We know the negatives of the 50 shades books. The writing is atrocious. The author doesn’t represent the “real” BDSM lifestyle. They don’t warn about the extra dark side. We could go on. Honestly though, the fact the series has become so popular isn’t entirely bad! Here are some reasons the 50 Shades movie isn’t as terrible as you’d expect.
If nothing else 50 Shades absolutely got people talking. Most of us in the BDSM community did not stumble upon a billionaire with a dark side but some of us did stumble into “red rooms of pain” whether in the privacy of a home or in more public dungeon. The books got people thinking about what got them wet. In turn it got people talking to EACH OTHER about what got them wet. Suddenly we’ve got couples exploring new ways to please each other, book clubs talking about getting their kink on, BDSM communities doing outreach events, & public libraries talking about the rights of patrons to read what they want and have the privacy to do so. The movie continues this conversation. For a lot of people it’s easier to talk a partner into watching a movie for two hours than reading an entire book (or listen to the horrible audiobook!) This means that the movie gives people who may have been hesitant to bring up the subject a new jumping point for the conversation.
I have to say thank you to the screenwriters on this one for actually doing a bit of research while writing the script. Through out the movie the concepts of consent are repeatedly and expressly discussed. When the pair sit down and negotiate the contract Christian might raise an eye brow at Ana removing fisting from the list but he doesn’t force her to leave anything in. He also gives some too in offering the one non D/s date a week which she mentions earlier in the story. Give and take between the individuals to reach to an agreement they are both comfortable with. Sounds like a pretty reasonable representation of D/s contract negotiations to me. When it came to play again Christian very much requires consent, not just a head shake but in words, even without the contract being signed. Prior to all BDSM play he asks her for verbal consent and goes over the safe words. Even in the infamous ending he asks her at least twice “are you sure” and explains EXACTLY what the punishment will be. She insists, consents, and doesn’t call red. She might not have liked what he did but there wasn’t any abusive behavior or manipulation in it.
We’re not all traumatized abuse victims!
This was a BIG problem for a lot of BDSM communities members when the book came out. Christian has a pretty dark and questionably abusive history. Due to this many outside of the kink community came to the conclusion that only abused and traumatized individuals are drawn to our deplorable desires. While mental illness does occur in the kink community many studies are putting this assumption to rest. The movie handles this fact much better than the book. “Mrs. Robinson” is brought up a few times but only one scene has the really negative undertone regarding that relationship. Christian handles it well and the focus doesn’t immediately become “oh, he was sexually abused as a teenager and that’s why he’s just so fucking broken.” Additionally, more then once Christian tells her that BDSM is just a part of who he is not because he’s broken or damaged. Kink is in his blood.
For a mainstream hollywood movie there were some potentially steamy scenes particularly for those mostly in the vanilla world. It is really tame, light sensation play for the most part but for a wide audience even that is racy! They try to show passion and connection between the two characters both in and out of the red room of pain. Christian isn’t just merciless beating Ana but providing aftercare and checking in with her. That’s a good thing. That’s how scenes should work within the negotiations of the Top and bottom.
So yes, for those of us who live kinky lives more fully this is rubbish but we have to remember where it came from: Twilight fan fiction from someone who may never have been erotically spanked in her life! However horribly written and edited the books were the movie addressed a lot of the blatantly inaccurate information.