Wednesday, February 25, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 4

Ana buys a camera.


I have not seen the movie yet. I made one of my pilgrimages to New Orleans to participate in a religious festival and pretty much all of my friends were too busy with their spiritual commitments to go see a movie with me, so I didn't, and so far, I haven't. Looks like it's successful, which everyone ought to have assumed despite all the inside-baseball grumblings about its problems. It being "good" or "bad" should never have weighed into our guesses about its popularity. The source material is not good, and it's the most successful human endeavor in history, basically, so why should it matter whether or no the movie is "good"? What does that even mean anymore? Ugh how postmodern.

But I will see it and I'll tell you all about it I swear.

Oh hey discussion question before we get started in earnest:

Is 50 Shades pornography? 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

50 Shades: The Movie Is Coming!

The marketing machine behind the 50 Shades of Grey movie, out this week for V-Day, has gone completely dysfunctional. Basically all of the press is bad. If you've encountered any press at all, you've heard bad press.

Two themes:

  1. The leads don't get along.
  2. The director and EL don't get along. 
Here's an extra bad one, tho, that I'm going to share with you. Spoilers for the end of the first book, tho I can't imagine that the sort of person worried about spoilers would be here reading this blog, so w/e. 

Most relevant bits:

In the ending favored by James, who wrote the original film script with Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks), the final word in the film is "stop." But in the ending favored by the director, which apparently came from a rewrite by Patrick Marber (Notes on a ScandalCloser), the last word in the movie was "red," which is used in the trilogy as a "safe word."

Ok so the article kind of doesn't give enough context for the reader to understand that both of these versions leave us with a pretty big problem. I'm not going to go into any analysis of the difference between "stop" and "red" because I don't know the context. Astute readers of this blog will know that, in the final spankening that ends Book I, Ana does not say either "stop" or "red" but instead endures all six of the spanks that Christian found her deserving. After that she gets just real angry at him and bounces, basically. 

So whether the last word is "stop" or "red" the audience is still confronted with an ending wherein the romantic leads break up. And it happens basically right at the end. So, how do you make it work? How does the movie show us that final, climactic spankening, and Ana's negative reaction to it, while still making us feel like we just saw a romance for Valentine's Day? And how does the movie make us want to watch the inevitable sequel? Because unless this thing is a total bomb there will be a sequel. And it won't bomb utterly just because there are so many fans desperate to go and go a bunch of times. That's the thing about this: it doesn't have to be good in order to please its built in audience. In fact, it's probably better if it's bad, as far as they're concerned. 

So basically EL and director Sam Taylor-Johnson disagreed on how to handle the tone of the end and I gotta tell you: I agree with Sam Taylor-Johnson. I don't know anything about Taylor-Johnson, but she's not EL James and therefore I trust Sam's instincts utterly, at least where debates with EL are concerned. 

That's kind of my biggest question going into this: can Taylor-Johnson make the ending seem like less than a total bummer? I don't know! 

Probably not! I kinda liked the ending but only because I like CG being miserable and I was rooting for them to break up for the whole book and so when they did, I was happy. I am perhaps not a typical audience member. So no idea. No idea how this movie is going to try to handle the conclusion but I have a hard time imagining it working very well. Theory: I bet there's some shit after the credits where Ana like, I dunno. Quietly does something in her room that suggests that she misses CG's kinks. Ugh. So now I'm going to have to watch the thing, and also stay past the credits? W/e. My sacrifices are famous and also ongoing. 

Anyway. The movie is coming. I suggest not watching it. Or watching it with me, if you really have to watch it. And if you do have to watch it, because you got dragged there or something, go ahead and read some of my earliest essays. Nothing can prepare any of us for this particular film experience, I don't think. But I've tried, is the thing. I've tried absolutely as hard as I can, so please. Don't let my efforts be for nothing.

Don't thank me. Be on the lookout for poor souls who seem likely to end up watching this movie, and send them here. And then they can thank me. It's kind of like a pyramid scheme, only with you getting people to thank me.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 3 part 2

Hey I need a new band name so help me out if you can. Or if I should accidentally string any words together on accident that work as a band name in the midst of this post I'll try to notice them. One of my pals suggested picking a band name based on some of my post tags, which led her to "Gazpacho Fingerblast" which is totally available on bandcamp if you want it. I mean I like it, obvs. But I don't love it. I mean, I love it but I'm not in love with it, if you get me. You get me, right? Cool.

SO last week we were pretty much just talking about how the book objectifies Ana, and now we're going to talk about that some more. Hurray! I mean that's basically a theme throughout but sometimes it's way worse than others and it's worth taking some extra time to address now and then.

First, we  had the whole thing with all the hickies that appeared on Ana after they did sex and she was angry about it and rightfully so. Her reasoning was largely just to complain that this was a pretty high school type of move for CG to pull and she was totally right but also? It's pretty gross how CG demands to quite literally control Ana's appearance as proof that he possesses her.

He was pretty explicit about it: "Well, you won't take your top off again." I am going to mark you as mine. You are a thing and I own you. 

And then his other thing was getting just way too excited about Ana shaving her pubes. That whole section was pretty gross, just because even when Ana takes a little bit of initiative and tries to make a decision about her sex life, CG has to barge in and take charge again. It doesn't even really bother me that she did it for him, with nothing to gain herself other than the pleasure she she hoped to take from pleasing CG. That's a perfectly legitimate reason to do a thing.

What bothers me, I guess, is that CG pretty much operates like a shitty boss. He's like the boss who takes credit for every idea anybody around him comes up with. At the end of the scene he might as well say, "Wow! Sure was smart of me to insist you shave your lady situation!" (Editor's note: Lady Situation is like, 4/10 as a band name.) 

And he just bullies his way in and pretty much mansplains Ana's vulva to her. Right? "Hey I'm much more familiar with this sort of thing than you are, silly girl, so let me take over." Ugh.

Hey do you remember how this book tried to convince us that Ana only started shaving her pits after she met CG? That Ana was like, an adult woman in America who hadn't decided not to shave her pits for her own, personal reasons, but like, wasn't aware that this was a thing that adult women in America tended to do? That was funny, huh? Good times.

And now, I guess we're primed to continue! Neat I guess.