Jump to content

Fifty Shades of Grey


Overstreet
 Share

Recommended Posts

J.A.A. Purves wrote:

: In fact, works of entertainment that are intentionally made to appeal to, and even to encourage, this thrill are doing something underhanded and rather disgraceful.

 

By that standard, I daresay there are passages in the Bible that must be underhanded and rather disgraceful, then.

It's the adrenaline rush and fascination - the sensation - that I'm thinking of here. It's not the content itself that's the problem. It's how the content is presented and why. The scenes of sex and violence in the Bible are not written in order to thrill and fascinate us with evil - nor are they written to sensationalize the subject matter.

 

Side note, but: I wonder how much of this thread you had already read before you jumped in, if you weren't aware that Fifty Shades is directed by a woman. The point had already been made more than once, I think.

For the record, I knew that and I have been following the thread. The "he" was a typing error. There is more of what you've written that I would like to respond to, but in order to avoid writing a dissertation on this thread, I am trying to pick and choose a little.  Brody's piece that you quoted brings up some other interesting issues too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 95
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

J.A.A.  Purves said:  Sure it does, and there is a real theological position which holds that this “thrill” is unhealthy to intentionally indulge. In fact, works of entertainment that are intentionally made to appeal to, and even to encourage, this thrill are doing something underhanded and rather disgraceful.

 

The scenes of sex and violence in the Bible are not written in order to thrill and fascinate us with evil - nor are they written to sensationalize the subject matter.
 

-

 

Those scenes in the Bible were written as storytelling.

 

This is what I'm getting at... storytelling.

 

To be clear, I'm not trying to defend the next Saw or Hostel sequel.  But what I am saying, is that this "thrill" or reaction is an integral part of our response to aspects of a good story.  We've been talking about horror films, because it is the most obvious.  But it can be applied to say, American Sniper.  Part of the rush and suspense we feel from that film, or in fact just about any action/war/fantasy film, is connected to the fact that we are disgusted and horrified by the damage caused to another human being (or creature in general.)  That doesn't mean that we are revelling in it.  But that aspect of the storytellings effects on us still exists.  But the results of this, isn't to make us more interested in harming others.  Rather, it's to bring alive in our hearts the cruelty and evil of it all, and also, in this, to bring alive the sacredness of life.

 

That's why some of these movies are so impacting.  Take a look at the movie Fury.  When those people come out of the building and are gunned down.  There's a part of us that says "whoa.  This is nuts", we feel a little bit of that thrill.  It's part of what keeps us attuned to the story, but we also walk away from the film with a deep reflection on war and the sacredness of life.  We are not walking away from the film revelling in the scenes of slaughter.

 

So now.  Consider the Bible.  An obvious story to touch on is David and Goliath.  This is to a large degree intended to be a hero's tale.  Being that with God's help you can be the hero.  We still use it in our teaching today, with our "goliaths" being various modern days systems that need to be brought down.  But.  Part of the reason this story is so effective, is that as a hero's tale we envision ourselves being the hero who brings down the bad guy, and we get a rush from that.  There is a certain thrill that brings the tale alive.  This being a tale about someone who is killing another man.

 

Then.  From a certain view of the Bible, there is the argument that some of those tales of the Israelites slaughtering other nations in battle were for the purpose of uplifting them while they were in exile.  Of saying that their God is with them and will help them in times of need.  That's how those stories were understood, and I have little doubt that for them those stories often had a thrill involved.

 

So then, lets look at the Dirty Harry movies, or for that matter a lot of Western.  We get a thrill when Harry guns down the bad guy.  But none of us have walked away from this wanting to gun people down (unless we already had prevous issues.)  Instead, we want to be a hero like Dirty Harry, protecting our towns and neighbourhoods.

