What else? The love story that unites Anastasia and Christian is lame. Christian Grey plays the piano at night in his insomnia, Anastasia floats in a bed sheet – there is hardly a more boring way to illustrate the story. Psychologically, the story is quite cheap: Christian is “just like that” because he is an abused child himself, and Anastasia has a daddy problem.
And Sam Taylor-Johnson hasn’t exactly made a sex film either, the two of them only end up in bed – for flower sex defloration, so that the virgin Anastasia can be compared – when the film is halfway through. But maybe none of this matters at all: because the book may not have been about all that.
The trailer for the film has already broken records, and in the USA the tickets for the film’s release have already been a big hit in advance sales – but what the success of this story says about women can still be debated. Perhaps in the end it says very little about what women want; and much more about what they like to fantasize about.
He holds her head when she pukes
The writer Petra Morsbach likes to tell that in the USSR, when she was a student there, the Chekhov film adaptation “The Lady with the Little Dog” had cult status – women loved this film because, because of Chekhov, it offered things that were not otherwise seen in Soviet cinema, and especially in everyday life. Great dresses, for example, and the concept of wife with servants. The woman in the film is terminally unhappy – so it is rather unlikely that the viewers would want to swap places with the film heroine.
As for Christian Grey, he is less of a sadist and more of a patriarch of dreams. A loving all-round provider. He holds Anastasia’s head when she pukes, provides headache pills and is always there when he is needed – apart from his sexual preferences he is a real mythical creature. Most women will know that patriarchy could be quite comfortable if they could rely on the impeccable character of all patriarchs. In this respect, the theory that Christian Grey’s caring paternalism feeds the longings of overstrained working women is not so far-fetched. Which does not mean that they would put up with him for more than half an hour in real life.
There is at least one more good reason why “Fifty Shades” is appealing as a story: For the time being, there is no society, not even in permissive Europe and certainly not in the USA, where girls do not have to fear the label slut if they like to have sex – submission fantasies undermine this because they ignore the responsibility for their own actions.
Disturbing story of rich and poor
Patriarchy and capitalism work very well hand in hand. What is really disturbing about Sam Taylor-Johnson’s film version of the book is the clarity with which the images tell a story of rich and poor. Anastasia’s grubby student flat share stands in contrast to the glass palace of billionaire Christian Grey, who has a company and a helicopter, and when she asks him in the underground garage which of the luxury cars he owns, he says: “All of them!
As a matter of course he tries to buy power over her with expensive gifts – and she loves him for it. What a nightmare.