No Pain, No Gain
February 13, 2015 7:55 AM   Subscribe

The global appeal of the novel has led some fans to hallow it as a classic, but, with all due respect, it is not to be confused with “Madame Bovary.” Rather, Fifty Shades of Grey is the kind of book that Madame Bovary would read.
Anthony Lane reviews Fifty Shades of Grey.
posted by jenkinsEar (214 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good choices, I reckon, especially Johnson, who, as the granddaughter of Tippi Hedren, knows everything about predators who stare and swoop.

Heh. Also, I had no idea that Dakota Johnson was Melanie Griffith's daughter. It might have also been worth mentioning that, in real life, Tippi Hedren had herself been the victim of a powerful, charismatic man who had an obsession with her - Hitchcock, of course.

FUN FACT: Speaking of the intersection of smut and Hollywood, Melanie Griffith was cast in Brian De Palma's Body Double only after the studio wouldn't let him cast porn actress Annette Haven. She instead acted as a consultant on the film.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:02 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


"On the other hand, the film, by dint of its simple competence—being largely well acted, not too long, and sombrely photographed, by Seamus McGarvey—has to be better than the novel. It could hardly be worse."

Happy Valentine's Day from Anthony Lane. Maybe we should send him a Fifty Shades of Grey® Bear as a thank you?
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:06 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm kind of amazed that movie theaters don't seem to be setting up 50 Shades viewing parties, complete with gift bags and wine. It just seems conducive to a group viewing sort of thing.
posted by mochapickle at 8:08 AM on February 13, 2015


I hate to admit it, but Anthony Lane is a better writer than Pauline Kael. Apple/oranges, OK. But the evisceration he gives this movie -- which he describes as awful is an awfully subtle way, not awful as in the Dan Brownesque prose of the book -- is the funniest thing I've read in weeks.
posted by kozad at 8:09 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


This was so fun to read.
posted by Pfardentrott at 8:09 AM on February 13, 2015


(Also, can anyone who watched Jamie Dornan in The Fall actually make it through watching him in this? In the trailer, there's a scene of him running along the waterfront in a hoodie a la Paul Spector. My synapses were backfiring.)
posted by mochapickle at 8:10 AM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


The other day, a woman at work was swooning over how hot Paul Spector was. It is what it is.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:12 AM on February 13, 2015


The Grantland review described it as a movie that seems scarred of itself, afraid to be either a graphic sex movie or as ridiculous as the books. I'm incredibly unlikely to see this movie, so I guess I'll never know, but it seemed decently likely to be true.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:12 AM on February 13, 2015


(Not that bad guys/girls can't be hot. Just, y'know.)
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:13 AM on February 13, 2015


Jamie Dornan is quite attractive, but after seeing him as Paul Spector...well, the bloom has kinda fallen off that rose.
posted by Kitteh at 8:16 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Serious question that I've not seen addressed: Isn't Gray basically a serial rapist, and if so, why isn't this book/movie vilified by all women people everywhere? Is there more to this than some weird rape fantasy thing? Terrible writing aside, it just seems like the subject matter itself is especially vile, and it's a surprise it's so mainstream.
posted by jbickers at 8:21 AM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


He spends half the time badgering her about a contract that has been drawn up, in which she—“the Submissive”—must consent to his supremacy. Clauses and subsections are haggled over in such detail that one feels bound to ask: How much of a sex film can this be, given that the people most likely to be turned on by it are lawyers?
I've never been involved (or interested) in BDSM in real life, but to me, this "contract" business is residue from the book's origin in online fan fiction. Back when i was active in Second Life, it seemed like 80% of the people I met were there for the "BDSM lifestyle" - and they'd spend hours sitting around and talking talking talking to each other and splitting hairs and making like Talmudic scholars over the fine shades of meaning to the word "consent" or somesuch. It was BORING. I was like, I thought sex was supposed to be fun? Whatever happened to fun, huh?

Real-life BDSM may well be very different - but I treasure my ignorance of the topic.
posted by doctor tough love at 8:23 AM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


A classic? I just came this close to snorting soda all over my keyboard at work.
posted by Melismata at 8:24 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Guardian review says no fisting.
posted by biffa at 8:25 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


What is best in life? To have written Anthony Lane's Fifty Shades of Grey review.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:25 AM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


From the review:
The only viewer, in fact, who may feel shortchanged by “Fifty Shades of Grey” is Liam Helmer, who is listed in the credits as “BDSM Technical Consultant.”

Oh, snap!
posted by Gelatin at 8:26 AM on February 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


WHY IS EVERYONE PAYING THIS MUCH ATTENTION TO THIS DRECK IT IS NOT WORTH IT GOOD LORD
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:29 AM on February 13, 2015 [23 favorites]




I am sooo glad that Charlie Hunnam didn't wind up in this. Couldn't bear to see Jax Teller soil his reputation,
posted by jonmc at 8:30 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is there more to this than some weird rape fantasy thing?

We live in a society where women's choices, especially in regards to their sex lives, are vilified and heavily scrutinized, regardless of what those choices are. In light of that, it's not surprising that women would fantasize about a lack of agency and choices.
posted by almostmanda at 8:31 AM on February 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


You get dirtier talk in most action movies, and more genitalia in a TED talk on Renaissance sculpture.

Snerk.

When this came out and was a hit with the ladies of my office, I read a bit about it and remember thinking, "Huh, if you want good/fun smut, you really need to check out some online comics like those on Slipshine."

But for obvious reasons, that was not a suggestion I could make to them. Which is sad because that stuff is so. much. better.
posted by emjaybee at 8:33 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I enjoyed 50 SHADES. I hope the movie gives people lots of pleasure too. Like the other 100 million people who bought the book, I can't tell good writing from bad, which is a great relief: so many things you can't enjoy, though you are somehow obliged to read them!
posted by alasdair at 8:33 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Did the book leave you wanting more? How about paying for the Fifty Shades Experience, where you will get dominated for a weekend with your own Mr. Grey!

(I haven't found the actual contract you sign, but I'd be shocked if it even mentions the word "safeword")
posted by ymgve at 8:33 AM on February 13, 2015


a movie that seems scared of itself

Should have been directed by Paul Verhoeven, not Taylor-Johnson. She even managed to make John Lennon boring in her previous film, never mind the characters she's working with in this one.
posted by colie at 8:34 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I hate to admit it, but Anthony Lane is a better writer than Pauline Kael.

Kael's arguably a better critic in terms of insight, but stylistically, Lane is a more literary one.

Rising (or lowering) to the occasion, Lane is on fire with this highly quotable review:
"Where the money shots should be, we get shots of what money can provide."
"Think of it as the “Downton Abbey” of bondage, designed neither to menace nor to offend but purely to cosset the fatigued imagination."
"the novel’s devotees—the Jamesians, as we must think of them"
"No new reader, however charitable, could open “Fifty Shades of Grey,” browse a few paragraphs, and reasonably conclude that the author was writing in her first language, or even her fourth."
"to judge by the importance that he attaches to grooming, regular feeding, and nicely buffed leather goods, my suspicion is that he doesn’t want a girlfriend at all. I know Mr. Grey’s whopping-big secret. He wants a pony."
In the end, this film doesn't appear to be either a great-awful movie, like Showgirls, or a good adaptation of a bad book, like American Psycho. It's merely an occasion for movie reviewers to whet cutting criticisms.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:34 AM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


What his thing actually is, Lord knows, although, to judge by the importance that he attaches to grooming, regular feeding, and nicely buffed leather goods, my suspicion is that he doesn’t want a girlfriend at all. I know Mr. Grey’s whopping-big secret. He wants a pony.

That's it. I'm starting the rumour right now.

When they say 50 Shades of Grey is based on "a bad Twilight fanfiction", they mean "a bad Twilight Sparkle fanfiction".
posted by Katemonkey at 8:34 AM on February 13, 2015 [29 favorites]


Also, can anyone who watched Jamie Dornan in The Fall actually make it through watching him in this?

They should clearly have cast Mark E. Smith from The Fall instead.
posted by sobarel at 8:35 AM on February 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


metafilter: I treasure my ignorance of the topic.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:35 AM on February 13, 2015 [23 favorites]


Is there more to this than some weird rape fantasy thing?

Not defending 50SOG at all, but: fantasies about non-consensual sex are quite common across genders. Obviously, the key word here is "fantasy": not only are fantasies not reality, but in a fantasy, the one with the fantasy is the one in control. Whether any particular fantasy is healthy or unhealthy is another question, to the extent that there may be a simple answer to that question for any particular case.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:36 AM on February 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


doctor tough love: Back when i was active in Second Life, it seemed like 80% of the people I met were there for the "BDSM lifestyle" - and they'd spend hours sitting around and talking talking talking to each other and splitting hairs . . . . I was like, I thought sex was supposed to be fun?

I think for some people, a surprising amount of pleasure comes from burying oneself in these kinds of details and talking about them and negotiating them, often more than from the actual process of putting those terms into effect. It's a pain-free way of immersing oneself in the fantasy and feeling like one is working towards making it come to fruition.
posted by Pfardentrott at 8:36 AM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Many combinations were suggested, my own preference being Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand, who made such a lovely couple in “The Prince of Tides,”
Here I disagree, however. I say Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, but then, I've always longed for another Romancing The Stone movie.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:37 AM on February 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


He wants a pony.

Ok, I was holding it in check till then but that pushed me over the edge.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:40 AM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


The only good reason for the existence of the 50 Shades of Grey book is that unsuccessful authors can contemplate the hundred million sold and say, "At least I didn't write that."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:42 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


we skip the breakfast that she shares with Christian at an International House of Pancake
Wow, that guy really is a sadist.
posted by yoink at 8:43 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This calls for a Charlie Brooker review, the sort where he proclaims that "If I worked on [Fifty Shades], and my parents asked me what I did for a living, I'd lie and say I sat in a dustbin giving blowjobs for pennies. Just to retain some dignity."
posted by Zonker at 8:44 AM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


No, wait, he shares the breakfast? Make that "sadomasochist."
posted by yoink at 8:44 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


This movie is going to be a huge hit, I know, and I hate so many things about that:

1. It portrays kink as psychological damage that needs to be healed by a "normal" woman.
2. It romanticizes the real-life physical and emotional violence many women experience, even going so far as to claim that women like giving up all that tedious control over their lives.
3. But any criticism about its retrograde gender depictions are often dismissed as sex-negative prudishness.
4. Instead, it's more commonly ridiculed as "mommy porn" because older women's sexuality is hilarious.
5. And it will probably provide all sorts of ammunition for arguments that Hollywood doesn't need stories by and about women, because this is what you get.

I love Anthony Lane's review - I wish more reviews I've read were this scathing instead of mostly claiming "Well, it's not that bad." But I'd love to see more mainstream media criticism focused on the larger problems of the story instead of the badness of the plot and prose.
posted by bibliowench at 8:45 AM on February 13, 2015 [37 favorites]


This movie was doomed as a project the second they cast someone other than Louis CK as the male lead.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 8:47 AM on February 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


Many combinations were suggested, my own preference being Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand, who made such a lovely couple in “The Prince of Tides,”

Whoopi Goldberg and Randy Quaid.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:47 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Young billionaire meets college student. "Don't love me, I'm into very crazy sex." he says. "No prob," she says. They have mildly kinky times in his wildly overengineered sex room. Everyone meets everyone else's parents like three times. "Actually I just pretended to be ok with kinky sex so you'd like me. PS: You're a terrible human being for being into spanking. Ok bye forever." The end.
posted by the jam at 8:48 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


What's amazing, the jam, is that except for the "meeting parents" bit you very nearly described the plot of 9 1/2 Weeks, and that movie's nearly 30 years old.
posted by Gelatin at 8:51 AM on February 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


the jam: also "crazy sex is the ONLY important thing to me, it's the ONLY way I can relate to women. Oh wait, no it isn't."
posted by Melismata at 8:51 AM on February 13, 2015


In the end, this film doesn't appear to be either a great-awful movie, like Showgirls, or a good adaptation of a bad book, like American Psycho. It's merely an occasion for movie reviewers to whet cutting criticisms.

