Fifty Shades of Grey defies typical Hollywood style

hate to give the best-selling book and box office hit movie, “Fifty Shades of Grey” any more time in the spotlight, but there are a few things that need to be said before the movie becomes old news.

Here are the facts: “Fifty Shades of Grey” exploded at the box office this weekend, with a rousing estimated four-day gross of $94.4 million. The Fifty Shades’ climactic box office eruption isn’t much of a surprise—the E.L. James book on which it’s based is a global phenomenon that famously boasts a readership of some 100 million worldwide. According to data provided by Universal Pictures, the domestic audience for the film was also predictably skewed toward women: 68 percent female versus 32 percent male. Another fact that should be mentioned is the book and movie center on a relationship based on bondage, domination, sadism, masochism (BDSM), manipulating emotions and controlling actions.

What we should be focusing on is the fact that this movie is focused primarily on women—both as characters and as ticket buyers. It seems as if Hollywood is now starting to realize the impact women have on the world and can have at the box office. We should not be shocked if we begin to see a surge of female-driven movies as a result of the molasses-slow pace at which Hollywood reacts to change.

The magnitude of this very welcome growth should not be overstated. Women are still woefully underrepresented in directors’ chairs, and the overwhelming heterosexual whiteness of the characters in Hollywood is rather impossible to ignore. On both scores, television—which operates at a much faster decision-making metabolism—is already light years ahead of the movie business, with several ratings hits featuring people of color and being driven (both behind and in front of the camera) by women. 

I am not saying that a relationship depicted in the film “Fifty Shades of Grey” nor any aspects of the book are “getting” women, but I am saying that it is time for women to watch what they want to watch without judgment.

When the movie came out Feb. 14, many were quick to criticize the film for its soft-core-porn qualities and erotic nature. There were countless articles dealing with the fact that an emotionally manipulative and abusive relationship was being shown on the silver screen (no pun intended). 

Yet no one thought to think of the countless other movies and art forms that depicted the same thing when the target audience is men: adult magazines, adult films, obscene literature, and sexually explicit art.

I am not endorsing the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” for being Oscar worthy, nor am I saying it is realistic to women’s desire for abusive relationships. I am merely pointing out a fact that many seem to be missing when it comes to this film.

Why is an erotic film geared toward a female audience  slammed for depicting sexual abuse? All the while, no one is as quick to judge the countless other “films” and “movies” with the same premises of abusing women, BDSM, and manipulating emotions that is geared toward a male audience?

Lilly is a freshman writer for The Daily Cardinal. Do you agree with her stance on women and their roles in Hollywood? Is there a point she may have over looked? We would like to hear your view. Please send all feedback to

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