Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why I'm Going to See "50 Shades of Grey"

This post contains graphic descriptions.

Okay, this is the one that's going to get me in trouble; but frankly, I have come to the point where I don't care. A little over a week ago, the first trailer for the movie based on the best selling fiction book of all time debuted and the internet exploded. For those wanting clarification: this blog post is directed at those who are condemning the movie already (even though they haven't seen it) because they think the book is trashy (though they haven't read it). To all you haters: please, shut your cyber faces.

Let me please clarify my point: film has always pushed the boundary between pornography and "art". If you have any doubt about this, just look around you. In the last year alone, "Blue is the Warmest Color" won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival (one of the highest honors you can receive in film). This movie, more so than even "50 Shades", was controversial from its genesis. Then take a look at this year's "NYMPH( )MANIAC" by Lars von Trier, which tried its very, very best to be so outrageously controversial and unfortunately (or fortunately) failed so hard. I think the best film that toed the line between smut and art is "In the Realm of the Senses" which is still banned in its home country of Japan. The film is shocking with what it shows, including food inserted into human crevices and then eaten and menstrual blood being swallowed. Yes, we see all that; and you people are complaining about this movie? "In the Realm of the Senses" is still considered a "great" movie and lands a place in The Criterion Collection...this movie is considered to be great art by almost every credible critic and gets its own place in 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

So "50 Shades of Grey" is not going to show us anything we haven't seen before. What about "A Clockwork Orange" in which we see a girl gang raped and another woman bludgeoned to death with a phallic statue? In perspective, "50 Shades of Grey" is going to be a kid's movie. Obviously, I exaggerate, but my point remains the same.

What people are actually choking on (pun intended) is the S&M. Because of the risky, or risque, nature of the sex that people will be having during the movie, it must be a sin, right? For those Christian readers who think that sex should not be portrayed on film, just read Song of Solomon (I must pause here and state before you burn me at the stake—I am purposefully not addressing the religious problems of the movie, i.e. the couple isn't married, it could be derogatory to women, the view on sex altogether etc. etc.). Anyways, it's because the book was so candid about sex that the average viewer might blush at the prospect of watching the words come to life.

But the book was so poorly written! Really, that's the argument you're going with? If the book was so badly written then it shouldn't have connected with so many people. The same logic goes for Twilight. But what if all of humanity is stupid and can't tell when good literature is good? Okay, fine, welcome to the world of the snob...enjoy the hate mail. Consider the success of the trash film "Avatar". People hate it because it's popular, but it's the biggest movie of all time. People hate "50 Shades of Grey" because they feel it compromises some social rigor; yet, you can't argue with success. I say again: you can't argue with success. What constitutes if a movie is good or bad? Surely, it's popular reception should be part of that (if not all of it) and if that's the case, the fans are already speaking in advance. The movie is good. Haters gonna hate.

Books and movies of questionable aesthetic value have been huge commercial hits. Does that make them horrible too? Not in my mind.

If you have a problem with this, don't watch the movie. If it makes you cross a line within yourself that you're not comfortable with, don't do, that was easy! Instead of complaining about the movie being made, why don't you just skip the theater that day? There will be no kids watching this movie (at least, that's not the target audience) so make up your own mind.

As for me, these are the reasons that I'm going to watch the movie:

1. Have you seen the trailer?
A pumped up, R&B/pop remake of "Crazy in Love" and the unveiling of Christian Grey? A moody run in the rain and a trip in an airplane? Yes please, I will be watching this. Not only is the trailer sexy, steamy, and as chill-inducing as the trailer for "Gone Girl"; but the film also looks sleekly manufactured and blissfully constructed.

2. The romance and danger to the impressionable minds.
Certainly, "50 Shades of Grey" doesn't hold within it the most conventional romance; yet neither does Jane Eyre. Obviously Rochester never strapped Jane down to the bed and whipped her; but if the romance is the problem you have with it—if you limit yourself to emotionally realistic romances, you'll never be able to watch a chick-flic again. But I repeat again, make up your own minds, don't tell me why I can't watch the movie, or why that makes me evil.

3. It won't be NC-17
Do you really think that a movie that will be this big is going to push the ratings system? NO! Of course not! Why on earth would you think that? Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with movies pushing the boundaries...but really? Really? This movie is going to be R and if I'm wrong, I'll freely admit it here; but I doubt it. Place your bets now.

4. The inner-workings of the film.
This is the biggest reason I'm interested here. Instead of pulling in huge names (Emma Watson publicly called the book "trash") the movie hired two relatively unknown actors. Dakota Johnson has had supporting roles but never anything like this and Jamie Dornan is even less well-known than her. What a ballsy and totally awesome move! Even better is to hand the movie to an indie director, Sam Taylor-Johnson. She has no credible mainstream hits to her name, but her critical acclaim is high, though she only has one feature film to her resume. Handing such a huge movie to such small figures is so amazing! Well done to all the producers...well done.

5. The anti-feminism feminism.
To those who say that the book and movie brings women backward: the book, screenplay, and direction of the movie are all done by women...which is an anomaly in the film industry, even in today's world. Do I think the book is flattering to all people? No, but it never claimed to be an equal rights book. "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a much more offensive work with its horrid profanity and frankly shocking objectification...that was a smut film, I'm not so sure about this. To put this in perspective, Paola Sorrentino (Oscar winner for "The Great Beauty") called the movie "a masterpiece" and the best film of 2013; and it raked in an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and four other statues. It currently holds a 8.3 rating on and has #119 on the top 250 films ever made...this is at the time of me writing this. I really think that "50 Shades" won't be setting any sex or profanity records.

So all-in-all, it comes down to you. If you don't want to watch the movie, don't; but please hold your judgement on those who do want to see it simply because you don't like the story it tells.

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