So, for those of you who have been living under a rock, you may not be aware that Fifty Shades of Grey has hit the theatres and that the take up of this hugely anticipated fil-um is already on track to break records.
Now I’m going to fess up and say that I have read the trilogy a number of times and thoroughly enjoyed it. Did I think it was it literary brilliance? No. Far, far from it. But if you take it for what it is – an indulgent fantasy read – then it’s a pretty low expectation to exceed isn’t it?
And now, as the reviews start to trickle in, it would appear that everyone with an opinion is proffering it up. It’s clear that many of the reviewers have come out with claws swinging and minds filled with preconceived perceptions (in some cases formed without having read the books) that have lampooned the movie before it even started. Although some of them have been a little more positive, the consensus seems to be that Jamie Dornan’s efforts resemble a dead fish, Dakota Johnson’s portrayal probably saved the film, there’s no where near as many sex scenes in the movie as the book, that the writing of the movie script is much better than EJ James’ original. Oh, and that it’s little more than gratuitous soft porn.
The interwebs have lit up with reviews and responses and I find myself wondering what the big deal is. So many people have been passionately espousing their views (good and bad) about all facets of the film. Given it’s a free world, I guess they’re entitled to their opinion, however it’s the comments questioning why anyone would waste their time in seeing it that I find somewhat offensive.
So what? When did enjoying a fantasy, escape or a bit of me-time become something to be derided and scorned upon, and on such a mass and public scale? Is it because the story has sex in it? Is it because women (and I’m sure some men) are flocking to the theatres in their thousands to see how it’s been translated onto the silver screen? Given that over 100 million people have bought the book, it’s not rocket science to figure out why the movie studios have adapted the story to a movie, is it now?
Back in the dawn of the new millennium (aka the year 2000), I went to the movies and saw Battlefield Earth featuring John Travolta with my then boyfriend. I thought it was the BIGGEST (and by biggest I mean fricken enormous) pile of crap I had ever seen. As the closing credits began, I jumped out of my seat and hightailed it out of there, espousing my very loud and unimpressed opinion as I went. When I didn’t get a response straight away, I turned back around saw my BF still in his seat watching the names roll down the screen. As I went back to drag him out, he turned to me and told me how much he loved the film and how good the special effects were and how cool John Travolta’s make up and hair was. Now, needless to say, we didn’t stay together much longer after that (turns out his taste in movies was the least of his problems) but it did make me stop for a second and take pause.
Who was it for me to rain on the parade of his enjoyment?
Now I still think that Battlefield Earth is up there with one of the worst movies I’ve ever watched (although Van Helsing gives it a run for its money), but if someone else gets some genuine enjoyment out of it is it really necessary for us to be so vocal about our negative views of it?
So what if people end up enjoying what is probably a technically average movie when they go to see Fifty Shades? I have no doubt people will walk out of the cinema loving it! Gushing about it even. Remember, the Sex and the City movies (particularly number 2) proved that studios don’t have to make films that are of Academy Award winning quality. After all, if the audience love it, aren’t the studios making money? And apparently the first Sex and the City movie broke all the box office taking records in Australia proving that people (and yes again, probably mostly women) just want to escape. They want to get away from their troubles or the mundane in their lives and look forward to the thrill of peering into a world that they probably will never know or getting swept up in a journey they will probably never have.
I read the Fifty Shades books during my first pregnancy (long after the initial hype), mainly because I wasn’t sleeping particularly well and needed something new to read. As an avid romance reader, I must confess that I didn’t really find them as shocking and confronting as all the hoo-haa buzz that surrounded it would suggest (I can give you the names of some authors who write some graphic ménage à trios romances if you want to read something a little more shocking), but knowing that it wasn’t a brilliantly written book didn’t faze me at all. I enjoyed it for what it was and moved on.
At the end of the day, despite the quality of the writing, Fifty Shades has actually given people a reason to pick up a book. The fact that it was a trilogy meant that people who wouldn’t ordinarily read one book were actually reading at least three and even more once the genre exploded. It was heartening to see some of the social commentators this morning at least acknowledge that fact.
So I for one will be heading along to see the movie this coming weekend and I will sit back with my choc top, switch my mind off, and take it all in. After all, at the end of the day, I get to sit and ogle this for two hours:
Will you be going to see 50 Shades of Grey? What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?