Dear Film Goers and Readers Everywhere,
February 13, 2015 will mark an important moment in American cinema, one which is a deplorable moment for our country and our world. In 1939, Gone with the Wind used the first swear word in a film, when Rhett Butler stuck it to Scarlett O’Hara, saying a well-deserved though sad “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” While some might say that opened a door to the onslaught of immorality in films, I maintain that there’s a difference between that one word and the 554 times The Wolf of Wall Street f-bombed the world. But back to the point, there’s something that’s even worse happening on Valentine’s Day this year.
Opening in theaters that day is 50 Shades of Grey, an erotic, pornographic film that has a disturbing story line accompanied by overt sexual exploitation. And no. It’s not okay.
What’s additionally frustrating is that the people who are speaking against this, which was mostly done back in July when the film’s trailer debuted, are often labeled as “Christian” women, as if somehow being Christian invalidates their opinions; heaven forbid. I suppose only “Christian” women would be against such a book or movie; at least that’s what the label implies if not openly states. Well, as a feminist, Christian or not (which if you know me, you know which), I am wholeheartedly appalled that our country is diving to such frightening insensitivity.
Two years ago, I asked a 16 year old student to stop reading that particular book in my classroom because “erotica is not a school appropriate genre” (I wanted to say that it wasn’t life appropriate if you want a long-lasting fulfilled life, but decided that would be going too far; and I better watch out! I’m probably about to be accused of censorship!)
Fast-forward two years to yesterday, when two 17 year old female students asked me excitedly, “are you going to go see 50 Shades of Grey?!” I assume they were disappointed with my resounding “no.” Well, today was the last straw, when my YouTube advertisements accosted me; I had had it. Marketers are talented, don’t get me wrong. When The Theory of Everything took over all my ads, I definitely wanted to see the film more than ever, but I am angry that for the next two weeks, whenever I access YouTube, which I use frequently for movie clips for my Film Studies class, I will have to sit through the mini-trailer of 50 Shades of Crap before I can access my teaching materials. That world, is not my choice.
I expect better of our country and of our people here and throughout the world. Since when is pornography not labeled correctly? Since when is it considered merely a “drama” and “romance” IMDB.com? Since when do we condone it publicly as well as privately? Pornography has gone from strip clubs to Playboy Magazine to Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition to Cosmopolitan’s sex advice articles to trashy fiction novels to HBO specials to online access. Where does it end? I guess it doesn’t anymore.
Women–though I realize not everyone is against pornography, I would hope that you aren’t pleased that your significant others are accessing it (if they are)? And I hope you aren’t either, whether visually or in book form. I can’t think of an addiction that destroys self-esteem, confidence, meaningful sex, and all relationships more. Not that I’m undermining other addictions or downplaying them, but for my personal understanding of marital happiness, centered on mutual respect, trust, and fidelity, pornography has no place. And that is all 50 Shades of Crap is: sheer pornography exacerbated by sadism and dominance. It makes me sick.
People have complained about the Twilight series praising a weak female in an abusive relationship. Well let the sirens loose because apparently the pornographic version (50 Shades) is about to take in tons of money at the Box Office. And at what cost? Human dignity?
Men are worth so much more. Women, we are worth so much more. Marriage is worth so much more. We have a divine destiny and heritage, and yes, God wants us to be happy. That’s not to say that we can’t enjoy intimate relationships in our marriage, but that these relationships should build us up and increase our self-concept of worth and happiness. They should empower us not break us down.
We buy the products and that’s why they keep being offered and pushed farther. We watch the Carls Junior commercials, we buy the magazines, we click the ads, and we pay for the movie tickets; that’s what fuels the blockbuster business. They give us what we’ve shown we want to see. From a business standpoint, that makes sense, but make no mistake: they are buying us, and we are paying them: willingly.
Condemn the football players. Condemn fraternities parties gone wrong, but praise dominance and submission in films like this one. That makes total sense. (I want to clarify that I in no means agree with rape or domestic violence in any way, just in case you didn’t catch the sarcasm). Why would we claim sexual violence and dominance in a film as acceptable and desirable? It’s not.
In case my frustrations weren’t convincing enough, here are some other voices to add to mine; I think they speak for themselves.
- Internet Movie Database (IMDB): “Plot Keywords: bdsm, perversion, bondage, sex scene, sexual awakening”
- Internet Movie Database (IMDB): “Parents Guide: Rated R for strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity, and for language.”
- Goodreads Book Review: ” Introducing an even more abusive and disturbing TWILIGHT! Now with whips and chains!”
- Wikipedia: “It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM).”
- The Matt Walsh Blog: “If you are a feminist, I can’t possibly understand how a disturbing fantasy about a wealthy man physically dominating a woman could ever be considered acceptable in your circle.”
My only consolation is that some people have recognized this film for what it is: filth. On Goodreads, a Facebook for booknerds, the top comments bash 50 Shades, and I love it. My husband is disheartened and disgusted by the degradation of the nation as well. And I am hoping that maybe just some men and women with self-respect and concern for where it would go from here, might think twice before investing in this sad Valentine’s Day event. While we all are free to choose, I hope some people will choose to pull back their support and money from this film and others like it. Until we stop paying for crap, it’s only going to get worse.
Sincerely, Sarah (& Parker)
P.S. Please comment and share if you agree with this sentiment. Maybe a few of us can at least increase the resistance out there in the hopes that someone needs to hear it and that film companies can at least be called out on it.