Friday, 20 February 2015

Some thoughts about Fifty Shades of Grey

Friends persuaded me to go and see the fifty shades film with them last night.  I wasn't sure partly because I didn't enjoy the book and partly because it felt wrong to spend money on a film which celebrated the abuse of women.  But in the end I decided to go for one simple reason; you can't have or share an opinion about something if you haven't watched it!

I decided to watch it not only as a possible form of entertainment but also to form an opinion of the film to share with others.  I had read many mixed reviews beforehand and thought I knew what to expect but it was not so clear cut at all.

I didn't expect the film to be good, after all the book didn't provide enough material for that, but I did expect it to be interesting and I suppose it was; but my mind swayed in its opinion of the film as it went along.

There were parts which made me really uncomfortable; such as when Mr Christian Grey tempts Ana to "try" some of his domination and she seems happy to please him. It's all about him and that's not right in any relationship.

There were parts when it was clear that Ana was in control and inside I cheered, but not for long. And was she in control at all? Or was that all part of the control?

There were times when Ana seemed to be changing him; but can a leopard really change its spots?  He could manipulate get easily back to his way of thinking.

No surprise really; it's a film about domination and submission and it tackled some of those issues.

But what I found really interesting was what was beneath the decisions and the dominance and submission and the characters and their reactions.

Ana surprised herself by the depravity of the beating she received when she asked for the worst he might do to her.  She was broken inside by it and shocked by that reaction.  She knew he was messed up but somehow she thought she'd changed him and the realisation that she hadn't was clear.

And perhaps more surprisingly the dominant Christian seems to find no joy in hurting his submissive.  It's more like a form of self harm; a release from the pain caused by his experiences of Loss or Abuse or lack of control.

This film is less about sex and more about the psychology of control and relationships.  It is about how broken people can be and how they can in tum break others.

In the end, reflecting on the film I just felt the film was Sad!
It is a sad film about sad lives and sadly this is how a great many people in our society feel today.

Sad people with
Sad backgrounds in
Sad situations which make them feel

(I chose the image for this post because it about sums up the sadness.  Look at his face, he is tortured and he wishes he wasn't and he knows it's wrong to take it out on others but it's the only way he knows to deal with his demons.  Then look at her face, yes perhaps she looks like an innocent who has fallen in love with this handsome guy, or, as I see, she is sad because she longs to be loved in it's truest sense but the man she loves doesn't know how to love and it is warping her idea of what love is.  How sad they both look.  What a sad situation for two sad people.)

After posting this an interesting question was raised on facebook about why we can't have opinions about things we haven't witnessed when we all have opinions about things we've never experienced.  Here was my response which I provides some more of my thoughts about the film

"Well yes that's true, I have opinions about wars and genocide and all sorts of things I haven't experienced, but I have read about them and seen news reports about them and have heard first hand accounts of them.  I think with something like a book or a film it is very hard to have an opinion unless you have a first hand account from someone who has read/seen it and has given you an account without any sway or opinion.  As I read all the many reviews I realised that, of course, they were hugely affected by the life experience and beliefs of those who wrote them, much as mine is.  It was almost impossible to find a review which didn't take a side and I felt that if I wanted to be able to talk about this film in any reasoned way then I needed to see it.  And of course my opinion is skewed by my own experiences of control and domination in my younger years and by my understanding of confusion over control which originates from childhood.  At least now I can share my opinion with those who have made sweeping judgements about how this film is about a girl being abused; and I can clearly say it is not as straight forward as that; it has a lot to say about society and it is not making the world of S&M seem glamarous at all.  And I can also share with people who say it's harmless fun that no it isn't, it's disturbing in it's depiction of a very messed up man, if through no fault of his own, and how he has found a way of coping which could be overcome if he sought psychological help but he's so ashamed of it that he can't bear to tell anyone."

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