Let me start this off by confessing that I never read any of E.L. James’ books. After watching the movie, I can promise you that I never will. It’s totally unfair to judge a book by the movie, but this is a rare exception.
On a whim, I went to see this thing with a friend who actually read the book. When the credits started rolling, I sat in stunned disbelief and asked if the plot and the characters were fleshed out more in the book. She shook her said and told me, “nope that movie pretty much captured it all.” The next day I asked my massage therapist, who also read the book, if I’m missing out on anything. She likened the writing quality to the prose in Green Eggs and Ham. So yeah, I will not be revisiting Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s s torrid love affair ever again—in books or subsequent movies. The embarrassment of sitting through this raunchfest in a packed theater was torture enough.
It’s not that I’m a total square with old fashioned values about sex. Hey, if you like booty clamps and whips go knock yourself out. One of my biggest gripes is the violence. Yeah yeah yeah, I know, it’s part of the BSD&M game, but I couldn’t help screaming in my head, “boys don’t hit girls!” I just wanted to smack that creepy bastard when he kept walloping a semi-compliant woman with a belt. That’s right, a belt. In a perfect world, there would be no belt spanking. But sadly this is a favorite pastime for parents, animal abusers, and apparently horny bastards with mommy issues.
Another major problem is the lack of character development. They made Anastasia out to be this bookish English lit major with brains and class, but that all spiraled down the drain the moment she became entranced by the venerable Christian Grey. Other than the fact that he’s a rich, powerful playboy with a killer six-pack, what’s the appeal? Love, security, long walks on the beach? Nope. He doesn’t do any of that, which he repeats over and over again to this poor, daft girl who’s so hung up on taming the dragon. There were so many points when she should’ve been running for the hills, but yet she kept bending over and taking it—literally.
And then there’s the “contract.” Per Christian’s many ridiculous demands, she must relinquish her freedom and become his “submissive.” If she signs on the dotted line, he’ll continue to shower her with laptops, flashy cars, and jet-setting trips around the world. He even sweetens the deal by relieving her of a huge burden: her brain. You see, with a master and commander you don’t need to think for yourself anymore. He gets to call all the shots and even control her drinking and eating habits. Boy what a relief it would be to chuck your brain in the dumpster and let some rich bastard be in the driver’s seat. Gee, where do I sign?
Needless to say, I lost all respect for Anastasia and even started to resent her for allowing this creep to take over her life. If she got tipsy at a party, he’d be there in a heartbeat ready to whisk her away from “danger” in his flashy car. He also rescued her from drinking one too many cosmos at brunch with her mom (a minor infraction that warranted a swift flogging). When she should’ve been filing a restraining order, she let him take her away on another whirly plane ride. Such fun!
They tried to make Christian a sympathetic character by showing him stooped over a piano playing a melancholy love song. At this point, I could care less about all the many layers to this onion. And to be perfectly honest, I’m even more ambivalent about Anastasia’s decision to sign his ridiculous contract. From where I’m standing, she’s just another brainless piece of arm candy that can be easily bought with money and power.
Moral of the story: Just because something is widely popular with the masses that doesn’t mean it’s worth your time. Listen to the crap on the radio and you’ll see what I mean.