I am guilty of being a 'fifty shades' fan. I read the three part series some time ago and as far as erotica goes I can admit it wasn't a literary masterpiece, but it has undoubtedly had an affect on me and our pop culture. It came as no surprise that a film was in the works, and I actually embraced it (even the casting choice for Mr. Grey). For those who have read this book, I'm sure you can guess where my true frustration lies. The graphic nature of the work, along with the high expectations by fans to keep it as true as possible is what surprised me most about the rating. I assumed from the beginning this film was a clear NC-17. Yes, it could be argued that a film with that rating will not reach a wide audience due to limited theatre showings. I did read there would be an NC-17 version, however released later on after the initial R version. But honestly, with the hype surrounding this entire series, I'm surprised they did not take into account what drew the massive following in to begin with, and did not use it to their advantage. Instead, we only got the R rated version of this story, where all the sexually explicit fat is trimmed, until we're left with the romantic love story backdrop. I myself just watched it tonight, and it was exactly what I expected: the sex scenes played out with Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) in all her naked glory, and no peek at what Mr. Grey (Jamie Dornan) was packing (to be fair, we got about a second of bush). My question is what is it going to take for hollywood to level out the playing field? This film would have been a wonderful opportunity to open the public up to the idea that male genitalia shown in film doesn't have to be raunchy or pornographic. Too bad the attitude of our leading man doesn't help:
"You want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible without grossing them out. You don’t want to make something gratuitous, and ugly, and graphic…"
Whichever woman feels "grossed out" by the sight of a penis on the big screen shouldn't and won't be watching this movie. not to mention This film didn't need a wider audience, in fact the intention of it...well, it's just shady. This series sold roughly ninety-two million copies and was translated into fifty two languages. Releasing this film under an NC-17 rating would have still raked in millions. I could understand if we were talking about a lesser known pioneer (Here's where I mention the brilliant Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac) however this film had generated more than enough buzz so what's the real reason? Is it wild to imagine that women who read these books actually expected and rather wanted to see these fantasies play out realistically? Instead of celebrating this open curiosity women have encountered by reading, we're making the idea of seeing it come to life tasteless and perverse. The fact is, full-frontal nudity provided by a male actor is one of pure shock and horror, even if nobody bats an eyelash at female breasts, or even bush making an appearance now and then. Granted, I might be coming off a little harsh as I'm sure certain audience members who aren't used to seeing such material might have fainted at the sight of an erect Christian Grey. Because of this, it would have made sense to have filmed and released both versions at the same time for those with a more experienced palate, such as myself. I am pleading with hollywood to wake up to the inequality of nudity in film. It's a very pathetically outdated notion considering the impact Fifty shades and it's descriptive nature has had on women of all walks of life. It's just not fair. I say, when you're a filmmaker lucky enough to know your audience and what they want, just give it to them. I do hope they'll consider this for the next two films or else they can expect an angry mob made up of horny housewives and twenty-somethings like myself.