“I Don’t Make Love, I Fuck”: The Entire Thesis of the Fifty Shades of Grey Franchise

What is it about Fifty Shades of Grey that continues to keep us coming back for more pain? Is it the need for romance that we can comfortably laugh at since our generation is a self-admitted retard when it comes to comprehending what romance actually is? That’s one part of it. But the other part is our own subconscious need to be dominated by a media that tells us exactly what to do by none too subtly suggesting what we should like.

Promo poster for Fifty Shades of Grey
Promo poster for Fifty Shades of Grey
The film, which, from the outset, had its issues with casting in terms of managing to secure anyone with an even remotely notable name, is bad screenwriting at its finest. Granted, of course, screenwriter Kelly Marcel didn’t have much source material to work with considering the contents of E.L. James’ mysteriously beloved book. Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (who is a woman, keeping the movie a British bird’s affair)–the former self-respecting person who actually directed a decent biopic about John Lennon as a youth called Nowhere Boy–there isn’t anything wrong, per se, with the stylistic or visual choices of Fifty Shades. Even the sex scenes seem mildly saucy compared to how they come across in the book (barring the constant silhouette of Anastasia’s hairy legs)–but it’s still only saucy by Pacific Northwest standards. What it boils down to is that the primary reason non-Midwestern audiences are willingly choosing to see this film is to laugh through it.

The fact that E.L. James has further made a mockery of romance as a concept to twenty-first century rom-com dilettantes makes her, in this viewer’s mind, persona non grata. It’s bad enough that the days of films like Pretty Woman, Honeymoon in Vegas and The Wedding Singer are long gone, but now, we’re unlikely to ever even get thrown a dramatic romance bone (no pun intended). Audience cynicism has now trickled into the “drama” category, though Fifty Shades is more melodrama than anything else–a glorified, overhyped Lifetime movie, if you will.
Awkward promotional still
Awkward promotional still
Moreover, the film has created an entirely separate audience from the readers who were originally obsessed with the story. This becomes a problematic factor when considering that most naive viewers who go into the theater unable to resist the fanfare surrounding it will be endlessly disappointed by the conclusion (the general reaction is: “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!”), as they seemed unaware that E.L. James wrote a trilogy of Fifty Shades tailor-made for a cash cow of a movie franchise. Thus, in addition to Christian Grey being “fifty shades of fucked up” for torturing audiences this way, he also adheres to one of his other “classic” lines: “I don’t make love, I fuck.” Which is exactly what he’ll be doing to audiences across America for the next week or so until everyone comes to the unanimous decision that they’ve wasted their money on a movie ticket that equates to a slow, dry sexual encounter.

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