I have this incredibly strange feeling that American Psycho was a parody of this movie, but there was some kind of quantum entanglement event and they ended up in the wrong timestream order.
posted by selfnoise at 8:52 AM on February 13, 2015 [26 favorites]


"to judge by the importance that he attaches to grooming, regular feeding, and nicely buffed leather goods, my suspicion is that he doesn’t want a girlfriend at all. I know Mr. Grey’s whopping-big secret. He wants a pony."

That's not as mutually exclusive in the BSDM community as you might think. Folks like their roleplay.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:52 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Is there more to this than some weird rape fantasy thing?

Well, yeah, in that because of rape culture and discomfort with consent dialogue, a huge chunk of media consumers don't consider this stuff rape - many consider it romantic.

And that includes the two main characters (well, he doesn't consider it romantic, but neither of them ever really acknowledge the consent issues). Not even Grey thinks it's rape - the violation of consent isn't really what gets him off, he simply doesn't understand consent or care about consent because, as a Rich White Guy, he just gets whatever he wants and other people's purpose is giving it to him.

And because we as a society worship money and Rich White Guys, that's okay.

and they'd spend hours sitting around and talking talking talking to each other

It's Second Life, all they can do is talk. The other option is...log off and go do something else.

Boundary negotiation can and should be an enjoyable process (and can be enjoyable just to sit around and armchair-philosophize over). That contract in the first 50 book is so bad in every way a thing can be bad, including as a literary device, that it's clear James had heard of the concept but not considered investigating further. AND ANA NEVER SIGNS/AGREES TO IT, it's just this fucking useless thing that hovers over the story.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:53 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Needs more Gronk.
posted by delfin at 8:54 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]




Kael's arguably a better critic in terms of insight, but stylistically, Lane is a more literary one.

I can't agree. Good literature tells you something about its subject. Lane is a stand-up comedian who uses movies as a jumping-off point. When he's trashing terrible Hollywood dreck, it's entertaining. But he only has as much to say about the movie in question as any comedian would (which isn't nothing, but isn't much). I've always thought his perch at The New Yorker was symptomatic of a residual contempt for film as a populist art form; they wouldn't have a regular book critic whose job was to write funny riffs on bestsellers.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:56 AM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Guys I just had an epiphany: the name "Anastasia" means "resurrection" -- Anastasia is LITERALLY giving the fallen Christian salvation from his sins.

I AM SO CREEPED OUT.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:58 AM on February 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


we skip the breakfast that she shares with Christian at an International House of Pancake
Their safe word is "boysenberry."
posted by octobersurprise at 8:58 AM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'd never read the contract before. In the infamous tampon scene, Grey actually violates the hard limits set out in Appendix 2: no blood.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:58 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I doubt we'll be seeing this, this Valentine's weekend. My wife was curious enough to get the first book and start it. She didn't make it more than a couple of chapters before just putting it down with an "oh good heavens..." and an admission that all this tying and spanking and whatnot was just not for her after all. And that's a good thing.

I think that's a good thing...

Yeah, it's probably a good thing.

Instead, I'm going to advocate for Kingsman, which is kind of like safe porn for me, with its really competent, really well-dressed middle-aged man beating the crap out of bad guys with awesome spy toys.
posted by Naberius at 8:59 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


So much judgement... for those of you that enjoyed 50 Shades (there's no shame in that) and are looking for more works by E. L. James, I highly recommend Ghost Stories of an Antiquary.

There's another good author from that era, also known for romance novels (given his obvious pen name): H. P. Lovecraft.
posted by kurumi at 9:00 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Serious question that I've not seen addressed: Isn't Gray basically a serial rapist, and if so, why isn't this book/movie vilified by all women people everywhere? Is there more to this than some weird rape fantasy thing? Terrible writing aside, it just seems like the subject matter itself is especially vile, and it's a surprise it's so mainstream.
posted by jbickers at 8:21 AM on February 13 [+] [!]


I have never read 50 Shades, except for excerpts that friends read to each other for comedy. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that I would enjoy on sustained reading. Given that, I’m not the most qualified person to address this, but I’m so fucking weary of seeing variations of this question on the internet that I’m going to give it a reply.

I am an HBO junkie. Three of my favorite television shows are Rome, Deadwood and The Sopranos. Each of those shows has protagonists that have straight up murdered dozens if not hundreds of people. Literally no one that I have met has ever called me out to answer for this, because I have a penis, so people assume that I am capable of telling the difference between real life and a made-up story. I see little kids in Darth Vader shirts on a near-daily basis. Darth Vader engages in torture and oversaw the destruction of an entire populated planet. He is worse than a car full of drunk-driving Hitlers. No one worries too much about this, because by the time that they are five, most children will have a fairly decent grasp on the difference between real and make-believe.

Can we please, as a website if not as a society, extend women the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are at least as discerning as five-year-olds?
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:01 AM on February 13, 2015 [57 favorites]


the name "Anastasia" means "resurrection" -- Anastasia is LITERALLY giving the fallen Christian salvation from his sins.

Eyebrows, have you read The Whelk's link to Roxane Gay's review of the book?
When you look deeper, though, which is challenging in a trilogy with the depth of a murky wading pool, these books are really about Ana trying to change/save Christian from his demons— she is the virginal, good girl who can lead the dark bad boy to salvation as if, historically, trying to change a man has ever worked out well. At one point during their courtship, Ana thinks, “This man, whom I once thought of as a romantic hero, a brave shining white knight—or the dark knight as he said. He’s not a hero; he’s a man with serious, deep emotional flaws, and he’s dragging me into the dark. Can I not guide him into the light?” I wanted to take Ana aside and say, “Girl, you cannot lead this man into the light. Let that dream go.”

After all the trials this couple faces, and after all the hot sex, we’re supposed to think this trilogy is about a young woman and her happily ever after. It’s not. Ana’s sexual awakening is a convenient vehicle for the awakening of Christian’s humanity. Fifty Shades of Grey is about a man finding peace and happiness because he finally finds a woman willing to tolerate his bullshit for long enough.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:01 AM on February 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


Fifty Shades of Grey is about an author finding peace and happiness because she finally finds an audience willing to tolerate her bullshit for long enough.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh crap a review of my life by Anthony Lane NO I AIN'T READY FOR THIS NO NO NOOOOOOOOOO!
posted by Iridic at 9:06 AM on February 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


i guess i don't really understand why those who want to read the hotness don't just watch youporn on their tablet for a while and read literotica. I mean, it's cheaper, one actually orgasms, and one avoids the scorn that is duly heaped upon anybody who spends money on this poop
posted by angrycat at 9:06 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anthony Lane is a sort of quintessential wit; his distinctively British subtlety, that candor which seems like restraint, his ability to make a semantic wave crash from what the reader first saw as a rhetorical flick of the wrist, the genteel ease of his urbane acerbity; it's just marvelous.

Every so often, though, I wish he would depart from his playful delicacy and make a point with force rather than dexterity. This is such an occasion. Lane's review is funny and devastating, in its own way, but I (personally, probably idiosyncratically) wanted to see him fire-hose this one instead of tossing a bucket of water on its weak flame.
posted by clockzero at 9:07 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Evidently, Dave Barry came out of semi-retirement so that he could write a column on the book version of 50 Shades of Grey. His reaction was more like, "Dear God! It makes women want to have sex... with their husbands..."
posted by jonp72 at 9:07 AM on February 13, 2015


Real-life BDSM may well be very different - but I treasure my ignorance of the topic.
No, you were pretty spot-on. Boring, unimaginative people bickering about rules. Very lawyer-friendly.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:08 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This Caroyln Cox review is excellent. Some good bits:

James’ Ana is basically just a placeholder, but Johnson is funny, warm, sympathetic, and smart (I can’t wait to see her in a more deserving movie). The book insinuated that Ana was a prude for hesitating to indulge her man’s “singular tastes,” but Johnson as an actor seems so obviously critical of the movie’s message that her reluctance actually makes Christian look a little bit like the unattractive jerk he is.

Jamie Dornan is fine. I guess. It’s hard to critique his performance when the character as written doesn’t do much aside from fume and wear the world’s lowest jeans. (Dornan’s core, however, is clearly vying for an Oscar. The man has a back like a bag full of snakes.)

The movie spouts a lot of fucked-up misinformation about BDSM (and for a movie that’s ostensibly pro-sex, it sure is obsessed with abstinence), but more than anything else, it’s a reminder of how easy it is to be a man.
posted by emjaybee at 9:09 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was a huge fan of the Onion video review.
posted by jeather at 9:09 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


So much judgement...

We're judging shitty writing about abuse. I think that's okay.

Can we please, as a website if not as a society, extend women the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are at least as discerning as five-year-olds?

The problem as I see it is that women are historically conditioned to take abuse from men. That's what this book actually is: domestic abuse. It's not about BDSM, it's about repeated and flagrant disregard for consent.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:09 AM on February 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


I have a penis, so people assume that I am capable of telling the difference between real life and a made-up story.

If the assumption here is that stories aimed primarily at male audiences don't get criticized on the premise that those audiences will fail to make an adequate distinction between the fictional world and real life, or that the values embodied in the fictional world will affect the audience's values in real life then I would like to introduce you to pretty much all criticism of male-centric entertainment ever.
posted by yoink at 9:10 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


There's another good author from that era, also known for romance novels (given his obvious pen name): H. P. Lovecraft.

Well played sir...well played.
posted by Billiken at 9:13 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Educated people: What a pity the masses don't READ more.
(a book becomes super popular)
Educated people: Psht. THAT book? It's awful. I can't believe the masses read THAT.

*repeat*
posted by kimberussell at 9:14 AM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


One thing that bothers me about the Fifty Shades of Grey lolling/critique: the way the audience is always characterized as "housewives", with genial tolerance or genial contempt depending on the writer. (Admittedly, I have only read the Pervocracy recap and not the actual books, and they sound pretty ghastly.)

Part of this is a class thing - like, I have not known anyone who is actually a "housewife" in many years, because I don't know anyone who can do more than afford maybe a year or so home when the kids are tiny. I don't think the women who are career "housewives" are the audience for this book, since they have to be fairly wealthy and this book strikes me as distinctly lower/lower-middle class - in the nature of its wealth fantasy, in its handling of gender, etc.

Also, for fuck's sake, it's always written as "ha ha, it's cute that the housewives have porn", almost always by a young straight woman. And I feel like saying "this culture's contempt for 'housewives' is this culture's contempt for you - you're not off the hook of gendered contempt just because you're implying that the women who read this book are older, married, boring, undersexed."
posted by Frowner at 9:16 AM on February 13, 2015 [29 favorites]


The Grantland review described it as a movie that seems scarred of itself, afraid to be either a graphic sex movie or as ridiculous as the books.

The movie was almost guaranteed to be terrible, but it went beyond redemption when they decided to shoot for an R rating and not NC-17.

The one arguably redeeming quality of the book—and this is touched on, backhandedly, in the review—is that it made it possible for a respectable person, i.e. someone not wearing a trenchcoat with what passers-by really hope is shorts on underneath it, read porn on the train. Porn with a buttoned-down cover, but that was the brilliance of the whole marketing scheme: part of the appeal was, I think, figuring out just how dirty this book that everyone else was reading could possibly be.

And I think they probably could have doubled down for the movie; they could have played a game similar to what the book, at least in its later and more self-aware editions, did, making you wonder if it was really all that. (Of course, the book couldn't cash the checks that its understated cover was writing, but by the time you figured that out you'd bought the book.)

