50 Shades Darker: A Feminist Perspective
I went toe-to-toe with Chris Mancini re: “50 Shades” on the CFN podcast yesterday. I disagreed here and there, but held back as I had yet to see this film specifically. Though I felt I could speak to it generally since I’d seen the first movie, read the books, and enjoy a healthy sexual appetite. What?
Now I’m back, having seen the movie and am here to hand Chris is film-loving ass. My position: I STAUNCHLY DEFEND THIS MOVIE.
First of all, it’s not that bad, you guys. Chris complained about the storytelling itself. I argue that it follows the classic Homerian structure of “The Odyssey.” Only our Anastasia isn’t facing trials while journeying home after the fall of Troy, she’s facing emotional obstacles while venturing into a relationship with Christian Grey. With every step closer to Ana, Christian reveals an intimacy block with which Ana has to reckon. Boom! Yeah, I said it.
By the way, there may be spoilers in this review, but I posit that it’s impossible to spoil this film.
I heard the argument that, “There are only 2 types of men in this movie – predators and your gay photographer friend with an art opening.” Well, head’s up, Jose isn’t gay. He liked Ana and professed his feelings just as she met Christian in the first film, so know your origin story. Secondly, lots of men are predators. Third, this isn’t a story about “all the different kinds of guys you find in the world.” It’s about one specific, single relationship. Also, the point of showing a male predator is to clearly define what Christian isn’t—he gets off on inflicting pain, even in someone he cares about. That’s a fun personality quirk of his, a touch of sadism. But Christian only engages with fully-willing participants, unlike the rapey predator who gets off on imposing himself without regard to consent. I can’t speak for all women, but between the two, I say, “Hello, sadist who requires permission.”
Also, and this is my real point. It’s not made with guys in mind. And I think some guys, even woke guys, even cool guys, even best friend would-die-for-this-guy guys find it hard to wrap their heads around this. But only because 9.8/10 movies are made for men and have always been made for men and they’re used to their perspectives being addressed & unused to that not being the case.
And that’s also why it’s not a “great film,” per se. A small percentage of mainstream films show a woman’s perspective. And “sexy movie” is an even smaller percent. There have been many “women friendship” movies, and over time, they got good. And eventually we got “Beaches” and “Steel Magnolias.” Even though in both of those, someone gets cancer and dies which isn’t the greatest message. But still, they were great films.
How many lady-sexy-movies do we get? Almost none. We got “Sex in the City,” but the television series was better than the film, and it’s wasn’t just for the sex it was also about friendship, and at least none got cancer and died, so overall, fine I’ll take it.
But when we get a full-on, “Hey ladies, go see this movie and feel sexy!” film, like “Magic Mike,” and “50 Shades,” ooh-wee, people can’t wait to say how terrible they are. Okay, well, the take away is: MAKE MORE SEXY MOVIES FOR LADIES SO WE’LL EVENTUALLY GET A GREAT ONE!
My final point is that “50 Shades” has a great, positive message. What? Yes, positive
On the surface, “50 Shades” is just another “Cinderella” or “Snow White” story where a Prince Charming (who spanks, granted) comes to rescue a woman. By the way, if you don’t like these stories, blame Walt Disney, not E. L. James. Remember “Grease?” At ten years-old I watched it and learned that if you want to get the guy, no problem, just completely change who you are. And take up smoking. Great (not great).
In “50 Shades,” Ana gets the guy who no one can get, by remaining true to herself. And that’s a positive message for every woman. (BDSM optional)
Also, it’s so fun, Marcia Gay Hardin fully slaps Kim Basinger!
Go, see! Enjoy, spank!