Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hey, 50 Shades, If You Can't Say Anything Nice, Shut the Fuck Up

Yesterday, I wrote a piece asking people not to contextlessly and unknowledgeably bash the books or the movie

And I stand by that. Much as I personally dislike the books, I stand by my plea. I firmly believe that it does more damage than good.

Especially, when the books and film just keep giving people plenty of context in which to criticize it. 

I am trying—honestly trying—not to take this personally. The offensively vanilla actors they cast to play these painfully unkinky characters don’t know me. They don’t know anything about me or what I do.

But, AGAIN, that’s my point!

People need to stop hating on things that they know NOTHING about. You want to hate me and people like me, you want to hate what we do, then learn about it, research it, figure out exactly why you hate the things you hate. You just might be surprised to find that you don't hate it as much as you thought you did, after you do. And, if you still do, at least you have verbal bullets in your gun.

Granted, this article is hardly unbiased and for the most part misses the point completely—taking a much more “hahaha, isn’t it funny; actors say the darnedest things!” attitude about this—but look at the things the actors actually say:

"Filming a sex scene is not a sensual or pleasurable environment. It's really hot—not in a steamy, sexual way. It's just sweaty and it's not very comfortable. And on top of that, my hands and legs were tied, and I was blindfolded, and I was being hit with this bizarre tool. ... It was emotionally taxing. At first I was like, 'Oh my God, this is the worst thing ever,' and then I was like, 'All right, let's get on with it.'" 
Bizarre? That's the adjective you chose? Emotionally taxing? You've been in films with dirty cops engaged in turf wars with outlaw biker gangs, films depicting the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, and films featuring ex-convict street racers with revenge on their minds. But this is bizarre and emotionally taxing? This is the worst thing ever? So much so that you just can't wait to just be done with it? You've got weird perspectives on things, lady.
"Anyone who thinks actors get turned on doing sex scenes in films is mistaken. There are dozens of hairy men standing around, moving cables and lighting equipment. That's not sexy unless you're into being watched, which I'm not.
Said as if there's something wrong with voyeurism or exhibitionism. So long as everyone involved is consensual, I don't see the problem. And you do realize that acting, movies, theatre, and performance are all forms of vanilla, real-world voyeurism and exhibitionism, don't you? You might not be getting your rocks off by it, but the two aren't as far apart as you'd probably like to think they are.
"Some of the Red Room stuff was uncomfortable. There were times when Dakota was not wearing much, and I had to do stuff to her that I'd never choose to do to a woman.” 
Again, said with such disdain. As if you treat women better than kinksters. As if you know better than everyone how every woman ought and wants to be treated. How horribly presumptuous you are. And, even if you were right, I've read enough of the books to know that the things your character did outside of the Red Room were far worse than the things he's famed for doing inside it. Stalking is way worse than spanking and Grey manages that chapters before Ana ever even knows about his Red Room of Pain. Get your priorities straight.
"The first day [of filming] was kind of an out-of-body experience. I got there and they said, "Action!" I'm like, "What the f—k is happening? I'm a dad. What?" 
Said as if being a dad disqualifies a person from kink or as if being kinky disqualifies a person from being a dad. What the fuck is wrong with you? It's clear that you know nothing about being kinky, but now I seriously question whether you know what it means to be a father too.
"It was an interesting evening. Then go back to my wife and newborn baby afterwards … I had a long shower before touching either of them."
Fuck yourself. Just fuck yourself. Those people invited you into their space, offered you hospitality and a chance to learn more about the role you were hired to play, and that's your opinion of them? That being in their presence made you feel dirty? That they and what they shared, what they tried to share with you presumably at your request, are dirty? Yeah, fuck off, you ungrateful, bigoted asshat.

I understand that it would be extremely difficult to find kinky actors to play these characters—Ana and Grey are pretty universally and entirely fairly loathed throughout the community—but is it too much to ask the vanilla actors to not be so blatantly, so directly, and so aggressively kink-negative?

I also understand that the books are a joke to a lot of people. But, for a lot of people they—like a lot of BDSM erotica, not all of which are SSC or great pieces of literature—were their introduction to kink. Like I said, for a lot of us (hey, my introduction to kink was a donated, not thoroughly vetted, very erotic illustrated book about fairytales that mistakenly found itself in my elementary school library), books and films serve as sexual awakenings that open our eyes to new things. 

Shades got a lot of things about kink and romance wrong—flat-out, horrifically, embarrassingly wrong—but I know people who read the books and then read more books and then read blogs and then went to munches and then went to parties or found partners and suddenly they were in the community. And that's a valid and fairly common story these days.

I don't like the books and I think that people should critique them and should hold them accountable for the things they get wrong. But we are too often dismissing them. Treating like they're nothing. Like they're a joke. 

Except they've made an impact on the sexual and romantic landscape. They still are. Seems like, however you feel about the series, the books and the movie are things that ought to be given a more critical look.

You don't have to like the books. You don't even have to like kink. But it would be nice if the people having such an impact on people's lives, like those actors, took the time to at least think about the things they were saying. It could have been a moment to acknowledge the books' shortcomings while also acknowledging their impact. Not to mention urging people who might have had their eyes opened by the series to learn more from more reliable and reputable sources.

They don’t have to like kink, they certainly don’t have to walk away from the experience being kinksters, but is it too much to ask for them to be professionals?

Couldn’t they just have said:
“I’m not into kink; it’s not my thing. But, to research the role, I did X,Y,&Z. I read A,B,&C. And I talked to L,M,&N. From everything I've learned, this movie—and the books they’re based off of—seem to be a starting point for this lifestyle. And, if fans are really into this—and I hope they are and really hope they go out to see and love the film—I recommend they do their own research. Because, you know, kink may not be my thing, but this film isn’t for me. It’s for the fans and I hope you all enjoy it.”

Would that have been SO HARD?! To have a little tact, a little diplomacy, a little grace, about this? To actually do your due diligence as an actor and bother to research your character and the background they're supposed to come from? To do your fucking job? To treat other people's truths and lifestyles with a modicum of respect? To not turn up your nose at the very thing—the very people, both your fans who love you or the work (who knows why?) and the real-life kinksters you're insulting—whom you’re exploiting for fame and profit?

If they're not willing to do it for the kink community's sake, couldn't they at least manage to do it for the ticket sales? Or, I don't know, maybe for common human decency?

 If anything ought to leave them feeling in need of a shower, that should.

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