Might anyone be interested in a dialogue about the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey?” Frankly, I don’t intend to see it but I’m interested in opening up a dialogue about it with anyone who has seen it. I recently read an article about the sex toy industry that is blossoming in response to the book and expected to blossom even more on account of the movie. It reminds me of the marketing of so many spin-off products related to other movies. Apparently we are removing the social taboos about the openness with which the marketing of sex toys and instruction in their use is occurring. What promises, pitfalls and perils await us in this development?
What I’m wondering about and would like to diablog with others about are these points, at least for starters:
1) Is “Fifty Shades of Grey” a dramatization of a man who has become trapped in intertwined addictions to sexual pleasure and power over others? Does power corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely, as Lord Acton long ago suggested? Does this story reveal how all addictions are progressive diseases that spiral increasingly out of control as they descend into the depths of depravity in pursuit of greater “highs” when past practices no longer produce the same appetite-satisfying results? Does this movie warn us of the patterns predators use to groom and seduce their prey? Does it warn us of the naivete involved in not being prepared to recognize and steer clear of predators instead of being fascinated by their charm and claims of pleasure and power beyond our wildest dreams? Does it enlighten us at all about the numbing of emotions and acceptance of self-devaluing required to engage fully in any addictive practice? Does it reveal how ruinously dehumanizing addictions are for all participants once they become entrenched?
2) Does the exploitation of life for fun and profit always lead to a declining quality of life? Is “Fifty Shades of Grey” merely a string of product placements, a multiphase infomercial for sex toys others hope to market to naïve consumers who do not understand the risks of becoming sexual addicts themselves? How completely unethical are the movie producers and sex toy marketers in their willingness to throw their market members to the wolves of predatory addictions and promote the decline of modern society so long as their profits pour in? If the movie were about the cocaine drug trade, would there be no serious questions if retailers began to openly sell and promote the use of cocaine? Are we aware enough to note that the chemistry of sexual pleasure and the social dynamics of dealing in and consuming sexually stimulating products parallels the chemistry of drug-induced pleasure and the social dynamics of dealing in and consuming chemically stimulating products? Are we wise enough to discern how to respond to these potential parallels and steer clear of the hazards of addiction latent in them?
Because I’m not going to watch this movie, please pardon my ignorance about it and my unwillingness to critique it or take a stand in favor or against it. I’m interested in allowing this movie to benefit society in any way it may raise interesting questions and promote a dialogue about the wisdom it may or may not suggest is not yet operative in modern society about addictions and the path to entering into one and becoming unwittingly bogged down in it. What does this movie tell us about the distinction between healthy intimacy and the alternative of exploitative relationships that can only lead to harm — physical, emotional, mental and otherwise? Does this movie help us have a clearer vision of this distinction by pealing back the cover from one man’s secret lifestyle to allow us to learn from his dilemma of being out of control and never satisfied with life? Does it educate us in any way about the danger of pretending to be satisfied with gaining increasing power over others while we feel more and more utterly powerless in our own private lives? Does it educate us about how it feels to have lost all control to compulsive activities we may have once thought of as innocent fun?
I’m interested in learning about this movie secondhand, not so much to focus on the movie itself but instead to focus on the lessons it may offer us, intentionally or otherwise.