I had no intention of addressing Fifty Shades of Grey , which was released in theaters in mid-February. The critics’ reviews seem generally poor. Much of the viewer reaction to the film (and the book) has to do with the thematic elements. While I have opinions about this enough has been said already on the matter. But as with Gone Girl the production of the film poses an issue which is different from themes presented, and distinguishes it from the book on which it is based. As noted in the earlier post, in order to practice and act out the scene the actors are crossing boundaries in ways that might be not characteristic of healthy, adult relationships.
So here we go again.
That the participants are aware of these boundaries on some level can show up in interview comments, such as what follows, from the March 2015 issue of Glamour Magazine*. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson had this to say:
“We left anything that was emotionally difficult or of a sexual nature until the last few weeks of filming. By that point we had time to get to know each other, to build that trust, which was important to be able to go into the next realm. Those days on set were calm, but you could definitely feel tension.”
If all of this is fine, why is there tension? It might be possible to attribute the tension to the uncomfortable thematic elements, but it seems to me the roots of the tension are shown in the following quote by actress Dakota Johnson:
“…if I can be an advocate for women to do what they want with their bodies and not be ashamed of what they want, then I’m all for that. My mom came up for a day [during filming]. She’s proud of me. But I don’t want my family to see [the movie], because it’s inappropriate. Or my brothers’ friends, who I grew up with. I think they’d be like, Blegh [mimics vomiting]. Also there’s part of me that’s like, I don’t want anyone to see this movie. Just kidding.”
So how is seeing this movie inappropriate for her family but somehow appropriate for a few million anonymous movie viewers?
The question I would like to pose for anyone considering watching this movie is this: do you personally know normal, psychologically healthy, people who could act in the production of simulated sex scenes, such as in Fifty Shades?
And if you think you do, let’s try flipping Dakota Johnson’s interview response around. Think about your sister, wife, mother, or daughter in the roles. If thinking about them in this way bothers you, that’s a good thing. It means you still have some healthy boundaries left.
*The interview is previewed here but is available in its entirety in Glamour 598, March 2015, pp 233-234