Join us! Nintendo Enthusiast Forums
dark        


50 Shades: Porn afraid to be porn

0

50 ways to leave your lover

I don't think I'm really offending anyone when I say that the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy is one of the worst trilogies to ever happen to cinemas. It's rare to see a story told where every installment is awful from beginning to end, but for entirely different ways. Say what you will about the Transformers movies, and you can say a lot about them, but at least those movies are interesting to dissect. Hell, Lindsey Ellis has been making an entire series going over each individual reason why the Transformers movies are so fascinatingly awful. 

If a person watched one of the 50 Shades of Grey movies and was asked afterwards why the movie wasn't good, they'll throw out one of several reasons why. There are no characters. The story is terrible. The soundtrack is in your face and tries to sell whatever new pop song is making the rounds. Nothing happens over the span of nearly two hours. The sex scenes are amazingly unsexy. Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson have no chemistry. All of these are true, but they're systemic of the main problem with 50 Shades of Grey as a movie franchise.

50 Shades of Grey tries to be accessible porn. Milquetoast porn. Porn without any bite, eroticism, and most importantly, porn that has a story. So before we can talk about why the movie's suck more than Anastasia Steele, we need to talk about the books. Hoo boy. 

From the beginning, 50 Shades of Grey was associated as soft-core mom porn. It was porn that your mom read in her book club. It was something that was publicly known and made fun of on the internet, but that reputation helped solidify its place in pop culture. Hell, I used to gather around with a bunch of theatre friends when the book first came out and we read the sex scenes in various character voices. Droopy Dog, Barack Obama, Shaggy, everyone got a chance to narrate the BDSM sex scenes and cause tons of laughter for everyone. 50 Shades of Grey had a reputation, and by God did it stick to it. 

I understand why the series took off with that particular demographic. 50 Shades of Grey was the perfect escapist fantasy for women. It stars a young woman who leads a boring life who meets this billionaire that she starts to fall for, he becomes attached to her and does kinky as hell things to her, she enjoys it, wants to become a part of his life, and slowly starts to change him into a better person while still keeping all of the freaky sex, money, and luxurious life style. Believe me, I get it. There's nothing wrong with escapist fantasy for women, just as there's nothing wrong with escapist fantasy for men. We all want to be the good looking, smart, shredded guy who gets the girl and saves the world. To condemn 50 Shades of Grey based on it's premise is shallow in my opinion. If you were a women, wouldn't you want to be married to a billionaire who gave you some of the best sex of your life?

But here's an important fact to remember. Back when I narrated the sex scenes with some friends? We ONLY read the sex scenes aloud. We didn't care about the plot of the book or the struggles of the characters. It was porn. If you've ever watched porn, man or woman, can you honestly say that you cared about the story that the actors went through. The development that wasn't related to their genitals? Probably not. You watched porn for the sex, plain and simple. People enjoyed reading 50 Shades of Grey for the sex scenes. They worked so well in the books because E L James provided the framework for you to insert your own fantasy into the story. Your imagination did the heavy lifting in depicting how the sex scenes were shown in your mind. They could have been mild, or they could have been the steamiest fantasy that you've ever encountered. 

When you transition a product from one medium to another, you're going to encounter some problems to say the least. In the case of books becoming movies, a producer needs to ask questions like "What scenes need to be cut?," "What scenes need to be added?," but most importantly "How is this going to look on film?" But when you start to think of an answer to that final question, all of the problems start to pop up. 

50 Shades of Grey is soft-core porn. It's erotica. The sex scenes have been built up by the readers as being these amazing, spectacular visions of pleasure, but now you have to put it on screen. You need to get actors involved. The movie needs to get a rating. You can't just put porn in theatres, that'd be career suicide. So in order to make bank at the box office, the producers make the only rational decision they can make. They need to make the sex scenes tamer. They need to make them tame enough so that they can still get the R rating an ensure that their movie can screen in theatres. 

And there's your main problem. You toned down something that should not have been toned down. Sex was the original focus in the novels, and when that isn't the focus of the movies, the only thing that can be the focus are the characters and the plot. What I'm trying to get at is the 50 Shades of Grey movies made the immortal sin of all porn and put the story before the titillation. Characters come first, completely unintended pun comes second. 

So when people look at the poor characters and the nonsensical plot developments of the trilogy and call them out rightfully as being awful, it's because the weakest element of the novels was put front and center. I mean, have you read the part of the books that weren't surrounding sex and BDSM? They're unreadable! "All of my worst fears packaged neatly into one sentence now exorcised." What the hell does that even mean?

