I wasn't going to talk about it. I just wasn't. But now I'm going to. And not because pornography is anything new (there is plenty of it out there to protest), but because this particular bit of porn is just so mainstream and so popular -- heck, I see Christian women giddily anticipating this movie!
1) I mean, what a crappy thing to have to associate with St. Valentine's Day. A badly acted adaptation of badly written books about the objectification of a young virginal woman by an older billionaire with a lot of... issues. BDSM: Bondage and Discipline, Sadism and Masochism. Pornography for the mainstream. Terrific. Happy Valentine's Day!
2) I may not want to talk about this movie, but the actors have to, and they don't much seem to like this filth they made, either. Good news! It appears their consciences are still working on some level. Let's take a listen to what lead actor Jamie Dornan has to say about his "research" for the role, and then his application of said research:
After visiting the sex dungeon and returning home to his wife and daughter, he admits, “I had a long shower before touching either of them.” In fact, the dichotomy between his life as a family man, and what he was being asked to do on set, seems to have bothered him quite a lot. "The first day [of filming] was kind of an out-of-body experience. I got there and they said, 'Action!' I’m like, 'What the f--k is happening? I’m a dad. What?'"
And then, about the actual process of shooting the BDSM sex scenes: “There were times when [lead actress] Dakota was not wearing much, and I had to do stuff to her that I’d never choose to do to a woman.” And then, most cringeworthy, in an interview with Glamour, he observed that while he has “played a couple of sick, sick dudes, serial killers…and characters who don’t treat women the way society deems appropriate,” still, “Christian [Note: that would be the romantic heartthrob that apparently millions of women are fantasizing over] was a massive challenge.”
Now let's hear from the lead actress, Dakota Johnson, who is hoping that maybe no one actually goes to see the movie:
“I don’t want my family to see it, because it’s inappropriate. Or my brother’s friends that I grew up with. Also there’s part of me that’s like, I don’t want anyone to see this movie. Just kidding.”
Haha. Yeah. Just kidding.
Except maybe not. “Sometimes I did walk off the set feeling a bit shell-shocked,” she told Glamour, admitting that while shooting the sex scenes, “there were some painful moments.” “I got whiplash once from him throwing me on the bed; so f--king painful.” And just in case you thought that maybe there was something sexy about shooting a sex scene. Nope. Definitely not. "It's just sweaty and it's not very comfortable. And on top of that, my hands and legs were tied, and I was blindfolded, and I was being hit with this bizarre tool. ... It was emotionally taxing. At first I was like, 'Oh my God, this is the worst thing ever,' and then I was like, 'All right, let's get on with it.'"
But no worries. “The drive home from work always helped me snap out of it. And a big glass of wine.”
Like I said, there are still two working consciences in there somewhere.
3) Then we have female author E L James claiming that the books that made her uber-rich are not about abuse, not at all!
"Who is interested, as a woman, in reading about abuse? Why have these books taken off if they are about abuse?" said James, who discussed the film with the AP over the weekend. "Domestic violence, rape, are unacceptable. They are not entertaining in any way. Let me be absolutely clear. Everything that happens in this book is safe and consensual. .... What do I need to do to convince people?"
I don't know, Ms. James. Apparently you can't even convince your own lead actors.
So, does this really need saying? Just because a sin or an exploitation or an abuse or an objectification is "consensual" does not mean it's moral or right or good. We know this, don't we?
And really, Ms. James? You had to go and name the main character "Christian"? Weird.
4) Okay, so we all know -- on some level -- how slimy, sick, and uncomfortable this all is. But then why do so many women seem to be going crazy over these books and this kind of fantasy? I think Dr. Greg Popcak is on to something:
St John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body reminds us that receptivity is an essential characteristic of femininity. A healthy woman can be strong, competent, capable, and powerful, but still want a man to to love her, take care of her, and, yes, to lead. The secular feminist culture seeks to prohibit women from expressing this desire for natural, healthy submission, in which the woman wants a man to cherish and care for her, in which a woman allows herself to be vulnerable–in the healthiest sense of that word–to a man.
But that receptive impulse is so much a part of the feminine character that it cannot be denied. Attempt to repress it will result in that desire for receptivity being expressed in distorted ways. As I’ve pointed out previously, dominance is Satan’s counterfeit of healthy submission. Where a dynamic of healthy mutual submission is denied, dominance will emerge. Poorly formed men will seek to seek to dominate women and poorly formed women will willingly submit to being dominated–just like the female protagonist of 50 Shades.
The point is, what 50 Shades powerfully reveals is that women want more. They want to be able to stop having to be powerful all the time. To be in charge all the time. To have to take care of everyone and everything all by themselves all the time. They want to be able to lay down their defenses, to stop having to pretend that they can be everything to everyone, and to just be vulnerable for a change. But they don’t know there is a healthy way to do that. They don’t know where to look for it. And the best they can do is fantasize about someone who will come into their lives and force them to give up the control they never really wanted in the first place.
Radical feminism has not served us well, ladies. And we know this.
5) And to me, this is the most illuminating statement of all, by Jamie Dornan, aka "Christian Grey":
“I wonder what it is about this set of books that has, excuse my pun, penetrated the global market. Mass appreciation doesn't always equate to something good. Think of Hitler! But I think, in this case, it must. It simply must. There's got to be merit in it if so many people agree.”
Talk about trying to justify evil and get around one's own conscience! Wow! And I wonder how many people who read the book and go to the movie will use the same line of justification? Professor J. Budziszewski explains that those with guilty consciences must seek companions as guilty as themselves, seeking not to become just, but to justify.
Again, it's the avenging conscience at work.
6) I can get behind these shades of grey, though!
7) And since I cannot bring myself to put any innocent children on the same page as a discussion of mainstream pornography, I will end by giving you a little info about St. Valentine to cleanse your palate!
Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs [of] the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270.
One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine."
St. Valentine is the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriage. Oh, and of beekeepers! :)
St. Valentine, pray for us!