LOS ANGELES—Social conservatives often complain about American culture, especially when it comes to television shows and Hollywood movies, and Lord knows they never miss an opportunity to issue a public statement warning that some show, website or music video promotes Satan, or whomever. But it's kind of rare for a mere trailer to spark such a public warning, which is what happened today with the release of the trailer for the movie of 50 Shades of Grey, which is surely the work of a pagan mindset, right?
Morality in Media thinks so. USA Today reports that its executive director, the flying phobic Dawn Hawkins, condemned "the newly released trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey. The trailer, she says, 'deceives the public with a visually appealing melodramatic love story that romanticizes and normalizes sexual violence.'" Oh, those sneaky devils!
USA Today, however, actually gives a modicum of credence to their nonsense, with Ann Oldenburg writing for the site, "This argument came up when the first of the hot trilogy of 'mommy porn' books was published in 2011, as the story centers around sexy millionaire Christian Grey, who is into dominant bondage sex with submissive, innocent, college grad Anatasia Steele.
"The controversy," she adds, "has been a constant topic for discussion and debate. In August 2013, a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that Fifty Shades perpetuates 'dangerous abuse patterns,' such as stalking, intimidation, humiliation and isolation."
One would be hard-pressed to find anything of the sort in the trailer, however, which seems to go out of its way to avoid any reference to bondage activity other than a brief glimpse of what looks to be a leather corset of some type. But it and the movie could be rendered as a PG version of the book and MiM, along with the Parent's Television Council—which also railed today about the trailer being shown on NBC this morning—would still deliver dire words of caution about seeing it.
As Dawn Hawkins wrote today, "A warning to the women lining up to see this film: There is nothing empowering about whips and chains or humiliation and torture. Women as a group will not gain power by collaborating with violent men. Women would be serving only as an agent to further their own sexual degradation, handing themselves on a silver platter to exactly the sort of men who want to use and abuse them, and take away their power."
Forgetting for a moment the blatant paternalism in a "warning" directed only at women, perhaps MiM, PTC and all of the other religion-based socially conservative groups up in arms about sex in media have reason to be concerned. If anyone has a grasp on the weakness of the flesh, they should. Indeed, as AVN reported earlier this year, results from a study out of Case Western Reserve University indicated "a powerful predilection in religious people—okay, Christians—to believe they are addicted to porn no matter how much porn they watch or whether it negatively impacts their lives."
It also should come as no surprise, even to MiM, that there exist Christians who actively engage a BDSM lifestyle without any sense of contradiction of their faith, and even go so far as to help others understand how "two Christian spouses can incorporate many elements of BDSM into their lives and still stay within Biblical guidelines for their marriage and sexuality." And of course, there are also Christian swingers who still refer to themselves as "faithful couples." Get it?
An irony here is that the source for all of this, the novel 50 Shades of Grey, was pretty much roundly panned by the authentic BDSM community for being too vanilla, which is one reason the book earned the moniker "mommy porn." That isn't exactly a compliment.
But that is the point: a tame, TV-friendly trailer for "mommy porn" is precisely more of threat to the MiMs and PTCs of the world than even the edgiest hardcore BDSM porn, which can get pretty damn edgy. They see it as teasing fetish, the soft overture to a far rougher performance, a gateway drug leading to cocktail of porn addiction, which is why they jumped all over the tame trailer.
Too late, though. If NBC likes it in the morning, look for Jimmy Fallon to slow jam it sometime soon at night.
Image: Courtesy of fiftyshadesmovie.com.