Fifty Shades of Grey: A Film Review

Fifty_Shades_of_Grey_1Fifty Shades of Grey is the first mainstream film based on an ‘erotic novel’ in quite a while; the last one I can recall was Secretary, loosely based on a short story with the same title by Mary Gaitskill, but I could be wrong.

There have been numerous recent art-house films considered to be erotic, like Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Vie d’Adèle (Blue is the Warmest Colour), and Andrew Haigh’s Weekend but none of these, to my knowledge, were based on written prose. All are more explicit than Fifty Shades of Grey, and the last two mentioned are certainly, in my opinion, more erotic. But they are also not as accessible to mainstream movie-goers since both films focus on  same-sex couples. I admit to being bored to death by Nymphomaniac, but the opening sex scene of Von Trier’s Antichrist still sticks in my mind as one of the most explicitly erotic pieces of film I’ve ever seen. The rest of the movie was in need of a stricter editor, but that initial scene is raw,  feverish and terrifying, which is probably a telling clue as to my tastes.

Explicitness, it seems, is relative. There has been a great deal of television – True Blood, Spartacus, Deadwood, House of Cards, etc. – that is just as explicit as this movie, but those works don’t expressly promise to turn you on. Fifty Shades of Grey sells itself specifically as an erotic film.

First, I’d like to draw a distinction between erotic film and pornography because it helps to explain why it’s not the lack of explicitness that rendered Fifty Shades of Grey unerotic for me. I watch porn – I sometimes get myself off to porn – but I seldom consider it erotic.

Erotic narrative – filmed or textual – can be explicit, but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t serve to remind our bodies that we’re mammals who seek pleasure in the vague and often failed hope of conforming to our biological imperative. It addresses our cultural mind and talks, not of sex, but of what we as humans have made of it: not urge, not drive, but desire. Eroticism is seldom about the pleasure felt or the orgasm; it’s about the desire to get there, all the cultural and personal detritus in which we wrap that pilgrimage, and the curious delusion from which we all suffer that there is some tremendous, epiphanic mystery that lies beyond that moment of pleasure.  We settle for less. We settle for the orgasm and the intimacy and the delusion fades, until the next time.

Much like watching animals fucking, porn works on my lizard brain. It works at a very uncritical, unthinking and physical level – it speaks to my muscles and my glands but not my mind. Porn that made attempts at narrative always put me off because it was invariably facile. People used to put narrative into porn as if they needed an excuse to show people fucking, but we’ve gotten past that. Now we just have video of people achieving orgasms in various ways. For me, porn is a bit like running the faucet in an attempt to encourage urination; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not as if we don’t remember how to pee theoretically, but the sound of that water running kind of bypasses the understanding part and nudges the bladder to take the jump.

Romance is about love – a cultural construction but no less powerful for that. It often has a sexual dimension, and this is undoubtedly true for Fifty Shades of Grey: the story of a young woman who falls in love with a very rich man whose sexual practices are – even if she is intrigued by the trappings – repugnant to her. So, essentially, Fifty Shades of Grey is, for all it’s superficial focus on sex, neither pornography, nor erotic film. It’s a love story. Some might consider it a very conservative sort of love story, because the main character (not in the movie, but by the third volume of the novel) trades the sexual relationship she would prefer for love. This is what women have done for thousands of years.

For anyone who has practiced BDSM, the book and the film are both rather offensive parodies. Like spies who watch espionage thrillers, or soldiers who watch war films, or doctors who view medical dramas, there is always a sense of the false depiction of their lived realities. Fifty Shades of Grey portrays a highly fictionalized and poorly researched approximation of BDSM. All the props (too many, in fact) and none of the soul. There is none of the visceral understanding that BDSM is not a game of sexual ‘Simon Says’ but an erotic experience that people go into very willingly, driven even, to ‘queer’* the biological imperative and revel in the ways that culture has embellished it.

