Fifty Shades turns off domestic-violence advocates

by Emily Roberts | Feb 16, 2015

'Fifty Shades’ turns off domestic-violence victim advocates, who push for boycott

February 13, 2015
by Jennifer Emily
The Dallas Morning News

The new movie Fifty Shades of Grey is generating heavy discussion among domestic violence victim advocates.

But their chatter isn’t about the quality of the film, whether it’s sexy or whether the lead actors hate each other. Anti-domestic violence groups say the movie and the book it’s based on portray an unhealthy and dangerous relationship.

“It has all the hallmarks of intimate partner abuse,” said Paige Flink, CEO of the Family Place shelter in Dallas. “It glorifies all the things we’re against.”

The anti-Fifty Shades sentiment has launched a nationwide effort to donate $50 to a domestic violence shelter instead of seeing the movie. The movement sparked #50DollarsNot50Shades and #50ShadesIsAbuse on Twitter and Facebook.

As far away as London, the film drew harsh criticism. At its premiere there on Thursday, protesters carried banners that read “50 Shades is Domestic Abuse.”

Safe Haven, Tarrant County’s shelter, sent an email to its supporters about boycotting the movie and donating to shelters instead. The head of the nonprofit could not be reached Friday.

Flink said the Family Place had received two donations as of early Friday. But she hasn’t heavily promoted the movement, she said, because she didn’t want to give more publicity to a movie that’s expected to break records. She did post about the boycott on the Family Place’s Facebook page.

Fifty Shades follows mousy English literature major Anastasia Steele (played by Dakota Johnson) as she interviews dashing young business magnate Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for her college newspaper. Christian tries to entice Anastasia into becoming his sexual submissive, wooing her with expensive gifts, rides in his Grey Enterprises helicopter and steamy bedroom encounters.

A recent Los Angeles Times story about criticism of the film described it as less explicit than the book. The movie’s sex scenes arrive after a long buildup between the characters and are as close to pornography made for women as those in any cinema, with breathy Beyoncé songs, flattering lighting and frequent shots of Dornan’s bare chest and rear, according to the Times.

In an interview with the California newspaper, director Sam Taylor-Johnson indicated she walked a line in shooting and editing some of the film’s rougher sex scenes.

“Even though this relationship is about dominance and submission, I wanted to have it be an equal journey,” she said. “So it was a fragile balance. I think that was because of my perspective of keeping an eye on the politics of it. It’s difficult because you’re dealing with power, submission, empowerment and the journey of sexual discovery.”

Flink, who said she hasn’t seen the movie and read only part of the book, said “maybe the movie shows how much pain” Anastasia is in, but she doubts it.

Reviews for Fifty Shades have been overwhelmingly negative. The Dallas Morning News’ Chris Vognar gave the film a C- and said it was more tedious than tawdry.

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