February 16, 2015*Disclaimer – The following is the opinion of Passionate Playground Founder and CEO, Deborah Semer only, and does not represent anyone else’s opinion or views associated with Passionate Playground. She does not claim to be a great writer or a professional movie reviewer, however, it’s not too bad and you should read it.
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY MOVIE REVIEW
The legendary music producer Phil Ramone said, “You can’t polish a turd.” Meaning a poorly written song was still going to be a poorly written song, even after he put his studio magic on it. That’s what I thought, at times while watching, Sam Taylor-Johnson, the female director of Fifty Shades of Grey movie must have been thinking. Listen to her here on NPR: http://www.npr.org/2015/02/12/385726801/fifty-shades-director-explores-passion-performance-and-control
Life is too short to drink bad wine or read bad writing. (The author of this blog is excused of course) I have had the trilogy sitting on my bookshelf for a year and never once opened them until now, AFTER I watched the movie. I had to know if the script (which was painfully bad at times) was following the book. But also to see, was it really that funny?! Fifty Shades of Grey is also a comedy! I was sad to see the film reviews on February 12. They are awful reviews, which really put a damper on my excitement to see the film on Friday the 13th. But haters gonna hate. Overall I recommend you go see it for a few reasons. Why am I excited to see Fifty Shades of Grey, if I have not read the books?
- Culturally it’s a watershed event. Part of the overall sexual revolution 4.0, for prudish Americans in particular.
- Sexual Kink/BDSM is part of this revolution and now less taboo to speak about. Healthy sex starts with communication and discussion. And that is exciting! *This movie does NOT represent BDSM/KINK in a realistic positive way, which I get into later in the review. BUT it does start a conversation.
- As a manufacturer of sexual wellness products in the adult retail industry, the books and movie are Santa for our Super bowl of sex – Valentines Day – it’s Sexmas really, bringing toys to all the ‘naughty and nice’ men and women. The economic boost maybe unparalleled.
- I haven’t watched ‘porn’ in a movie theatre since I went to the Lusty Lady in downtown Seattle in the 90’s. It’s a fun and ‘wild’ and weird thing to do.
What struck me at first was the movie theatre. I bought tickets a few weeks ago in case it sold out – 7:00 PM at the Pacific Place in Downtown Seattle. The energy was palpable because it was 98% young women jostling in line to get their tickets and then queue to get a good seat. I have not queued in line to see a movie for ages. Girls are loud and I am one of them. This was as fun as when I saw Eddie Murphy’s “RAW” in South Tacoma.
The previews were a great warm up. They were all comedies and hilarious. We were rolling by the time Fifty Shades started. Within the first few minutes we were laughing. I had no idea Fifty Shades was a comedy. It really is and I think it is on purpose. Dakota Johnson does a fantastic acting job. She is believable as a sexually innocent virgin. But she’s not dumb, and she plays a lightly sarcastic funny smart-assish Pacific Northwestern. She should guest star on Portlandia. I think Pacific Northwesterners have a lot in common with the British, so I like her right away and the writing became more interesting to me. As I pick up the book to reference this blog post, I realize it is written like a young woman’s journal. Ana’s thoughts are critical of each moment and funny as she points things out to the reader and herself. Like when she meets Grey… “If this guy is over thirty, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.” (Do people still say monkey’s uncle?) Take a step back for a moment. You must understand the art world’s audience-performance convention called “The temporary suspension of disbelief” coined in 1817 by poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In order to enjoy any movie that is a fiction or fantasy you agree that what I’m seeing is not real, but for a short time, I allow myself to believe it. When a movie breaks that agreement, like through bad acting, or a bad dialogue moment, then we become angry and disappointed, for a moment. Then the movie will hopefully bring us back in the next. If there are too many of these broken moments, then we hate the movie and call it terrible. The fact that Ana has no idea who this billionaire guy is and that she’s a sexual virgin are what drive this fantasy. I had to buy in to those conventions. Dakota made it easy and enjoyable to watch her. She has a potential career in romantic comedies, like Jennifer Anniston or Emma Stone. Mr. Grey played by Jamie Dornan on the other hand is what ruins the movie for me. He’s awful. His acting made me cringe most of the way through. I found myself groaning and yelling about how bad he was. BUT I don’t know how much