50 Shades Of Grey: Books Beat Trailer

With the same bated breath and anticipation as you, dear reader, I, too, watched the “50 Shades of Grey” trailer that premiered this past week.

So much has already been said about the preview. It’s true—Beyoncé’s revamping of “Crazy in Love” is as flawless as they say. If the trailer was made for no other reason than to house that masterpiece, I would forgive the large multi-digited profit the film will assuredly gross come Valentine’s Day. Instead, we’ll have an entire feature-length movie to groan and bemoan for the next few years while unwittingly contributing to its mass success (see: the Twilight series). The trailer is our first impression of what that complete piece will look like.

The comparisons between the short clip we have seen and the books are inevitably mounting. Noah Berlatsky for The Atlantic, calling the novel “a dull sexual document,” was also of the opinion that the trailer has transcended the books and that the films (assuming Universal Pictures and Focus Features are in it for the triple-crown franchise) will, for once, be better than the writing they are based upon. The novels are so poorly written, how can the story possibly get any worse in the moving picture medium?

The trailer, executed in the cutesy cinematic flourish reserved for movies targeting women, while ditching all of the wholesome, second-grade level prose of the novels also loses the dynamics between the indomitable Christian Grey and the mousy Ms. Steele. Anastasia’s hesitation, her fear and her choice are left out of the trailer and she is portrayed as innocently complicit and consensually pleased.

Readers of the trilogy know that is not so. Readers know that Christian Grey, as cast via e-book, is emotionally manipulative, controlling and psychologically wrecked. In the trilogy, he feeds off of feeding his “submissive,” clothing her and of course, dominating her. A virgin before meeting the enigmatic Mr. Grey, Anastasia and her apprehension to submit to the insanely rich and powerful man she has happened upon actually bolster the otherwise weak plot.

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I must admit that I only read the first two novels of the trilogy, finally quitting in exhaustion of Anastasia’s also tired monologue. That and the unlikely turn toward “good guy” on the part of one Mr. Christian Grey. But despite its poor writing and redundancy—Berlatsky mentions the ever-present “oh my!” phrase in his piece—the monologue actually serves to highlight what is most interesting about the series. Anastasia Steele’s thoughts, her worries, her doubts and her acknowledgements of the oddity of the situation underline the relationship as more freaky (perverse) than sexy and the novels as more interesting than standard literary p*rn.

With the full-on faults of Christian Grey glossed over and waxed with a commercial sheen, as they are in the trailer, the film will be no more than the typical romantic slop women are already fed by Hollywood. Except this time, that slop will involve butt plugs.

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