Review: “Fifty Shades Darker”; Should I Watch The Movie?

Issue 20  //  ·  · 

What is it about?
The controversial Fifty Shades trilogy by British author E. L. James traces the romance of a fresh college graduate, Anastasia “Ana” Steele and a dashing self-made billionaire, Christian Grey. In an interview, E. L. James herself stated that the books contain sexual fantasies arising from her own mid-life crisis. In other words, we are warned that some dangerous ideas run throughout the story that we should be discerning about. Here are some in Black and White:

BLACK
– Ana and Christian kiss the third (brief) time they meet; by their fourth meeting, she dangerously decides to give her virginity to someone she barely knows other than that he has control issues, and a penchant for BDSM (do read our Dear Kallos column that addresses this in further detail!)

– The novel makes BDSM seem acceptable, even normal, by making us feel sorry for Christian, who is unable to emotionally connect as he was sexually abused by an older woman as a youth. He has developed an intense need for power and authority that he expresses during sex, and Ana decides to persevere in the relationship in spite of warnings from others that he is dangerous for her.

WHITE?
– Fifty Shades does hint at the need to look beyond the surface of someone. Instead of dismissing Christian completely, Ana tries to understand the hidden reasons behind his actions.

– The trailer of the second movie, Fifty Shades Darker, asks, “Can love survive?” Ana does successfully break down Christian’s emotional walls, marry him, and even have kids — a seemingly happy ending to a complex relationship.

Verdict:
While Ana’s insistence on saving Christian (the irony of his name is difficult to miss) seems admirable, her ‘pure intentions’ come as an afterthought to satisfying her lust. The ‘girl-next-door melting the heart of the rich-aloof-guy’ narrative and Ana’s desire to lead Christian “out of darkness and into the light” makes us go “aww”. It’s a winning formula that many K-dramas use as well, but we have to be mindful that in reality, people in abusive relationships cannot expect to change their abusers, even if they call themselves Christians.

Now that you know the ending to the Fifty Shades trilogy, do you have to pick up the books or watch the movies? If you’re really itching to do so, ask yourself these questions first: Must I really read this book? Do I harbour deceptive feelings of lust and am I looking for a place to feed them? Will this temporary satisfaction edify myself or others, or glorify God? Speak to a mature friend or sister if you struggle with this issue; you don’t walk this journey alone. Choose wisdom, dear sister!

Benita Lim
Benita recently moved to LA to further her theological education, and is constantly amazed and humbled by how much love and grace God continues to show to this world — and herself.

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