You can't do that when any idiot can see that the movie is rated R. There's only so much you can do in an R rating, and it's not particularly much. You certainly can't do porn or even anything that gets particularly close to porn; you can't produce a movie that is for the film format what the book was for summer beach or bus reading.

If the producers had any sense, they will have shot the movie for NC-17 and then just cut it down for theatrical release as R. That will allow them to release it in theaters and milk whatever the market is for an awkward Valentine's Day non-pornographic-non-romance, and then do an "unrated" or "director's cut" DVD/streaming release down the road.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:16 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's not okay to find it problematic that at least a hundred million people are happily lapping up a story about rape and abuse that's presented as though it's normal, healthy behaviour?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:17 AM on February 13, 2015 [12 favorites]




... these books are really about Ana trying to change/save Christian from his demons— she is the virginal, good girl who can lead the dark bad boy to salvation ...
Has anyone yet written a knockoff wherein we discover that Ana was really a lascivious wench who conned Christian into marriage? Because I might take a whack at it if they haven't.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:19 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Above all, we are denied James’s personifications, which are so much livelier than her characters: “My sleepy subconscious has a final swipe at me.” “YES! My inner goddess is thrilled.” “NO! my psyche screams.” Couldn’t someone have got Sarah Silverman to play the psyche?

Now this, I would watch.
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:22 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


If the producers had any sense, they will have shot the movie for NC-17 and then just cut it down for theatrical release as R.

DVD. Director's cut. "Unrated".

That'll fetch 'em or I don't know Arkansas.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:22 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


One thing that bothers me about the Fifty Shades of Grey lolling/critique: the way the audience is always characterized as "housewives", with genial tolerance or genial contempt depending on the writer. (Admittedly, I have only read the Pervocracy recap and not the actual books, and they sound pretty ghastly.)

With regard to today's lolling, you are the only person who's mentioned housewives thus far: there is no such reference in the linked article, nor in this thread, until you brought them up, while also denigrating the books just as much as anybody else. People in this thread, and in the last one, appear to be generally coming from a place of feeling like 50SOG is poorly written and doesn't respect BDSM, or women.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:23 AM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


"On the other hand, the film, by dint of its simple competence—being largely well acted, not too long, and sombrely photographed, by Seamus McGarvey—has to be better than the novel. It could hardly be worse."

And thus are pull quotes for the movie's ad campaign created.
"...better than the novel..." -- Anthony Lane, The New Yorker.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:26 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


"...still better than Twilight."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:27 AM on February 13, 2015


With regard to today's lolling, you are the only person who's mentioned housewives thus far

Actually there are several references to housewives in the reviews that have been linked in this thread, the mamamia one in particular, and it's a trope in several celebrated internet recaps - the Jenny Trout one in particular. I've also seen it in reviews in the past few days (Salon, I think.). I should have made that clearer, though.
posted by Frowner at 9:27 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not okay to find it problematic that at least a hundred million people are happily lapping up a story about rape and abuse that's presented as though it's normal, healthy behaviour?

It's okay if we trust that women have the capacity to read a story and not want to model their life on it. I do -- I trust that women can separate fantasy from real life. I've not read 50 Shades or Twilight, but I trust that there are lots of women who read it, enjoyed, but don't want that life for themselves, any more than young men who play Call of Duty want to enlist and shoot people.
posted by gladly at 9:29 AM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Couldn’t someone have got Sarah Silverman to play the psyche?
I'd rep for Judy Tenuta. "Pigs! Soon you will all be my personal love slaves! *accordion*"
posted by octobersurprise at 9:30 AM on February 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


Actually there are several references to housewives in the reviews that have been linked in this thread, the mamamia one in particular, and it's a trope in several celebrated internet recaps - the Jenny Trout one in particular. I've also seen it in reviews in the past few days (Salon, I think.). I should have made that clearer, though.

So, references to housewives are a thing that you've seen, but not "always" at all. It just seems weird to pretend that it is more of a running theme than it is, especially when people are clearly finding a million other reasons to have problems with 50SOG.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:32 AM on February 13, 2015


It's not okay to find it problematic that at least a hundred million people are happily lapping up a story about rape and abuse that's presented as though it's normal, healthy behaviour?

It's okay if we trust that women have the capacity to read a story and not want to model their life on it. I do -- I trust that women can separate fantasy from real life.


That's fine, but it ignores the other half of the problem - abusive men can look at the popularity of this thing and say to themselves, "See, women really do want it forced on them ... no doesn't necessarily mean no."
posted by jbickers at 9:32 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Women aren't the only people reading the books, for one.

And for a whole lot of people, especially young people, this will be their first introduction to BDSM. An introduction without safewords, without negotiation, without consent, and many will think that's how BDSM relationships work. And they will get hurt. We went over this in the thread a few days ago about the movie; ER visits for sexually-related injuries have doubled in the past 8 years, with the biggest spike corresponding to the release of the books.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:33 AM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


It was BORING. I was like, I thought sex was supposed to be fun? Whatever happened to fun, huh?

MetaFilter has made me hate the word fun. It's a totally content-free word! Obviously those people were enjoying themselves with their lawyer porn, so instead of rolling your eyes at them you should have found something you enjoyed. Or maybe you enjoyed rolling your eyes! I don't know. The whole fun/not fun thing really gets my goat anymore.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:33 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]




MetaFilter has made me hate the word fun.

That's odd, because most of us come here already hating fun. It's what brings us together as a community.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:35 AM on February 13, 2015 [27 favorites]


I like Erika Moen's take, but I'm still not gonna read them.

(I devoured all of Anne Rice's Beauty books as a teen. DELIGHTFUL.)
posted by Kitteh at 9:38 AM on February 13, 2015


ER visits for sexually-related injuries have doubled in the past 8 years, with the biggest spike corresponding to the release of the books.

Do you mean the Post article about sex-toy related injuries? I think it's reaching to attribute that spike to 50 Shades.
posted by gladly at 9:40 AM on February 13, 2015


"Joe Biden" is my safe word.

(See - that was fun!)
posted by newdaddy at 9:40 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think one difference is that Star Wars at the root is a morality tale, and even Vader's redemption at the end comes with the hand of fate delivering justice in the end. The lesson there is don't be a Sith Lord (unless you're playing one of the games, where the Dark Side provides much needed relief from the hackery of the game designers who reduce complex moral questions to game mechanic while still stroking the player's ego). Crime narratives have a long tradition of being case studies in what not to do with your life. So do anti-heroic westerns.

But we're coming out of (or trying to critique) a cultural tradition of stand by your man, he's misunderstood, and he'll grow out of it if given true virtuous love. So when we get a slap-slap, kiss-kiss, grow-grow (not just in that way you perv) narrative, that ends up supporting a lot of the messages that people in abusive relationships are told to keep them in those relationships. And the extent to which that arc is presented as "true love" can be critiqued.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:40 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, references to housewives are a thing that you've seen, but not "always" at all. It just seems weird to pretend that it is more of a running theme than it is, especially when people are clearly finding a million other reasons to have problems with 50SOG.

But I feel like it is a running theme - okay, it isn't literally true that every single review on the internet calls the book porn for housewives, but references to that idea are very common and have been since the book was published.

Please note that I'm not defending the book. I think that the "this is housewife porn" narrative is part of the general misogynist discourse around the book, and the genial lolling over "ha ha porn for housewives" is in fact one of the reasons why the book does not always get clearly identified as creepy and abusive. (We could talk about romance novels in this context - where the general contempt for romance novels in popular culture occludes the huge variation in theme and content within the genre - some being pretty ghastly, some being pretty feminist, etc. A friend is doing some of her work on romance novels and talks about this stuff a lot.)

But to clarify - I regret that I didn't state clearly "there is a trope in reviewing 50SG that I think is misogynist and is part of the general misogyny around discussions of the book - see these reviews linked upthread." I don't disagree with any of the critiques of the book here at all.
posted by Frowner at 9:42 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Lane's review is everything I could've asked for from that grumpy bastard. Also, I'm shocked, scandalized even that this thread exists and yet there's no fanfare thread for the movie yet... It's almost like none of you went to a midnight showing or something.
posted by sparkletone at 9:44 AM on February 13, 2015


Should have been directed by Paul Verhoeven

Personally I'm looking forwards to the spinoff HBO miniseries directed by Lars von Trier.

You know, where every episode is bookended by FCC-mandated suicide hotline PSAs.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:47 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


"...better than the novel..." -- Anthony Lane, The New Yorker.

Talk about damning with faint praise.

It's not okay to find it problematic that at least a hundred million people are happily lapping up a story about rape and abuse that's presented as though it's normal, healthy behaviour?

Or behavior that women would gladly accept if the guy was rich enough and hot enough.

But even if the guy isn't hot or rich, Daily Beast theorizes why advanced ticket sales have been biggest in the Bible Belt:
If women follow Christian and Anastasia’s sex rules, their unleashed sexuality plays perfectly into fundamental Bible teachings where women are taught to be submissive and obedient to their husbands.
Not to cast aspersions on how people choose to practice their religious beliefs but the thought of the 50 Shades book being used as a primer for any kind of healthy relationship makes me feel sick.

I have this incredibly strange feeling that American Psycho was a parody of this movie, but there was some kind of quantum entanglement event and they ended up in the wrong timestream order.

Yeah, I've seen it posited elsewhere that the main difference between Christian Grey and Patrick Bateman is that to our knowledge, Grey isn't a serial killer.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:49 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I see this whole phenomenon as the fur-lined handcuffs of the publishing industry - a risqué diversion for the squares, man. But people sure bought it.
posted by thelonius at 9:54 AM on February 13, 2015


he simply doesn't understand consent or care about consent because, as a Rich White Guy, he just gets whatever he wants and other people's purpose is giving it to him.

Thank you, Lyn Never. I am incoherent with frustration over this. There are more stories in the world than the one about a man behaving as though he is entitled to extract value and satisfaction from everything he touches without having to reckon with consequences or consent, and the good woman whose entire purpose is to reform him through her love, effort, and self-effacement.

ETA: On preview, yes -- not domination, but dominionism.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:56 AM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Couldn’t someone have got Sarah Silverman to play the psyche?

Now this, I would watch.


Seriously, just do a time-synced interpretation, to be played on a separate monitor alongside the main film or with picture-in-picture. I've got my credit card ready to put money in the Kickstarter.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:00 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


MRA commenters have been popping up on some feminist blogs blathering about how the popularity of FSOG proves that women really want alpha males who treat them like crap.
posted by LindsayIrene at 10:03 AM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


Review by Monica Heisey, The Hairpin:
Most upsetting to me is the idea that this film is in any way transgressive or forward thinking. It is, in fact, a tale as old as time: young, naive woman wants love, while an older, powerful man wants sex on his terms. In its attitudes towards gender and sex, this film is a vanilla milkshake. It’s your grandparents lovingly caressing each other after 40 years of marriage on a bed made of milquetoasts. It’s a white guy in a turtleneck writing a love letter with the words “roses are red” in it. It’s a Wonderbread sandwich with the crusts cut off. It’s one tender vanilla bean atop a plain milk smoothie (skim).
posted by mochapickle at 10:13 AM on February 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


Oh Joy Sex Toy on 50 Shades of Grey
posted by Artw at 10:14 AM on February 13, 2015


Seriously, just do a time-synced interpretation, to be played on a separate monitor alongside the main film or with picture-in-picture.

Given that 50SOG started off as Twilight fanfiction, it'd be only appropriate for it to spawn a whole bunch of YouTube recuts and alternate audio tracks and new editions (a la the "despecialized" Star Wars cuts that float around on Bittorrent). I'm not sure what YouTube's policies are on porn these days but whatever Hollywood fails to deliver on I'm sure the Internet could, in spades.