There has always been dominance and submission in mammalian sex, BDSM unpacks it and examines it, dissects it and revels in the dichotomy of humans as animals and humans capable of making a conscious choice in the power dynamic. Similarly, there has always been pain and danger in the nature of biological sex; instead of trying to mitigate or overlook it, BDSM reveals it, gazes into it, glories in it. Semiotics – the many layers of meaning we ascribe to any given word, act, person or event – are central to BDSM, even when we don’t explicitly acknowledge them. The handcuffs, the crops, the floggers, the wooden spoons, the sterilized needles, the corsets, the gags are not tools without context. It is their historical and social semiotic baggage that makes them erotic. BDSM is an erotic defiance of allowing things, people and acts stay in their socially and historically ascribed places. That’s why it’s fundamentally obscene and immoral to whip a non-consenting individual and deeply erotic to whip your consenting submissive lover. It may appear sexist and unfeminist when a male is dominant and a female submissive, but consider that both parties have made a deliberate choice of positioning, in disobedience of what cultural norms are now or what they have been in the past. We didn’t have a choice. Now we do and we exercise the choice consciously. It is an intentional transgression, a defiance and sometimes a parody of the status quo.

What makes the trappings of BDSM in Fifty Shades of Grey so upsetting to practitioners is not just the absence in both the book and the film of any sense of BDSM’s complexity, but the knowledge that, for many people in the mainstream, this is their first encounter with something purporting to be BDSM. Sociologist Eva Illouz points out that erotic romance in general and Fifty Shades of Grey in particular is being consumed as a kind of dramatized, sexual self-help guide.

Fifty Shades of Grey serves up a heady cocktail of paradox. It glamourizes BDSM, adorns it with conspicuous consumption, bling, polish and muted lighting, while responsibility, agency and choice are hauntingly absent. Meanwhile, subtextually, BDSM is pathologized, criminalized: Christian Grey is into it because he was abused. The only other practitioner we even hear of is his first lover – a dominant, pedophilic woman who initiated him at the age of 15. So the message is: the sex is hot, the toys are expensive, and the only people who really enjoy this are sick. It’s not difficult to see why so many in the BDSM community are ambivalent about the book and the film. Much like EMTs who complain about the way film portrays CPR. Of course, if you performed CPR on film with veracity, you’d risk cracking someone’s ribs while boring the audience to death.  If the BDSM in Fifty Shades of Grey was performed with any level of veracity, there’d be a lot more sweat, snot, welts and screaming. It’s likely there’d be a few more obvious orgasms, too. I’m sure neither of the staring actors would be willing to expose themselves quite so thoroughly, even if those sorts of details had been in the book.

Personally, I’m not so concerned. Hollywood is constantly producing films where women are innocent victims with little or no agency – this is just another. It’s also constantly pumping out films where characters make monstrous compromises in order to be loved. I’m sure many filmgoers will return home after seeing the film and attempt a bit of tie-me-up-and-spank-me’, and most will survive it. A very few may find it immensely erotic and seek out more informed and detailed sources of information. It may lead to some undesired and upsetting bouts of rough sex, but so does going to a bar and by all accounts, so does attending many universities. It might even result in a few break-ups as partners find their tastes are incompatible. But, let’s be honest, anyone with even an inking of interest in BDSM may seek out far more explicit and harrowing videos on the net.

Fifty Shades of Grey is just not that important a film. Go see it. Just don’t expect to come away with a new lease on your sex life.

True to the book, the dialogue is pretty cringe-worthy. Jaimie Dornan came across as a joyless, humourless, self-important pedant. He reminded me of guys who tell you they’re ‘Doms’ but turn out to be bitter, mean, self-pitying and entitled little boys. But, in all fairness, that’s how Christian Grey is written in the novel. Dornan’s far, far sexier as a serial killer in the British series The Fall. However, I found Dakota Johnson much easier to stomach than her textual counterpart; she did the best she could with the lines she had and I found her smile rather contagious (even when I was trying hard to dislike her lip-sucking). She really does have a very erotic mouth. Finally, if director Sam Taylor-Johnson does a poor job of visualizing the eroticism of BDSM, she more than compensates for it by making helicopters, gliders, Audis and interior decor look sexy as hell. My guess is that she finds wealth a lot more erotic than kink. But then, so do most people.