 

So.  Then, back to horror.  Lets look at our very own Scott Derrickson's films.  When we see someone thrashing around possessed, there's something obviously fascinating and thrilling about it.  Our adrenaline goes up, and we think to ourselves... "whoa."  But that doesn't mean that the films are making us enjoy human suffering.  Quite the opposite, we walk away from them with the cautionary tale intact.  After seeing the suffering in a horror film, and yes, having the adrenaline experience, we come out of it rejecting evil in our hearts.  We wouldn't reject this evil in our hearts if we never had any sort of strong reaction to it - a thrill - brought on by the fact that it is against our conscience.  The result being, that the story brings our consciences more alive to the destruction and chaos of evil and the sacredness of life.

 

-

 

J.A.A. Purves said:  

 

The problem with this is you could use this reasoning as an argument to justify almost anything in a film. It almost treats what happens in a film, and the act of watching it, as amoral

 

 

Of course it can be amoral.  One could watch American Sniper with a bloodlust to watch a child get killed, or one could watch it with the suspense  and observation of his conflict as intended.  One reaction would be immoral, the other moral.... but you are still watching the same film.  As well, if you have an immoral reaction to the film, that doesn't necessarily mean that the film itself is immoral.  You  could have misunderstood it.  On the other side of the coin, one could watch a film that others might consider to be immoral, and find something moral in it.

 

Take a Tarantino film.  Is it immoral to watch Kill Bill?  A film full of blood and slaughter?  For some people it wasn't.  Some people on these boards found that there was value in the film.  I on the other hand, thought that it was an immoral and spirit sucking.  I felt sick after seeing it.  This was largely because I saw it as glorifying vengeance.

 

But if I was to see a violent horror film showing vengeance as being destructive, then I would possibly find that lesson to be very important, and a lesson that would best be communicated through that violence.

 

As well, at different periods in our life we can have a different reaction to the same film.  Maybe in the future I'll see Kill Bill and discover what others here have seen in it all along.  If at one time my response is to see it as immoral, and at another time my response is to see it as having something moral to say, doesn't that then make the film amoral but based on my response?

 

It's about the story.  And that "thrill" is one of the storytellers methods of ultimately having the story impact us the way he/she intends.  

 

 

It's not about justifying anything in film, it's about considering it in regards to what the story is attempting to do.  

Edited by Attica
Link to comment
Share on other sites

J.A.A Purves said:   So, the mere faculty of fantasy (not in itself chosen by the will) can be distinguished from a sort of intentional act of fantasizing (which is chosen by the will). It is this act that is considered wrong.

 

-

 

When I consider the threat of ISIS and possible war, part of my ruminations is to "fantasize" what this would be like.  I am trying to deal with the subject in order to wrap my head around it and  come to a clear understanding of it.

 

When I consider WW2 in order to understand and respect part of what our war veterans went through, part of my ruminations is to actually "fantasize" about what their actual ordeal would have been.

 

What one sees in ones mind eye isn't pretty.  It is intentionally "fantasizing" about some pretty evil stuff.  But it is a necessary way to grasp and comprehend something.  It helps us to emphasize better with those war heroes. 

 

 

Film can help with these ruminations.  It can give us visuals to feed our understandings, and this within a safe environment.  As well these visuals don't even have to necessarily come from a war film as any such visuals could help us to ruminate on human destruction.

Edited by Attica
Link to comment
Share on other sites

J.A.A. Purves wrote:
: If I believe the mere act of watching a film is wrong, then I would be contradicting myself by watching it in order to argue that watching it is wrong. . . . I could also see watching the film to criticize it, rather than to enjoy it, being a possible exception to my exception.

 

I dunno. Every act of movie-watching is a gamble, at least if you've never seen the film before. You have to decide for yourself which bets are worth making and which ones aren't. The problem comes when you start dictating what sorts of bets *other* people should make -- or, worse, when you start telling people that their analyses of the film are wrong *even though you're not capable of analyzing it yourself, because you've never seen it*.

