Fifty Shades of Vanilla.
A porn movie for chicks. Which means it’s not really porn, and barely even registers as erotic.
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is supposedly about a dominant-submissive relationship. But it’s what a dominant-submissive relationship looks like to someone who knows nothing about dominant-submissive relationships.
Mr. Grey (Jamie Dornan) is a young, good-looking billionaire (only a few bicep-curls away from being another MAN OF STEEL) who latches onto naif Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson, daughter of Don and Melanie Griffith, with that same insufferable Griffith non-acting style) when she interviews him nervously for a local paper.
She’s a virgin who wets herself at the sight of a billionaire, and he falls for her because she’s dumb, taking her under his wing, warning her that to go further with him would mean relinquishing her ego to his whims. And whips. She agrees, and they have vanilla bondage sex, whereupon she starts whining that she wants “normal” dates, like watching movies together and interrupting crucial moments to ask him about plot points, or sleeping together in the same bed and hogging the blankie.
FIFTY SHADES is an impotent updating of the 1954 French classic The Story Of O (by Pauline Réage), where a young girl enters willingly into a submissive role and is trained properly in the discipline, not in the half-hearted manner engaged in FIFTY SHADES, with emotions threatening us like chick-flicks waiting to pounce after every lash. This naive baby-fantasy is a beige version of Steven Shainberg’s 2002 B&D barnstormer SECRETARY, where a dominant truly pushes his submissive’s limits.
I have not read the book by E.L. James (a portly woman whom, we presume, is merely indulging her vanilla fat-chick fantasies, with marketers selling her wares as hardcore eroticism), and have absolutely no desire to, not after consuming the original Story Of O, and exposing myself to the truly perverse works of the master of pornographic literature, the Marquis de Sade (Justine, Juliette, and the like). Read any one passage from his 18th century catalogue, it will make James’s ignorance on fetishism look like SESAME STREET lashing Disney.
Female screenwriter Kelly Marcel and female director Sam Taylor-Johnson (wife of Quicksilver) are not helping, with their womanly sensibilities providing moaning and blindfolds and muted lighting in place of anything hardcore actually happening.
Mr. Grey is an ineffectual dominant (the technical term is “bitch”) and Anastasia is an inept submissive (technical term: girlfriend). Neither of them exhibit characteristics of what they think their roles are. Grey’s opening salvos are quite promising, as he sternly warns Ana, “I don’t make love. I fuck. Hard.” Good, a man being direct about his proclivities. He unveils a dungeon, outfitted almost as well as mine. Good, he’s a veteran of S&M. Then it moves into even more sensible territory, with Grey offering Ana a contract to be his submissive slave. Good. So that any disingenuous virgins won’t be inclined to scream rape during his roaring rogering gorging and puking…
Then he lets her walk all over him.
Firstly by renegotiating the contract. She tells him to delete anal fisting. He does. Wimp. Then she asks, “What’s a butt plug?” By her own admission, she Googled dominants and submissives. If she spent that much time researching the contract’s esoterica, why didn’t she Google “butt plug”? And shouldn’t she have some idea what it is by its very name?
We find out later, Ana never even signed the contract! These people spend more time arguing about the contract than performing anything in it. What kind of a dom are you, man?! The filmmakers like to think their characters are doms and subs, but these figments are simply average surburban twinks pretending perversity.
During Grey’s second vanilla excursion, this “dom” actually rips into a condom packet before taking Anastasia from behind. You’ve just lost every single dom in your potential audience, you pc women filmmakers! She’s a VIRGIN, and if he wanted to pursue this relationship “ethically” he could have had a blood test and waited three weeks before tearing into her raw, but no. Have to show that this supposedly “damaged” soul is “responsible” for the panting girlies in the audience who think this is how sex is done.
And why does Grey admit, “I’m fifty shades of fucked up”? He is no more or less damaged than she is, with her inculcation of what constitutes “normalcy” (going on dinner dates to get the juices flowing for fucking, rather than being hog-tied to elicit those juices). Why is his lifestyle painted as perverse, and Ana’s desire to be “regular people” painted as normal? Why does the movie adopt the stance that Ana leaves HIM because of HIS shortcomings? And why is the “sub” denoting the parameters of their relationship anyway?! How dare she accede to the conditions of the contract only to contradict them after every session?
And is it a bad coincidence that this lead male character has the same name as the lead male in the superior SECRETARY? That Mr. Gray also had his doubts on whether he was imbalanced, but arced to accepting his supposedly perverse nature as normal. Whereas this Mr. Grey chickens out, exactly like the virgin who runs from his Playroom in fear of offending church ladies. He is no better than a submissive to his own demons.
Ladies, enjoy this woman-empowering sassafras. A female lording it over a pussy Superman. So that’s how you think doms treat their kept women…
Just don’t visit my dungeon with that attitude or you’re in for a big surprise…