Fifty Shades of Grey: it makes On Golden Pond look erotic

Francois Venter
Jamie Dornan, who stars in Fifty Shades of Grey. Photo from Wikipedia by user Stemoc (CC BY 2.0).

I bring you an announcement of national, no, international import: I have watched 50 Shades so that you don’t have to. Sensitive souls and family members must stop reading this now.

I went (well, to see hot naked people, unsurprisingly, but anyway) after witnessing Facebook posting everywhere, including Jonathan Jansen-like Letters to My Children, Why Christian Women Should Just say No to Christian Grey, What is Wrong with America? and even What Should Feminists Do? Hand wringing about morality, concerns about power differences between men and women, calls to action, internal reflection, appeals for a social revolution, you name it.

I haven’t read the books, but so many of my friends have. I knew what to expect, and the Facebook blogs and postings confirmed it: Sex on the edge, bondage, unspeakable acts, domestic violence, abuse, badly damaged psychotic people, relationships with dreadful power games, brooding lip chewing, billionaires gone crazy, gratuitous nudity. What was not to like? This much I was promised.

eTV on Friday night after 11 in the olden days was hotter. And every sex act is consensual. Sometimes painfully so. I mean, THREE layers of safe words for … oral sex??? You just want to say, “for goodness sakes, have a couple of drinks and lighten up, and lose that boy-pout, dude”.

The average depressing European art house movie has more exciting sex. Seriously, I have seen vegan hipster parents more severely publicly discipline their 4-year olds (well, until the last scene). The Red Room of Pain looks a little like the principal’s office at my high school (now, suddenly that small town is making sense…). This dreadful flick put the vanilla into BDSM, with much biting of lips and adolescent troubled souls. They even use anatomically correct names for the naughty bits. Some T&A, but not so much as a pickle shot. I’ve had more exciting sex discussions on a ward round, used worse language in a FIDSSA meeting, and discussed fisting with less embarrassment at hepatitis C symposia, FFS! Even the billionaire lifestyle looked dull. And they still manage to squeeze in a little stigma for sex workers, ‘cos we all know that having a sex worker for a mom gets you doing BDSM 101 with an expensive tie.

I felt dirty. I felt sullied. I felt used and violated. But it really was just by some of the worst acting and most dreadful scripting ever. For the love of everything, stop writing comments on FB about how outraged you are by this movie’s deviance and problems if you have not seen it, and go see this dreadful boring vanilla commercial cash trap, or shut up. It makes On Golden Pond look erotic.

PS: if I have 10 cents for every nervous Dan Savage-educated ‘’sex-positive’’ person who says “I am vanilla, but I know someone who does BDSM and is healthy…”

PPS: I am vanilla but everyone I know into BDSM seems completely healthy.

Francois Venter is a doctor and the former President of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society. The views expressed here are his own and only reflect the views of some of the GroundUp staff.

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TOPICS:  Arts and culture

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