It says a lot that the only reason why 50 Shades Freed is the best in the trilogy (and that's not a big compliment really) is because there are at least a handful of sex scenes on display. I think we got close to ten scenes this time, and while they don't last for all that long, and don't do enough to get anyone aroused, one could argue that they take up about 5-10% of the movie. Okay, that's not a whole lot, but it's still more than the previous two movies. It tried so hard to give in to the sex, but it couldn't quite reach it. Instead we get an hour and a half of watching Anastasia and Christian go vacationing around the world with their armada of Audi cars with an unhealthy amount of Oedipal subtext. 

But there is a way to redeem the series. I mean, there was a way because now that the trilogy is done there's no going back unless someone wants to reboot this and no one in their right mind is that evil to do that, but there was a way to save the franchise. It might not have made it good, but it would have at least earned my respect. 

50 Shades of Grey should have gone NC-17.

I know that may sound impossible given today's current film climate. I mean, when was the last time you heard of an NC-17 movie being released in theatres? Actually, it's not all that uncommon for movies to be rated NC-17. It's just that after they get that rating, studios decide to edit down the content in order to give it an R rating. Movies like Sausage Party and Evil Dead 2 all originally received NC-17 ratings, but the producers edited the movie afterwards in order to make sure that it got an R rating and could screen at most theatres. Keep in mind that a lot of mainstream movie theatres don't want to screen NC-17 movies for fear of investing into something that's going to receive little payoff as well as ruin their "family friendly" image. Remember, NC-17 usually means incredible violence or porn. That's why you'll see "Unrated" or "Uncensored" versions of comedies or horror movies on home video. Those were the original NC-17 versions most of the time, got edited for theatres, then were released in their original glory on DVD and Blu-ray. 

Can NC-17 movies make a profit though? For movies that decide to keep an NC-17 rating, chances are that the odds are pretty low, but not impossible. Blue is the Warmest Color and Showgirls are NC-17 movies that released with an NC-17 rating and both made a pretty nice sum of change. Both movies made around $20 million each while working with a small budget, usually around $4-5 million. Both movies made a profit at the end of the day, which is exactly what studio executives want. 

The budget for the 50 Shades of Grey movies are pretty large, totaling at $150 million between all three of them. When you actually watch the movies, all the budget is really used for is to create elaborate sets. Yes, the sets look great and they're shot great, but the franchise is also pretty intent on showing Audi cars, elegant fashion lines, jewelry, and vacationing to a whole bunch of different venues. I know that those moments are integral to the series, but the franchise could certainly do without the fleet of Audi's on full display paying for a ridiculous soundtrack that has only pop songs from the hottest artists in it. You can make this franchise on a much smaller budget. 

And would people go see an NC-17 50 Shades movie? I think so. I think that if you have a series that is established erotica with sex scenes being the primary selling point, you'll get an audience in. The books have earned over $95 million in 2013 before the films came out, so there is already an established fan base, plus I'm pretty certain that the majority of those fans are over 17 years old. Plus those are just the numbers from 2013. They've probably doubled by this point, expanding the reach of the series exponentially. There's a solid chance for it to work. You have the audience, you'll be able to satisfy them, and I'll at least be able to respect a modern NC-17 film trilogy existing in general. 

But would that happen? No. Money is money, and if you can take a risque series and dull it down enough to get audiences into seats, that's all that matters. Yes, 50 Shades of Grey could make money as an NC-17 series, but it wouldn't be enough when it could have made MOAR MONEY as an R rated series. Who cares if we neuter the material as long as they get money off of it? I know this was all just one giant think experiment, but I firmly believe that anything can be made good. Yes, even one of the worst franchises in modern cinema, but it could have been better. Is it likely that could have happened? 

No. Not at all. 

 

You are logged out. Login | Sign up

 
 

 

TwitterRedditEmailFacebook
 
Jesse Lab
Jesse LabFlixist Contributor   gamer profile

Is he sane? Is he even human? Does he have good taste? Who knows! He certainly doesn't... He's a man of few words, but most of them are pretty introspective and attempt to look at either big iss... more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #50 Shades #Destructoid Originals #E.L. James #Flixist

READER COMMENTS LOADING BELOW...


LET'S KEEP THE COMMUNITY GREAT


You're not expected to always agree, but do please keep cool and never make it personal. Report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community team. Also, on the right side of a comment you can flag nasty comments anonymously (we ban users dishing bad karma). For everything else, contact us!