How about a 50SOG / LvT's Nymphomaniac mashup with overdubbed narration by Gilbert Gottfried and picture-in-picture MST3K treatment by Sarah Silverman?
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:16 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I see little kids in Darth Vader shirts on a near-daily basis. Darth Vader engages in torture and oversaw the destruction of an entire populated planet. He is worse than a car full of drunk-driving Hitlers. No one worries too much about this, because by the time that they are five, most children will have a fairly decent grasp on the difference between real and make-believe.

Can we please, as a website if not as a society, extend women the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are at least as discerning as five-year-olds?


The plot is made up, and everyone knows that, but the narrative still has an effect. Kids have Star Wars shirts, including Darth Vader, because Darth Vader is an awesome villain. Everyone knows he's an awesome villain, the very end notwithstanding, and we can enjoy and appreciate villains qua villains; kids wearing these t-shirts might like Darth Vader but that doesn't mean they want to emulate him. Star Wars is very explicitly about good versus evil and people accept that because it's a positive narrative. We know that Darth Vader didn't exist but we also know that good versus evil does. That's the narrative instead of the plot.

In contrast, for 50 Shades of Grey, we know that Anastasia and Christian don't exist but the narrative is super problematic. The plot, whatever, sure, it's about fictional stuff that didn't actually happen to these two made-up people in any way at all, but the story that's told still has an effect, and that effect is to make this kind of unhealthy relationship seem normal and okay or, worse, desirable.

I think in general people are much, much worse at separating fact from fiction than they believe; most people think that coconuts look like coconuts in the movies, but they don't. People know they have the right to remain silent because they watch TV and movies, not because they know the law, and they think they have the right to one phone call. Stories are how we explain the world for ourselves and define our place and our values. The problem with 50 Shades of Grey is not that women who read it are all stupid idiot babies who don't know that something's fictional, and I don't think I've actually heard anyone saying that, it's that even though the plot is fictional, narratives still have an immense impact on us as individuals and a society and the narrative that this promotes as okay is really, really harmful.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:16 AM on February 13, 2015 [29 favorites]


I shout out my safe-word every time someone mentions Fifty Shades of Grey but it isn't stopping!
posted by srboisvert at 10:17 AM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


The people reading 50SG aren't fantasizing about being Christian Grey?
posted by rue72 at 10:31 AM on February 13, 2015


The scary thing about this book/film comes from the comments I'm seeing on articles like this. People (mostly women, from what I've seen, although I take for granted there are men, too) defend the book as an example of a great love story. They say it's about standing by your man and accepting people for who they are...and basically parroting back all the rationalizations one hears from people who are trapped in abusive relationships.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:31 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


So all I know about this is from watching the clips in the reviews, and it's raised a question for me: Do they ever kiss? Either while riding in expensive vehicles or bound up in complicated knots or rubbing genitals subject to this or that clause in their contract? 'Cause while the film raises all sorts of issues from glamorizing stalking to the mainstreaming of some variety / caricature of BDSM, I don't think I could find it sexy if they don't actually kiss each other.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:32 AM on February 13, 2015


CBrachyrhynchos: "But we're coming out of (or trying to critique) a cultural tradition of stand by your man, he's misunderstood, and he'll grow out of it if given true virtuous love. So when we get a slap-slap, kiss-kiss, grow-grow (not just in that way you perv) narrative"

And to build off that -- SPOILERS below --

So, I just found out the PLOT of these books like three days ago (via wikipedia). I knew it was "Twilight fan fic, but with BDSM instead of abstinence porn," which wouldn't really be my thing, and I basically imagined it as a more explicit Harlequin Contemporary with bondage. From the quotes, etc., that I saw, it seemed shockingly badly written, but I figured, hey, people (including me) don't read trashy novels for the transcendent prose, and it probably gets away with being shockingly badly written by having shocking sex content that you can't get from romance novels on the rack at the drugstore. Not my thing (I prefer historicals), but what do I care if it's somebody's thing?

But then I found out that the series ends by her curing of him of BDSM by loving him so much she turns him vanilla (and that he was only BDSM in the first place because he was abused as a child), and WHOA NOW THIS IS SOME FUCKED UP SHIT. Because for one thing, that is retroactively turning everything titillating in the first novel into something that THE AUTHOR thinks you should be ashamed of being titillated by. Something that, according to the story itself that frames these sexual encounters (but isn't revealed to you until you've already had your erotic enjoyment of them), is the product of the criminal abuse of a child, whose sexual predilections are not normal, natural, or healthy, but rather a deviant result of abuse -- which is cured and fixed by having a virginal female savior (ANASTASIA) JUST LOVE HIM HARD ENOUGH.

So whereas three days ago I would have qualified these as "dumb, but harmless" and I found the media fracas over them amusing, now I am like actively angry that the whole series is a bait-and-switch by the author where she gives you dirty sex to get turned on, and then tells you that it's wrong and bad for you to be turned on by it (both by having the heroine "cure" the hero as the resolution of the series , and by insisting the dirty sex is the result of criminal child sexual abuse!). It's like a rum runner who tips off the cops on the side. I'm pissed off! It's not that SOCIETY thinks it's wrong for women to be turned on by this, it's that THE AUTHOR apparently does, but she's willing to sell it anyway! She's like Eliot Spitzer prosecuting prostitutes!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:32 AM on February 13, 2015 [36 favorites]


I learned recently that Fifty Shades contains the following line:

"I feel the color in my cheeks rising again. I must be the color of The Communist Manifesto.”
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 10:38 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


JUST LOVE HIM HARD ENOUGH.

AND GET ACCIDENTALLY PREGNANT.

BECAUSE THAT FIXES EVERYTHING.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:41 AM on February 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Because for one thing, that is retroactively turning everything titillating in the first novel into something that THE AUTHOR thinks you should be ashamed of being titillated by.

Question (at the risk of seeming to defend the author, which I won't do): Is this arc necessarily a sign that she's trying to shame the practice? Or can it possibly be just in the context of this one relationship?

I worry about interpretations like this. If I write a book about a polyamorous relationship that eventually turns monogamous, am I asserting that all such relationships follow that path, and/or asserting that poly is inherently bad?

...I'm now going to take a shower, because I said something possibly in defense of an aspect of these books, and now I feel awful.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:42 AM on February 13, 2015


It's basically like the Code-era Hollywood mafia movies where filmmakers wanted to tell stories about mobsters being cool and doing fun crimes, but at the very end, were obliged to have the police swoop in, declare all the mobsters bad people and haul them off to jail as to not be accused of making them into heroes.

The author of 50 Shades clearly thinks the kinkiness is fun, but doesn't feel ok with letting it just be that. So as the story wraps up, the hammer of judgement falls, letting everyone have their kinky fun for a time, but still put a respectable bow of "Well, I never!" on it at the end.
posted by the jam at 10:44 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Because for one thing, that is retroactively turning everything titillating in the first novel into something that THE AUTHOR thinks you should be ashamed of being titillated by.

I'm reminded of a quote from Roger Ebert, obviously speaking about another movie: "The nature of their film is yet another bait-and-switch, in a movie that wants to seem dirtier than it is. Like a strip show at a carnival, it lures you in with promises of sleaze, and after you have committed yourself for the filthy-minded punter you are, it professes innocence."

Also, this was exactly the arc of the Insane Clown Posse's several-album-long Joker Card thing. Album after album of filthy shit, only to end with a self-important curlicue of "HA HA JOKE'S ON YOU! BECOME A CHRISTIAN! MAGNETS MAGNETS MAGNETS"

There's also a lot of stuff out there about how non-consensual fantasies are often grounded in the idea that the protagonist's lack of consent allows the reader to enjoy the dirty stuff, while also disclaiming that same dirty stuff. Rasputina has a funny song parodying this trope.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:49 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


"HA HA JOKE'S ON YOU! BECOME A CHRISTIAN! MAGNETS MAGNETS MAGNETS"

Fuckin' blindfolds: How do they work?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:54 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


retroactively turning everything titillating in the first novel into something that THE AUTHOR thinks you should be ashamed of being titillated by.

Isn't that sort of in keeping with the don't-call-it-fanfiction 'source material', though? Twilight drags the reader through like 1,000+ pages of weird abstinence porn where we are presumably fantasizing about vampire sex, and then somewhere towards the end, they bang, she gets immediately pregnant (of course), and horrible vampire fetus shenanigans ensue.

I mean if that's not intentionally pulling the rug out from under the reader retroactively, I don't know what is.

So maybe it's a trope of the genre?
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:00 AM on February 13, 2015


Fifty Shades of Grey: The Reddit Origins Essay - has a lot on the evolution of the book, the community it came out of etc...
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have a lot of reservations about the book/movie, but Ill say this:

It has opened a lot of dialog with people about reading in general and domestic abuse. That dialog is with people that might not ordinarily have a change to have it.
posted by Twain Device at 11:06 AM on February 13, 2015


But then I found out that the series ends by her curing of him of BDSM by loving him so much she turns him vanilla (and that he was only BDSM in the first place because he was abused as a child), and WHOA NOW THIS IS SOME FUCKED UP SHIT.

Wow, the bdsm-as-therapy trope, which is bad for both bdsm and survivors.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:09 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wish Roger Ebert was still alive just on general principles, but I would especially love to hear what he would have to say about this movie.

horrible vampire fetus shenanigans ensue

That just needed to be repeated.

My favorite FSOG-related tweet.
posted by LindsayIrene at 11:16 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ok, ok, but are you guys aware of the CHRISTIAN LOVE STORY that was rushed into theaters specifically to counter this film? I mean, it is being marketed on FB as such. A person I follow (old school friend, I am really surprised she hasn't blocked me yet) said "Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have said "it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." I love that quote, and that's why instead of cursing the bad movies out this weekend, we're going to see a good one." with a link to this movie's site.
posted by emjaybee at 11:17 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fifty Shades of Grey

They made MetaTalk into a movie? Is Toby Maguire portraying Matt?! Is PB's office like the Matrix?! Is restless_nomad off in a closet somewhere?! Who's the banhammer?! Does vacapintaeven even appear in this or is he always offscreen?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:17 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are poignant moments when the plainest of physical actions is left dangling beyond the reach of her prose: “I slice another piece of venison, holding it against my mouth.”

I'm crying.
posted by peep at 11:20 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Question (at the risk of seeming to defend the author, which I won't do): Is this arc necessarily a sign that she's trying to shame the practice? Or can it possibly be just in the context of this one relationship?

Based on this long piece examining the books, by a noted kinky author, she's pretty much shaming the practice. Because every other instance of kink in the books other than Ana/Christian is depicted as sick and criminal: "it portrays kink as being an indicator of both mental illness and criminality in all circumstances other than heterosexual relationship heading toward marriage and reproduction. ... The message is twofold: if you’re kinky and you’re not partnered in a heterosexual, monogamous fashion, you are mentally ill and criminally dangerous; and if you’re heterosexual and monogamous, then jealousy, stalking and control are indications of love, and playing with kink a little bit is hot as long as you don’t do it too much and you keep it in the bedroom."

(I linked and quoted that in another Fifty Shades thread a week or so ago.)

I worry about interpretations like this. If I write a book about a polyamorous relationship that eventually turns monogamous, am I asserting that all such relationships follow that path, and/or asserting that poly is inherently bad?

I would say that depends entirely on how you write it. This example won't quite compare, but, I just finished reading a novel where a gay narrator tells about the deep loving friendship he had for years with a straight friend, then later with a straight woman, and the heartbreak that ensued with his two almost-lovers got together. But in the end you'd be hard pressed to take any kind of message about "gay" or "straight" or "bi" out of it, or whether any of them is better/worse, because the book focuses so well on just pure honest feeling. If your poly-turns-monogomous story is told well enough to be clear that it's about these characters and not meant as some archetypal statement, then you're fine.
posted by dnash at 11:21 AM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


If your poly-turns-monogomous story is told well enough to be clear that it's about these characters and not meant as some archetypal statement, then you're fine.

