The worldwide phenomenon of “Fifty Shades of Grey” has been stirring up some pretty sensitive topics of debate, mainly that of domestic violence. Critics and viewers are claiming that the movie is condoning the controlling and dominant types of sexual acts performed by lead character, Christian Grey. The “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, has been in theaters for over a month now, allowing plenty of time for more and more viewers to see it and offer their two cents. From a first glance it may be intimidating to some viewers to visually see EL James’s story on the big screen which could provide a shock value and cause a turn-off to some people, especially more conservative viewers. Perhaps the reason behind so many viewers’ concerns is because Ana and Christian do not have a traditional relationship. However, when the specific details of the book and the movie are broken down, it is clear that neither forms of the story promote any sort of domestic violence. The most prominent reason? Consent. Not to mention that behind all of the explicit content, there is also an underlying romance blossoming between Ana and Christian. Even leading actress, Dakota Johnson (Ana), has released a statement responding to the claims that the movie promotes domestic violence in a recent interview with journalist Kjersti Flaa. She reminds us that first of all, it is just a movie. She also stresses the fact that both characters agree to everything they do.
A Sneak Preview of a “Binding” Agreement
Throughout a decent chunk of the movie Ana spends time contemplating whether or not she agrees to Christian’s offer of a dominant vs. submissive relationship. There is not a single moment where Christian forces Ana into surrendering to any of the proposed sexual acts. Christian first introduces the idea to Ana through an exclusivity agreement for her to sign stating she cannot discuss anything that happens between them with any other person. When she questions why this is so, he takes her for a tour of his infamous “red room” to give her a preview of what she is getting herself into. Christian discusses the terms of the proposed relationship including the different toys as well as sleeping arrangements. He explains to Ana multiple times that she may leave at any moment if she is uncomfortable. Yet, Ana stays with Christian. It isn’t until Christian drives Ana home that he gives her a written contract. Christian stresses to Ana that she read the contract carefully and dissect each section so that she can come forward with any objections or revisions. They then have a business meeting to discuss the revisions Ana requests which Christian agrees to. Though Ana does not sig the contract yet, she still agrees to continue seeing Christian while continuing her own sexual exploration out of curiosity. Christian may have rougher sexual tendencies than the normal guy, but he is respectful enough to only conduct these acts with Ana’s written consent.
Fifty Shades of Christian
Christian’s character is in question when viewers believe he is abusive towards Ana, both mentally and physically. Some may argue that he uses his charm and success as a facade and a ploy to seduce Ana. We agree, he is exceedingly charming, extremely handsome, and grossly wealthy. However, the tables are turned when we see that Ana is slowly breaking down Christian’s walls, all fifty shades of them. Ana admits to have fallen in love with Christian, but he too is falling in love with Ana. Deep down there is a softer side to him that only Ana can reach. He admits he does not sleep in the same bed with other women, yet he breaks this rule with Ana a few times. He also stresses that he does not “do romance”, yet he agrees to take Ana on a weekly date as a revision to the contract. Christian may come off as an assertive debonaire, but we see right through him.
Is it fair to criticize “Fifty Shades of Grey” so harshly when movies like “The Wolf of Wall Street” blatantly exploit chauvinistic sexual encounters? Why single out Mr. Grey? Possibly because the book trilogy became such a phenomenon with women so quickly which caused a much-anticipated big screen release, immediately putting it under a magnifying glass. Still, Mr. Grey is not an abusive dominant by any means. This big ol’ softie is just as much under Ana’s spell as she is captivated by him.