Reflective postscript: 24 hours later, I forced myself to consider whether there was any teensy, weensy little bit of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie that turned me on. And yes, dear reader, there was: that short bit at the end, where he’s on her bare ass with a belt and she’s all teary and blubby? That bit turned me on a lot. Not nice, I know, but I’m kinky and film is not reality. Right at that point, I really wanted to be Christian Grey.

If you’ve seen the movie, I’d really like to know what you thought of it. If you’ve decided not to see it, I’d be interested in your reasons.

  26 comments for “Fifty Shades of Grey: A Film Review

  1. February 16, 2015 at 3:09 am

    I don’t plan on seeing the movie. I figure I wasted enough money buying the three books that I could not stomach to read. Got part way through the first one and kept falling asleep. I have no interest in wasting more money considering the cost of going to a movie. Maybe when it is on demand and I can get it for a couple of bucks

  2. Catherine Mazur
    February 16, 2015 at 3:37 am

    Sam Taylor Johnson is a woman.

    • February 16, 2015 at 3:48 am

      Yes, someone on twitter just told me that and I corrected it. Tells you how little due diligence I did before seeing the film. 😛

  3. David Sheraton
    February 16, 2015 at 4:20 am

    Most entertaining. I very rarely go to the cinema, so probably won’t see it. My only criticism is that the director is a ‘she’ not a ‘he, as you describe her.

  4. February 16, 2015 at 4:44 am

    Great review. You’ve perfectly articulated my issues with the books.

  5. February 16, 2015 at 7:36 am

    This totally reminded me of what bothered me most about the whole thing, which is where she says to him (I paraphrase)
    ‘And why would I want to do these things?’ And he says ‘For me.’
    It is totally a traditional romance, not least in the sense that traditional romance has always traded on uncomfortable practices dressed up as grand passion. I agree with you, though, it’s not a big concern in the scheme of things.

    And thanks for reminding me just how hot Blue is the Warmest Colour was!

  6. Deliriumtree
    February 16, 2015 at 8:51 am

    I have no plans on seeing it due to the fact nothing explodes, there are no superheroes, aliens or zombies and that’s important to me in movies and tv. The books and movie seem to be a subject of interest to a lot of twitter types, but for me it’s just a thing, like toadstools are a thing. They both exist, but people choose to focus on one or the other. Okay, maybe not so much toadstools, but they could bang on about them just as much if people were inclined to focus on them. My personal myopia enjoys apocalyptic chaos, so it’s just not relevant to me.

    • February 16, 2015 at 10:17 am

      I shall endeavor some time in the future to write you a piece of apocalyptic chaos… with maybe a little sex thrown in, just to make the chaos weirder.

      • Deliriumtree
        February 16, 2015 at 10:22 am

        Yay! 🙂

  7. Nikko
    February 16, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    I tried reading the books as a close friend recommended it to me. I found the writing to be just horrible and couldn’t get past the first chapter. I skimmed the rest of the book and nowhere does the author mention sub-space or the incredible high that is felt from D&S, what a pity. I’ll watch the film just out of curiosity, but not if I have to pay. The postscript sounds interesting, but then again so was the scene in ‘Roots” with Kizzy.

  8. Heath
    February 16, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    I’m very keen to watch something passionate, erotic and romantic with my wife in our ongoing quest to recover intimacy between us. But I don’t think this is a part of it – it just doesn’t sound like a good film and I’d rather spend time with her doing something else – walk in the park, enjoy a nice meal or listen to music. Thanks very much for writing the piece – I hadn’t seriously thought of BDSM and appreciate your insights into this. Before I had just considered the outer trappings. It made me think of my wife and I submitting ourselves to each other to the point of pain, what a huge level of trust that is! As it is we have far to go in exploring ourselves before we’d be ready for that. Perhaps one day.

