By Sarah Burstein, Staff Writer
There’s a Christian alternative to “Fifty Shades of Grey.” You’re not reading that wrong.
In Feb. 2015, movie theaters will most likely be filled to the brim with readers of the bestselling novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey” as the film adaptation hits the big screen on Valentine’s Day. But if filmmaker Rik Swartwelder has his way, people will also be filling theaters showing another movie. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to “Old Fashioned,” dubbed the Christian alternative to “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
If you need a quick update, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is book one out of a series of three erotic novels that tell the story of a shy college student and a wealthy and mysterious CEO who engage in a BDSM sexual relationship (whether or not this relationship is always consensual is up for debate, but that’s for another blog post). The book, notorious for its explicit sexual scenes, was penned by E.L. James, also known by her alias Snowqueens Icedragaon, as online fanfiction for the book/movie series “Twilight.” When James released the book as an original series, she changed the story to revolve around original characters.
Now, meet “Old Fashioned.” In the trailer, we’re introduced to the brooding main character, Chris, who doesn’t believe in dating until he meets his cute new neighbor, Amber. The movie looks pretty predictable: two different people meet, they don’t look like they have much in common but like each other, two dudes play basketball, cute old lady tells guy not to let girl go, indie banjo music plays in background. Noticeably missing from the trailer is any kissing or foreshadowing of intimacy between the two lovers. The movie isn’t shy about its Christian affiliation either. During one scene, sassy Amber says, “Don’t tell me you found Jesus or something,” to which Chris replies, “More like He found me.”
In the beginning of the trailer, Swartwelder introduces his movie. “Clearly, we’re picking a fight with Fifty Shades. We’re not only picking a fight, we’re picking a fight with the schoolground bully, likely to get our nose busted in two,” Swartwelder said. “Love and romance are created by God and designed to lead to marriage and physical intimacy . . . I find it impossible to not believe that, deep down, we don’t want to celebrate something more than ‘Fifty Shades.'”
I don’t know. Something about this movie rubs me the wrong way. Believe me, “Fifty Shades of Grey” has its major ethical issues, so I appreciate the more “wholesome” approach Swartwelder is taking to romance. However, in order for a relationship to be mutually gratifying, it obviously does not have to refrain from sexual activity. The world Swarthelder paints is trying to be realistic and relatable, but it also is polarizing itself from a good amount of couples who choose to engage in sexual activity.
Swarthelder is a Christian filmmaker with a Christian point of view, and pointing out the flaws in “Fifty Shades” is important, but let’s not but down other couples who do have healthy, consensual (premarital) sex while we’re at it.
Check out the trailer for “Old Fashioned” below.