Happy Weekend! We’re here to share with you all our thoughts after seeing FIFTY SHADES DARKER at the movie theatre last night.
Madeline: I loved seeing that group of women who all came into the theatre wearing masks. In fact, my role here is to see the film with eyes of love. To understand why women love it, why it’s so ridiculously successful.
Elizabeth: This blog post also could be titled, Fifty Scenes of Dakota’s Boobs. Or Fifty Shades of Mixed Messages.
Madeline: You’re in a mood this morning. I can tell.
Elizabeth: I don’t hate the Fifty Shades franchise. I don’t love it either. I’m neutral, though I was really hoping Hollywood did a better job of portraying the lifestyle than they did previously. Of course, I recognized this story, from the get-go, isn’t a BDSM erotic romance at all.
Madeline: I mean, I agree.–But what is it then?
Elizabeth: It’s a story of a man with PTSD from his childhood who channels his angst by engaging in supposed sadism (I don’t think he’s really a sadist, by the way) with submissives. He meets an ordinary girl who sends this man mixed signals. But she would. She’s in her early twenties and still figuring herself out. But, Jesus, the back and forth!
Madeline: Yes, she’s still figuring it all out. Jackie and I talked about that with the first movie. This is a strong message that’s getting out into the world these days and I applaud it. You hear that men? Women are not playing games. They’re not f**king with you. They’re trying to figure it out, okay? And sometimes it’s not easy.
Elizabeth: I get why people love 50 Shades. Billionaires, mild kinky scenarios—
Madeline: Yay to mild-kink! Or, as I like to call it, Kinky-lite. We need t-shirts. I’ll get my people right on that.
Elizabeth: –especially if you’ve not been exposed before. People also love the luxurious settings, a man changed by the love of a woman. That trope is old as the hills.
Madeline Iva: As old as the hills–and yet there are real haters out there. Haters who love romance, confoundingly.
Elizabeth: I get why people hate it. Bad BDSM benchmark set, a weak(er) story structure and did I mention the mixed signals from both characters?
Madeline: One thing about the mixed messages: I think that the movie makers had to do it the way that they did. They had to be true to the book and in the book, she’s walking away from kink. On the other hand, what do we want? We want hot sex scenes in the movie! Like we had in the first movie, only different. They delivered both. Could they have delivered a movie that had a lot less sex? I don’t think so.
Elizabeth: The PR/Marketing person in me also thought they missed an opportunity to make the movie the best possible thing ever. No excuse! I mean, built-in audience, Hollywood! We had a row of women behind us who came as a group all wearing masks. You can’t buy this kind of loyalty.
Madeline: You think they should have really dug in and changed things, deepened the script, the plot, etc?
Elizabeth: Yes! So, sadly, this movie isn’t going to win any Oscars.
Madeline: So, here’s what I say — is this even really a movie? I mean, I thought of it as something in film form that was an homage to the book. I think we’re in the early days of a whole new medium. We need to come up with a jazzy name for it. I mean, that whole weird section with the helicopter crash? “Real” movies don’t actually work like that. Which is okay–but comparing this to a movie is like comparing apples to…an apple flavored jolly roger candy. You know?
Elizabeth: It will certainly please the 50 Shades crowd, but in equal measure that it will tick off the real-life BSDM enthusiasts. (I can’t help but think of how this mirrors our very-politically-divided country right now.)
Madeline: Aren’t they already ticked off? I mean, by this point, I can’t imagine real-life BDSM enthusiasts going see this movie for sheer love. Me, I was frankly relieved that it was so kinky-lite in the first movie. FIFTY SHADES DARKER’s little play-time scenes were icing on the cake. Besides, I brought my husband to see the movie, and was hoping to placate him with all the sexy biz.
Also, as Jezebel writers said: “What was good: basically nonstop puss eating.”
Madeline: So sez Jezebel, so say we all. On the other hand, people kinda wanted to see Christian’s dick. Not me, just…people. #dickparity is a thing, I guess.
Elizabeth: What I liked about the movie: Dakota Johnson has got acting chops.
Madeline: I agree.
Elizabeth: She’d better than most people probably realize given she had to develop that character herself. Anastasia Steele’s clothes. I want that La Perla bustier garter set she’s wearing.
Madeline: We all want that La Perla bustier garter set. And the body to go with it.
Elizabeth: –Ya know, for sitting around my home office so I can pretend I’m about to be whisked to a ball. Also, her lips. M and I agree – she had the best lipstick. And it stayed on no matter what they were doing like sucking face, which they did often.
Madeline: I liked the sucking face. Jamie Dornan sucks face well.
Elizabeth: Christian Grey’s boat. Niiiice. Jamie Dornan’s buffness and scruffness – just the way I like it. Oh, and his neck! I just wanted to bury my face in it.