 

As for watching a film with the agenda of criticizing it, that too rubs me the wrong way. I went to this film out of curiosity: curiosity to see what kind of film it would be, curiosity to see what a controversial female fantasy (written and directed by women) would be like, and curiosity as to the kind of cultural conversation that would follow the film's immense box-office success (at least in its first week). I expected the film to be kind of trashy, and it was, but that didn't mean I went to the screening determined to look for ways to slap it down.

 

: Furthermore, FSoG is not a film seriously interested in reflection or in wrestling with any serious questions.

 

How do you know this? Seriously: if you have not seen the film, how do you know this? What about, say, Richard Brody's comments on how this film explores aspects of sexuality that most other films ignore? Are there no serious questions in that?

 

: Then, the Greek epithymeo: “to long for, desire, covet, lust” is also the same, which is used to translate the tenth commandment (Romans 7:7) and is used by Christ in applying it (Matthew 5:28).

 

Yes, and it is also the word Jesus uses (twice!) when he says he "lusted" to have the Last Supper with his disciples (Luke 22:15).

 

I don't see anything in your lengthy discourse on the definition of "fantasy" that addresses the question I originally raised, which is whether Christians have a vocabulary for discussing bondage fantasies and other kinds of sexual fantasies.

 

I had bondage fantasies all the time when I was a teenager, partly because I felt free of guilt *within* those fantasies for whatever might have happened to me. (I knew good Christian boys weren't supposed to have sex with anyone *willingly* -- at least not outside of marriage -- but if someone tied me down and forced herself on me...) But I have never had any inclination whatsoever to do anything bondage-like in real life. And I can imagine that there are probably many other people, in many other situations in life, who have entertained similar fantasies without wanting to engage in those activities in real life.

 

This is where I begin to wonder if all our discussion of "desire" has been something of a rabbit trail. If there is any "desire" embodied in any of these bondage fantasies, it is not necessarily for the bondage itself. The fantasy might point to other, deeper desires. But the moment you talk about sexual fantasies of this sort in Christian circles, the first thing people want to talk about is the dangers of looking at real-life women lustfully or committing adultery or all sorts of other things. Everyone wants to bend the discussion to the real world and all its dangers in a way that they never do when the fantasy involves killing people (as it does in, say, every sermon or discourse ever given that involved "slaying the giants in our lives" or "dashing the little ones against the rocks").

 

And this is all before we even get to the question of whether it would really be so wrong if two married people wanted to tie each other up or strike each other with riding crops as part of their foreplay or whatever.

 

: The scenes of sex and violence in the Bible are not written in order to thrill and fascinate us with evil - nor are they written to sensationalize the subject matter.

 

I dunno, I remember hearing a sermon on Ehud (at an evangelical Anglican church) that focused on how funny the king's assassination was in the original Hebrew. And Ezekiel's condemnation of Israel for lusting after well-hung foreigners (whose emissions were like those of horses, if memory serves) gets kind of sensationalistic, too. Some parts of the Bible are probably closer to the exaggerated style of Jack Chick comics than some of us want to admit.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see anything in your lengthy discourse on the definition of "fantasy" that addresses the question I originally raised, which is whether Christians have a vocabulary for discussing bondage fantasies and other kinds of sexual fantasies.

 

I had bondage fantasies all the time when I was a teenager, partly because I felt free of guilt *within* those fantasies for whatever might have happened to me. (I knew good Christian boys weren't supposed to have sex with anyone *willingly* -- at least not outside of marriage -- but if someone tied me down and forced herself on me...) But I have never had any inclination whatsoever to do anything bondage-like in real life. And I can imagine that there are probably many other people, in many other situations in life, who have entertained similar fantasies without wanting to engage in those activities in real life.

 

And, indeed, this shows up on a list of possible reasons for rape fantasies. It makes sense to me (I've also heard--somewhere, so this is just me talking now--that powerful men fantasize about being dominated as a way to relieve themselves of responsibility; I wonder if there's a corresponding thing going on with [some] women). In one study, with a (non-representative) sample of Canadian women, 64% of the female respondents admitted to having bondage fantasies, while at the same time emphasizing that these fantasies did not equate to real-world wishes. 

