Warning: This post contains spoilers.
A friend was driving me to work the other day and we were discussing the recent release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. I said it was a tricky situation for me as I felt like it was a story I should be offended by as a woman, a feminist, and someone who has been in an abusive relationship. But I didn’t want to see it. I felt unqualified to say anything about the book or the movie having neither read the books or seen the movie, and therefore unable to comment on it or be offended by it, but by the same token I really didn’t want to give them the revenue.
After the release of the movie on Friday, I’ve read quite a number of reviews of it. Three of them stood out to me, all published on Mamamia.
One review by Lisa Wilkinson called Fifty Shades of Grey “domestic violence dressed up as erotica”, one review by Rosie Waterland described the movie as “two hours of incredibly disturbing content about an emotionally abusive relationship” and the final review by Mia Freedman which said this:
“What’s fascinating to me is that I honestly feel like I saw a different film to the one they described. Having read all the books, I brought a level of knowledge and understanding and context and familiarity to the movie that non book readers just couldn’t.”
“Readers of the book know the reason Christian is so twisted and controlling and likes his relationships and sex life mapped out in contracts is because of his childhood and his crack addicted prostitute mother WHO WAS SLIM AND BRUNETTE.
We know that’s why all his submissives are slim and brunette. We know that’s why he hates himself.
And because we know the whole story, we understand the power Anastasia has in this relationship. She’s the one who cracks his veneer and his control and makes him rethink everything about himself. For her he breaks all his rules. She makes him take a long hard look in the mirror and he hates what he sees and tries desperately to change. Because of her.”
I read that and I realised: That’s worse.
If anything, that explanation makes me more sure than ever that this is a story I don’t want to put in my head. This is a story that chills me down to my very bones. This is a story of a woman fixing an abuser. A far more dangerous tale than one of domestic violence dressed up as erotica.
This is a tale that speaks directly to the hope of anyone who has been in an abusive relationship. It tells of a man who is abusive and changes because of the love of his partner. A story that gives credence the theory that someone else’s behaviour is something you can change. This is a story that reenforces the idea that we should make excuses for people who abuse others.
That if there is a good enough reason, and your love is powerful enough, that it will all be fine in the end.
Christian Grey is an abuser who is the way he is because he was abused. Sure, that explains the why and makes us understand, but it still doesn’t make it okay.
It will never be okay. And it will not be fine in the end.
One woman in Australia dies every week from domestic violence (Source). Tell them that it’s okay because the person they died at the hands of had an abusive childhood. Or that they were sought out because they looked like his mother. Tell them that it will be fine in the end because their love will make a difference.
I was right to think I should be offended. But this movie isn’t just offensive, it is dangerous.
I’m sorry Fifty Shades of Grey but you won’t be getting my money.
Have you seen or read Fifty Shades of Grey? What were your thoughts?