If You Think "Fifty Shades Darker" is a Love Story, You're Either Horribly Deceived or Just Delusional
I initially hesitated when deciding whether or not to even write this, seeing as how the entire Fifty Shades book and film empire exists solely to make money and, unfortunately, the more we talk about it, the more promotion and free advertising it garners. At this point though, it’s probably pretty pointless to even worry about that, especially considering that it raked in over $46 million on opening weekend alone. I’m fairly certain we all knew that it would be another box office smash just like its predecessor, despite the outpouring of harsh analysis and judgements from film critics and everyday moviegoers. One user on IMDB even said: “It’s not just the nonexistent plot and hammy acting that let this film down, although they were major factors. The chemistry between the two leads was like watching two planks of wood getting together…I’ve seen some absolutely dire films, but I can honestly say this is the worst film I’ve ever seen.”
I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to decide which is actually more pathetic: 1) All of the husbands and boyfriends across America who are perfectly fine with letting their wives and girlfriends line up to see a pornographic film about a psychologically sadistic, sociopathic billionaire who sexually abuses a young girl suffering from co-depency issues or 2) all of the women who believe this repulsive franchise is actually a legitimate love story worthy of their time, attention and money. Of course, some of the browbeaten men in the first category will undoubtedly be drug to this movie against their will (or maybe they just enjoy bondage porn and don’t mind enduring the crummy acting in exchange for some cheap nudity), while many of the ladies in the second category will see it under the faulty belief that they’re somehow better than men who stay up late at night watching naked women on their computers. Either way, the very notion that a room full of grown adults would intentionally sit together in silence through two hours of sexually obscene material occasionally interrupted by moments of horrible acting, and then just walk out of the theatre as if nothing happened, is not only abhorrent, but nearly incomprehensible and just plain silly.
Anyway, seeing as how Valentine’s Day is upon us, I’d mostly like to address all the naive folks in that second category. You know, the ones who seem to be under the impression that seeing “Fifty Shades Darker” is not only morally acceptable and excusable, but that the film (and the book on which it’s based) is somehow representative of a wonderful love story. Obviously, it goes without saying that the vast majority of these readers/viewers are women and, just like they did in 2015, they’re once again sprinting to the nearest theater to find out how Chrisitian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) will develop their so-called “relationship” in this so-called “romance” in this so-called “love story.”
It might surprise you (or perhaps it might not, since I’m known to be such an opinionated jerk) to learn that I wrote a piece on the release of the first film back in February of 2015. And in doing so, I gave a full disclosure upfront that I’ll repeat again here: I’ve never read the Fifty Shades books, I didn’t see the first film and have no plans to see this one. Anything that started out as “Twilight” fan fiction just doesn’t have the potential to appeal to me. But, more importantly than that, I have enough self-respect and a halfway decent taste in movies to avoid seeing this steaming pile of cinematic fecal matter.
What I have done is spend countless hours researching the books, read various excerpts (yes, even the uncensored ones), commentary, summaries and dozens of lengthy film reviews spanning multiple points of view from multiple sources. And after doing so, besides feeling that my IQ dropped by about 30 points, I’ve discovered what I already knew to be true: “Fifty Shades Darker” is not a love story (in fact, it’s not even a decent film by Hollywood standards) and Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele would actually be much better off if they had never met in the first place. That’s because this flick, just like the one before it, glamorizes abusive behavior and reduces romantic relationships to nothing more than empty erotic pleasures, lust and self-gratifying sex. The entire thing revolves around two people who are so incapable of effectively communicating with one another (Christian even refuses to discuss his past with Anastasia in this sequel) that they just resort to having sex instead — as if that will somehow solve all of their problems. Of course, that’s not how relationships work in a little place that I like to call “reality.”
Speaking of reality, it’s worth mentioning that plenty of dysfunctional relationships actually do exist out here in Real World U.S.A. and a movie like this just winds up serving as an apologetic for things like domestic abuse. In the film, Ana is completely complicit in the hyper-sexual and violent aspects of her relationship with Christian, even though he’s dramatically overstepping his bounds by doing extremely irrational and deranged things like forcing her to wear certain clothes and hairstyles and even having her followed and photographed in public so that he can keep track of her whereabouts.
And this is a “love story?” Please, ladies. Please tell me you know better than this. Please tell me that you’re smarter than this. Tell me that you value your brain, your character and your dignity a little more than this.
It’s insane, really, but unfortunately it’s what I’ve come to expect of Hollywood these days — an industry that continuously vomits out some of the most inane, mind-numbing, soul-demolishing dribble ever mass produced anywhere on the face of the Earth and then expects us all to come galloping to their Trough of Depravity like a herd of mindless cattle eager to lap up the putrid excrement. And sadly, many of us are only too happy to oblige.
Ultimately, “Fifty Shades Darker” is a movie that tries to cast sexually-dominant, over-controlling and abusive behavior as sexy and appealing. And worse, it tries to market itself as a legitimate, romantic love story, even going so far as to release on Valentine’s Day weekend, as if to say, “Hey, America, check this out! Here’s what love really looks like.” But, the truth is that real, genuine, fulfilling, lasting love is always self-sacrificing and constantly seeks the good of the other person. It doesn’t resort to intimidation and obsessive control and it never acts out of violent jealousy or sadistic anger.
I feel like that should all be pretty obvious, but in a world where a book as fantastically stupid and poorly-written as Fifty Shades of Grey can become an international bestseller and then lead to two (pending three) blockbuster films, I suppose it’s not as apparent as I’d like it to be. It's why I feel the need to say something rather than ignore it.
If you’re not one of the millions of people who’ve already seen the film, you still have a chance to hold yourself to a higher standard. You don’t have to follow the crowd. You don’t have to fall victim to Hollywood’s ridiculous deception tactics and stupid marketing gimmicks. You can resist. And I hope that you will. After all, there's still "The Lego Batman Movie."