Fifty shades of criticism for erotic flick

Thanks to its blend of sadomasochistic sex and manipulative characters, the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey has become the target of protests from religious groups and antidomestic violence campaigners across the world.

Based on the book by EL James, it centres on Christian Grey, an emotionally damaged billionaire playboy and sadist who seduces the relatively innocent Anastasia Steele.

Last week the hashtag #50dollarsnot50shades was being used by antipornography and antiabuse campaigners to encourage would-be viewers of the film to spend their money on women’s shelters instead. Now another campaign, Fifty Shades is Domestic Abuse, is planning to target the London premiere of the film.

The campaign’s leader, Natalie Collins, argues that although she isn’t opposed to BDSM (various practices including dominance, submission and restraint) scenes, other behaviour of its controlling central character crosses into abuse.

“Is it romantic when somebody tracks your phone, when somebody knows where you live before you tell them, sells your only means of transport, or buys the company you work for?” she told the Mirror. “I have spoken to people who have said that [Grey] was abused as a child and that is why he is the way he is. It is also very dangerous to suggest that people abuse because of their childhood and that women can fix broken men with enough love.”

The American Family Association, a conservative group lobbying for Christian morality, is unhappy with the sex scenes. Its president, Tim Wildmon, argues that the “evil” film “will have a corrosive effect on cultural views of what normative sexuality ought to be”.

He, too, opposed the storyline, saying it “glorifies abusive relationships and glamorises abusive tendencies such as stalking, bondage sex, intimidation and isolation”.

Although the book’s content is well-known, none of the protesters have seen the film, which premiered at the Berlin film festival this week. Its director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, told the Guardian that she tried to be even-handed in the depiction of the problematic central relationship. “I thought, if we can take this girl on a journey, where we empower her and don’t leave her as a victim, that’s job done. We start with Anastasia coming into his world and grappling with it, so she’s an autonomous person … Yes, the film is hard-core in places, there’s dominance in places – but at no point did I feel like it had crossed a boundary.”

There is little danger of the film being boycotted in the United Kingdom and the United States, but Malaysia has banned the film, citing “scenes that are not of natural sexual content”.

Protesters have won some victories. There were a small number of complaints after US store Target placed a range of Fifty Shades paraphernalia, including blindfolds and vibrating sex toys, next to a display of children’s toothbrushes. – © Guardian News & Media 2015


Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour

Workers’ R60m ‘lost’ in banks scam

An asset manager, VBS Mutual Bank and a Namibian bank have put the retirement funds of 26 000 municipal workers in South Africa at risk

‘Judge President Hlophe tried to influence allocation of judges to...

Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath accuses Hlophe of attempting to influence her to allocate the case to judges he perceived as ‘favourably disposed’ to former president Jacob Zuma

SAA grounds flights due to low demand

SAA is working to accommodate customers on its sister airlines after it cancelled flights due to low demand

Press Releases

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.