was Dornan the actor or his character. And here’s possibly where the poorly written script smacks me in the face too many times. This movie will make you uncomfortable for several reasons besides his acting and the dialogue. It’s the topics and the presentation. Fifty Shades is in your face -lots of nipple - pornographic. It’s about fucking, “hard fucking” as Mr. Grey puts it. The movie (again, it’s only because I haven’t read the book) is about an abused guy getting his way sexually with an innocent sweet virgin. This abused ‘billionaire’ guy is clearly fucked up mentally. They make that very clear the entire way through and that is why he likes being a top and only BDSM/Kink/D/s sex. He repeats “It’s how I am.” Like he’s a monster. He was also a “submissive” for six years to an older woman, his mother’s friend “Mrs. Robinson” …so supposedly that makes him qualified to be a Top/Dom. The movie doesn’t get into it too much, which irritated me. So all I know is this guy is fucked up mentally, and getting off Doming a female who doesn’t know anything about what she is getting into. So he “gently” educates her at first with light restraint and teasing. For “Vanillas” These are the HOT parts – For “Kinksters” you might groan. Especially during the 1st flogging, that was super weak. To help with Ana-the-virgin’s BDSM education Mr. Grey buys her a laptop to do research on “submissive.” The virgin does her homework before agreeing to participating and “becoming his” (like you should do for any potentially dangerous activity your partner wants you to try). But when she takes too long to give him an answer, he pressures her into it. This is A BIG FAIL. Real Kinksters will hate this in particular about the movie. Mr. Grey says he is a willing participant in BDSM with an older woman at an early age and that he was also physically abused by his birth family (thus the cigarette burns) and then how it warps him as a grown man to having this sexual taste, making him incapable of “the relationship thing”. This too is a distorted and unhealthy view of Kink/BDSM/D/s. These are heavy topics to address. I am not an expert on people who are sexually and physically abused as children. But we all know someone who is. This is reality. This is truth. 1 in 3 women will be sexually abused during their lifetime. How many men are? About 10% of all sexual assault, sexual abuse and rape in the US are male. This number is probably higher as men do not report as often. The ultimate taboo topic – another discussion point for another post. With those statistics, of course there are people participate in KINK that do come from abuse, but the stats show that is the minority not that majority. I recently heard Tom Stewart, Founder and CEO of Sportsheets® on a panel discussion about the Movie and trying out kinky play for the sexually curious. He said, that he has seen this happen over 200 times in his product demos. Women will try everything he says, so they volunteer to get strapped down in the Sportsheets and then the guy takes a paddle and delivers one good hard crack and that’s it. Too much and the fun is over. Guys are idiots (I believe I’m quoting him correctly.) Pay attention here – You can hurt people, physically and psychologically if you do not do your homework and education before you begin exploring BDSM/Kink. The other topics the movie addreses negotiating sex in a relationship (in one of the funniest scenes in the movie). But all relationships need to do this. There are a great many education and learning opportunities here for everyone; especially for those in my industry, for community leaders and for people in relationships to actively and openly explore sexuality in a healthy way. I made it through to the ending of the movie and was glad I did. The audience collective groan was awesome in one of the biggest movie cliffhangers ever! Yes I will see the next Fifty Shades movie for sure and no I won’t read the book until after it, so I don’t ruin the surprise. This movie is about man who was a victim of abuse as a child and who has never known love, wasn’t loved and a woman who cracks open his heart to feel love, through her innocence. She stands up for herself and says no, that is not the way I want to have a relationship with you. Kink is not for everyone and that’s OK. “Straight vanilla” is not for everyone either and that’s OK. These are types of sexual practices and relationship rules for those who go to the extreme. But LOVE IS for everyone. Your Kinky sexual practice should come from a place of respect and love for your fellow human partner.
Stay passionate and PLAY SAFE PEOPLE.
Joyboxx & Playtray
If you have any questions regarding your sexual exploration, here are sources that we feel are qualified: https://ncsfreedom.org/key-programs/consent-counts/consent-counts/item/579-best-practices.html Read a much better written review here: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/consent-isnt-enough-in-fifty-shades-of-grey/385267/