Now that Valentine’s weekend is over, it seems as most people have taken time to go to the movies and watch Fifty Shades of Grey. I was one of those eager people who could’t wait for the weekend, so on Thursday night I could semi-proudly say that I had watched it. I had read the series twice, once in 2012, and once at the end of last year to refresh my memory. While I finished the series alarmingly fast both times, the second time got me thinking a bit more about why this book became a best seller.
If we think about it, Christian has a rather abusive behavior towards Anastasia (you don’t actually have to think to realize this). She never knows which mood he will be in, and he takes joy in hurting her, which he calls for “pleasure”. Throughout the books (especially the first one), the reader is constantly dealing with Anastasia’s insecurities, which can sometimes be relatable, while most of the time annoying. This may even represent the personality of (mostly) women who let themselves get abused. There is a love story intertwined somewhere in there, and that might be what captivated half the women of the Western world. As my roommate so eloquently put it; women prefer Fifty Shades over porn because it ends in (spoiler alert) marriage. And also, though Anastasia has to deal with Christian’s explosive behavior, he gives her security in many ways. And let’s face it – yes we are all for equality, but who doesn’t want to spend their life with someone who can take care of you and themselves (that goes both ways).
One thing that the series has gotten a lot of criticism about is the misrepresentation of the BDSM culture. What many people haven’t realized is the fact that Anastasia makes Christian change his ways. He gets involved emotionally, in a way that he hasn’t before, which might also be the thing making him severely unstable. I wouldn’t ever support or defend someone who enjoys hurting women who look like their mother, but I think that people should understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction. This is not a story about the BDSM environment in Seattle. It’s about a highly disturbed man who falls in love with a fragile, inexperienced and insecure woman. Though research is severely important, so is being critical and understanding the type of material one is reading or watching. Don’t believe everything you read. Especially if you read this book on the internet.
So what about the movie?
Though I had my doubts about how this movie would be executed, I was impressed. Do I believe this movie will ever end up on a top 100 list of best movies of all time? No. Do I think that the actors played the painful characters in a much more lively way than the book? Absolutely! I was expecting a form of porn (which we kind of got), and the two main characters just showering, taking a bath, and occasionally having Christian force Anastasia to eat. The movie ended up being so much more than that. I did have my doubts about Jamie Dornan and his incredibly adorable beard-free face, and throughout the movie I couldn’t keep a straight face. He knows how to play dark characters, and this was no exception. However, his little smile that kept creeping out while he was supposed to be a dominant softened the edges of the character. Dakota Johnson was the person who surprised me the most. I was not expecting Anastasia to be as funny and free as Dakota played her. Rather than being constantly insecure and intimidated, she was laid back and curious.
In my opinion, I have now read a series where I prefer the movie over the books. I can’t help but to be excited about the next movies. Fuck the paperwork and start shooting.