 

This actually fits pretty well with Zizek's discussion of "fantasy realized" in The Pervert's Guide to Cinema:

 

 

 
This is where I begin to wonder if all our discussion of "desire" has been something of a rabbit trail. If there is any "desire" embodied in any of these bondage fantasies, it is not necessarily for the bondage itself. The fantasy might point to other, deeper desires. But the moment you talk about sexual fantasies of this sort in Christian circles, the first thing people want to talk about is the dangers of looking at real-life women lustfully or committing adultery or all sorts of other things. Everyone wants to bend the discussion to the real world and all its dangers in a way that they never do when the fantasy involves killing people (as it does in, say, every sermon or discourse ever given that involved "slaying the giants in our lives" or "dashing the little ones against the rocks").

 

 

I think the issue of "desire" is muddied by the fact that we don't seem to be agreeing on what desire is; for myself, I'm purposefully talking about desire as excess libidinal energy, undirected and undifferentiated. That strikes me as a helpful definition because it complicates the relationship to fantasy in general and sexual fantasy in particular. Others seem to be talking about desireS, which is a distinction that makes a difference. I'm more than willing to walk it back and focus on the nature of fantasy itself, though, and I'll start by directing attention to the first link above, in which one of the psychologists talked to says, essentially, that the health-or-nonhealth of rape fantasies (that is, fantasies of being raped) is relative; it can be healthy (or, at least, not detrimental) or it can be the sign of a deeper problem. 

 

[it's at this point, I guess, that I should point out that this fantasy-desire thing is deeply implicated in the popular culture in ways that go beyond Fifty Shades. Wonder Woman, for instance, was originally, in part, an advertisement for the liberatory powers of bondage; she is a dominatrix and lives on an island of dominatrices. And, of course, the old trope of the white-woman-captured-by-savages is itself a sadistic/masochistic fantasy in some ways, allowing the--presumably, white and male--reader to at once gaze lustfully on the bound female form and feel outrage that she is being held captive. On the feminine side, Gone with the Wind is a book/movie that is so deeply ambivalent about sexuality that it requires Rhett--the desirable male figure--to rape Scarlett in order for her to enjoy sex; the "hysterical" nature of the Gothic novel--as it developed--is in some ways about dealing with or containing female sexuality, and there is a certain element of fantasy at play here.]

 

This is where my insistence on "desire" as the undifferentiated outpouring of libidinal energies is actually helpful, I think. Because there are innumerable other factors intersecting with an individual's character--social constraints, psychological issues, etc etc etc--it is difficult (though not impossible) to draw shiny, hard and fast distinctions between permitted and non-permitted fantasies (or, to avoid the quasi-moral tinge, healthy or unhealthy). Fantasies that seem unhealthy to the outside observer may be fully functional parts of an individual's psyche. Meanwhile, fantasies that seem harmless may be detrimental to someone else. Because humans don't actually function on the abstract, theoretical level, it's not only difficult but possibly unwise to make broad theoretical pronouncements about what is harmful and what isn't. One person's meat is another's poison. [This, of course, is back to the abstract. A study at MSU suggests that the interaction between fantasy and reality in the case of Fifty Shades might be more troubling than not, though correlation=/= causation]

 

And, again, none of this is valid if the reader of Fifty Shades only picked it up, like this writer's friends, out of "sheer curiosity." 

 

[As to whether pornography is a genre in itself--of course not. But there are multiple genres of pornography--since "genre" simply means "type," we can prove this by the very simple process of asking whether there are certain tropes or conventions that are associated exclusively with it, even among non-consumers. And, of course, there are; otherwise jokes about pizza delivery men would be meaningless.]

Edited by NBooth
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see anything in your lengthy discourse on the definition of "fantasy" that addresses the question I originally raised, which is whether Christians have a vocabulary for discussing bondage fantasies and other kinds of sexual fantasies.

