"UB students share their excitement about the release of ""Fifty Shades of Grey"""
Film aims to please fans
The Red Room, silk ties and “Laters baby” may mean nothing to some people, but to the over 100 million people who have read the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, those three phrases will send shivers down their backs.
E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” may have started as a “Twilight” fan fiction, but it has become a worldwide phenomenon, selling over 100 million copies since it was published in Jan. 2011. Now, James has given those fans a visual way to explore their fantasies of Charlie Tango and the famous Red Room.
The movie’s release at midnight on Friday, Feb. 13 has been long awaited by fans. Most of the 22 showings at the AMC Maple Ridge 8 near North Campus this Friday and Saturday sold out weeks in advance.
The film adaptation starts Jamie Dornan (The Fall) as millionaire and philanthropist Christian Grey, whose sexual experience and interest in BDSM becomes a crucial part of his relationship with Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson, Anarchy), a virgin college student.
The movie is expected to be a massive success due to the book’s popularity. It was the fastest selling R-rated film in Fandango’s history, according to Variety. Movie critics, however, and members of the kinky community of which the saga was based on, aren’t fans of the sultry film.
“When something is this big there’s always an X-factor that you can’t quite pin down,” said David Schmid, an associate professor of English. “It has little to do with the literary merit of the text … The film is going to do gangbusters business, but it’s also getting panned by critics all over the place.”
Fans don’t seem to care about the film’s lowly 32 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Fans like the scandalous material, which goes just far enough beyond what’s viewed as the norm in sexual relationships that it never becomes offensive or overly scandalous, Schmid said.
He points out two main arguments surrounding the story. The sexual content within the novel and film drive its popularity and express an acceptance of kinky sex in society. The other argument is the movie shouldn’t be celebrated because it glorifies the role of pain in sexual pleasure and paints women as submissive.
He says neither said is entirely accurate, nor should one side be disregarded entirely.
“People are buying into the fantasy,” Schmid said. “They’re not buying into the reality.”
Schmid remembers seeing six people reading the book on a bus when it first came out, while others like Courtney Thomson, a junior nursing major, picked up the book based on her grandmother’s recommendation.
“Actually my grandma got me to read it,” Thompson said. “She was reading it on her Kindle and said it wasn’t that bad of a story, despite all the sexual scenes, so I ended up reading it. It was just to see why everyone was so interested in it.”
The book’s popularity grew as more people wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. The movie looks to be no different.
Fifty Shades of Grey may not be thrilling the critics, but it’s already setting records for advanced ticket sales for films on Valentine’s Day with 80 percent of tickets being purchased by couples, according to MovieTickets.com. Critics believe it could surpass the current record holder Valentine’s Day, which grossed $63.1 million as the highest grossing film of the four-day President’s day weekend.
“I really want to [see it],” said Kerry McPhee, a senior gender studies major. “I guess [I want to see it] because it’s a big thing and I’m joining into what everyone else is doing.”
She said her friends saw an advanced screening and told her that there’s a lot of discussion around BDSM. She thinks the movie will do a good job of representing BDSM.
Members of the BSDM – an overlapping abbreviation of bandage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism – community disagree.
Lorna Loster, a breast fetish model and dominatrix, thinks the film and the books paint the BDSM community in an unrealistic light. She points out most of the sexual and kinky acts done by the characters are without the consent of Steele, whereas in the BDSM community, consent is something that’s taken very seriously.
In a typical BDSM scenario there are two roles: a dominant and a submissive. The dominant has all of the power and the submissive has given up his or her power to their dominant.
After any encounter, it’s important to have a conversation, called “after care”, and ensure the submissive recognized it was play and not reality, Loster said.
James also never addresses after care in the books.
“It was like ‘Oh I’m just going to spank you a lot and yeah just leave you be,’” Loster said. “If you read on she goes through mental anguish because of it and she’s really confused and doesn’t know what to do.”
Despite the inaccurate representation of the lifestyle, Loster has noticed a rise in sales of BSDM-related products at her sex shop, Four Beauties, located near UB’s South Campus.
“I don’t know if they’ll necessarily use BDSM,” McPhee said. “But I think we’re becoming a culture that opens up more about our sexuality and our sexual preference.”
In Thompson’s mind the film’s popularity boils down to one thing: “people like sex.”