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Fifty Shades of Grey: Why So Much Fuss?

The major event of the last weekend apart from St. Valentine’s day? The premier of scandalous movie 50 Shades of Grey of course. Why the book and the movie Fifty Shades of Grey actually got so popular? Should you rush to the cinema and see it immediately or is it just another marketing hype? Should you ever criticize it in public? Let’s try to figure this out.

It’s super-easy to Google “50 Shades of Grey” right now and get a really basic idea of the ferocious reaction so far from movie lovers and critics across the board.
For example, here’s an Eagle Eye view from IMBD:

fifty shades of grey movie

Okay, so out of close to 62,000 people, it’s got a score of 4 out of 10. Ouch. Totally unexpected based on the popularity of the 2011 erotic romance novel and the amount of fuss surrounding the film leading up to release.

Then of course there’s headlines like these from platforms in the ilk of Variety – “Box Office: Fifty Shades of Grey Explodes With Record-Breaking $81.7 Million”. So low ranks an bad reviews…but the books becomes bestseller and the movie breaks the records – what are the reasons for that?

Typical Love Story for Women

fifty shades of grey read

If we look at the actual stats from IMDb we see that the reviews are absolutely dominated by females (especially in the under 18 demographic). This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone:

fifty shades of grey film

The story hit it’s target audience – women looking for a wealthy attractive man in suit who is able to make any woman happy. It follows the pattern of famous Hollywood stories, starting from beauty and the beast – ending with Twilight. Each time women believe that no matter how hurt they are they will be able to change men to good husbands/lovers/fathers and make a happy end of that weird relationships. Lie? Yes, but somehow it still works!

Bad PR Is Still PR

50 shades of grey meme

If we head over to the actual reviews, it gets real ugly, real fast. Without going too deeply into all this negativity and movie bashing here’s the current headings of the reviews on the first page as of when this article was written:

  • Just as I predicted! 1 Star
  • This movie raped my Intelligence: 1 Star
  • My god…this was awful: 1 Star
  • Oh this film was just DREADFUL! 1 Star
  • Yeesh, that was a whole lot of nothing: 2 Stars
  • 100 Shades of Terrible: 1 Star

It just goes on, and on, and on. What gives? Apparently, this movie demolished all expectations. Check out this quote from Vox contributor Alex Abad-Santos:

“Seen through the lens of a sci-fi romantic comedy about a man who’s barely human and the awkward woman who comes to love him, Fifty Shades is a masterpiece of subversion and dark humor — and much, much better than anything our kinky minds could have imagined.”

Sci-fi romantic comedy? Wait, what? Others describe it as the male shovanistic TV show Mad Men on parabolic steroids. The most common notion is that while it was meant to be a creative take on the books (which most of the women watching the movie have read) it’s too predictable and the production value didn’t make up for the vapid acting and unengaging chemistry between the protagonist and antagonist.

The Story Setting

50 shades of grey meme

In reality, we should step back and look at 50 Shades of Grey story from a much more grand social-economic perspective. Here are three things going on in America and the western world in general that have a direct influence on the way this story is being received:

  1. Global economic shift with “suits” being demonized.
  2. Traditional sexual roles for men and women being erased or flipped on their head.
  3. Rampant over-sexualization thanks to internet porn.

Roughly half to 60% of all males and females in the 18-44 demographic in western societies are either divorced or single. That’s a fact. At least according to poles and such. Furthermore, we’re in a part of the social cycle where men are being demonized, not just men in suits. Although the oligarch-type and the Wall Street-type are being targeted to…

  1. Unprecedented income equality levels.
  2. Trillions in “bail-outs/ins”
  3. The control that multinational corporations seem to hold over world governments.

When we put all these pressure together, stuff them into a modern man or women searching for their place in a quagmire-society and then sit them in front of a movie that uses these pain-points to create a somewhat outlandish representation of society, power, and relationships…well, it makes for some sizzling hot PR!

The Mass Is Vile

fifty shades of grey book review

This is a perfect representation of how backwards society is becoming. Everywhere we look the response is overwhelmingly negative and yet sales are breaking records. Hordes of people sholdering their way through ticket and snackbar lines to take their seat and see if it’s as bad as everyone says it is.

In a mad world, madness is the only source of real entertainment. In a juxtaposed and confused society, the worse something is, the better?

It was Charlie Chapline who said: Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded.

The Influence of Media

50 shades of grey poster

The only critics that seem to actually like the movie are more well-known and from more mainstream sources:

  • The Telegraph: “isn’t nearly as painful as it could have been…”
  • The Guardian: “The bulk of the film, really, is Ana deciding whether or not to embrace the role of Christian’s new submissive.”
  • New York Magazine: “Superb!”

So in terms of people, horrid but worth spending money on. In terms of mainstream critics, the movie is a love/hate piece of cinematic art that slaps the viewer in the face, especially if they read the original book. The more coverage (no matter) positive or negative the story gets – the more attention is brought to it. That results in fame and money – simple as 1-2-3.

Still doubt if you should see the 50 shades of grey movie? Or read the book? Well, life is short, if this many people are hating on it, you might completely LOVE it. The key is walking into the cinema without any expectations whatsoever. This is not the story that needs overthinking. Take it for what it is. To make it really interesting, in your mind look at the main male and female duo as society (played by Dakota Johnson) and the power-elite (played by Jamie Dornan).