 

You keep coming back to this, which is a fair question. As far as the NT goes, the clearest dialogue we have with the range of sexual behaviors in the Christian community and its immediate environment is in Paul's letters, specifically Romans 1 (of course), and 1 Cor. 5-7, which begins with an injunction against a behavior (incest) that is unacceptable even to "pagans."

 

So Paul does address by vocabulary specific types of sexual behavior that he considers inappropriate. But overall, Paul's intent in these injunctions against sexual immorality in the church is to emphasize the idea that the body of a Christian is eschatologically different than the body of a pagan. The body of a Christian is joined to Christ through the mystery of faith/church, which problematizes then using the body for sexual purposes outside of marital functions. This joining of the body to Christ is not fully experienced in the present, but will be fully consumated in the future. The bride/wife imagery Paul uses elsewhere to describe this mystical union is further evocative of the intermingling of eschatology, sexuality, and the material uses of the Christian body in Paul's thought.

 

All this is to say that we don't seem to have a vocabulary for the types of fantasies you describe, because the basic Christian concept of the body is already stamped by Paul's eschatological... fantasy. I think a thoughtful Christian vocabulary could address your specific fantasies in the way you already have above - by assessing the proximate causes of these fantasies and their deeper implications - and then evaluating them based on notions of freedom or bondage articulate by Paul and other NT writers. Room for the paradoxical interactions of our desires is already baked into Paul's re-imagining of the Christian sexual body. It is one still bound to a broken or fallen estimation of sex, but also already/not yet freed from those via union with Christ's perfect body.

 

But it is perhaps helpful to see that Paul begins his sexual ethics with an image of a union -  the believer and Christ - that is a sort of fantasy in the terms we have been describing fantasy above.

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't we often fantasize about things because we are horrified and repulsed by them, and we mull it over attempting to deal with it.  Doesn't it sometimes spark a thrill because of this repulsion, being that because of what is good in us we get a sensation out of the thought of, say, a person being stabbed by a guy in a hockey mask.  It repulses us, because it is objectionable to our value system.  But this repulsion also leads to an adrenaline rush and fascination.

 

A psycopath wouldn't have these emotions, he/she would probably be indifferent.  (Edit:  Even though he/she may get some sick charge by emulating it.)

 

So, then, how does this all apply to "exploitational" aspects of film?  I certainly don't think that it is necessarily always bad (but sure it can be) or that those who watch those films are always dark.

 

But also, can this be applied to understanding why so many people seem to be interested in 50 shades of Grey when it would be opposed to their actual real life values?  Honest question?

 

Also.  Do people who are into that sort of thing get something from 50 Shades of Grey, or do they find it to be a big yawn?   

 

Disclaimer: I haven't read the book. I haven't seen the movie. I don't plan to, unless someone pays me to read badly written Twilight fanfic, and/or to see a movie based on it. I salute those critics among us who have done either or both.

 

That said, while I appreciate all this discussion about lust vs. desire, fantasy, etc., I'm surprised that no one has responded substantially to any of the reviews Justin Hanvey posted links to that comment on aspects of the film that glorify or eroticize what in any normal situation would be considered emotional and physical abuse.

 

What do people who actually understand/participate in BDSM think of the movie? They find it offensive rather than boring, because it promotes abuse, but some still applaud the movie for opening readers/viewers up to the ideas. (The recent rape/murder sort of explodes that view, IMO.) The most in-depth discussion--probably this article from The Atlantic, "Consent Isn't Enough: The Troubling Sex of Fifty Shades," by Emma Green:

 

People usually don’t pick up romance novels because they’re itching to read multiple pages of mature, sophisticated dialogue about feelings of vulnerability and personal boundaries. But if BDSM is going to be the new standard for hot—which Fifty Shades is helping it become—then that’s just the hard truth: Bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadism are “varsity-level” sex activities, as the sex columnist Dan Savage might say, and they require a great deal of self-knowledge, communication skill, and education. Fifty Shades eroticizes sexual violence, but without any of the emotional maturity and communication required to make it safe.

