Sunday 13 October 2019

Let's not get too excited about Fifty Shades of Grey, ladies

Brace yourselves, girls, Eilis O'Hanlon advises. Fifty Shades Of Grey is back with a bang, and this time it's in colour

Dornan with his ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ co-star Dakota Johnson
Dornan with his ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ co-star Dakota Johnson
Dornan stars in the new movie adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey

Eilis O'Hanlon

Fifty shades of what? Blue? Beige? Flourescent pink? Grey, that was it. It's all coming back. Vaguely. It was that kinky thing women around the world briefly went mad for a while ago. Some of these respectable ladies were even reading it over lunch in the cafe at Avoca. Hussies.

The initially self-published bonkbuster made author EL James a multi-millionaire and was credited with spicing up the sex lives of bored suburban housewives everywhere. Then we all forgot about it and moved on to the next fad. S&M is so last year.

Now it's back. Sort of. The film version of Fifty Shades Of Grey is being released next February - on Valentine's Day, reportedly, because nothing screams "romance" so much as a leather-fixated loser with mummy issues trussing up his girlfriend and whacking her with a whip. To build excitement, this week a trailer was posted up on YouTube. A few of them actually. One of which has already been viewed nearly ten million times. Which is approximately the same number of hits our heroine will receive during the course of the movie. Who needs a plot anyway?

Like the book, some of the trailers take a hell of a long time to get going, concentrating instead on some lingering aerial shots of Manhattan with all those phallic skyscrapers thrusting manfully into the sky. What could they possibly be trying to say? Mmm, subtle.

It's all very slick and edgy. Handheld cameras. Weird camera angles. Much of it's in slow motion, because slo mo's arty, innit? At least all those years in art college finally paid off for someone on the production team. Look, there's a car entering a tunnel now. Hands up, who got Symbolism For Beginners for his birthday? The film itself looks as if it's going to be a cross between a perfume ad and an eighties soap opera, sort of like Dynasty with added dirty bits, featuring a male star in Ulsterman Jamie Dornan who is best known hitherto for advertising Calvin Klein.

And to be fair, there are worse things that a Northern Irishman could be famous for than posing topless with a sultry Oriental model to flog some fancy fragrance. It wasn't so long ago that Jamie's fellow countrymen were making the earth move in much less appealing ways.

Though seriously, guys, what is it with all the Rolex watches? If the trailers really are an indication of what audiences can expect when the movie opens, this film could well break the world record for the most shameless instances of product placement on the big screen since Christopher Reeve flung General Zod into that 
giant Coca Cola sign in Superman II.

If so, it wouldn't be inappropriate. Fifty Shades Of Grey was the ultimate consumerist fantasy. It wouldn't have worked if Christian Grey wasn't a billionaire. You don't get to do that kind of stuff to your significant other if you work in Lidl, but you can get away with pretty much anything if you own your own plane. The woman in the story - let's call her Doris, because it's easier than bothering to look it up, and it's not as if she bears any resemblance to an actual female human anyway - was as much turned on by Mr Grey's wealth as by his legendary sexual prowess. Limousines, oh yes, penthouse apartments, yes, yes, yes. Think Molly Bloom with a Platinum Mastercard.

When the movie does come out, it'll be interesting to see how women respond to it. What felt dangerous, transgressive and sexy on the page may just look trashy and exploitative on screen. Or worse, plain silly. Nothing is going to puncture the self-important pomposity of S&M fetishists more than finding themselves in an audience of giggling punters who don't take this titillating tosh as earnestly as the aficionados.

If we must be pretentious about it, reading the book was also a collective cultural experience - a total of 430,000 copies of the trilogy have been sold in Ireland alone since 2012 - and it was one which women undertook in a mostly male-free environment, because the chaps weren't that bothered by Fifty Shades Of Grey. They'd been happily enjoying erotica for years. Or porn, as they more honestly called it. They didn't need a Rolex with their sex, or to have their appetites endorsed by pseudo-scholarly articles in the broadsheets outlining deconstructionist theories of female desire.

Let's see how much women are still into this whole phenomenon when Himself decides to settle back and watch Doris and Mr Big going at it in HD 
on the big screen. Who knows, he might be so taken with this fictional world that he picks up the director's cut when it 
comes out on DVD. Maybe even one of those special editions with all the deleted scenes that were too hot 
to make it into the theatrical release.

"Hey, honey, you were right, this Fifty Shades malarkey is great. Will I get out the gimp masks now or will you?" Wives across the world will be pulling that face - you know the one - and swiftly taking up celibacy.

Nothing exposes hypocrisy more than our different attitudes to sex. So ladies, next time you find something dodgy on his internet history, don't judge, and don't nag. You have your fantasies about Christian Grey. He has a filter-free search engine on his laptop. What's the difference?

Sunday Independent

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top