Fade to Grey
So: I went and saw Fifty Shades of Grey at the theater.
Before you get your hackles up, I would like to say that I tried reading the books, but I gave up after one chapter because I couldn't stomach Ana's immaturity. This movie didn't give me the desire to pick up the books, either, so please don't try to persuade me otherwise.
I watched the movie with three friends who have read the book, and for a while I thought that I was going to be the only person with complaints -- but after the movie was finished, we all agreed that the whole thing was just awkward to watch. Everything felt so staged, and all of the actors were going around like they were reading lines from the script. And there was no chemistry at all between the leads, which was even more painful to watch because we could see that they were trying so, so hard.
What really annoyed me was that everything came out so overwrought and emo that it was hard to take seriously. Sure, I thought there were a few scenes that were well-done (I actually liked their "first time") but I felt like the characters were all in pain, and not in an erotic way. We're told that Ana and Christian have Strong Feelings for each other, and yet we never feel it because it doesn't look like the actors derive any pleasure from their roles. There are so many times that I looked up at the screen and swore that I could read the actors' minds in every scene: "I have to whip her? She's supposed to like it? If you say so, then."
Which leads us to the point that annoyed me the most about this movie. Okay, apart from the use of Beyonce's "Crazy in Love," because that schiz ain't sexy.
See, I don't really know much about BDSM outside of the books that I've actually finished (Cherise Sinclair's Club Shadowlands and Delphine Dryden's The Science of Temptation series in particular) but even I could tell that what I was seeing wasn't true to the "lifestyle." Even if the whipping and flogging scenes were well-staged (which they weren't) I would still take issue with the way the D/s relationship was presented here. Christian Grey isn't so much a Dom as he is a control freak; he wants what he wants, and he just lucked out that he found someone so weak and virginal to play with in his Red Room of Gadgets. It also doesn't help that my friends told me that he's more of a bully in the books, which further killed my desire to read them. (I mean, what kind of guy gets mad when he finds out that he's with a virgin? Dude, I don't care if her V-card is beyond your control. MAN UP.) The point is, if you're a Dom, it is your responsibility to make sure to take care of your sub. When things get too much between the two of you, it's your responsibility to hold her and talk to her and respect her limits. You don't ask her to sign a non-disclosure agreement that gives you control over everything she does, especially when you know that she has the power to stop everything with a safeword. You don't have to fall in love, but you do have to act out of love.
That's what I didn't see on screen. There was no love.
"But Stella," you might say, "isn't that the point? Christian Grey is incapable of love!" Yeah, but again: control freak. If he was a real Dom, he should own it. Same with Ana; if she finds herself getting off on being whipped, she should own it. None of this high-falutin' "love-of-a-good-woman" nonsense (sorry, but I'm not a fan of that trope), because love doesn't have to hurt unless you want it to -- and if you're unsure, or if you're all, "I'm not the man for you/please don't leave me" about it, then you're just making an ass of yourself and you probably don't deserve to live Happily Ever After.
Nothing romantic about that.
And now that I've gotten all of that out of the way, I think I'm going to go back and work on the edits for my next book...