Shades of Darkness

So… Fifty Shades Darker has been out for a while.

It’s mostly done well at the box office, in spite of its obvious deficiencies. I have not seen it, and I’ve no plans to, as it’s part of the Fifty Shades trilogy. I dislike the series so much.

The big problem I have with the Fifty Shades movies is that they are, by design, fundamentally dishonest in their representation of the books. (Believe it or not, I have experienced the books by way of the Mark Reads series on YouTube. I couldn’t actually bring myself to read them.) The trilogy, if it has any redeeming features, celebrates female arousal, and female pleasure… and the trilogy also glorifies abuse.

See, there are stunningly few movies that treat female sexual pleasure the same as male sexual pleasure. If you have any doubt about that, then I recommend you watch This Film is Not Yet Rated, a documentary on the voluntary, arbitrary ratings system that largely controls the output of Hollywood. The net effect of this is that female pleasure is simply secondary to male pleasure; it appears less on screen, it is systematically erased or glossed over, and including it is almost guaranteed to raise a film’s rating unfavorably. It promotes the concept that female pleasure is somehow more obscene than male pleasure.

The Fifty Shades trilogy was ostensibly written for the female gaze, and it’s very much about female pleasure and female kink, more or less. The movies had a real opportunity to be groundbreaking in that respect, and I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide whether the first two have succeeded. But the crime, in my eyes, is that regardless of their success or failure the movies are still tied into the narrative of the books, and thus tied to a narrative that explicitly elevates abusive, manipulative behavior and presents it as a bastardization of ‘true love’.

This is the crux of my dislike for the movies in particular. They are movies that should pander to the female gaze, to female expressions of pleasure–and there are so very few such movies because of Hollywood prudishness–but they are a perverted and distorted view of healthy sexual relationships and healthy kink and fetish play. For many women, the first time they will see their sexual selves highlighted on the big screen will be in a movie that tells them that abuse is love.

That will never sit right with me, and it should not sit right with you either.

//shay

Romantic movies

Have I ever talked about movies? I do love some movies quite a lot, especially romantic comedies. I find my love of romance isn’t really properly satisfied lately, however, mostly because I enjoy light-hearted stories and the trend is towards too much drama for my taste.

What I really love are silly 80’s romantic comedies. They’re the direct descendants of the so-called ‘screwball’ comedies of the early 20th century; they’re absurd without being cruel or unduly inflicting embarrassment humor on the audience. They’re usually very funny, witty snapshots of human life, of people doing very human things.

I think one of my favorites is You’ve Got Mail.

If you’ll excuse the very, very dated internet graphics, it’s such a delightful story all on its own. It embodies a concept that fascinates me – that of two people who know each other’s inner selves, and know nothing of the mask they wear on the outside. They connect truly and completely without ever knowing the trivial details of each other’s life. I love movies that play with ideas of identity and being.

I think I’ll watch it again sometime soon.

//shay

I still hate Fifty Shades

I’m being besieged by trailers for Fifty Shades Darker, now that it’s out in the theaters where I live.

My opinion on the series itself notwithstanding, even if I had never heard of it before, I wouldn’t be willing to go see it. The acting is mediocre at best.

I’m really not sure what people are expecting here. The Fifty Shades series is, by and large, a threadbare excuse to write innumerable pseudo-BDSM sex scenes. It has no depth, no class, and no easy way to add any; it’s a walking talking porn (almost) without plot. And on this horrible not-plot, the film has to hang a love story that might be believable to aliens who have only had actual romance described to them using sock puppets.

Christian Gray is still an abusive waste of humanity. Anastasia Steele is still insipid and forgettable. I don’t need to go to it to know that there will be no satisfying sex scenes, thus rendering the entire experience pointless.

Any movie with 10% on Rotten Tomatoes is almost guaranteed to be a waste of time and money.

//shay

Fifty Shades Darker

I can’t believe they’re making the second one, yet here we are.

My opinion of the Fifty Shades trilogy has not improved. I still loathe it deeply, and console myself that I might be a complete unknown, but at least I don’t write like a hormonal teenager with a concussion. I have no tolerance for the twisting horror that is Christian Gray’s treatment of Ana, nor of her utter vapidness.

It’s a trilogy about a sociopath and the woman he abuses, where the woman in question is a worthless non-entity. Based as it is on Twilight, this is not surprising.

You remember I said that E.L. James next book would be a flop? Well, I did not bet on her writing a version of Fifty Shades from Christian’s perspective. Of course that waste of words would sell well.

I can but hope that the Fifty Shades Darker movie will be as ridiculous as the first. I still hope for a flop, but it seems that a third movie is inevitable at this point.

//shay