Fifty shades of MEH…or why I’ll be avoiding the film like the plague

So the internet is ablaze with talk of the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer. Yes, the long-awaited (not by me) celluloid version of the girlporn publishing phenomenon is almost here. And I’m already sick of seeing women sharing the trailer on my social timelines. Why? Because the whole thing, not to put too fine a point on it, is a crock of shit.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 18.03.55

 When the book first hit the shelves and the world and its (sex –starved) wife was banging on about it, I tried to get into it. Nobody wants to be shunned from the zeitgeist house party, right? I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

I bought it, read the first few chapters, and closed it in quiet horror.

Take away the fact that it’s terribly written, with dialogue less believable than one of my seven-year-old son’s comic strip creations. After all, it wouldn’t be the first and last book to claim that dubious honour. I could see past that.

What I object to most is the plot. Shy, virginal Anastasia agrees to enter the brooding, chiseled Christian Grey’s dark world of S&M (and become resident in his ‘Red Room of Pain’ – not a euphemism) in return for an iPad and a ride in his helicopter (again, not a….).

So why do I object to this?

Because there is a complete dearth of well-written erotic fiction written for women, and this plot basically reduces the female character to a simpering vacuum waiting to be filled with the sexual ‘education’ that the strong, rich, powerful man has to offer. I, and many of my friends, are just not interested in this type of lazy, unrealistic sexual dynamic. She basically becomes his sex slave (signing an absurd ‘agreement’) in return for some whizzy tech. I find it hard to understand how any woman can get off on that.

What is worrying is that I know a lot of teenage girls read this book, and what sort of template for sexual politics is this giving them? At the time when the book was ubiquitous, every time I saw a woman proudly devouring it on public transport, I had an overwhelming urge to wrench it our of their hands and replace it with a copy of The Memoirs of Catherine M. Anything but that TAT. Social etiquette prevented me of course.

I’m not a spoilsport, and I enjoy a risqué fantasy as much as the next person (disclaimer: this depends on who the next person is of course, but working on a law of averages here, bear with me). But I know I’m not alone in wanting my erotic fiction to come with a side order of strong women, confident in their own bodies and sexual desires. I don’t want to read about shy virgins who are transformed into steamy sex vixens at the mere whiff of a credit card swipe; women who can be bought new boundaries.

If the film is anywhere near as clumsily ‘crafted’ as the trilogy of books (and let’s face it, even in 3D, there’s not much you could do with those two dimensional characters) then here’s hoping it bombs.

If I had my way I’d go round doctoring all the film posters, armed with some Tipp-Ex and a marker pen.

Fifty Shades of NO WAY has a certain ring about it, no?

(Again, not a…)

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Hello. I’m Sara. This site is home to my writing for the Western Mail, a newspaper kind enough to publish my internal ramblechats. In 2022 I was named Wales Media Awards Columnist of The Year for this column. Madness. You’ll find me spaffing opinions on feminism, inequality, festivals, tech, art and whatever else pops into my head at 3am the day before deadline. There’s also bonus content, when the muse takes me (WHERE IS SHE TAKING ME? I DIDN’T ORDER THIS CAB! Etc…).

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