Film Review: Beneath its Curious Surface, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ a Dangerous Menace to Society

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Average: 3 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – Strike one of far too many: “Fifty Shades of Grey” author Erika Leonard (better known as E.L. James) has never lived the BDSM lifestyle. And therefore, nor should she be writing about, romanticizing and profiteering on it. On a $40 million budget, the film earned $30.2 million on its opening Friday and is on track for a record-breaking international weekend grab of $158 million.

But this is as irresponsible as an author writing about rape who has never been. Anne Rice wrote “The Sleeping Beauty Quartet” (four erotic BDSM novels under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure), but she was actually engaged in BDSM with her husband. Experienced with it, Rice also wrote the BDSM romance novels “Exit to Eden” and “Belinda” under the pen name Anne Rampling. Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

While “Fifty Shades of Grey” is every trashy novelist’s dream, there are much better ones including Sylvia Day’s “Bared to You,” Leah Brooke’s “Crescendo,” Maya Banks’ “Sweet Addiction,” Catherine Millet’s “Sexual Life of Catherine M.” and Nicholson Baker’s “House of Holes”. There are some things that just take firsthand experience and the private, serious and respectful world of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism is definitely one.

Though BDSM is nothing new, what “Fifty Shades of Grey” is newly doing – and is doing very successfully – is making it mainstream. That’s dangerous, though, because it shouldn’t be. BDSM is a private world, and at the end of the day with “Fifty Shades,” the interesting parts aren’t new and the new parts aren’t interesting.

StarRead Adam Fendelman’s full review of “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

But talking about sex is healthy, right? Sometimes, yes, but this isn’t just sex and BDSM isn’t for mass consumption. Becoming the first introduction into this private world for many folks who had never otherwise considered it, these books and this film gives some of us false hope and unrealistic expectations. This twisted truth could end up getting some people hurt physically and mentally.

“He’s not my kind of guy,” Jamie Dornan has been quoted as saying about his role as Christian Grey. “I don’t like the idea of someone telling a girl what she should eat and how much she should exercise. That’s not right. Obviously. I don’t know anyone in Belfast like him at all. None of my [Irish] mates would carry on like that.”

It’s just a job, but he chose to accept it and get rich and famous for it. And beyond his capitalism off of this worldwide phenomenon, the dangers of exposing BDSM to the uneducated public are not to be trifled with and are quite serious. BDSM isn’t a world people just fall into curiously and 21-year-old virgins don’t go from never having had sex to BDSM.

Note: This “R”-rated film is intended for mature audiences only.
It is rated “R” for strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior
and graphic nudity and for language. You must be 17+ to attend a showing of this film.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” stars Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Ehle, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Eloise Mumford, Max Martini, Callum Keith Rennie and Dylan Neal from director Sam Taylor-Johnson, producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti and writer Kelly Marcel based on the novels by E.L. James. The film, which opened on Feb. 13, 2015 and has a running time of 125 minutes, is rated “R” for strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity and for language.

StarContinue for Adam Fendelman’s full review of “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

Fifty Shades of Grey stars Dakota Johnson
“Fifty Shades of Grey” stars Dakota Johnson as the innocent and naïve Anastasia Steele.
Image credit: Universal Pictures

StarContinue for Adam Fendelman’s full review of “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

Master Hook's picture


Like it or not, 50 Shades of Grey is now mainstream. I have seen the movie and it gets a lot more right than wrong when comes to the D/s side of BDSM. Being a vocal supporter of the BDSM and D/s lifestyle on YouTube for 8 years and living it for all my adult life, I have seen it go from a something no one talks about to now being talked about openly on city buses. Good or bad, it is. We can help the people who hate us and keep us ashamed of who we are with stuff like this or we can bite down hard and see that it’s not a secret and move on and enjoy our kinky life.

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