50 shades of masochism: the twisted “Twilight”

Carly Kinning, Online Editor-in-chief

On Valentine’s Day, some strange part of me felt compelled to see the highly-hyped movie, “50 Shades of Grey.” I went to the movie theater and witness hundreds of seemingly eager couples on their dates who were probably expecting a romantic film full of love and pleasure. I did not read the book so I did not know all of the details of everything I was in for. For those in the audience who did read the book, they most likely had a much better idea of what was in store.

For me, this movie was almost identical to the famous series “Twilight.” It takes place in Washington near Seattle with a rainy and cloudy setting. Anastasia Steele, the main character, lives with her best friend Kate, who is very similar to Jessica from “Twilight.” She is friendly and it is easier for her to talk to many different types of people, but they drift apart from each other as the film develops. Also Anastasia is closest with her step-father who is separated from her mom who lives out of state, just like Bella is closest with her dad rather than her mom, who also lives out of state.

Christian Grey is all too similar to Edward Cullen. With his mysterious persona, he intrigues Anastasia. He is filthy rich and his features are similar to Edward’s. He is masculine but in a lean way, he has a strong jawline and high standards that he dresses to. People think of him as being a “perfect man” just like Edward is made out to be by his fellow students in high school.

The relationship between Christian and Anastasia is almost identical to Edward and Bella Swan’s. Anastasia is physically attracted to Christian, but is intimidated by him at the same time. They  have a few encounters, but then she goes for a while without speaking to him.

There are more similarities. Christian gives Anastasia clothes just like Edward gives Bella clothes. Christian buys Anastasia a car, Edward buys Bella a car. Edward has a mysterious and dark past, Christian has a mysterious and dark past as well.

The scene in “50 Shades of Grey” where Christian is playing the piano in his exquisite apartment and Anastasia comes in, instantly reminded me of the scene in “Twilight” where Edward is playing the piano for Bella in his exquisite house. There is also an awkward dinner with Christian, his family who adopted him and Anastasia. This is just like the dinner with Edward, his family who adopted him and Bella. These two mysterious men are also uneasy with the idea of their girls being around their family members.

Christian also has an instinct to protect Anastasia, just like Edward’s instinct to protect Bella. Anastasia has friends, such as Kate, who are fun and somewhat immature. She goes to the club with them one night and becomes too drunk to take care of herself. Christian, with his Edward-like tendencies, takes it upon himself to rescue her. When he picks her up, he also saves her from a close male-friend who was trying to hit on her. If this sounds familiar, it should, because in “Twilight” Edward makes an almost identical move on Bella when her close male-friend, Mike, tries to hit on her as well.

Overall in “50 Shades of Grey,” there is very little development of the two main characters in this movie. As a member of the audience who did not read the book, there were many times where I felt lost. The relationship between Anastasia and Christian develops randomly and it was hard for me to tell what was going on between the couple. It seems as if they weren’t very serious with each other, and all of a sudden he is buying her a laptop or an expensive book and randomly showing up in Georgia to join her to visit her mother. He acts as if he wants nothing to do with her, but then takes her on a plane ride.

It was clear that Anastasia is attracted to Christian, but Christian on the other hand is very confusing and hard to read. This is most likely part of his character, but it was hard to tell that this is the point trying to be made.

While the movie was so similar to “Twilight,” nothing bothered me more than the prominence of the twisted, disturbing forms of pleasure granted by Anastasia’s submissive acts. Christian directly causes pain on Anastasia and in a strange way is aroused by it.

The fact that Christian needs a contract to be sexual with Anastasia should have been a red flag for her on what exactly she was getting herself into. Though Anastasia technically gives him consent, it should have been very clear by her nonverbal cues that she is anything but okay with what is going on between them.

From an outside perspective, this movie looked as if it was made in poor taste. Since Anastasia gives these nonverbal cues to Christian yet he causes her pain for his own pleasure, it made what goes on in the movie between the two seem as if it was a case of domestic violence.

After performing research on the bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism community, otherwise known as the ‘BDSM community,’ this movie began to make sense because it seemed to be based entirely around the idea of BDSM. The couple’s use of a ‘safeword’ during their sexual activitiy comes from BDSM, along with the person in the dominant role tying up and causing pain on the person in the submissive role. In BDSM, however, both parties participating in the sexual and twisted acts give consent to the pain they are putting themselves in for pleasure.

This is where the movie made me so uncomfortable to the point where I almost left the theater; Anastasia does not seem to be okay with this type of relationship that is developing between them. Multiple times in this movie Anastasia expressed her feelings about how she wasn’t sure if this is what she wanted. She spoke about it with her mother and even her roommate/best friend Kate, who noticed she had been acting differently.

What I got out of this movie was nothing I had expected. Instead of a movie with characters who developed and a plot that made sense, I was given a poor introduction as to what the BDSM community was. I left the theater that night feeling like I needed a shower and to report a case of domestic abuse.