    • February 16, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      Hello Heath. I do highly recommend Blue is the Warmest Colour. Yes, it is a film about lesbians, but it is very passionate and romantic and beautifully erotic. Don’t let the genders put you off!
      Meanwhile, I think the presence of love and trust probably makes anything possible, which doesn’t necessitate that all things be possible. The thing about transgression is that it’s absolutely relative to the people committing it, isn’t it? It’s their measures of how they shift the given order of how things ‘should’ be in those moments that count, and not some arbitrary act that someone else has determined to be erotic.

      Just pinching someone’s nipples that tiniest bit too hard can be utterly thrilling and transgressive to them in a moment of excitement. Don’t let the world pressure you. Your BDSM is your own and no one else’s.

  9. February 16, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    First of all, this was a brilliant review. Not only did I learn about what FSOG is really all about (I have NEVER read the book, save for the first three pages), I also have a greater understanding of BDSM in general. Thank you for that.

    I flat out refuse to see this movie. For one simple (albeit boring) reason – movies like this do not interest me. When I pay big bucks to go to the theater, I want action. I want The Avengers. I want Thor’s rippling muscles and Black Widow’s sick karate moves. Maybe I’m a nutcase, but the sexiest (non-porno) movie I’ve ever seen is Desperado. The scenes between Antonio Banderas and Selma Hayek turn me on more than a gray suited Dom ever could.

    So I’m steering clear of this one.

    • February 16, 2015 at 8:36 pm

      I’m with you on the young Antonio Banderas. Amen.

  10. Vida
    February 17, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Yeah but come on. Antonio B and Salma Hayek. They come from the planet Perfect Arousal, it’s not fair to compare.
    I think Jamie D’s a lot sexier as himself than Christian Grey, but I don’t think that means anything other than I like beards and his accent and I’m being girly.

    This is an incredible review. *applause*

  11. Jude
    February 17, 2015 at 2:08 am

    As usual RG you’ve managed to put into words my jumbled thoughts..thank you. I did enjoy the books, scrappily written though they were, I am never unhappy devouring books of any genres or ability. I can always close the page.
    I’ve been finding the ‘chat’ about the nature of the sex in FSOG enlightening. There are several heartfelt blogs (and rants) about how it’s demeaning to women, that CG is an obsessive stalker/rapist etc etc….some very hurt women out there… Anything that gets us thinking and talking openly about the nature of human sexuality has to be better than the saccharin flavoured fare usually dished out.
    I’m seeing the film later this week….I doubt it will match what appears in my head when I read but I love the cinema so bring it on! I hope as a result of ELJ’s success that others will step up and try and do it better…..as you are (more please).
    oh and thanks too for being the only other person to ‘admit’ that Jamie Dornan in The Fall was hot!

    • February 17, 2015 at 9:03 am

      I’m not sure that a very poorly written pseudo BDSM erotic romance is going to play any significant part in ‘demeaning women’. Not receiving the same pay for the same work is far more demeaning, and we put up with that very quietly, I notice.

  12. February 17, 2015 at 3:57 am

    Curious cat that I am, I trotted off to see this late last week in the company of a non-kinky friend. Bluntly, I was interested to see just how the BDSM elements would be presented but I must admit I was also intrigued to see how she responded to it given she quite enjoyed reading the series. (I had to pull myself by the hair to the end of book one.)

    Fascinatingly, our responses were very similar given that our starting points, as viewers, were poles apart, and the pair of us walked out feeling … amused, really, by the excessiveness of the film. Were we turned on by it? Not in the least.

    Slightly off tangent re. the belt scene you mention in your postscript … This inspired some very different (and opposing) reactions within me. The actual intent behind the scene I found thoroughly disturbing, yet my inner masochist (not goddess!) found herself rolling her eyes at the supposed ‘intensity’ of it. Which just goes to prove the point of your very eloquent comment to Heath: “Your BDSM is your own and no one else’s.”

  13. Jim Menzies
    February 17, 2015 at 5:40 am

    Thank you for your review. I did not read the book because it simply doesn’t interest me – so much good writing out there, so little time. Besides, my wife read all three books, and she assures me they weren’t worth the time. I will not see the movie, but for a completely different set of reasons.

