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Sunday, December 10, 2023


‘Fifty Shades of Grey’: Treat as entertainment, not example of sexual abuse

Domestic violence activists are hijacking the hype surrounding the controversial film, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by pleading people to skip seeing the movie and donate their money instead. However, people need to remember that the film is supposed to be entertainment and should be left as such.

The social media campaign #50dollarsnot50shades insists people donate $50 to a domestic violence shelter instead of using that money for movie tickets and concession snacks. The social media campaign has already garnered support from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and the London Abused Women’s Centre in Canada.

The argument against seeing “Fifty Shades of Grey” is that women in real life don’t end up like the character of Anastasia. Women will often end up in a women’s shelter, on the run for several years or, ultimately, dead. The grassroots campaign Facebook page is sitting just above 12,000 likes since its conception.

Advocates are saying the film is a glamorization of stalking and abusive behavior and that it is romanticizing sexual violence against women. The campaign gives them a public platform to speak out against the film and share their message.

“I would say there’s a 50/50 split between people who are going to boycott the movie and people who are still going to watch it,” said integrated communication junior Hailey Seymour. “It’s been hyped for several months and it’s totally acceptable that some want to see what all the hype is about.”

According to the movie review from Forbes, “Fifty Shades of Grey” ended up being “cold and clinical to the point of feeling sterile” between all the aesthetics and characterization instead of being a film about deep emotional needs and raw human sexuality. The review claims the plot is faux-empowerment that appeals to the anti-feminist conceptualizations of the roles that females have in and out of the bedroom.

Anastasia’s motivation for any interest in Christian Grey is that he’s handsome, rich and good in bed; all of which is completely superficial.

“I understand that “Fifty Shades” has faced controversy with the BDSM community because of its inaccurate portrayal of BDSM and its practices, but I also understand that it’s a film based off a romance/fantasy novel,” Seymour said.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” was projected to gross $60 million at the box office over its opening weekend, but ended up grossed a whopping $85 million; however, despite the monetary success, reviews are less than stellar. According to Celebuzz, reviews range from “Fifty Shades of Grey” being a “terrible movie,” to it being meant to be “an escapist night out” with your girlfriends, to being a “mediocre film” worth nothing beyond one viewing because it isn’t “emotionally charged” or sexy.

“‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ wasn’t going to be something I was going to see just because I don’t think the books are good writing,”  said English junior Victoria Jackson. “I’m not going to expect a good movie from poorly written material…”

Then there are some viewers like music theory sophomore Sarah Poole who thought the movie was bad to the point of being “hilarious.”

“I’m at the movie theater with my friends and we just see a bunch of moms with their girlfriends. I loved hearing the reactions other people had,” Poole said. “There was one scene where everyone in the audience was just like, ‘ew,’ and I don’t think it was intentionally supposed to be funny but it was.”

The film might be cheesy and campy, but its significant presence in pop culture cannot be ignored. The problem with the #50dollarsnot50shades social media campaign is that it’s comparing domestic abuse with the practice of BDSM, which involves consent between the participants.

Whether the film plays a role in enabling sexual abuse can only be determined by the audience. The interpretation is open and dependent on what a viewer believes.

People have the option of seeing the film or skipping it altogether and donating their money to women’s shelters.

The books and the film are mediums of giving people exposure to a fantasy. They aren’t manuals on how to properly practice BDSM, and the film does not promise to advocate a deeper message on behalf of a specific cause.

Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations senior and may be reached at [email protected].

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