Fair enough.

I get concerned about these knee-jerk reactions as a writer, because I've had them happen to me (although usually the person making them offers additional proof that they really aren't paying much attention, but still...). Eyebrows's comment made me think of this, but it's also problematic in that neither she nor eye appear willing to actually read the books themselves to get the context. And I don't blame her. Or me.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:32 AM on February 13, 2015


Ok, ok, but are you guys aware of the CHRISTIAN LOVE STORY that was rushed into theaters specifically to counter this film? I mean, it is being marketed on FB as such. A person I follow (old school friend, I am really surprised she hasn't blocked me yet) said "Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have said "it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." I love that quote, and that's why instead of cursing the bad movies out this weekend, we're going to see a good one." with a link to this movie's site.

That's why I'm working myself up to go see the other adolescent fantasy in theaters, the one with bisexual sparkle glitter angel dog aliens. I'm hoping it's everything The Mary Sue says and more, the Flash Gordon of the decade.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:33 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


YES, Jupiter Ascending seems like the perfect antidote to FSOG. I can't wait to go see it.
posted by emjaybee at 11:37 AM on February 13, 2015


Jupiter Ascending was amazing.
posted by kmz at 11:40 AM on February 13, 2015


WHY IS EVERYONE PAYING THIS MUCH ATTENTION TO THIS DRECK IT IS NOT WORTH IT

It is in the second paragraph of the review. The "hero" is very wealthy. The masses find the wealthy endlessly fascinating.

See also: Kim Kardashian's television show.
posted by bukvich at 11:41 AM on February 13, 2015


Well, very wealthy and young and good-looking. No one is fascinated by the Koch brothers.
posted by LindsayIrene at 11:49 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's fine, but it ignores the other half of the problem - abusive men can look at the popularity of this thing and say to themselves, "See, women really do want it forced on them ... no doesn't necessarily mean no."

What else should women change to make our most basic and non-negotiable rights easier for terrible men to comprehend? At some point it falls to the man to accept that nothing we do gives them the right to hurt us, no matter what. It applies to blindingly awful erotica just as much as to tiny skirts and binge drinking. Shitty men can make out like it's the tallest possible order until the end of time, but fuck them, that's the order. The time has come for rape apologists to pull their damn socks up without 100 million women having to make alterations to their reading lists first. Let them cry about it until they bleed.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:55 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


the Flash Gordon of the decade.

Sadly lacking a soundtrack by Queen, tho. I saw the trailer for Jupiter Ascending before seeing Into The Woods and I said "I have to see this." Then Kunis said "I've always loved dogs" and my friend said "Why? We've already seen the best part."
posted by octobersurprise at 12:05 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


> No one is fascinated by the Koch brothers.

I'm kind of fascinated by the Koch bothers. And in fact, my blood pumps a little faster whenever I hear them mentioned, and, well, they kind of make me want to lose control.

Oh, god, this isn't good.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:11 PM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Mrs. Pterodactyl: "I think in general people are much, much worse at separating fact from fiction than they believe; most people think that coconuts look like coconuts in the movies, but they don't. People know they have the right to remain silent because they watch TV and movies, not because they know the law, and they think they have the right to one phone call."

I'm not generally in that much disagreement with you about people's ability to separate fact from fiction, but your examples are not very representative. They're things people don't normally have a lot of experience with, so they extrapolate from fiction. Human relationships, on the other hand, are things pretty much all people have quite a bit of experience with.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:14 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is the suggestion that people who read a BDSM story are going to start enjoying kink? Because that makes about as much sense to me as the idea that gay porn could turn a straight person gay. I'm sure a few people would be willing to give it a shot and experiment, but generally people know what they like already.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:20 PM on February 13, 2015


A lot of people--self included thank you Anne Rice--discover their interest in non-vanilla sex of all flavours via reading about it or seeing it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:24 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I love the tone of this review. He's like a cat gently batting the thing around. Sure, he could eviscerate the film any time he wants, but where's the fun in that?

Also, the mere phrase "the art of the peekaboo" for some reason fills me with joy.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:31 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I know Mr. Grey’s whopping-big secret. He wants a pony.

My interests are very singular
posted by mothershock at 12:37 PM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Human relationships, on the other hand, are things pretty much all people have quite a bit of experience with.

How many do you know who are actually good at it?
posted by Lyn Never at 12:39 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


A lot of people--self included thank you Anne Rice--discover their interest in non-vanilla sex of all flavours via reading about it or seeing it.

I've had a few moments where a light switch was flipped on after viewing some media. I'm pretty sure the switch was already there though and just waiting for something to flip it. I just feel like preferences around sex seem to go way too deep to be purely acquired tastes. YMMV.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:46 PM on February 13, 2015


There was a report on 50 Shades of Grey arriving at cinemas on my local news program. Among all the women punters there was one single guy / bf with the best 'I really don't want to be here' face ever
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:48 PM on February 13, 2015


I've had a few moments where a light switch was flipped on after viewing some media. I'm pretty sure the switch was already there though and just waiting for something to flip it

The books and the movie count as 'some media.' Also many people have an idea that VDSM is sleazy and weird, and look! There's two beautiful people doing it so it must be okay.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:50 PM on February 13, 2015


What, everyone is talking about Anne Rice and no one mentions Nine Inch Nails' video for Closer?

Damn you, Trent Reznor.
posted by Katemonkey at 12:56 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The books and the movie count as 'some media.'

I know, my point is I don't think it's going to convert all that many people to enjoying BDSM. I think it's more that people will realize something about themselves they didn't realize. Most people aren't going to have that lightswitch in them. For most people, physical or emotional pain is just pain. Submission is just submission. It's my experience that for the people who perceive it as pleasure, whether as the person who inflicts it or receives it, it's something that is a little more deeply wired. The book found it's audience, it didn't create it. Again, just speaking from my own experiences. Could be totally wrong. I'll leave it there.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:05 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


it's that even though the plot is fictional, narratives still have an immense impact on us as individuals and a society and the narrative that this promotes as okay is really, really harmful.

Maybe the book and/or movie should be prefaced with a disclaimer similar to the one that used to air before Jackass:
The following story features stunts performed by imaginary people without supervision. But since they're imaginary, they don't need supervision. Accordingly, the author and the publishers/producers must insist that no one attempt to recreate of re-enact any stunt or activity performed in this story.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:08 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Doesn't punter mean gambler or john? Or am I misunderstanding the word in this context? (apologies if I am).
posted by Carillon at 1:13 PM on February 13, 2015


I just don't get it anymore! Wasn't a prominent Canadian Broadcaster charged with, what he feels is appropriate, BDSM with consent? Did not the women who charged him feel violated? So whats up with the huge sales of this book and movie? I realize most people fantasize on these issues but contributing , by buying, to the normalization of BDSM smacks of the herd influence rather than discriminating readers. People may be pressured into participating.
posted by smudgedlens at 1:15 PM on February 13, 2015


BDSM is normal. What is depicted in those books isn't BDSM -- and neither is what Ghomeshi is accused of.
posted by KathrynT at 1:18 PM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Broadly speaking a punter is a customer of a certain sort. E.g. people who go to nightclubs are punters.

contributing , by buying, to the normalization of BDSM smacks of the herd influence rather than discriminating readers. People may be pressured into participating.

The normalization of BDSM is a good thing precisely because it means people are less likely to be taken advantage of.

Thing is, FSOG isn't about BDSM. It's about rape and abuse.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:18 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


jinx
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:18 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Doesn't punter mean gambler or john? Or am I misunderstanding the word in this context? (apologies if I am).

Yeah, it also slang for a customer or member of an audience
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:19 PM on February 13, 2015


Great thanks, sorry for the derail, confused me!
posted by Carillon at 1:20 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


As if anybody really expected this film to out-Nymphomaniac Nymphomaniac! Part II of that film features some true exploration of BDSM. True as far as the warped mind of Von Trier but damn it's a great film.
posted by ReeMonster at 1:23 PM on February 13, 2015


Thing is, FSOG isn't about BDSM. It's about rape and abuse..

It's a tricky area, because BDSM fantasy is often about abusive fantasies. The entire reason a "safeword" is a thing is because the scenario is often one in which "No," doesn't mean "No." So, it's a depiction of a BDSM fantasy but not BDSM reality.

I don't think it's at all wrong to talk about how problematic that can be and about how important informed consent without pressure is. I do, 100% seriously, think some sort of disclaimer on a story like this is an incredibly good and responsible idea. If I was a publisher of this sort of story, I would make serious efforts to make sure it was put into context.

It's hard for me to try and parse out exactly what I want to say here, but it's something along the lines of...For people who are engaged with the book, they are engaging with it in the same fantasy headspace as they are when they pretend BDSM really is abuse. They do it because they perceive such a thing, when it's a fantasy, as enjoyable. This audience knows that they would not generally be enjoying it if it wasn't a safe imaginary world. People generally are not going to take away the message that rape and abuse is romantic.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:31 PM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's a tricky area, because BDSM fantasy is often about abusive fantasies

As played out, however, BDSM isn't--or shouldn't be--about abuse at all, because of informed consent.

The problem is, because FSOG is presenting itself as BDSM, a lot of people are going to walk away thinking this is what BDSM looks like, just reinforcing the idea that women should be subservient and their boundaries don't matter. So whether that becomes men using FSOG as justification for abuse, or women thinking "well we're just playing BDSM so this can't be abuse and I'm not going to speak up," we have a big nasty problem.

People generally are not going to take away the message that rape and abuse is romantic.

Except when you know nothing or very little of BDSM, then what this portrays is going to be what you know. And it's portraying rape and abuse as romantic.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:43 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Drinky Die, I'm agreed in general with the idea of a disclaimer, but people can and do and have for thousands of years convinced themselves that rape and abuse is romantic. Women are told from toddlerhood that he hits us because he likes us, and that he won't stop calling because he loves us so much and that he can't help but rape us because we're so pretty or we were nice to him or didn't block off access to our orifices with several layers of armor coated in poison.

We stay with men who track our whereabouts and dictate what we wear and tell us who we can and can't be friends with because it feels sort of like care and concern and just wanting what's best for us, and aren't we silly to doubt that? Smart women do this, educated women do this. Our mothers and sisters do it when we beg them to get out. We do it ourselves even when we know better. Because if you squint just right, it can be made to look like love, and surely that's better than no love at all.

Men insult us by saying we're too fat or ugly or unloveable to rape, when we complain about rape.

People who are engaged with the book do not know much, if anything, about consensual BDSM or they would be grossed out and bored by it. The people engaging in this fantasy have never pretended that bondage or domination is abuse. They're actually engaging in the fantasy that kinky bad boys get that way because their mothers are crackwhores and they are abused by pedophiles, and all they need is someone willing to take their shit for long enough and get pregnant so that he will be redeemed. That's the fantasy being sold as enjoyable. The material is no endorsement of kink, it's a condemnation ultimately, but it's used as titillation along the way.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:46 PM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


I find the tendency of certain people in "mainstream" BDSM to go on and on about the right way to do it - and more so the tendency to subsume "kinky sex" to their specific power play thing- pretty wearisome. So when I first read these complaints I also thought well isn't this just your basic sex slave fantasy? But then learning more about the book it seems like it's supposed to be set in some likeness of the real BDSM "subculture" and uses a lot of their vocabulary? So in that case it's kind of understandable that people aren't thrilled with the blurring of the lines.
posted by atoxyl at 1:47 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I find the tendency of certain people in "mainstream" BDSM to go on and on about the right way to do it - and more so the tendency to subsume "kinky sex" to their specific power play thing- pretty wearisome.

