I don’t want to go on a tirade against “50 Shades of Grey”—really, I don’t. I’d rather completely overlook its existence. I tried to ignore the books when virtually every woman on mass transit except myself was reading them. I tried to ignore the rumors about film versions. But this phenomenon just WOULD NOT GO AWAY, even in New York, where I somehow thought that readers and moviegoers were more sophisticated…
I’ll try to focus on one point here, and it is this: “50 Shades” is badly written and insulting to women’s intelligence (okay, I squeezed in two extra points there!), but beyond that, it’s not even shocking as a dark depiction of erotic passion. Twisted romance and non-mainstream sexuality have been explored much more creatively by other writers and filmmakers. “50 Shades” is just a lowest-common-denominator product, a cleverly marketed mash-up of porn and bodice-rippers for women who haven’t been exposed to anything better.
That sounds sort of condescending. And I’m not exactly an expert on erotica, but when I realized that “50 Shades of Grey” really would be coming to movie theaters, I started compiling a mental list of better movies that I would recommend to people who want to see an edgy love/sex story on the big screen. Some of these movies concentrate more on emotional and psychological manipulation, and others introduced audiences to elements of S&M years and years ago.
So, when I had the chance to put my irritated thoughts into words, I wrote this list for Biography.com. I hope it will open a few readers’ eyes to the possibilities beyond E. L. James. I wasn’t able to include everything that came to my mind (Crash…The Piano Teacher…Lolita…etc.), but it’s a start.
Photo of a subway-platform advertisement by Tinsel Creation.