Fifty Shades Of…Ick.  A Review.

Once upon a time, I was curious about something.  Something bad.  Something I wasn’t supposed to be curious about.

Yes indeed this was a dark corner of myself.  It was a side of me I should repress in polite society, as a relatively young white male with a reputation for sheer physical toughness and stoic masculine grit.

It was the burning desire to watch the film Twilight, to see what the fuss was about.

The Twilight kids.

The Twilight kids.

Yes, I did it.  I watched Twilight.  I’m not proud about it, or am I?  It’s hard to tell.  It’s just people tend go on and on about a thing, and for a while, it seems to be the only thing on people’s minds.

One particular song, or series, or movie.  It’s ‘this-that’, and ‘this-this’ for a tremendous number of our hive brains, which all link together in unison and decide: this month we will all be obsessed with Harry Potter.  The next week, Star Wars.  This week, a particular song or artist, and next week, Game Of Thrones (ok sometimes people obsess over something that’s actually quite good, I’ll admit).

And so humanity goes.  In cycles and waves of collective popular appreciativity.  It’s been like that forever of course, and so it will remain, though I often feel it’s to the detriment of independent works.  But whatevers.

At that particular time, everything was Twilight.  Whether it was good seemed a moot point after a while, so I buckled down and downloaded the movie (illegally, of course).  Let’s see what this is really all about.

Ok so it was bland.  There was a weird, almost depressing haze hanging over the movie.  It was dimly lit and everything was soft focus, with a female lead that seemed to only ever stare blankly into the distance, even when talking to someone.

Robert Pattinson was an attractive young actor, sure.  But there’s a lot of good looking actors on this earth.  That doesn’t say too much about a film or series.

It was only when he started sparkling that things really took off.  He’s like, look I know you like me, yet I’m a vampire. That wouldn’t be bad, but look now look…yes, I sparkle.  I muthafucking sparkle when the sun gets on me.

Sparkle sparkle.

Sparkle sparkle.

He looked so depressed about it too.  Like, I can deal with being a bloodsucking vampire that’s lived hundreds of years, but every time I sparkle…a little bit of me dies.  I know how incredibly stupid I look.

From there the movie was a little bit entertaining, I must admit.  The characters rounded things up by playing a game of baseball, and that was that.  Twilight, done.

Although it was a little bit shitty and I couldn’t quite understand it’s popularity, I sort of half got it.  Fast forward to today.

Fifty Shades Of Grey.  Apparently a really shitty book about a dominant-submissive sexual relationship, took off in the circles of bored female readers, of which there are apparently very, very many.  It surely shared many of the characteristics that popularised Twilight.

Anastasia and Christian

Anastasia and Christian

The dense, bland female protagonist, looking to be lead around by an archetypically mysterious, fantastically handsome man with a secret.

After years of hearing about the fucking thing, I bit the bullet once more, and downloaded it.

Ten minutes in, the first thing that stood out was it seemed to be shrouded in the same gloom as Twilight, though not as quite as oppressively.

Again, we have an incredibly weird and downright creepy guy making the moves on a gormless female, justified by his dashing looks and sense of mystery, and this time, his great wealth.

The whole thing goes like this: she goes to interview him, the rich business guy, for a student newspaper.  He looks at her all predator-like, but it’s good for her cos he’s rich and mysterious n’ shit.  Then he basically stalks her, and buys all this stuff he secretly wants to use on her for bondage.

She is immediately taken by his amazing looks and success, and wants to jump in.  Then she starts resisting his advances and plays difficult to get, frustrating him.  Then she slowly allows him to go further and further and it all culminates in one incredibly repulsive moment.

This moment is not even supposed to be a really significant one in the narrative, and is almost grosser by it’s casual brevity.

He finally has her on his bed, ready to pull off the dirty deed, when she blurts out ‘I’m a virgin’.  He’s like, what…I am shocked!  Shocked and chagrined!

Now, any half redeemable chap would say, whoa, let’s maybe slow down and have a talk about this then.  Are you sure you want to go through with this?  Christian Grey on the other hand, kisses her then says it’s time for ‘rectifying this situation’, then proceeds to have sex with her.

From that point on, it was impossible for me to see him as anything other than just a slimeball.  Not fascinating, not mysterious.  Just…bluergh.

A handsome creep.

A handsome creep.

All the exposition about his sexual proclivities and quirks, the fact the audience is supposed to see him as mysterious and interesting, the fact that he plays ‘sad’ music on the piano…everything seemed moot to me from that point.

This scummy dude just unquestioningly had sex with a woman he barely knew after hearing she was a virgin.  What kind of person is he supposed to be to the reader/viewer?  What are we meant to be gaining from this?

Is all women want some rich handsome dude to come and devirginze them?  Is that was chivalry is meant to look like in this day and age?

By the last scene where where she practically begs him to abuse her so she can ‘understand’ him, with him speaking in his robotic voice, panting heavily and whipping her, while she all but cries…I was basically thinking, wtf is being achieved here?

To me this was fifty shades of feeling your skin crawl, basically.  If you took a rape fantasy and shaved off some of it’s edges so it was easily consumable, you’d get this.  She’s only one degree away from her being his sex slave, cowed into this activity through subtle emotional manipulation and abuse.

Oh wells, at least it has a somewhat happy ending I suppose, when she realises what a creep he is.  But I feel it was contradicted by the setup, which fails to show him to be anything other than an enigmatic playboy concealing some magical inner secret, rather than just being a rich creep used to getting his own way.

The ending felt like an afterthought in this respect.  Ok, so he’s a bad guy, cos he’s messed up and gets his jollies by turning women into slaves and whipping them.

He's a fine man.

He’s a fine man.

But no mention is ever made of his earlier decision to take her virginity within ten seconds of finding out about it, which to me was far more egregious, especially because the audience is never asked to question this particular decision.  It’s like, fair enough!  Boys will be boys!

By the end of this film I definitely found myself wishing they’d be walking down the street and then he’d start sparkling.  Oh shit!  My vampire sunscreen wore off!  Now you know what I actually am!  At least that would have the cheesy goof-factor that was the sole redeeming quality of Twilight.

Instead, it just felt like a very awkward, unconvincing experience.  Damn.  I never thought the badness of something would make me pine for the days of Twilight.  What have I become!??.

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