Money supersedes morality. In light of the release of the Fifty Shades Darker trailer, critics and citizens fear it will be another two-hour glorification of domestic violence. This has been a hot topic of debate ever since the release of the first book of the E.L. James series in 2011, even more so upon the premier of the first movie. While many disagree with the accusations, saying Christian Grey’s manipulative, stalkerish behavior is justified due to his “dark backstory,” or “harsh upbringing,” others are quick to point out the deplorable behavior so flagrantly displayed in the first film. Having a crap childhood doesn’t justify abusing your partner. There is no hiding the fact that the gorgeous, hypersexual male lead, Christian Grey, is nothing short of psychopathic. Physically following Anastasia, his mundane female opposite, tracking her phone calls, and even performing sexual acts under circumstances of dubious consent, Grey shows signs of serious mental instability. In many aspects of the novel, it’s not BDSM. It’s abuse. And in my opinion, it can also be seen as somewhat pedophilic. Anastasia’s overwhelming innocence, shown by her lack of sexual experience and knowledge, combines with an impulsive, irresponsible personality, making an adult that acts without much premeditation or concern, very much like a child. She’s small, she’s weak, and she requires guidance for nearly every decision she makes. These characteristics lead to an incredibly easy target for Mr. Grey—she is easily coerced from no sexual activity at all to what is considered hardcore acts of sexual exploration. I won’t go into details, but her lack of knowledge and desperation to be involved with this handsome billionaire leads to some encounters one could interpret as less than consensual.
Unfortunately, the upcoming sequel looks no better. The beginning only looks up for a short while—Ana has a new job, is away from Christian, and is getting along with her new boss. Then cue the crazy. She drives herself near insanity with missing Christian (lord knows why), and returns to his manipulative side. Skip the crazy ex trying to kill her, the attempted rape, blah blah blah, and you get to the big reveal. Christian Grey is a sadist because he likes to beat up “little brown-haired girls” (I did mention pedophilic undertones) that look like…wait for it…his mother. Yes, the backstory that all the middle-aged women have been using as excuses for rape and violence is that he had a prostitute for a mother. Now he’s mad and is taking it out by sexually coercing, abusing, and stalking women that remind him of her. Yup, that totally makes sense. Completely justified. Sign me up for a guy like him.
Did I mention he forces her into sex (i.e. rapes her) without a condom, even after she asks for one?
Let’s get real.
The effect of media on society as a whole is, in a word, terrifying. People will believe just about anything they see on the internet. (I thought Charlie Sheen died four years ago. Turns out he’s still kicking). But what’s even more terrifying is that a series of books glorifying such disgusting, unsafe, abusive “romance.” Here are just a few disturbing (not to mention terribly-written) quotes from the novel series:
“He’s said such loving things today … But how long will he want to do this without wanting to beat the crap out of me.”
"You're here because I am incapable of leaving you."
"I am all gushing and breathy—like a child, not a grown woman who can vote and drink legally in the state of Washington."
This is Hollywood’s next hit. Make sure you really think about it before you give ten dollars to the producers of this film. Is this the message you want spread? Is this the activity you’ll advocate with your money? There’s no telling what sort of destruction the first movie caused—many speculate it jumpstarted a rise in domestic violence—so do we really want to continue it? Besides being one of the most poorly-written pieces of literature in the history of, well, history, it’s literally romanticizing beating the living hell out of someone. Is the steely gaze of Christian Grey worth a punch in the face?