The star of the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie, Dakota Johnson, has proven that she just might be delusional enough to do justice to her character. According to E!, Johnson says about the world’s most over-exposed erotica, “I just really understand it. I think it’s an incredible love story and that’s why it’s affected so many people.”
Oh dear. Okay.
I understand that this woman is almost certainly legally obligated to say only positive things about the franchise, and her enthusiastic attitude is also really considerate towards the Fifty Shades fans. Even though I get a kick out of making fun of that series, there’s nothing wrong with loving it, and it’s good to know that its female star is respectful towards its almost entirely female fanbase. This reminds me of how Kristen Stewart has made it apparent that she has some issues with Twilight, but she’s never condescending to the girls who worship Bella and Edward. Both actresses get major props for that.
However, I can’t in good conscious stay quiet when The Creepy Domineering Billionaire Who Has Bad Sex With A Crying Virgin gets called “an incredible love story.” If Fifty Shades is an incredible love story, so is the Jodi Arias Lifetime movie. So is a praying mantis biting the head off its sex partner.
While it’s totally fine to enjoy the famous E L James series, since it’s a fantasy and not real life, you can’t really argue that it demonstrates a healthy, mutually respectful relationship. The overarching conflict in the first book is that Anastasia Steele isn’t sure whether or not she wants to agree to participate in BDSM, but Christian Grey goes for it anyway. He controls what and when she eats, despite her protests. He interprets “maybe” and “I don’t know” as meaning “yes.” She repeatedly describes him as “threatening” and “intimidating” long before she decides she likes that roleplay, and the division of power is far from fair and balanced. She’s a poor college grad who’s never had a real boyfriend, and he’s a mega-rich playboy with years of experience. He does nothing to surrender power or make sure she feels like she has equal agency. Blehh.
The thing is, if you want to read that story on your own time or talk about it with your friends, have a blast! Nobody’s trying to police what you find entertaining or sexy. But it starts to be a problem when young, impressionable audiences hear that this nonconsensual plot makes up “an incredible love story.”
As Johnson says later in her interview, “Sometimes you feel a little bit naughty and that’s okay.” Totally, yeah. Let’s just be careful to also address the glaringly problematic parts of the book. Women in abusive relationships don’t need to hear that stories similar to their own are positive or fun or “incredible love stories.”
I know you’re not in a position to say disparaging things about Fifty Shades of Grey, Dakota, so I’ll say them for you.
Via E! / Photo: PCN