Fifty Shades of Grey is a frustrating film franchise for me, personally, because in my mind it’s emblematic of a much larger issue. For a moment, put aside the controversies that come along with Fifty Shades of Grey, issues that I’m sure you’re familiar with if you know anything about the franchise. From rampant sexism to domestic abuse, the novel and the film franchise have generated millions of dollars on the backs of young adults, piggy-backing off the Twilight fandom that is entering sexual maturity whose whole sexual experience is watching that car scene from Titanic and the middle-aged moms who forget what an orgasm feels like. Every time one of those movies comes out, every time I see a “new twist” on the romance genre, a new “take” on the traditional romance. I think to myself, how many good stories got passed on so that you could masturbate in a movie theatre with a cucumber? So many deserving and eloquent novelists with passion and heart got passed on for this nonsense.
Fifty Shades of Grey made a huge mockery of literature, which is already a struggling medium. It was written by a woman named E.L. James who couldn’t have cared less what kind of quality she was putting out. She got lucky when a literary agent without a heart and eyes made of dollar signs picked it up and figured they’d make some easy money. For those who don’t know, Fifty Shades was originally Twilight fan-fiction. It wasn’t even an original idea. It was built off an empire that she didn’t even make. You can say that E.L. James never meant for her novel to get published, but she was certainly perfectly happy to buckle down and make money off of it. She was happy to put something out there that was problematic, abusive, sexist, and harmful. So long as she was profiting off it. E.L. James may have a published a book, but she is not an author. She took an idea that wasn’t her own, changed it a little, and sold it as something else. If you don’t see the difference you can respectfully check yourself because I can go ahead and dye my t shirt a different colour, cut the sleeves off, and sell it for twenty dollars, but I wouldn’t dare call myself a tailor.
What genuinely hurts my heart is all the authors who tried so hard to give people like me a good quality product, something that they were proud of and that they believed in with hearts and minds, to go to when they didn’t feel safe, or wanted to escape, or wanted to feel something and they got overlooked so a woman who wrote her nonsense fanfiction on her blackberry could have her fifteen minutes. This woman has the audacity to call herself an accomplished novelist, despite of the neglect for her readers and her content. If a consumer put out a product of bad quality and cheap production you would be justifiably angry if for some reason, people were lining up to pay for that, instead of the better and more superior product that gets discontinued. Of course, it’s not an anomaly. It’s emblematic of a much larger issue. The issue of quality being surpassed for marketability. You should be mad about this, even if you aren’t apart of a group that is constantly fighting for an on-screen voice. Why not ask for a better romance movie, a better female comedy, a better film? Why should you pick up the scraps that they throw at you from the bottom of the creative barrel when those people who throw money at things like Fifty Shades of Grey answer to you?
They predicted you would be stupid enough to show up and you were, congratulations. I honestly want to know – was Fifty Shades of Grey worth it? Because the thing is, as much as I would like to, I can’t blame E.L. James entirely for Fifty Shades of Grey. Nobody blames the toddler for crashing the car, they blame the adult who put them behind the wheel. I also can’t really blame the agents and the producers who put it together. The market was there, and it makes sense. They correctly estimated exactly how many of you know don’t know how to load a porn tab, because let’s be honest, it’s not like you saw this film for the quality dialogue. The people I can blame for the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon are the people who showed up in droves to support it. This is where, unfortunately, that issue we put aside at the beginning comes back in play. Because if you went and paid for that film, sat there, and supported it enough to spill out three sequels, you also supported this:
“Why I Don’t Want My Daughters to See ‘Fifty Shades'”-an interview with the star of the Franchise Jamie Dornan (CNN)
“Mohammad Hossain arrested after he beat, whipped and sexually assaulted woman, inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey” (Washington Post)
“Fifty Shades Darker Isn’t Empowering, It’s Abuse” (The Huffington Post)
“Oxford student who threatened to rape teenager claimed it was Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired ‘joke’ (The Telegraph)
“Fifty Shades of Grey readers show higher levels of sexism, study finds” (The Guaridan)
“Fifty Shades of Grey-Inspired Master Jeweller Steven Whipped me like a dog: But love is cleared of assault in bondage session.” (Daily Mail)
“Portland Tech CEO faces sexual assault investigation…likened relationship to couple from Fifty Shades of Grey.” (Daily Mail UK)
“Unnamed Woman Arrested For Masturbating During Fifty Shades of Grey” (The Huffington Post)
“Three Women Arrested After Man is Attacked During Fifty Shades of Grey Screening” (BBC News Scotland)
“Lines from Fifty Shades of Grey Depict Rape By Legal Definition.” (Alabama Local)
“Kentucky Governor Likens Trumps Sexual Assault Boasts to Fifty Shades of Grey” (The Huffington Post)
“How Fifty Shades Darker Ads Triggered Memories of My Sexual Assault” (Verily Lifestyle)
“Ex-Detectives sadomasochistic attack of terrified Mum He Met On Dating App Inspired By Fifty Shades of Grey Sources Say” (Daily Mail UK)
“Sixteen Year Old Declan Goodby Attempted to Rape Teen Girl, Inspired By Fifty Shades Film” (York Press UK)
“50 Shades of Grey: Not Sage, Sane, or Consensual” (Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault)
“Why is “Fifty Shades Freed” Glamorizing Sexual Violence” (Express UK)
“Fifty Shades of Grey Is Abuse”- National Centre on Sexual Exploitation (National Centre on Sexua Exploitation)
“Erotic Novel 50 Shades of Grey Used as Defence in Taranaki Rape Trial” (Stuff Network National News)
I hope it was worth it.