough about BDSM, because I am very confused at how he was a submissive for years and years and years but now he's totally a dominant? And I have heard those same arguments for being a submissive about submissive Christian women in marriages ("It's freeing not having to worry about decisions") and I am no more convinced in this situation that someone who is not excited about being submissive should be so to please another person.
  • I'm bored again. I think it's at this point in the movie when I determined that Christian Grey was a total asshole and any lingering sexiness just disappeared for me.
  • He keeps making statements like, "I just want all of you," and "You can't do things without my permission" and "I want to control you" and I guess it's supposed to be sexy but it's having the complete opposite effect on me right now. I am sitting there with a stink-look on my face while he's being "romantic."
  • All I can think of while he's upset at her going on a trip without telling him and bitching about how he wants to control her is that, when I was 16, I would have thought this was sooo sexy. But I have learned, through college and life and growing up, that those behaviors are really the least sexy things a person can say or do. It's about power and control and distrust and those are all things I want to avoid at all costs in a partner. I don't care if Christian Grey bangs like a god - if he's gonna act this way, I'm leaving his well-sculpted ass in a heartbeat.
  • She's crying all the time about what an asshole he is but she's still with him. I'm sad for her.
  • He's hitting her stomach with a crop and she's acting like it's bringing her to ecstasy. I fundamentally do not understand.
  • "I'm 50 shades of fucked up." COMPLETELY lost it in the theater and couldn't stop laughing. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one. But seriously, COME ON.
  • The last few minutes are just ripe with consent issues. She absolutely told him to hurt her in the way that he wanted to, but she did it so that he could see the effect it had on her. So she's crying on this table, getting whipped on the butt by the guy she loves, and can leave at any time... but doesn't, so he can see how much it's hurting her. I still don't get why she thought this was necessary to teach him something in the first place. I'm just very confused.
  • Oh, I guess it's done?

After I left the theater, two things were especially clear to me:

First, these two people had wildly different expectations and desires. Anastasia wanted a romantic, sweet boyfriend, and she was crushed that Christian Grey was not that kind of guy. And Christian wanted a lady friend to have lots of sex with and be his submissive and have total control over. Anastasia did not want to be that for Christian, and Christian did not want to be that for Anastasia.

The analogy I used right afterwards was that if you have a green painting and wish it was blue, maybe you should go out and exchange it for a blue painting instead. Sitting there wishing it was something different is not going to change it. It's still green. And maybe you just don't like green. Maybe you really like blue. So stop whining and being sad, and find something blue that will make you happy.

These were two people who are not what each other wanted and needed. And while I understand the struggle of wanting to be someone your partner desires and failing utterly to do so, I also saw her crying in every other scene. It's sad. And I wish she had respected herself enough to get the hell out of there.

Second, Christian Grey was controlling and basically the worst. The more controlling he got, the grosser I felt about the whole situation. Emotionally, he was like a petulant man-child, stuck at age 10, wanting to be the center of her world 24/7 and not handling it like an adult when he wasn't. I'm trying to think of someone I would want to be around less, let alone be in a relationship with less. Being good-looking, rich, and passionate does not excuse him being shallow, emotionally-immature and -uninvolved, and controlling.

Now, if that kind of guy appeals to you, feel free. I'm not here to stop you or to tell you not to like what you like. But you deserve to be with someone who loves you, who respects you, and who is emotionally mature enough to be in a real relationship.


All-in-all, I've described the movie as both better and worse than I expected. The first part was actually really entertaining and fun to watch, but then second part was painful to get through (ha). I tried really hard to go in with an open mind and judge it for what it was, which I feel like I did. My favorite part was seeing it with my friends, who did not judge me for warning them that I might laugh at parts and not to be upset with me. There was this elevator scene near the beginning of the movie where he kisses her and it's undoubtedly the hottest part of the movie in my mind. It was full of sexual tension and touching and passion, but it was fully consensual and there was no question that it's what they both wanted... which is the hottest (and only???) kind of passion in my opinion, haha.

Would I watch the second one? Probably not. I'm positive the plot from here on out is that *gasp* he suddenly changes and she gets through to him emotionally and he doesn't want to hurt her anymore and he lets her touch him and they're happy. Which is bullshit and not what happens in real life, so I think I'll pass... Unless my girlfriends ask me to go again. Then I probably will, because I'm really not in a position to pass up a girl's night out.

I'm still torn about the consent issues at the end of the movie. Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

xo Madie

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