Valentine’s Day was a week ago. As expected, nearly all movie theaters were packed. However, the audience wasn’t what one would predict. Instead of seeing those cute yet nauseating couples fill the seats, the movie theaters swarmed with packs of girls. And I say packs because the girls were like vicious wolves, baring their teeth for the absolute best seats of the house. All to see one movie.
50 Shades Darker is the sequel to the extremely popular series, 50 Shades of Grey, and was the obvious front-runner in the box office on this special day of love. However, what seems like a dramatic love story, actually romanticizes abusive relationships and rape culture. The leading man of this so-called ‘love’ story is Christian Grey. He is an adopted, twenty-seven year old, billionaire with a dark past and even darker desires. The author of the book and later the directors and producers of the movie attempt to cloak Christian’s creepy and controlling tendencies under a false facade by depicting him as the ‘knight in shining armor’. Directors and producers accomplish this by making all the other men even creepier than the dominating sadistic stalker. Difficult to do, but the directors and producers managed.
Jose, who is one of Anastasia’s good friends from college, treats Anastasia as an object and uses her as the main subject for his photography exhibition yet without her knowledge or consent. He then proceeds to profit off of her. (All of the portraits were bought by a single man, who turns out to be… surprise! None other than Christian Grey.) Additionally, in the previous movie, when Jose and Ana, along with their group of friends, are out at bars celebrating their imminent graduation, Jose tries to seize the moment with Ana, as she is completely drunk, and nearly forces his mouth on hers. Not even two seconds after, the ‘knight in shining armor’, otherwise known as Mr. Grey, steps in to save the day. How did he find Anastasia, you ask? By simply tracking her cell phone signal. Stalker or savior? You decide.
Another important male figure of the series is Jack, who is Anastasia’s boss. He almost screams ‘sexual predator’ from the very beginning with an office full of young, attractive women and a disturbing lingering gaze. He continually pushes Ana to go for drinks after work. Eventually she folds and reluctantly gets a drink with him, although she already told him that she had previous plans to meet up with Christian. Anastasia’s wishes (and sometimes demands) yet again go completely ignored by the men around her. And just like one would predict, this confrontation ends in a competitive and obnoxious display of masculinity. “I’m the boyfriend,” says Christian. “I’m the boss,” says Jack. Both fight over Ana as if they are two territorial male lions and she is a fresh carcass in the Savannah. Both see Ana as an object to win over and also do not care how this disgusting behavior affects her. It becomes more and more clear throughout the movie that these two b-words, “boyfriend” and “boss”, are completely synonymous. Especially as Christian later tells Ana that he plans to buy the publishing house, which she works at, and therefore become her boss’s boss’s boss. Later Jack reveals his true colors after scolding Ana for not putting her career above all things and turning down the trip to New York. Of course, she only declined this trip because Christian, her boss…I mean boyfriend, said no without even considering Anastasia’s wants along with the repercussions to her career. However, this is all before we find out that Jack is, much like we anticipated, a sexual predator. Surprisingly enough, Ana doesn’t need her ‘knight in shining armor’ to save her this time and defends herself, as he forces himself on her. Naturally, Christian decides the best way to handle this situation is to have Jack fired. Yet there are no reports filed or charges pressed. Interesting way to handle sexual harassment.
“I just think if you’re going to fuck your way to prominence you do it with someone who makes you smarter, not just richer.”
– Jack Hyde
Christian’s dark past comes back to haunt not only himself but also Anastasia. Throughout the beginning of the movie, what looks like Ana’s troubled doppleganger, but is Christian’s former submissive, stalks Anastasia. This stalker shows up at Anastasia’s apartment, pointing a gun at Anastasia’s head. Once again, her ‘knight in shining armor’ shows up and saves the day in a very perturbing manner. He orders his former submissive to kneel, and as a reward for obeying him, he begins to pet her head as if soothing a distressed dog. Don’t get me wrong I love dogs, but I think I would rather be shot in the foot than treated like one.
Christian later on explains to Anastasia that he is not in fact a dominant but rather the “correct word is a sadist.” Instead of getting off by controlling women, he gets off by punishing them, especially the ones that look like Anastasia and his mother. I’m not sure about you, but neither of these two things sit well with me. This movie and book series has received immense attention from the media — good and bad. However, the relationship that Anastasia Steele has with Christian Grey along with how all of the men treat women in this story is disgusting at best and abusive at worst. But what is more unsettling is that this story is about a woman, written by a woman (E.L. James), for the entertainment of women. And even further, it subjects women to a submissive and secondary role in a world dominated by men. So next time someone raves about 50 Shades remind them of what kind of culture they are promoting.