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What’s truly shocking about 50 Shades of Grey

February 23, 2015

So, I finally saw it – the movie that has shocked the world.

Clad in Yoda style robes, we skulked into an early evening showing of Fifty Shades of Grey last Saturday night.

Far from the expected hordes of women fighting in the aisles, screaming and giggling – and worse – the screen was about half full, almost exclusively with couples of all ages, from twenties to sixties. None of them were in bondage gear so our Yoda cloaks were possibly a mistake.

So far, so shocking, eh? Adult couples want to see a racy film. How dreadful. The world will end (apparently, according to this Vulture review, in some parts of the US, folk were possibly expecting that to happen.)

I nearly had heart failure when a member of the Odeon staff questioned every member of the audience just before the movie started. I thought he was going to take names and report us to the council or add us to some kind of list of Undesirables or the Feeble Minded. But no… he only wanted to sell us a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.


We were safe. For now. Because at any moment, I expected the Thought Police to burst into that cinema, to snatch pictures of us for their Twitter feed. So I spent the film in a high state of alertness and tension (especially as I’d consumed three large cups of coffee that afternoon and continually needed a pee but was too afraid to miss anything.)

Then – Oh. My. God. The lights went down. I gripped the arms of my chair. My husband slowly licked the final creamy drop of Ben & Jerry’s from the spoon and moaned in ecstasy. I let out a great juddering breath and IT started.

And I was shocked. Truly shocked and astonished… for these reasons:

1. I’ve been very nervous and wary about posting this piece – and then angry and ashamed with myself that I felt intimidated into NOT posting about it sooner. Ditto posting about IT on Facebook and Twitter where the slightest reference to the film or books is likely to attract a storm of bitter protest, outrage and sarcasm.

3. This film is so not that shocking. The BDSM scenes are pretty tame, IMO, by BDSM romance novel standards. Peacock feathers? Ice cubes? A bit of slap and tickle? The final scene is a teeny-weeny bit shocking but – hell – it’s meant to be. Then again, I’m way more shocked by the glorification of violence in many action thrillers, TV series and horror movies.

4. One of the most shocking things about this whole FSOG thing is the bullying, intimidation, shaming and general ridicule heaped on those thousands – possibly millions – of people who did read the books, enjoyed them and wanted to see the film. Given that a huge proportion of those people are women and that many aren’t habitual readers or movie goers, I can’t help have the suspicion that mass sexism and intellectual snobbery have been at play. Some of these comments, especially in the media – and from PC, ‘right on’ media and commenters – have been acccompanied by sly references to the size, age and sex of the people watching the films and reading the books. Now, that is genuinely disgusting, IMO.

5. Plus this the real kicker – I was disappointed and shocked because I found out that – THIS MOVIE IS NOT REAL. The people don’t exist -this is FICTION. Christian and Anna aren’t out there, flying gliders and having their (sickeningly gorgeous) bottoms flogged. After this discovery (because apparently people who read the books and see the film can’t tell fact from fantasy) I’m in counselling now but have been comforted by this review by Heidi Rice, former newspaper film critic and best selling romance author. Equally I recommend this post by NYT best seller Jennifer Probst.

6. Now for the final shocking aspect of 50 shades of Grey, and the one which truly astonished me. Having been made to feel embarrassed to even set foot in the cinema, and expecting a movie of such utter brain shrivelling drivel, that my husband would divorce me for taking him, I actually rather liked it. No, that’s a lie. I really enjoyed it. It’s not the greatest movie but I thought it was beautifully shot, that Dakota Johnson was excellent and I will definitely get the DVD and see the sequel.

If I’m allowed to, that is. Because any moment now, I’m expecting the Apocalypse or to be flamed and shamed on Twitter. Or unfriended by that woman on Fb who said she was glad she lived in a repressive state where the film was banned.


Posted by Phillipa @ 6:58 am | Leave a Comment


  1. Ann Cooper Says:

    At last – a voice of reason! Years ago I saw the film called Blade. It was truly horrible with so much violence. Yet there wasn’t a murmur in the press. I don’t remember this much fuss for 9 1/2 Weeks either. Your 6th point says it all. It’s FICTION! And people do have a choice whether they go to watch it. Nobody is forcing them to go.

    Thank you for a balanced blog, Phillipa 🙂 x

  2. Heidi Rice Says:

    Thanks so much for the name check Phillipa. And for the brilliant blog. Intellectual snobbery and sexism bores the tits off me (well, not literally, but you get my drift)… So glad to see you call it out.

    And I enjoyed the movie too. Thought it was a hoot (and oddly did not make me want to get my DH to flog me… Go figure!)

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