 

Perhaps worth noting--some of the same concerns about unequal power balance, stalking, emotional abuse issues, have been raised by some readers of the Twilight books, though others argue that Bella knows what she wants (Edward) and she is willing to do whatever it takes to get him, including becoming a vampire.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BethR, did you see my reply to Justin, where I commented on the reviews he linked to *and* drew a connection to the criticisms that were being pointed at Twilight a few years ago? Also, it doesn't look like Emma Green actually saw the movie at all, unless there is some brief reference to her seeing it that I missed when I skimmed the article. (The article was published three days before the movie came out.)

 

NBooth and MLeary, thanks for all those thoughts. Still mulling them over.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BethR -  To be honest, I got caught up in the conversation here, amongst life in general, and never made it to Justin's links.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Haven't seen the movie or read the book-- and won't be shelling out cash for either one anytime soon. But having dated a fair bit over the past four and a half years, I will add this anecdote and try and keep it tame: an awful lot of single, 30 and 40- something women out there derive tremendous pleasure from degrees of pain, physical restraint and/or the act of being dominated. And by domination this can be more than just rape /forceful stranger fantasies (as mentioned in the Psychology Today article, linked earlier), but also include a lot of things apparently addressed in the book, like invasion of personal privacy, intrusion into routines, and even degrees of emotional control etc) My impression is that a LOT of women "totally get" this, even if they don't actively participate in any form of BDSM with their husbands or SO's, which may be the biggest reason why the book sold 100 million copies.

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's revealing, Greg. Hope you don't mind a follow-up: Do you date mainly/exclusively other Christian women? I'm wondering what the religious/secular breakdown might be among such preferences.

 

I realize your response will be strictly anecdotal. I figure I might be surprised no matter what the answer is.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BethR, did you see my reply to Justin, where I commented on the reviews he linked to *and* drew a connection to the criticisms that were being pointed at Twilight a few years ago?

 

Sorry, Peter. I went back and found those comments. I missed them the first time because they were kind of buried within a longer post that also responded to a few other people--no fault of yours.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's revealing, Greg. Hope you don't mind a follow-up: Do you date mainly/exclusively other Christian women? I'm wondering what the religious/secular breakdown might be among such preferences.

 

I realize your response will be strictly anecdotal. I figure I might be surprised no matter what the answer is.

I haven't dated exclusively Christian women. However, the two most glaring and dare I say dedicated enthusiasts of this proclivity i've encountered were both Christians who were raised in the Church and attended private Christian schools growing up. For the record, I don't think this means anything at all. Those who find excitement in exploring the pain/pleasure lines just seem to just be hard- wired so.

 

And again, purely anecdotal, but if I've dated 20 women, I would say a good 3/4 of them have admitted to a) liking some form of pain in sexual encounters, no matter how light, i.e. pulling hair, spanking, slapping etc and/or b.) enjoying the idea of total male domination and control (as "play" within a safe relationship-- and that is the key distinction. This includes being told what to do, or not to do and degrees of physical force)

 

What was so off-putting initially about this experience, was that in every instance it came from sources that were very strong, independent and what i would label ANTI-"male-dominated patriarchal society" female personalities. So yeah, it seemingly crosses all feminist, political and religious lines.To be blunt, I am actually surprised now if I meet a woman and she doesn't admit or hint to liking some variation of this, no matter how light. 

Edited by Greg P

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FWIW, I would like to point out, for the record, that we've discussed issues of consent and domination in the threads on Gone Girl and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (remake and original)--all movies that are actually goodish, though not so madly poplar as Fifty Shades

 

Going back to the Atlantic article BethR posted, I agree that it's probably the best examination I've seen of the tangled mass of issues brought into the Fifty Shades phenomenon. It gets the genre issues, the interplay of fantasy and desire, and even the problems associated with a simplistic language of consent:

 

For people in the BDSM community, consent is the ironclad starting point—but that’s not the end goal of their sexual activities. Because it’s a community that people choose, one with strong norms and mores, it can embrace a set of sexual values, like exploration, play, and experimentation.
 
