I’ll start out with a disclaimer: I did not read the book. My sole experience of Fifty Shades of Gray thus far is taking in the movie a week after its release on a Sunday afternoon, when the theater was completely empty. After watching it, I can see why now. I wanted very much to like the film, even going so far as to say I had bought into the hype (and being from Seattle, I loved recognizing the landscapes from the geographical area in which the movie is based in). I was curious for sure, and I let that energy build by not reading any reviews beforehand. Boy, did they get it all wrong.
Present are all the standard cliché ingredients required for such a film. Pretty male and female leads, tricked out apartments, lack of a day job but incredibly rich protagonist, personal helicopters, and plenty of naked bums. The checklist is seemingly complete, except for a realistic plot portraying characters who could actually exist in real life (or at least be liked in real life). The movie had a big opening weekend at the box office to its credit, but it had no legs, it couldn’t. Legs is a film industry term that represents a movie having good word-of-mouth. I see a movie I like, I tell my friends about it, then they go and watch it. The reason that people didn’t tell their friends about this movie, was because it’s not real. They got it all wrong* and that’s why no one was there the second weekend.
I could ask a hundred women if they would be interested in this life portrayed in the film, and without exception I bet everyone would say no. I think the fantasy is there, I think the interest is there, but I don’t think reality is there. In real life we want to be cherished, we want to be moved deeply daily. We want to love recklessly knowing that our partner would die by the sword to protect our happiness. You don’t have to be a romantic like me to see the flaws in a life based on fear, control, and jealousy. Fueling the fire is the complete lack of the 99%. I’m not surprised that Christian Grey is a wealthy, late 20’s male who is incredibly good looking and physically fit. That’s the only way that this fantasy works.
I can see parts of Mr. Grey reflected in my own life. If it’s one thing I am constantly criticized of it’s that I do a terrible job of expressing my excitement in the moment. In that way, I can say I mirror Christian’s complete grasp on self control. Although the same holds true for the opposite in that I hardly ever get sad, it’s a constant work in progress for me. Something that I try and improve on seemingly every day is being present in the moment, sharing my happiness with those that cause it. I know what I am at this point in my life, (something Christian reiterates as well) and because of that I know what I can and can not do. But that is not my final answer, my end game. When Christian used his childhood upbringing and early sexual experiences as the crutch to his cold demeanor, he’s doing everyone around him a disservice. Like Christian, you show me a women who enters into my life and challenges me emotionally in a positive way on a daily basis, and I’ll prove to her that she’s the real fantasy. Christian did, and it’s the one thing the movie did right when she knew it was time to go.
I was sad that such a flawed character was used to base the S&M fantasy on. It’s the one glaring thing I see that the storyteller did wrong. It wasn’t the enjoyment of whips and handcuffs that made Christian Grey a dirtbag, it was his closed off emotional capabilities towards a potential partner. To make it right, to create a real fantasy, that character needs to be strong in his own self awareness, but also cognizant of the benefits of being open to the love of another human being. I’m not saying that they needed to turn it into The Notebook 2, but real life happens when one individual gives into the phenomenal power of pure love. You give me that, and I could care less if you want to spank me every now and then.
*Except for the score of the movie, which I thought was very well done actually.