I don’t know about you, but according to my humble observation, the weekend of Valentine’s Day definitely got 50 shades darker. I am not referring to the hoards of vulture-like singles waiting for Feb. 15’s chocolate sales, nor am I referring to the actual film release. I am referring to the fact that everyone seems to use the personal choice of watching the film as a token of moral superiority. “Do not support the film,” says one side. “It promotes and supports domestic abuse and the subjugation of women.” Meanwhile, the other side liberally waves the choice to watch the film as an unpretentious token of being a real feminist, one who understands and appreciates the sexual needs of women. “I will watch whatever I want and support artistic effort,” this side indignantly fires back.
The film currently has a 4.1 out of 10 rating on imdb.com, while scoring in at 25 percent on Rotten Tomatoes’ “Tomatometer.” Yet this does little to change the fact that it scored an impressive $81.7 million during its opening weekend, and still continues to dominate at box offices all over the United States. This is what I affectionately nicknamed the “Kardashlohanacyrus” effect, where constant buzz aimed at tearing down the subject brings the subject more publicity and money. In other words, even in discussing the film’s merit or lack thereof, we fall victim to very deliberate marketing.
In fact, when considering the plot’s merit, if Christian Grey stayed equally as attractive and dominant, but was not portrayed as fabulously wealthy, “Fifty Shades of Grey” would lose most of its appeal. The selling of a fabulously wealthy and handsome man going after plain Jane appeals to (largely) women worldwide because as a society, women have less leverage in determining who to become. In other words, while successful images of men may range from being severely overweight to young and ripped, successful images of women are severely limited to few, seemingly intangible positions. Thus, the idea of a man who, on paper, “has it all” lusting after an ordinary girl with no prospects of immediate greatness is not novel — it is almost prescriptive. In fact, I recently read that if Christian Grey had been living in a trailer instead of being fabulously wealthy, the film would be a Criminal Minds episode rather than a “romantic” endeavor.
Thus, if there is to be controversy over the film, please let it be over the incredible disparities in society that allow the film to be as successful as it is. Let us stop demonizing curious and seemingly self-righteous critics. What should be worthy of our incredible interest is not allowing the next generation to be too overtly sexual or supporting of unconventional sexual practices, but the tendency to self-righteously examine a subject without any action, the forces that lead the most coveted “romance” of the century to coalesce between a sexy sociopath and innocent young woman.
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