The only 'right way to do BDSM' thing I've ever noticed is "you must have explicit consent always, and the submissive must always have a way to revoke that consent, and boundaries should be negotiated beforehand." I for one am pretty okay with that being the only right way to do any sex.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:59 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


As played out, however, BDSM isn't--or shouldn't be--about abuse at all, because of informed consent.

Right, but most porn fantasies don't play out like reality. I know you read a bunch of the recent discussion of slash so maybe that's a good example. I don't think the women engaging with it generally think it's a depiction of reality, but yes some damn sure do end up with some crazy views on gay men as a result of reading a lot of it. I'm not saying that doesn't happen, just that:

1. In general, most people can separate the fantasy from reality.

and,

2. It's important to make available context and education to people who might not when we offer these sorts of media to them.

As long as we make serious effort on #2 there, I don't really have any problem with weird unrealistic depictions of sex in media of almost all kinds.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:00 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


> "Educated people: What a pity the masses don't READ more. (a book becomes super popular) Educated people: Psht. THAT book? It's awful. I can't believe the masses read THAT."

I LOVE the Harry Potter books. I LOVE the Hunger Games books.

The 50 Shades books contain sentences like this:

“'Shit! Daddy!' I gasp out loud, recalling with a gut-wrenching surge of apprehension that twists my heart and starts it pounding why I’m in Portland."

And this:

"I wipe my hand across the back of my mouth."

(Read it carefully. Think about it for a moment.)

I really think I'm allowed to make fun of this one if I want to.
posted by kyrademon at 2:01 PM on February 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


Yeah but the thing is that these books purport to be the reality of how BDSM operates. Thus the problem.

To put it another way, FSOG is basically an updated version of de Sade's writings; if someone were to make a movie of his stuff and set it in the modern day, the problems would be exactly the same. No consent, women are playthings, etc.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:03 PM on February 13, 2015


Yeah but the thing is that these books purport to be the reality of how BDSM operates. Thus the problem.

I think we are in disagreement on that. I view it as a depiction of a fantasy version of the BDSM scene with the audience suspending disbelief. Think we are just kind of stuck there. I think I've argued my side of that as well as I can so I don't think I have anything left that might be more persuasive. Interesting discussion.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:07 PM on February 13, 2015


I'd have no issue with 50SOG as a fantasy thing in a world where women didn't really have to worry about rape, and stalking, and abusive relationships. Or a world where people weren't constantly blurring the lines between harassing someone and hitting on someone, abusive relationships and true love. And perhaps the world we actually do live in is so saturated with stalking-as-romance and abuse-as-true-love that 50SOG is just a tiny drop in the bucket!

For people who can draw a clear line between fantasy and reality and enjoy it for what it is, I'm happy for them, I don't want to take away their enjoyment, and I fully admit that I have no idea if any real world harm will come out of 50SOG outside of some unfortunate sex toy mishaps. But it's firmly in "too scary to be sexy" territory for me.
posted by Jeanne at 2:11 PM on February 13, 2015


All I can say to this thing of woobie doms, is your kink is not my kink, largely from walking out of a relationship with a woobie dom.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:27 PM on February 13, 2015


"I wipe my hand across the back of my mouth."

I thought I read that there wasn't any fisting in these books.
posted by bibliowench at 2:34 PM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


DVD. Director's cut. "Unrated".

Are there any actual previous shocker blockbusters like Basic Instinct or 9.5 Weeks where this has been done?
posted by bukvich at 3:12 PM on February 13, 2015


I think the Saw franchise did that.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:30 PM on February 13, 2015


Yeah I never understood the distinction people make between a BDSM fantasy of pretend abuse vs a BDSM fantasy of real abuse.

What is the difference?

Do people who are into bdsm fantasize about a scene where they use a safeword and everything is consensual or is non-consent a feature of the fantasy? I imagine there's a range of answers here, but I'm surprised that people think there's a meaningful difference.

I grew up having really horrible "fantasies" as a kid, that I didn't think were fun, I thought they were tragic tales that made me cry- sometimes they involved rescue, or being seen in the amount of pain I was in-- never would I have thought of my inner dark fantasy life as "fun" or "enjoyable" or a fun lifestyle choice. It was strange shit that came into my head and often involved abuse and/or abusive sexuality.

I still don't really understand what I see as dominant online discourse of bdsm that is "kink positive"- I guess it's not my world. My kink is painful and dark, like sex itself is to me. There is nothing pretend or fun about the pain that is twisted into my understanding and experience of sexuality. I am actually curious what it's like when people find bdsm "fun" because it's just as foreign to me as the idea of nice sex that doesn't involve desire to exploit or harm the prey in a very real way, though I would like to understand.

I don't think I understand kink positive BDSM as a culture, which is totally fine, I'm really really glad that is works for the people it works for and can now be talked about more openly even if I have found my own experience not as well tolerated. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't even find a subculture within a subculture I related to but I assume I can't be a total anomaly and eventually I may run into others.

I don't think that having my sexuality set up in a way that benefits men in a way that is harmful to me is ideal or fun or even healthy really. And yes it makes me sad and hurts that someone wants to hurt me as part of sex- and I'm not interested in being therapied into someone who only says positive things about kink or spontaneously stops honoring the honest sad feelings I have about this state of affairs because those are valid parts of me and deserve to be understand- because I think I fit somewhere in the umbrella and I'm allowed to think it pretty much sucks and is a reflection of thousands of years of sexual slavery, child abuse, rape and violent abuse of entire sections of the population, heavily leaning female- whose fantasies and desires on the most primal level have been shaped by such horrors and innately benefit males desire to dominate and own other humans for rape and sexual abuse. (And let's face it, it's historically most often men who are being served by rape whether it's a man or woman being raped, though women can be rapists and abusers too).

I don't like that, I think it's sad, I'm not interested in not thinking it's sad. And I don't understand the difference between a fantasy of "real rape" vs a fantasy of pretend rape. They are both pretend. Neither means a person would like real rape.

And even if they were aroused by real rape, it doesn't mean it serves their welfare or is what they actually want with the whole of their person. Submission and seduction are often about forcing people to submit through desire to things they don't really want or that will hurt them deeply emotionally or even physically, but managing to get them in a submissive state where they don't fight back or they do feel pleasure at which point it they feel pleasure supposedly that means the other person is allowed to overpower them. That, to me, IS abusive even if a yes is involved but it's because one person wore down a resisting person psychologically or emotionally or was pushing boundaries until they could force the other person to feel arousal and difficulty fighting off the advances.

I do think the fact that 50 shades may appear (whether as intended or not) AS BDSM-- is a valid concern for people to worry it makes people think BDSM is abuse or that sexual abuse is an enjoyable lifestyle choice- but rape and sexual abuse porn- including that which might involve violations or abusive acts within BDSM lifestyle seems like it would fit right in with fantasies of exploitation, rape and abuse.

For me all these clear lines kink community members seem to talk about how there is a very bright clear distinction between actually abuse/exploitation urges and "kink" urges which are purely fantasy,totally healthy and loving and wholesome- and have nothing to do with the darker twisted aspect of human desire doesn't make much sense to me. Although people I meet in real life seem to be down with having complex nuanced conversations about it more often, I think on the internet the desire to defend kink makes anything I say unlikable from people who want it to be depicted as all good for everyone and I get that... that's understandable- that's mostly the fault of people who are really big jerks to people who are on the kink spectrum- making it harder to have nuanced conversations where kink doesn't have to be highlighted as THE GREATEST MOST HEALTHY THING EVER for anyone on the spectrum of it- or else your thoughts/experience are irrelevant because you aren't "real" kink.
posted by xarnop at 3:36 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I put up a FanFare thread.
posted by Small Dollar at 3:51 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


What, everyone is talking about Anne Rice and no one mentions Nine Inch Nails' video for Closer yt ?

Damn you, Trent Reznor.
posted by Katemonkey at 12:56 PM on February 13 [+] [!]


I see your Closer and raise you Happiness in Slavery. (Not linking, but just google search it. It is very Trigger Warning, and very NSFW and I suggest that only the strong willed sit through it.)
posted by daq at 4:00 PM on February 13, 2015


Also, one thing to mention that I haven't seen in this discussion about BDSM is the words "after care."

Every person who practices BDSM as a lifestyle that I know personally is very, very, very adamant about after care, especially when doing boundary pushing stuff (like rape fantasies, and extreme penetration or pain induction).

There are whole treatises written about the need for keeping things in the right perspective, especially in something that IS physically and/or emotionally damaging in any context (yes, even fantasies have a strong emotional component to them).

And not just after care for the submissive. There is also a lot of after care for the dominant, as inflicting pain on others can be psychologically damaging in a much more profound way.

And of course, as with all things human, it is complicated. There are not easy answers, and anyone engaging in any kind of kink should go in aware of the repercussions. We are amazingly stupid sometimes in thinking that certain things don't/won't have an effect on us, when the reality is that a lot of this stuff matters way more than we are willing to allow ourselves to believe.
posted by daq at 4:06 PM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I see your Closer and raise you Happiness in Slavery.

Well, Closer is like 10 times more catchy as a song.

But aside from that, Reznor spends large portions of the Closer video in bondage himself. He sings, "I want to fuck you like an animal," but then the camera cuts back from his own bondage to a crucified monkey. There is a subtext where he is the doing the submissive version of fucking like an animal even though the way he sings it suggests the complete opposite. And then there is a bunch of weird gory animal and human freak show type imagery.

Happiness in Slavery is kind of just a simulated snuff film with an actor not connected to the band and a mediocre song. I...can see a lot more ways people would find portions of themselves in "Closer" than in "Happiness in Slavery."
posted by Drinky Die at 4:23 PM on February 13, 2015


> Can we please, as a website if not as a society, extend women the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are at least as discerning as five-year-olds?

The bad guys in your examples are bad in a way that the audience is supposed to "other" that person. With this movie, the audience is supposed to sympathize with him at least somewhat. In other words, unless his dysfunction--not the kinky stuff, but the controlling stuff--is the theme of the film, that's problematic. From what I gather, it's billed as a love story about two people who are into BDSM.

As the review that kmz linked pointed out, the BDSM is a red herring--Fifty Shades of Grey is actually not about that at all. What it's about is control, and that control is legitimized and normalized with the wrapping of a BDSM "contract" situation. But at its core is a story of at worst an abusive relationship at at the very least an unhealthy one.

The S & M aspect is not the problem; it's chaff thrown out so the audience won't think about the real problems that underlie this relationship. And again, if the movie were about the abuse, that would be one thing. But it seems to promote the idea that people--women--should take that abuse as a matter of course.

You're right that, at the end of the day, it's just an entertainment. We don't have an issue with Darth Vader killing millions because Darth Vader is presented straightforwardly as a bad guy. With this book and movie, it's a lot more underhanded than that.
posted by zardoz at 4:27 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jenny Trout not only eviscerated these books on her blog, but her The Boss series was what 50SOG wants to be when it grows up. SO much better writing, still smutty, everyone wins!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:45 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I feel the color in my cheeks rising again. I must be the color of The Communist Manifesto.”

For reference.
posted by ymgve at 4:58 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


The only 'right way to do BDSM' thing I've ever noticed is "you must have explicit consent always, and the submissive must always have a way to revoke that consent, and boundaries should be negotiated beforehand." I for one am pretty okay with that being the only right way to do any sex.