    In Canada, we are in the middle of a national convulsion over violence that masquerades as BDSM. The perpetrator is a famous and powerful media type named Jian Ghomeshi. He claims he had rough sex with a series of women. They claim they did not consent. Nothing proven in court yet, but the question of consent will be central to their claims of abuse.

    I worry that having a version of BDSM appearing publicly across the country will play into Mr. Ghomeshi’s narrative that his behaviour is acceptable and becoming more mainstream. Even if the movie portrayal is poor, I fear for Mr. Ghomeshi’s victims and for the thousands of other victims who have been subjected to sexual violence perpetrated in the name of BDSM, but without consent.

    Kind of a downer, I know, but there is such a very fine line between acts of violence on the one hand, and testing the boundaries of intimacy, trust, and socio-cultural norms on the other. Based on several reviews (including yours), these books and this movie are really all about the money – no redeeming artistic / social / cultural value to be found here.

  14. Shar
    February 17, 2015 at 6:27 am

    I saw it. I’ll probably make myself quite unpopular by saying I had a good time, but … I went with friends, we laughed, we had a good time. It wasn’t a great movie, or even a good one, but I suspected that going in, so my expectations were already pretty low. I’ve read about 70% of the first book (I skimmed over a bit in the middle, but I read the beginning and the end). I thought it was always supposed to be a love story–I mean, that was the original intention, no? So I wasn’t surprised to find that it was one.

    I had hoped, since the book was not that great, that the movie would be better. It’s a chance to take a good premise (and I do think it has a good premise) and do it well. Not a chance that was taken, mind you, but oh well. The possibility at least existed!

    (I’m going to say “Spoiler alert” from here, because I doubtless will give some. I can’t discuss it otherwise.)

    The premise, as I see it, is the challenge of what a couple does if they truly care for each other, but have very different sexual turn-ons and styles. That’s a pretty common situation, really, so it could have been relevant to a lot of people. Either she changes her mind; or he changes his mind; or one of them gives in without changing his/her mind; or they break up. Now, if the movie ended where it did–they break up–then I’d find it a legitimate ending. She tried really hard to have sex the way he wanted to, but in the end, it just didn’t work for her. So she stopped giving in and trying, and she left him. That works as a plot. However, although I haven’t read the other books, the fact that they exist tells me that is not going to be the actual end.

    What worked/didn’t work for me. Well, Christian Grey didn’t work for me. I didn’t find him sexy, which isn’t enough to ruin the movie, no, but I also didn’t find him convincing. I mean, he said the lines, but to me, HE didn’t seem to be very into bdsm or his own lifestyle. No wonder he couldn’t sell her on it. I didn’t buy the story of his motivation, his “why am I like this”–that he had sex when he was 15 with an older woman. Really? That would make you unable later to emotionally connect with anyone? I don’t follow. After all, he had a relationship with this older woman for six years, and is still her friend. A lot of 15-year old boys would give their eye teeth for something like that. (Sorry if that upsets the whataboutthechildren crowd–but at least where I grew up [the US], kids were sexualized at 15 or thereabouts. I certainly was.) I was also confused by his spending six years as a submissive, and now being dominant. He made it sound like he’d been to bdsm school and then graduated, or something. You train as a submissive and then when you’re experienced, you get to dominate. That has not been my experience with either domination or submission. If it worked like that for him, I’d have appreciated more explanation. I do think it’s a it of a cop-out to make “He’s damaged” the explanation for “He has unconventional sex”–my same objection to the movie “Secretary”–but I also get that damaged characters are usually more interesting than non-damaged ones. It’s not so dramatic to have a character gradually strip away his defenses to show you … dun, dun, dun … that he is perfectly ordinary, never suffered, and is feeling just fine, thank you. More realistic, perhaps, but less dramatic.

