FSOG (Fifty Shades of Grey) is, hands down, one of the worst things to ever happen to the BDSM scene, even though it’s probably one of the best things to happen to erotica writers. With the movie coming out soon, I feel like I should do my part and rant like it’s 1999 on just how utterly BLEARGH this whole series is.
Allll the BLEARGHs. I’m not so good with words any time I ever get onto the topic of Fifty Shades.
Better people than I have spelled out, in excruciating detail, why this series is one long abuse-fest from start to finish. I also have it on good authority from the various people I know who are involved in the scene that it’s abuse. Once again: Fifty Shades is ABUSE. It’s pretending to be romance, but it was written by an author who got her ideas about BDSM from random Google searches, as far as I know. She didn’t actually consult anyone who knows shit about real BDSM. What’s presented as BDSM in those books is what assholes and idiots think BDSM is, which is people being ordered about, getting hurt, and somehow they like it.
I can’t even possibly describe just how offensive that is. I can’t describe how much it’s lacking the emotional and psychological context of BDSM. It’s dressing up the most superficial, surface level aspect of fetish and presenting it as the whole. It’s as if someone wrote a book that described football as ‘a bunch of guys throwing a pigskin around and running into each other’ and treated that as the real deal. (Convenient Super Bowl reference GO!)
Anyway – I hope you get the idea. I have not heard of a single person who’s involved with the BDSM scene reacting to Fifty Shades with anything less than complete horror. Take that as a sign, if you will, of just how horrible this series is, no matter how hot you think the sex is.
But on the flip side…
See, the problem with FSOG is that it blew the ebook floodgates for erotica writers wide open. It was the breakout hit, the one that got the ball rolling and showed everyone that porn for women (even really shitty porn) could sell like the last iced frappachino in Hades. Since it was published, the market for erotica on Amazon and elsewhere has not so much taken off as erupted with the force of Mount St Helens, powered by the wrath of Lucifer and his need for cold, coffee-based drinks. I am seriously not kidding when I say that there are plenty of erotica writers out there making an absolutely obscene amount of money, now that women know that there is porn on Amazon and they can buy it and read it discreetly on their Kindles. Fifty Shades made it okay, as it were, to go looking for it.
I mean, I gotta give it credit for that much even though the series itself can be charitably described as ‘romance as enacted by aliens who have had BDSM explained to them by someone who saw a set of handcuffs once.’
And now we come to the movie. The horrible, horrible movie.
There is NO possible way that this movie is going to be good, if they’re following the books. The only chance it’s got is if the screenwriter recognized that the books are total shit, and changed fundamental things in the movie to take the premise of FSOG and turn it into, y’know, a story that makes sense with characters that act like they’re human, i.e. NOT FSOG. If they’re actually following the books, though? Forget it. FORGET IT. Not gonna happen. What we’ll get on the screen will be a giant pile of offensive asshattery the like of which will finally take the title of Worst Movie Ever from Battlefield: Earth.
There’s a couple of reasons why I think this. Let’s count the ways:
- It’s got an R rating. The whole draw of FSOG is the porn. An R rating = NO PORN. You’ll get a lot of carefully filmed camera angles and a lot less sex than in the books. There will probably be no actual fucking.
- The plot of the books is NONSENSE. It’s got plot holes you could drive an oil tanker through. No porn means this stupid plot is going to have to carry the movie, which it will not and which will disappoint the hell out of you.
- FSOG is porn for women. Hollywood may know how to make movies, but it doesn’t know or understand how to make a movie that turns women on. The most we’ve gotten up to this point in terms of ‘pandering to the female gaze’ is guys with their shirts off doing normal activites, for gods’ sake! That’s supposed to be progress, people. That’s supposed to be titillating for women. And now a studio is going to make a movie that REQUIRES its main actor to be turned into a sex object for the sole benefit of womens’ libidos? No offense to Sam Taylor-Johnson (the director) but her work to date has been mostly arthouse stuff, and Fifty Shades needs someone like Erika Lust who actually understands what porn for women should look like.
- Seriously, come back to me when you’ve gotten as far as slow pans around the guy’s crotch and ass, and MAYBE that’ll be considered female-gaze-worthy if he’s also lounging around on a couch wearing knee-high boots and making ‘come hither’ faces at the camera.
In short: this is a bad book series and it will never, ever be redeemed, and all it’s got going for it is the fact that a few lucky breaks turned it into a bestseller and helped kickstart a massive erotica publishing revolution. The movie may or may not suck on the same level, but personally I think it’s more likely that science will someday produce a viable pig-pterodactyl hybrid than the Fifty Shades movie will be good.