But for most everyone else—the average Fifty Shades reader and moviegoer included—this isn’t the case. On college campuses and elsewhere, not everyone fully understands and embraces the importance of consent—or gets the basics of sex. And even when people have a sophisticated understanding of sex, American culture offers little to model healthy sexual encounters beyond the threshold of consent. Because the U.S. is such a pluralistic place, with so many conflicting viewpoints about how people should live their lives, American culture inevitably sends lots of mixed messages about what having a good sex life actually means—or looks like.
 
Whether or not the author had seen the movie at the time the article was posted, it seems like she's got a nuanced grasp on the issues involved, though I do still wonder how much of the popularity of the books wasn't simply because of its notoriety (i.e. people buying because they've heard that other people are buying--but not reading. Wasn't there a similar question regarding The Da Vinci Code?)
Edited by NBooth
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A.O. Scott: Unexpected Lessons From ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

 

The “Fifty Shades” phenomenon has inspired a widespread loosening of inhibitions. Long before the film opened on Feb. 13, E. L. James’s trilogy of novels about the romance between a naïve college student named Anastasia Steele and a handsome billionaire named Christian Grey was a topic of discussion in book clubs, online forums, and (a bit later) among opinion writers and literary critics. The global popularity of the books — 100 million copies is the number most frequently bandied around — has seemed to open a window into an often hidden zone of the collective psyche, adding a voyeuristic thrill to the dreary work of deadline-driven cultural analysis.
 
And also providing an irresistible opportunity to moralize on the subject of women’s sexuality. There were objections to the way Christian and Anastasia’s affair seemed to blur the line between consensual B.D.S.M. and abuse, and debates about whether the popularity of the books represented an advance for feminism, the durability of traditional gender roles, the terminal decadence of Western civilization or a boon for the sex-toy industry.
 
[snip]
 
The courtship of Christian and Anastasia is many things, not all of them palatable or plausible. But it works rather nicely as an allegory of the relationship between criticism and fandom, archetypal impulses that coexist within each of us but that are embodied by the two lovers.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A.O. Scott wrote:

: . . . the romance between a naïve college student named Anastasia Steele and a handsome billionaire named Christian Grey . . .

 

See, when you put it like *that*, I have a hard time imagining why anyone takes this whole thing so seriously.

 

: The courtship of Christian and Anastasia is many things, not all of them palatable or plausible. But it works rather nicely as an allegory of the relationship between criticism and fandom, archetypal impulses that coexist within each of us but that are embodied by the two lovers.

 

Ha! Oh, interesting. And he's absolutely right about critic vs fan responses to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

The DVD and/or Blu-Ray release will have an "alternate ending". Which could mean nothing more than a change to the final word in the script. (The author and the director fought over this *big* time, apparently.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

EL James' Husband Writing 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Sequel (Exclusive)

EL James, the author of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, has enlisted her husband to write the script for the sequel, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

Niall Leonard, who is married and has two sons with the British author, is an author himself, in addition to being a screenwriter. He’s written for the British TV shows Air Force One Is Down and Wire in the Blood, among others. He’s also the author of the Crusher book series. He also worked on the script for the first Fifty Shades but was not credited.

"Niall is an outstanding writer in his own right, with multiple established credits, and we are lucky to have him join Team Fifty," says producer Michael De Luca in a statement to THR. . . .

There have been rumors circling that James wanted to write the screenplay herself. But having her husband work on it may be a happy compromise since he has screenwriting experience that James lacks. . . .

Hollywood Reporter, April 22

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...

I must admit, I laughed.
 

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

Hugh Dancy is joining the Fifty Shades franchise as a psychiatrist.

So Will Graham is going to be giving psychiatric advice to Paul Spector. That's going to end well. If Gillian Anderson gets involved we'll have the Hannibal/The Fall crossover that we never knew we wanted (because we never wanted it).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...