I've got no argument with that one. But it's only one third of the old motto "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" and there are all kinds of ambiguities and judgments embedded in the other two. I do know there are plenty of critiques of that particular phrase from within the "movement," it's just a convenient example of what I mean. The bigger thing that I find tiresome is not so much about people being judgmental - it's that for all the huge volume of writing and discussion on "kink," the kind where there is a submissive, the whole "traditional" BDSM power play framework, seems so overexamined and everything else so underexamined. Whoever first decided the BD and the SM should be treated as a package deal already kind of lost me. I just think sometimes people operating in that framework - which clearly does work for a lot of people, I know - talk like they're "experts" on weird sex and come off as blowhards.
posted by atoxyl at 5:18 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


1. In general, most people can separate the fantasy from reality.

That's only true if there's plenty of reality already in play for comparison. For most readers, this was their first "exposure" to BDSM, so they have no "reality" to separate it from. It's wrong, bad, and wrong, so that's shitty for multiple reasons.
posted by tzikeh at 5:33 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's only true if

Citation needed.

For most readers, this was their first "exposure" to BDSM

Citation needed.

It's wrong, bad, and wrong

Citation needed.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:45 PM on February 13, 2015


I thought the new Oh Joy Sex Toy comic on 50 Shades was a good nuanced look at what clearly sounds like a pretty terrible book that doesn't cover real BDSM relationships well and even veers into creepy stalkery behaviors, but is also a trash fantasy not meant to educate the public and has the power to excite even people that disagree with much of it and that's sometimes ok?
posted by mathowie at 6:00 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


If FSOG had remained a Twilight fic I don't think there'd be as much outcry about its content. No one is a vampire or werewolf in real life, no one's battling vampire armies, and no one is getting insta-pregnant after bed-breaking vampire sex. Like Star Wars/Darth Vader, you can't really explore the actual themes in 'Twilight' despite the elements of realism is contains. FSOG, on the other hand, became set in a more recognizable and 'real' universe than Twilight, it contains characters that are human, flawed and more 'real' (there's no 'hero' or 'villain' here -- just people), and it spends its entire plotline exploring relationship dynamics that most people can easily relate to (and try) in real life. It's not a vampire love story covering the challenges of staying together and fighting off vampire/werewolf opposition. It's about two 'real' people struggling with different relationship and sex expectations/roles -- the only thing 'fantasy' about it is the fact that it's a movie, not that it cannot be explored. Art tends to imitate life and life has a tendency to imitate art. The problem with that is that FSOG not only reinforces, but also romanticizes, the harmful real-life messages women are bombarded with since childhood regarding their behavior, relationships and sexuality.

Some of these (awful) messages that I've encountered/noticed are:

Girls are there to be seen, chased after, but not 'heard'. This is reinforced by the attention to Ana's physical attraction/sex (ie: Christian has no interest in 'getting to know' Ana beyond sex), the intrusion into her home life by Christian (ie: stalking), the expectation she'll be subservient (ie: submissive) and stream-rolling over any opposition Ana has to his demands (ie: no means yes).

Girls don't know what they want, so it's up to men to show/tell them -- men are in charge -- listen to 'dad'. This is reinforced by the fact that Ana has no agency at all. She is an innocent, inexperienced virgin who wants a committed romantic relationship. So of course she needs the much older, 'wiser' man to show her that she doesn't actually want any of those things (ie: she must want what Christian wants her to want). Yup, she most certainly wants to be his slutty, submissive sex slave. In fact, he might as well just assume complete control over her life -- Ana's confused female judgement clearly can't be trusted.

Girls should want the attention of men above all else -- even if it goes against their own convictions. This is reinforced by the fact that Ana's hesitation over the situation wavers by receiving expensive gifts and reminders of how handsome Christian is. Hooking up with the handsome, wealthy older man who can shower her in gifts/money becomes more important than the fact that she isn't really feeling the BDSM. She wants his attention so badly (or is so fearful of losing it) she's willing to say nothing at all until the breaking point.

Girls should foster fairness, equality and harmony, even at expense to themselves. This is reinforced and heavily romanticized by Ana losing her sense of agency to Christian's desires, even though she hasn't signed his 'contract' of consent. She bends to his demands and does things she doesn't want to do because she thinks if she sticks it out and loves him enough, he'll change. And since he is the way he is because of childhood abuse, Ana would be an awful, heartless 'bitch' to walk away. He didn't get enough love as a child and so he can't help but take it out on her; she just needs to show him unconditional love until he magically sees the error of his ways and can then love her as she so desperately wants to be loved. It echoes the pretty common message: self sacrifice (particularly to a man) is the only way women get to experience true love/happiness.

Do I think FSOG readers are unintelligent and can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality? Absolutely not. Sheltered, perhaps, but I also recognize (and know) that a lot of girls are taught from a very young age to be OK putting up with abusive situations and behaviors by men to the extent that it becomes internalized (and for some, fantasized about). I also recognize that FSOG was a Twilight fic and therefore it's safe to say that many young, impressionable girls and women will gravitate towards it on that factor alone. My concern is that for a lot of them FSOG is probably their first exposure to BDSM and if they explore it based on the portrayals in FSOG, they're going to get hurt. Not because they don't know fantasy vs reality, but because they don't actually know how to explore BDSM in a healthy way with a trusted, respectful partner. To me, FSOG comes across as a BDSM book written by someone who doesn't really know anything about BDSM or has never actually tried -- that's dangerous. So you're going to have readers (mostly women) searching for their own 'Christian' (unhealthy/bad dom) or asking their partners (who're likely inexperienced) to try potentially dangerous things with them (such as hitting) for all of the wrong reasons. How do I know they'll be the wrong reasons? Because the fantasy this book/movie offers simply reinforces the greater message women receive from the rest of the real world: You're here to cater to, and fix, men. Isn't that romantic/sexy?

And to that I say: NO. There's nothing sexy or romantic about a lack of autonomy. It's not a message that needs to be romanticized.
posted by stubbehtail at 6:12 PM on February 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


it's safe to say that many young, impressionable girls and women will gravitate towards it on that factor alone...

*gasp* Not young, impressionable girls and women! They're the most stupid of all the girls and women! They need our special flavour of you'll-think-what-I-want-you-to-think-because-I-know-what's-best 'concern' more than anybody! We have to protect them from themselves! They'll read this one book and that will be the end you mark my words
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:18 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


*gasp* Not young, impressionable girls and women! They're the most stupid of all the girls and women!

Considering I would've described myself as a young, impressionable girl at one point in time, I'm sorry you equate it with stupidity. I equate it to a lack of experience, not a lack of intelligence.

They'll read this one book and that will be the end you mark my words

When someone decides to ask their inexperienced (or bad) dom to choke them out during sex as part of BDSM play... well, it certainly could be.
posted by stubbehtail at 6:34 PM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I find it odd that people are contrasting the social badness of FSOG with the goodness of Rice's Beauty books. The Beauty novels, iirc, have way more flat-out rape, way more violence, way more exploitation, than anything James could have imagined. But they're understood as harmless fantasy because... they're better written? Because Rice is "one of us"? Because they're less popular? All that seems like pure elitist gatekeeping.

Will some people mistakenly take FSOG as a how-to book? Maybe. But most readers, being reasonably intelligent people, will understand that fiction is not reality, and smutty fantasies are not instruction manuals. There's a weird contempt for the unlettered in this constant assumption that "Sure I understand that my smut is just fantasy, but the silly little things reading this stuff aren't so sophisticated."
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:05 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a weird contempt for the unlettered in this constant assumption that "Sure I understand that my smut is just fantasy, but the silly little things reading this stuff aren't so sophisticated."

It's not contempt, and no citation is needed. When something is presented as This Is How This Thing You Don't Know About Works, a significant number of people are going to think that's how it actually works. See, I dunno, CSI for a less-fraught example of this in practice--if memory serves, there was a post here in the past couple of years about how exposure to shows like CSI and Bones has warped how juries view scientific evidence in criminal trials.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:36 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]




I want to thank stubbehtail for articulating my vague thoughts that the really disturbing thing about 50 SoG to me is the celebration and valorization of Ana's lack of agency.

The BSDM is a bit of a red herring in the end. The truly disturbing part for me is that Christian, the purported romantic hero, continually violates Ana's boundaries, does things she doesn't like, imposes gifts and restrictions onto her that she purports to resent, and yet she mostly knuckles under because she's just so damn grateful that a hot, rich guy is paying attention to her. Her terrible self-esteem and inability to enforce her own boundaries is written to be cutesy and nothing remarkable but makes me cringe so hard.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:25 PM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


But they're understood as harmless fantasy because... they're better written? Because Rice is "one of us"? Because they're less popular? All that seems like pure elitist gatekeeping.

Because they are obviously and purely in the realm of pure fantasy. That doesn't render the problematic elements invisible by any means--but, to return to a comparison made earlier in the thread, they're the Darth Vader of BDSM literature. Not intended to hold up a mirror to reality. FSOG pretends to. Thus the problem.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:54 PM on February 13, 2015


My wife loved the books. I was not even tempted. Teasingly, she asked if I wanted to go see the movie, and laughed understandingly when I gave her a resounding "NO!"

But I am absolutely lapping up the reviews. I won't hate-watch the movie, but I will absolutely hate-read the reviews, because I want to revel in all the possibilities of how this monstrosity can be ripped apart. And this is the best review so far.
posted by lhauser at 8:55 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I haven't read 50SOG (and I doubt I ever will) but it does seem to be part of a grand tradition of romance novels and things like Flowers in the Attic where nonconsensual sex is a way to write dirty bits without making the protagonist, y'know... slutty. Some older romance novels I read as a teen were probably worse: often the heroine was straight up kidnapped. And yes the guy always turns into a wonderful husband and father by the end because of love blah blah whatever cakes. It's not like this author invented this story? It's a rehash of lots of other crappy books. Why does everyone care so much about this book???

Altho I havnet read it so maybe it really is worse, but, my friend Sarah's Mom had some terrible romance novels. It's hard to believe it could be worse.
posted by fshgrl at 9:20 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


> "It's hard to believe it could be worse."

It pretty much is. Especially over the course of the trilogy as a whole.

I have mixed feelings on whether the books are actually dangerous. I think they contain terrible messages, and paint an awful and wildly inaccurate picture of BDSM, but I also think people are capable of understanding that fiction is not necessarily the same as reality.

But in terms of the content, the 50 Shades books genuinely are worse even than most the-pirate-raped-me-and-I-loved-it novels (even though it is clearly based on them). I have seen little that is more problematic than 50 Shades until you get to straight-up misogynistic mind-control porn.

In broad beats, the 50 Shades books do follow that (extremely problematic) romantic convention, which is, roughly speaking:

1) Gorgeous, dangerous man falls for innocent, beautiful heroine
2) He sexes her up against her will and she comes like a freight train
3) She tames him with the power of love and he repents his evil ways

As I said, it's clearly based on books like that, so this isn't surprising. But 50 Shades takes the concept and adds its own disturbing twists to the mix. One being, for example, that what the hero is "cured" of by the heroine is, solely and only, his desire to punish women who look like his mother by beating them and then having sex with them (see above re: awful and wildly inaccurate picture of BDSM.) What he is *not* cured of is his much more realistic abusive behavior. Things like the fact that he makes a list of people she is not allowed to see, does not share this list with her, and then punishes her when she violates this rule. That's all considered fine and dandy.

It's kind of the equivalent of if, in a pirate bodice-ripper, the heroine ended the story still chained up in the hold of the ship, but thinking, "But he's stopped the daily whip-beatings. I have transformed him with my love. And really it's my fault I'm still chained up in here. I keep making him so mad!"

I'm sure you *could* find romance novels worse than the 50 Shades books, but you'd have to really look for them. Picking a random bodice-ripper of the shelf absolutely won't do it.
posted by kyrademon at 1:42 AM on February 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


Shit Rough Drafts' screenplay for 50 Shades of Grey.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:28 AM on February 14, 2015


I don't know that they're dangerous in the same way that vanity tiger cubs, unlabeled bottles of rat poison on your spice shelf, or sticks of decaying dynamite are dangerous.

They might have issues in supporting sexist narratives which we can examine and critique. I'll make a cautious comparison to Birth of a Nation and American Sniper, movies that supported the dominant culture's ways of thinking about race and ethnicity. We don't have a problem linking those movies to indirect support of lynching or military intervention.