Madeline: I did not need him so buff. But I am obsessed. (Posting on that later.)
Elizabeth: The general eye candy was great. They live in a beautiful world.
Madeline: I was going through eye candy withdrawl. This movie definitely helped.
Elizabeth: But I can’t get over the mixed signals: “Christian, I can never, ever give you what you need.” Ten minutes later, “Christian, spank me.” “Take me to the red room.” Make up your mind, lady. You’re either into the kink or you’re not.
Madeline: Okay, here’s my take on that — at first in their relationship he wanted total control. Even to the point of saying he didn’t “do relationships”. Gah. It’s like a dance, and he was always leading.
In FIFTY SHADES DARKER, she takes control. It’s not about consistency. It’s about her leading. In the past, with all his interactions the dominant dynamic was about them pleasing him. Now he has to keep up with her, follow her lead, and prove to her that he can please her. It’s all about her, people! (Which is catnip to us romance ladies.)
Elizabeth: His admission that he’s not a Dominant, but a sadist really bothered me.
Madeline: It was certainly abrupt.
Elizabeth: And they acted like being a sadist must be a very, very, very bad thing. It’s not!!
Madeline: She’s getting on her BDSM soap box people.
Elizabeth: If you’re truly a responsible sadist, you play with consenting adults, and you never harm anyone.
Madeline: Which is different from causing them pain…
Elizabeth: Right. Pain is temporary, and some masochists get an endorphin rush off controlled pain, which registers as a kind of pleasure…so they like it.
Madeline: Yes, yes, yes!
Elizabeth: Harming someone is completely different.
Elizabeth: I had an issue with the symbolic kink. The movie brings out the usual kinky props, but clearly for symbolic reasons. There’s the blindfold and the cuffs but within one minute they’re having sex. They bring out the spreader bar and within one minute they’re having sex. He gives her four spanks and then they’re having sex. I get it. They’re young, full of hormones and hot. But don’t expect any real BDSM. The movie had tons of sex and a little slap and tickle.
Madeline: I didn’t mind that at all. Huzzah to symbolic kinky sex!
Elizabeth: Speaking of the spreader bar. People…please DO NOT go to Amazon, buy the first spreader bar you see and do that flip move that Christian did to Ana without a lot of practice.
Madeline: It did look…quite…gymnastic.
Elizabeth: I’m not quite convinced that spreader bar exists in real life.
Madeline: A retractable spreader bar. Yeah, that was a new one to me too.
Elizabeth: So don’t risk spraining an ankle or wrenching a back.
Madeline: Her breasts were like a third character in the movie.
Elizabeth: If there was an opportunity to show them off, the movie did.
Madeline: It’s actually in her contract–she must be topless or naked at least every fifteen minutes of the movie. (Joking.) But reading interviews, I think the actress has made this her thing. And if an actor is a bit of an exhibitionist, who are we to complain? (I’m looking at you, Orlando Bloom.)
Elizabeth: Why couldn’t we get his glory to be the third character? Equal rights, man.
Madeline: #DickParity — starting that hashtag right now
Elizabeth: This movie was more sex positive than the last — and Ana wasn’t as big as a doormat as she was in the first movie.
Madeline: Amen to that!
Elizabeth: Oh, and for grins you really must check out this post from a Redbook writer, I Tried All the Sex From Fifty Shades Darker In One Weekend. Hilarious.
Madeline: I can’t believe Redbook did that…that is awesome. Final comments?
Elizabeth: Bottom line: If you are a 50 Shades fan, you’ll love this movie.
Elizabeth: If you are a real-life BDSM lifestyler, you’ll probably stay away anyway. Christian is someone who needs to be “cured.” Yeah, right. But what he needs (IMHO) is help with his PTSD, not his BDSM proclivities (though I’m not convinced BDSM even really is his thing).
Madeline: What is his thing?
Elizabeth: Okay–Growing up, Christian discovers how to use kink to channel his anger from his childhood trauma. And so maybe when he gets together with her, and they bond, that anger starts to go away? And that’s why he walks away from it all.
Towards the end of the series, he says he doesn’t want to do it anymore. In the third book he doesn’t want a red room in the new house.
A Dominant, meanwhile, that’s their main thing–being in control. If he actually can be happy without being in control, yeah, he’s not a Dominant. And a sadist — I’m sorry, but you don’t just actually decide not to be someone who gets off on pain. It’s like trying to pray your way out of being gay.
Madeline: So if this was real life–which it’s not–Elena would be right. Ana and Christian together as a couple would be a compromise for him. A compromise most couples don’t survive.
Elizabeth: Right. If it was real life.
Madeline: Which it’s not.
Elizabeth: I don’t care if this story is fiction, that idea should be sorted out. Okay, Hollywood, can you do that for us? So we’re ALL happy? See built-in audience above.
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