Valentine’s Day is the sweetest of holidays — sweet with love, sweet with chocolate candies and sweet with celebrations. This year, however, there was one part of Valentine’s Day that is questionably sweet: the release of the film “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
The book of the same name by E. L. James tells the story of a raunchy, yet passionate relationship between 21-year-old Anastasia Steele, a young, innocent woman, and 28-year-old Christian Grey, a cunning, charismatic and mysterious man. With this plot, naturally, the movie came into theaters Saturday.
From the book lovers, to the romantics, to the curious observers, to everything in between, many celebrated Valentine’s Day 2015 by heading to movie theaters to catch the first showings of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” After all, what could be more appropriate on Valentine’s Day than to watch a movie about raw passion full of excitement, love and lust?
On the surface, this movie seems to have an enthusiastically sensual appeal. However, “Fifty Shades of Grey” has a large component that many feel does not quite fit in with the sweet Valentine’s Day spirit: the vulgar actions and relations between the two main characters. The essence of “Fifty Shades of Grey” rests in the sadism of Christian Grey and the masochism of Anastasia Steele.
Interestingly enough, much of the publicity and advertisements prior to the movie’s release do not seem to reflect the same high level of crudeness as that of the story. Although the film’s trailers show scenes of bondage, they do not bring the harsh physical interactions between Christian and Anastasia to fruition. As I see it, the trailers give off a sense of forbidden love, fiery passion and risqué fun. Such impressions create a sexual fantasy, but the sadomasochist relationship — the focal point of the film — definitely tells a darker, more violent story that may not be so idealistic.
Bondage may be an appealing fetish to some, but the racy, severe actions between Anastasia and Christian take fetish to a new level. Therefore, “Fifty Shades of Grey” has raised much controversy, as protesters declare that the sexual violence in this film actually glamorizes domestic abuse in society. The movie deems Christian’s aggressive actions as acceptable and suggests the endearing quality of such assault through Anastasia’s unyielding attraction to Christian. In turn, this movie sends out a message that encourages women to find romance by acting submissive to intimidating and abusive men.
An American is sexually assaulted every 107 seconds, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). Such prevalence of this kind of abuse is all the more reason that a movie like “Fifty Shades of Grey” should not be romanticized. The fight against sexual assault is ongoing and does not need more setbacks.
In one light, “Fifty Shades of Grey” seems to perfectly coincide with themes of love, seduction and romance. However, on the other hand, this film seems to proudly wear sexual assault on its sleeve, making its release date quite ironic. Valentine’s Day represents love and affection, and while such traits may tie to seduction, the holiday does not relate to sexual violence. Seeing “Fifty Shades of Grey” for pure entertainment is one thing, but viewing it as a fantasy is another. Regardless of the sexual tension between the movie’s main characters, the notion of sexual abuse is established. A fetish, I understand, but when it comes to Christian Grey … well, that is another story.