We finally got closure on our seriously unhealthy relationship with the Fifty Shades juggernaut this past weekend. Fifty Shades Freed, the third and final cinematic adaptation of E.L. James’ best-selling erotica trilogy, was released on Friday — much to the chagrin of hardcore fans and to the relief of movie critics everywhere.
The success of the series — the maddeningly written books and the all-too faithful films — should have been a neon-orange warning sign that a Trump presidency was all too possible. How could a billion dollar industry be built upon blatant misogyny, crass consumerism, and a 3rd grade reading level? With the willing culpability of an undiscerning, uncritical population of lazy thinkers and aspiring millionaires who just want to be entertained — that’s how. It’s why America can’t have nice things.
Before the first movie, we had hoped the film versions would right some of the books’ wrongs. But with E.L. James as a producer on all the adaptations, we were left frustrated like a punished submissive. And we don’t think having a male director with James Foley’s particular schlock-erotic sensibilities helm the last two films helped much either. Add to that the #MeToo Movement, which has already dated much of Freed, and what felt like a guilty pleasure just a few years ago now feels more like a guidebook for assessing and avoiding toxic masculinity.
Fortunately, this particular pop-culture nightmare in the Red Room is over. Wish we could say the same about America’s abusive boyfriend in the White House.
10 Things We Won’t Miss from the Fifty Shades Franchise
1. Lack of Communication: Fifty Shades Freed is basically one long episode of “Three’s Company” with high production values: it revolves around the lies, miscommunications and secrets of the main characters, resulting in ridiculous, unbelievable hijinks. Christian doesn’t tell Ana about the threat her ex boss poses, that he’s put a security detail on all his family members, that he’s discovered his helicopter crash was no accident, and that he’s kept the gun his old sub tried to shoot Ana in the face with. Ana fails to mention to Christian that his sister’s been kidnapped and she’s taking a cool 5 mil to pay off the madman. These two even get married before they’ve ever discussed whether they want to have kids! Honest, open communication is a requirement for a healthy relationship — especially one that involves kink.
2. Lack of Chemistry: You can feel it in the chill between the two actors in their joint interviews and public appearances. You can see it in the way Dornan looks at his costar with those dead fish eyes. He can’t hide his disdain for his coworker or the series (see #5); he’s just not that good an actor. We’d almost rather watch the sex scene from Howard the Duck. Almost.
3. Jamie Dornan’s Hair Pie: When the first film came out, we rued the Irishman’s styling: How could they make hot Jamie Dornan not hot? But then in Fifty Shades Darker, they made his hair worse! And in Freed, they did the impossible: gave him the same cut that every middle American Republican mother gives her 2nd grade son. During the cheesy montage of all three films at the end of this third one — an homage to/rip-off of the final Twilight movie’s ending — we found ourselves longing for his luscious locks from the first film, back when they were longer and his face wasn’t jacked up on protein shakes. If only we had known and appreciated what we had back then!
4. Metal Handcuffs, Cable Ties, Etc: The Red Room of Pain has some nice, quality, leather handcuffs that won’t pinch, chaff, break skin or cause nerve damage. The same cannot be said for cable ties (from the first film) or metal handcuffs (from the third). Maybe some pros could use these as sexual restraints safely, but the average Fifty-Shades moviegoer is not schooled in the intricate safety protocols of BDSM play. Featuring them is irresponsible. Newbies to kink: buy our beginner’s guide, 150 Shades of Play, and proceed with caution.
READ MORE: Questioning the Kink in Fifty Shades
5. Trite Dialogue: You can barely hear Jamie Dornan sputter “Laters babe” under his breath as he kisses his costar goodbye in one scene from Freed. So cringe-inducing are the catch phrases like this one from the books, the actors can hardly get them out! Just before the first Fifty was released, Dornan told the Guardian, as if in a pre-emptive apology, “No matter what happens in my career, I’ve always got The Fall.”
6. Luxury Brand Beatings: This franchise just bends you over and relentlessly pounds you with luxury product placement after luxury product placement. Okay, we get it: Christian Grey is obscenely rich. Having a big-ass rock on your finger makes it okay to finally try butt plugs. Even girls can drive Audis like Monaco Grand Prix racers. Everyone should have their own private jet…and a pony. For us plebs, the only realistically attainable purchase and worthwhile investment featured in the movie is a lovely pleasure object from LELO, because everyone deserves a quality sex toy (whether you keep it in a custom-made, hand-carved, solid oak, Italian credenza in your penthouse playroom, or in a shoe box under your futon).
7. The Movies’ Male Gaze: They’re on the French Riviera, for god’s sake: can we get a speedo up in this bitch? The main audience for this series is straight women: we don’t need to see another close up of Dakota Johnson’s erect nipples or butt goosebumps for as long as we live! Johnson said, “There is a lot more of my body that’s shown than Jamie’s actually, but weirdly he’s the one doing all the push-ups.” The director even admitted they shot full frontal of Dornan for Freed, but said that “would have been a kind of deliberate cut, to see that for no reason.” No reason? The entire series is about sex with a man whose penis Ana absolutely loves — and whose penis loves her back. How about some equal opportunity objectification for once?
8. Unbelievable plot points: Grey crashes his helicopter and walks away with just a nick on his forehead. A madman bent on revenge — who their security detail knows to be on the lookout for — is able to break into both Grey headquarters and their penthouse. Within minutes Ana is able to withdraws 5 million in cash from the local bank with Christian’s approval without offering him — or the bank — any reasonable explanation. And, perhaps most unbelievably, Ana graduates college never having dated, fucked or masturbated.
9. Abusive Behavior: We don’t care how much money you have, how much you’re into BDSM, how many crunches you’ve done: you can’t treat a woman you’re having sex with, dating, or married to like your property, a sex doll, or a piece of shit. If she wants to go out with her friends, she damn well will. If she wants to keep her maiden name for businesses purposes, deal with it. Better yet, change your last name to hers! Don’t tell her what she can and cannot eat, don’t decide how she should dress, and don’t break into her apartment (if these are not parts of predetermined roleplaying scenarios). Love — and kink for that matter — are not about controlling, emotionally abusive behavior. They’re about responsible negotiations between enthusiastically willing individuals who trust and care for one other.
10. Those Cheesy Ripped Jeans: They might as well have been high-waisted mom jeans.
Read the actually informative & intentionally funny book on kink:
“150 Shades of Play”