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.
- The leads don't get along.
- 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 Scandal, Closer), 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.