A guest blog post by: Dave Anderson, Director of Rescue at TheHopeLine.
There has been much anticipation around the recently released (February 14, 2015) movie entitled 50 Shades of Grey. Some say it is a love story, others refer to it as a couple's movie, while still others say it is simply another version of porn. What do we know about the movie? Well, we know it is based upon the book of the same name written by E. L. James. Additionally, we know the actors in the starring roles are Dakota Johnson and Jamie Doman. But what else do we know.
For starters, 50 Shades of Grey has its origin as Twilight Fan Fiction. Fan Fiction is exactly what it sounds like; fictional stories based upon characters or settings from an original source; in this case the Twilight series. The work is created by a fan, or fans of the original work, rather than the author, creator, or publisher of the original work. Fan fiction is rarely commissioned or authorized by the creator or publisher of the original work and as a result it is rarely professionally published. However, in our society of lust, porn, the degradation of women, and a complete lack of a working moral compass, 50 Shades of Grey has found success. It has been published and now has been released as a movie on the silver screen.
The book, and now the movie would classify as erotic romance. At one time, erotic romance novels were found in only certain areas of certain bookstores. But in the society in which we live today, and given the great success of this book, it is found out in the middle of the isle being advertised as a good read. Erotic romances, like 50 Shades of Grey, are known for explicit erotic scenes that feature bondage, sexual discipline, dominance, submission and/or sadism or masochism, all summarized as (BDSM). Thus, character development, cultural relevance, moral significance and redeeming quality is often lacking in these works.
Some may ask, What's the harm in a little bondage among couples? They're consenting adults. Besides, it's just entertainment.
Right? Well, not really. It's not really just entertainment. Several critics and scientists have expressed concern, not over the BDSM in the novel, but the characteristics of the abusive relationship that abound within it. A recent study found that nearly all of the interactions between the two main characters in the book and movie, Ana and Christian, were emotionally abusive in nature, including such things as stalking, intimidation (bullying) and isolation. The study found that Ana met the Center for Disease Control's standard for an abused woman and exhibited classic signs such as constantly perceiving a threat, stressful managing and altered identity. The study went on to find, within the book, pervasive sexual violence, according to the CDC's definition. An example of this is Christian getting Ana drunk to get around her ability to consent to certain activities. A second study found that when comparing women who read at least one of the books in the trilogy, versus women who did not read one of the books in the trilogy, that women who read the book showed signs of having an eating disorder, having emotionally abusive partners, taking part in stalking behaviors and binge drinking.
Finally, the study's lead researcher argues that the books romanticize dangerous behavior and perpetuate dangerous abuse standards. None of the behaviors exhibited by women who have read one of these books are healthy behaviors, and none of these are behaviors that anyone would want their mother, sister or daughter to exhibit. Nor, would anyone want their mother, sister or daughter to be involved, or should we say, entrapped within a relationship like the one being experienced by Ana. Thus, shouldn't we conclude that the movie could be just as damaging?
So, what have we learned? Well, we've learned that there is harm in a little bondage among couples regardless of whether or not they are consenting adults. And this type of movie, or book, is far from just entertainment. To put it in perspective, Colin Covert, a writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, writing in his column on February 13, 2015, a man who is quoted in his column as saying, I have no objection to films whose characters have gymnastic bedroom flings while firmly tied and controlled by others. Said of the film, Sadly, Fifty Shades of Grey doesn't entertainingly cross the line of good taste so much as trip and fall on it. The much-anticipated movie opens promisingly. From then, it's all downhill.
Oddly enough, even the co-stars of the film think 50 Shades of Grey is awful. In his article, Even the co-stars think 50 Shades of Grey is awful (and maybe even a bit like Hitler), writer John Jalsevac on www.lifesitenews.com had much to say after speaking with them. In the article, dated February 11, 2015, Jalsevac says, in other words, Dornan, after spending months immersing himself in the story and the character of Christian Grey, still has absolutely no idea why anybody would ever actually like the books. Dornan is further quoted. He states that after visiting on set the (place where activities occur) and returning home to his real-life wife and daughter, I had a long shower before touching either of them. Jalsevac goes on to say in his article, and then there's Dakota Johnson who kind of, sort of, maybe hopes that nobody ever watches the movie. He quotes Johnson as saying, I don't want my family to see it, because it's inappropriate. Or my brother's friends that I grew up with.Later Johnson comments, it was emotionally taxing. At first, I was like, oh my God, this is the worst thing ever,' and then I was like, all right, let's get on with it.'
Needless to say, from my perspective, I haven't seen it, but I wouldn't recommend the movie or the books. You might say, well if you haven't seen it, how can you say I should avoid it. My answer, I haven't seen Hell either, or the inside of a coffin, but I would recommend to you, whom I do not even know, to avoid both. I believe relationships should be healthy for both parties and that they should be based on true and pure feelings for one another. Maybe in our early years of relationships these feelings are enjoying time with the other person, being supported by the person and being a support to them, caring about and being compassionate about similar things. Or maybe, it's just simple pure friendship. Later, as relationships develop and people come to know one another better, love is the reason for continuing together, and being in loveis the notion that the other person is more important. The happiness, health and environment of the other person is at least as important, if not more important, than all of those things for us. 50 Shades of Grey is all about Christian; what he likes, what he wants, and what he wants to do with Ana. It's not at all about Ana. That is not healthy. That is abusive. That is not love for another that is love for one's self and for what one wants for themselves. These are just some of the reasons why I would name this book and the film, 50 Shades of Stay Away... Stay Far, Far Away!
Check out what Dawson has to say about Abusive Dating Relationships and what he has to say about love addiction in his blog, Trading Love Addiction for Meaningful Relationships. Also, download our free eBook for help in understanding sexual abuse.
- Bonomi AE, Altenburger LE, Walton NL; Altenburger; Walton (September 2013). ""Double crap!" abuse and harmed identity in Fifty Shades of Grey". J Womens Health (Larchmt) 22 (9): 73344. doi:1089/jwh.2013.4344.PMID23931257.
- Bonomi AE, Nemeth JM, Altenburger LE, Anderson ML, Snyder A, Dotto I; Nemeth; Altenburger; Anderson; Snyder; Dotto (August 2014). "Fiction or Not? Fifty Shades is Associated with Health Risks in Adolescent and Young Adult Females". J Womens Health (Larchmt) 23 (9): 7208. doi:1089/jwh.2014.4782.PMID 25144515.
- "Reading 'Fifty Shades' linked to unhealthy behaviors". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2014-08-22.
- "Fifty Shades: Exploring the Sexual Revolution". Newsweek Special Issue / Topix Media Lab Special #13 (New York, NY: Topix Media Lab): Page 13. 2015.
- https://www.startribune.com/entertainment/movies/291714741.html, February 13, 2015.
- https://www.lifesitenews.com/static/even-the-co-stars-think-50-shades-of-grey-is-awful-rubbish-and-maybe-even-a.html, February 13, 2015