Fifty Shades of Grey: Critic Verdicts…Who Cares?

Screen shot of Grey and Steele from Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey  continues to spark a bit of controversy as various critics (but not this one) have given their learned verdict about the film, but really…Who cares? Certainly not the housewives who helped to make the book by middle-aged author E L James a runaway bestseller. Her target audience aren’t looking for Shakespeare between the sheets here – or is that between the whipping posts – they are looking for fantasy.

A dreamy escape from normalcy and the ever present pressures of trying to fit into the demanding world of modern feminism. These millions of fans have taken off their freedom and hung it temporarily in the closet while they enjoy the mastery of a self centered sadomasochist. It doesn’t hurt that the male protagonist is unbelievably wealthy, and powerful, with the added bonus of being drop dead gorgeous to the female audience.

Christian Grey was going to be Charlie Hunnam from Sons of Anarchy. He changed his mind quickly after being cast and backed out citing contract obligations with the hit television show he stars in. While fans of the book worked themselves into a frenzy over who would replace Charlie, the daughter of Melanie Griffiths and Don Johnson, Dakota Johnson, was named as the actress who would show all as Anastasia Steele.

I personally have not gone to see the film.  While still on the list for new screeners there is an issue of transportation as Phoenix is over 90 minutes away and I have no vehicle, but even if travel was not an issue, I would not be rushing to see it.

I am not a prude, after hearing about the bloody books, (James – who started out writing fan fiction about Twilight – wrote another two sequels to the original sex fantasy for the middle-aged and middle-married heterosexual female fans) an E-book of the first tale was downloaded and read.

While not being a housewife (Or feminist who fantasizes about it?) who yearns to be dominated by a man, I found Fifty Shades of Grey to be entertaining to a degree. James has a deft touch writing about the sex scenes while bludgeoning the reader with a female “heroine” who strains belief. Are there really college upper-grads who can manage to be that naive?  But, in reality,  are there any fans who care that her naivety is as real as ersatz eggs?

I doubt it.

Today’s world reeks of sexuality and sensuality. Children are being sexualized at an alarming rate and the art of coitus is being practiced by teens who are barely past puberty. James has proven that, while she may never equal the great authors, she knows what sells.

One cannot go on the Internet without discovering that in today’s world sex apparently equals pain of some sort. Sorry chaps, but despite what you’ve been told by those who want to salve your ego, size does matter. The bigger the better and all the more to hurt you with my dear.

Oh and if I can slap you around a bit and degrade you in the process that is the harsh icing on that bitter cake. Granted in the books, Anastasia is a somewhat reluctant but willing victim. Eventually liking the act of being submissive (while maintaining that ridiculous naivety throughout) and actually not managing to emotionally age by the end of the first book.

However…

As I’ve said, reading the book provoked responses from me that were surprising. It is erotica, no doubt about that and, while not the finest, it causes the blood to rush and one can only imagine that the female fans must be ready to attack the first bloke they run into after reading a few chapters, or seeing a few reels…

Which may be the main reason I  not to watch the film version after learning that Hollywood was going to rake in the money from the author’s fans. An entire cinema full Fifty Shades of Grey fans who sit in their seats squirming with excitement and imaginations running overtime is a frightening prospect.

*I mean, seriously? Have you seen how women act around male strippers?*

Critics of the male variety must have been mad to attend a non press preview, which I am sure existed, who cares what the rest of the world thinks. Women who are fans will go regardless of what some educated reviewer thinks.

So forgive me if I pass, the bloody book wasn’t that erotic or well written. Even if, like the old Heineken advertisements used to say, it “hits the parts that others can’t reach” for the female audience.

12 February 2015

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Author: Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, journalist. Cinephile who reviews films, television, books and interviews professionals in the industry. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

2 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Grey: Critic Verdicts…Who Cares?”

  1. I have the books, but haven’t read them. I expect I’ll skip the movie too. A poor woman’s “story of O?” Regardless … I have too many other things ahead of this on my “to be seen and read” queue.

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