When I get critical of sexism in film as having an effect on our culture, I'm not saying that the film is causative in the way that smoking causes cancer. I'm saying that the film is a contributing factor in the same way that our broken health care system is contributes to cancer mortality. Will someone become an abuser on the basis of this film? Probably not. Might it make it more likely that abuse will be excused as "oh, one of those relationships"? Possibly.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:48 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I saw this movie! It was painful to walk right past the Jupiter Ascending theater and walk into this one instead, but I endured.

Surprisingly, considering the source material, it was pretty well-done! The writers/director couldn't fully escape the quagmire of the source material, but:

— Consent is discussed, frequently and at length; Ana establishes boundaries for herself, by which Grey fully abides.

— At points, mid-act, Ana says "no"; every time she does, Grey stops, immediately and without reserve, and furthermore shows concern for having gone over the line.

— For the most part, "kinky sex is fun" is separated from "Christian Grey has some major issues and is creepy as shit". There is an exception, wherein it's implied that it's fucked-up to need to hurt people to get off, and the whole "fetish stuff is not a perfect parallel to vanilla eroticism/sex is more complex and interesting than it's usually made out to be by movies" was, sadly but unsurprisingly, not touched upon, but this was a whole lot better than I expected going in. My kinkster roommate described it as "BDSM by way of Harlequin Romance", and that's pretty accurate.

— THAT SAID, it is made PERFECTLY CLEAR that Christian Grey is creepy as shit, not in a sexy way, but in a "dude you have fucking issues" way. His being creepy and patronizing isn't played off for laughs; on the contrary, a lot of the laughs involve Ana's speaking up for herself and wiping the smug look off his face.

— Oh, yeah. The movie was surprisingly funny. After the first twenty minutes, in which it's made explicitly clear how terrible E. L. James is at establishing context, things become entertaining enough to keep going with, which is nice.

— They cut the movie off at a point that feels like it's coming twenty minutes too soon, which is kind of fucking awesome. It means the movie gets to have that Nolan-and-Fincheresque "grandiosity" without the sense of oh-god-why-isn't-this-ending-yet that usually accompanies that style of filmmaking. Plus, it happens without warning, like I was totally expecting another scene right up until the black hit, and the theater crowd apparently felt the same way: the film ended on an enormous laugh thanks to that.

All-in-all, this is still what happens when capitalism attempts to make good with the twisted monstrosity that is E. L. James' "literary" career, and thus reflects the ever-downward spiral of the 21st century, BUT it is about as honorable an attempt to deal with that as one could expect from this Chthulian fuckhell. I hated this movie far less than I hated The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises, and came away feeling like maybe it wouldn't completely damage the sexual outlooks or appetites of its viewers, which, for a movie based on 50 Shades of Grey, is pretty admirable in its own right. Also it'll hopefully inspire pornographers to be less shit with their cinematography. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got me some Jupiter Ascending tickets to buy.
posted by rorgy at 7:30 AM on February 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


We live in a society where women's choices, especially in regards to their sex lives, are vilified and heavily scrutinized, regardless of what those choices are. In light of that, it's not surprising that women would fantasize about a lack of agency and choices.

So, I'll bite.

For me, as one person (of fairly fluid gender orientation, right now I'm hovering around woman whose clothing choices vary wildly depending on how I feel that morning when I get up), who has a lot of what most people would consider interesting at best fantasies (some of which I've gotten to play out and some more of which I might get to play out and some of which will have to stay in my head, and that's fine) ... submission for me isn't about my sex life choices being vilified and scrutinized (though they are, being pansexual and poly and kinky, and I will be SO GLAD when this movie goes away because I am damned tired of having to explain to people that this isn't how most of us get down).

Submission for me is about trust. Seriously, how many folks do you trust to tie or cuff you up, and then have you say to them "Do whatever you want1, I'll be here having a good time?" My list is two people long. Submission is an act of trust and intimacy (for me), and thus is not something I'm getting into with most folks.

Submission is an act of agency, involving negotiating what you want and don't want to do and setting safewords or other signals, and then making a conscious choice to trust the person(s) you're getting down with. And, from my point of view, if you can't trust them like that, then you need to not be doing what you're doing. It's a cliche, but if you're doing it right, the bottom is really in charge.

And, in the end, being submissive is a break for me. My head never. stops. running. I get up in the middle of the night to pee and it's "oh crap I need to write that rec letter and I wonder how my mom is going to be doing this week and what do I want for breakfast." I take the dog out for a walk and my brain is on the hamster wheel of what I need to get done that week. I dream all night. My brain turns off when I'm having sex, especially if I'm being submissive. It's a chance to let go, which I need or I get wound too tight to breathe.

[And hey, in the end? It gets me off. I wish I knew why I'm wired up the way I am. But this is how I'm wired.]

There you go, for what it's worth, from one person's point of view.

1. Within previously negotiated boundaries, of course.
posted by joycehealy at 12:37 PM on February 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


And to that I say: NO. There's nothing sexy or romantic about a lack of autonomy

And yet...millions of people think otherwise. Their genitals get all excited over it. It actually happens as a physical and mental reaction to that particular stimuli.

Stop it! You guys are orgasming wrong!
posted by Drinky Die at 1:42 PM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


That Oh Joy Sex Toy comic is pretty good. I love how she draws someone mansplaining how she shouldn't have enjoyed it.
posted by Gelatin at 2:25 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


rorgy: "I saw this movie!"

The news reports I've seen have said screenings are like Rocky Horror Picture Show, with everyone showing up silly, frequently drunk, and ready to noisily react to what's going on on-screen -- lots of giggling and shouting. Was that how yours was?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:02 PM on February 14, 2015


Eyebrows: I bribed my roommate to come along with me, and the bribe was alcohol-related, so we had at least one drunken kinky nerd attempting to loudly critique the film as it went on. The people nearby us were not too happy about him, though. The crowd was more-or-less your typical moviegoing crowd, which I thought was pretty disappointing.

non-Eyebrows: Something important to keep in mind about the submissive's role in sex is that they are, to some extent, more in control of their scene than their dom is, in the sense that they are the sole arbiters of what is and isn't allowed. The power dynamic isn't as simple as "one person is completely in charge of everything, and the other person is just an object" — it requires a lot of communication, respect, and trust, so that a situation can be established wherein both people are getting what they want.

From what I gather, 50 Shades the book didn't really understand that, but the movie does a pretty good job of articulating that, and while Christian Grey's still a little bit too eager to be hoping that this virgin he met once and then asked to get a coffee might be into letting him whip her, once Anastasia's involved in this she is given a lot of agency to define what she will and won't do, and exercises her control over this relationship repeatedly — so much so, in fact, that it almost becomes what defines the progress of the plot, since Grey's cards are on the table and the only real variance is what Ana decides she wants to be doing at any given point.
posted by rorgy at 8:06 PM on February 14, 2015


Heh. There were #fuck50shades protestors outside of the cinema tonight.

(We were there for something else, FWIW.)
posted by Artw at 10:45 PM on February 14, 2015


> "From what I gather, 50 Shades the book didn't really understand that ..."

That's something of an understatement ...

> "... but the movie does a pretty good job of articulating that ..."

Interesting. Honestly, I can see how this could be done with only relatively minor changes to the dialogue of the book (such as Ana saying yes to certain things instead of no to them, or Christian backing off when she says no instead of trying to browbeat her into things), especially since the movie, from what I've heard, loses the constant internal monologue that often unintentionally reveals how terrified Ana is of his temper and power. And probably cutting things like his tracking her cell phone would help ... Well, OK, so fairly major changes overall. But it could definitely be done, and that would make a major change in turn to the subtext.

In a way, I think that's even the book E. L. James *wanted* to write. I don't think she meant to write a book that says, "Accept abuse because you love him, BDSM is only practiced by sickos, and no means yes." I think she ended up doing that because she's not a very good writer, doesn't know much about BDSM but decided to write a book about it anyway, and has a whole lot of unexamined, screwed-up views about relationships that ended up getting on the pages.
posted by kyrademon at 11:02 PM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Considering that the source material for FSOG (remember, it started as Twilight fanfiction) has much the same unexamined, problematic, screwed-up views about relationships, I dunno that I would feel at all confident in saying that E.L. James *wanted* to write a different, better book.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:30 AM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


My uninformed take is that it's a bit of both. E. L. James paired problematic gender/relationship views with a naive and clumsy understanding of BDSM. She draws from the morass a fantasy version of BDSM in which issues of consent do not need to be addressed, because not only do they not exist, but they would actually interfere with her fantasy of ravishment.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:56 AM on February 15, 2015 [3 favorites]




I think this quote is basically right on the money.

it is not to be confused with “Madame Bovary.” Rather, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is the kind of book that Madame Bovary would read.

It's not a book about BDSM, rather it's an abuse/nonconsensual fanfic with light S&M of the sort someone who might end up liking BDSM practices in real life might read. Or write.
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:33 AM on February 15, 2015


Gilbert Gottfrieds reading of FSOG NSFW. An interesting take.
posted by smudgedlens at 11:33 AM on February 15, 2015




"Besides being the worst film I have ever seen, three women were getting arrested and put in a police van when we arrived," 33-year-old Michael Bolton told The Mirror.
How awful. Worst movie of his life, blood and vomit everywhere, and he's named "Michael Bolton."
posted by octobersurprise at 8:45 AM on February 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I think I'll post this over in the Fanfare thread since things to have wrapped up here, but I ran across Erika Moen's comparison of Secretary to 50SOG (linked by Dan Savage!) and it's pretty interesting reading:

Secretary and 50 Shades of Grey

It's almost FPP material but I don't know if we've hit peak 50SOG at this point or not.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:43 PM on February 23, 2015


Rumors abound today that Jamie Dornan will be replaced for the sequels. He had an out clause if the sequels didn't begin shooting by a certain date, and that deadline is very likely extremely blown if they really do let EL James write the screenplays and hire a new director. The rumors say he's bowing out because his wife doesn't want him to do it or something, which is not really how contracts work, but it makes a much better story.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:48 PM on February 23, 2015


Meh, contracts work that way all the time. He has an out clause and, as you say, "blaming" the wife makes for a better story. The cover story works for everyone: Jamie Dornan seems like a nice guy, and nobody has to badmouth the production (or him) to get him out of there.

I feel like there would be diminishing returns with the sequels, but what would I know. They're probably still guaranteed to make money.

If I were a deranged billionaire, I would cast the Kool-Aid Man as the new Mr. Grey. Just imagine the reaction shots.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:17 PM on February 23, 2015


Sploosh!
posted by mochapickle at 5:19 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


If I were a deranged billionaire, I would cast the Kool-Aid Man as the new Mr. Grey. Just imagine the reaction shots.

Your desires are ... unconventional...
posted by sparkletone at 5:20 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


OH YEAH, BABES
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:20 PM on February 23, 2015


Nuh-uh. Poppin Fresh doughboy FTW.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:35 PM on February 23, 2015


I would be really excited if the Kool Aid Man played it really subtle and quiet and this was the beginning of a whole new phase of his career, like when Travolta did Pulp Fiction
posted by Greg Nog at 8:04 PM on February 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Considering I would've described myself as a young, impressionable girl at one point in time, I'm sorry you equate it with stupidity. I equate it to a lack of experience, not a lack of intelligence.

You think young women are seriously at risk of acting out a work of fiction to the point of endangering their lives, but I'm the one calling them stupid?

You're going to look pretty bloody silly in five years when precisely zero people have been choked to death because of a book they picked up at the airport.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:35 AM on March 7, 2015


« Older “Hello, my name is Yusor Abu-Salha.”   |   TV’s Old Product-Placement Era Could Be Nearing... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments