9½ Weeks (1985), Aggrandizement, Body Heat (1981), Bondage, E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey book (2011), Fifty Shades of Grey movie (2015), Movie Reviews, Power Trip, Relationships, Self-Glorification, Sex, Symbolism, Whiteness
So far this Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day weekend, Fifty Shades of Grey is making a killing at the box office, over $30 million on its official release on Friday alone. A movie with an estimated twenty-minutes’ worth of sex scenes, coming on the heels of the most successful self-published book in history? Take a bow, E.L. James, take a bow!
Oops, I didn’t mean to go there, Ms. James! Submitting to a bow would likely conform too much to one of the big themes of your book and movie. The idea that a college-educated millennial would play the role of submissive to a business magnate and engage in an unworkable romance, is, well, a theme straight out of Hollywood producer’s ass. Or, rather, a Hollywood porn producer’s average shoot!
Really, between the book, the movie and the reviews, it seems that Fifty Shades of Grey is really about affluent White folks all over the world attempting to be comfortable with what some would call “taboo sex” in the early twenty-first century. It’s like a whole generation of British Commonwealth and American Whites haven’t taken the time to see 9½ Weeks (1985) or Body Heat (1981), or at least, like to pretend that everything that is new is actually new when it’s not. At best, the book is like eating too much cotton candy at an amusement park while drink a fifth of vodka, getting on a roller coaster, and then vomiting on your five year-old (luckily, I didn’t spend money to read it). But really, Fifty Shades of Grey is a symbol of Whiteness played out in power fantasies, hardly sexual at all.
Most Americans (and many affluent Brits and Aussies as well) celebrate books and movies that aggrandize their ability to experience orgasms and overpower each other in relationships. It’s a reflection of a world without consequences, because everyone in James’ world is already on top, and need not fear falling into the real world. Where love, sex, struggle and self-discovery are about much more that belts and chains.