Thursday, February 16, 2017
This needs to be said . . .
Your bedroom is your business, but when a movie seeks to normalize violence we need to speak up. So I am speaking up.
We have a confused culture when swatting my three-year-old on the fanny to get his attention while misbehaving is unhealthy but sexual violence is celebrated in our movies.
In a country where we are super-sensitive about everything (participation trophies, multiple valedictorians, safe-spaces on college campuses to mourn current events) we spent half a billion dollars last year at the movies watching a woman get psychologically manipulated and sexually assaulted.
Half a billion dollars.
And our morning shows like Today and The View winked and nodded at it like it was a great idea for a bunch of girls to get dolled up, sip some wine and go see it together. It's just innocent fun . . .
Not really. We are talking about hurting someone (slapping, whipping, choking) in the midst of intimacy. Until 2010 these behaviors were listed as mental disorders by the APA. Last time I checked, that is not innocent fun, that is sick.
So after last year's release and applause by the media, I am seeing the buzz wear off. Even though it was winked at by the morning shows (again), it looks like the latest installment (Fifty Shades Darker) is being panned by the critics.
"Basically, they made a lousy, mid-2000s-era Katherine Heigl romance with a handful of explicit sex scenes spliced throughout the familiar clichés." - Chicago Sun Times
"An awful, retrograde sequel" - The Atlantic
"To put it politely, this movie has some structural issues." - A.V. Club
"Who would have imagined that a movie about sex could be so boring?" - ReelView
"The novelty of this messy relationship is really beginning to wear off" - Empire
Oh, I hope you are right, Empire.
Although it did earn the number two spot last weekend with $46 million grossing this is half the audience from last year - a promising note. I am confident that this next weekend people will listen to the critics and choose something else.
If not the critics, how about conscience? Is there anything less consistent with our values as a people than to support a movie that highlights inflicting pain on women during sex? Listen to that - I have to convince people that hurting someone for pleasure during sex is not healthy. That is really sad. Dr. Deniece Cummins, writing for Psychology Today, reminds us it that not just sexual violence but the entire movie, "is a playbook for manipulating women's insecurities in order to lure them into abusive relationships."
People can do what they want in their bedrooms, but we have a responsibility to call foul on a cultural piece that seeks to legitimize sexual violence and abusive relationships.