    He certainly ‘works’ as a flawed character–he dominates reasonably well during physical sex (or he would if you thought he was attractive, and he had more presence–I mean, at least his actions were OK), but creepily outside of the bedroom. Even if you’re a billionaire, to fly out for surprise visits all the time, cities and even states away, is scarily intrusive. Selling her car without asking is definitely NOT all right. Jeez! I loved at the end that she got her money back for it. So I liked that portrayal as someone who is confused about “control” and “power” and what works and what doesn’t. He seems to genuinely care for Ana, and to not get that selling her car is bizarre. If he could have learned, through this movie or the others, to temper and forge his urges to manipulate into something that worked for both of them–that would have been a nice story arc too. But not one we got.

    I couldn’t buy his total astonishment that she’d fallen in love. Reeeeally? This is a surprise? And she’s your sixteenth submissive? It never, ever occurred to you that you could date a woman, tell her she’s beautiful, call her “yours,” bring her home to your family, introduce her everywhere as your girlfriend, buy her gifts, move her into your house (or at least, every weekend …), tell her you never want to be without her, and have hot sex with her … and she’d fall in love? If that’s a “surprise” to him, then he’s an idiot. And fine, he can be an idiot, but then the “super business mogul” part makes no sense. Pick one …

    Ana was a bit more successful for me. Her personality made more sense, at least. She was inexperienced and awkward, but she had a bit of spark and a sense of humor. But since he didn’t, that made them unconvincing together. I wasn’t sure why she liked him. If she’s unimpressed with his wealth and fame, as she seems to be–what’s left? He’s often kind to her, but frequently cold and uncommunicative too. She asks questions to learn more, and he won’t answer. She wants to be physically close to him, and he refuses. He won’t sleep in the same bed with her, he won’t let her touch him. So, she leaves him. That at least made sense. I just can’t imagine going on from there, for two more movies.

    I did not at all get any of the minor characters. Even the book was no help to me, because that must have been in the parts I skipped. Her roommate? His brother? Her father? His sister? Her mother? His mother? Who were those people, and what on earth was their function? I felt so confused. I kept wanting to yell at the director, “Use them or lose them!” They added nothing to the plot that I could see, unless you count her roommate setting up her initial meeting with Christian. Which was totally unbelievable, because if you really DID have to interview a famous person as a special favor to your close journalism major roommate/friend, you would a) google the dude, and b) READ THE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS IN ADVANCE. Sheesh. Some friend she is! Don’t ask her to look after your pets! She’d probably put Clorox in the water bowl. But then, Mr. Grey is smitten with her after she does a phenomenally bad job at something that shouldn’t have been too hard. I dunno. I get that the author was just setting up a meeting, but I don’t think it would have been that hard to come up with something even a tiny bit ore plausible.

    Eh, I laughed in a few places (like when he says he’s taking her to his playroom, and she says, “You mean … where you keep your Xbox?” What can I say, I have a son), the soundtrack was nice, and the plot and acting were silly enough that we could pick them apart later. I had a fine time. Like a C minus on a scale with no grade inflation. I didn’t see the movie as attempting to introduce bdsm to anybody. There were threads on FetLife and Facebook about people worrying that now “newbies” would show up at places “in the community” and not have sex right, or something, and people wondered if they should show up at the movie with educational leaflets … I know of several romance authors who mentioned their plans to see the movie (just see it! not even endorse it!) and had readers huffily tell them that they could no longer buy that author’s books if she would support such a film. The kerfuffle confused me. And I’m someone who can get plenty het up about even silly movies. There was one kid’s movie I saw on an airplane that got me so steamed up I had to yank off my earphones and go hyperventilate in the bathroom (everyone lived on some island, and all the parents spoke English with one accent, and a small group of kids spoke English with an entirely different accent. Argh! I get mad just remembering it). But this was just some second-rate romance movie that you see for entertainment if you’re in the mood. It’s nothing I’d recommend to a friend, but I can’t get upset about it either.

    Is it an “offensive” depiction of bdsm? But I didn’t think it was a depiction of bdsm at all–it’s a depiction of Christian Grey’s version of bdsm, which quite clearly he is getting wrong. That doesn’t mean that everyone in the audience will now also get it wrong–I mean, his failures with sex and relationships are so glaring. You don’t have to know anything about how “the community” has sex to see that Grey is messing up badly, and not getting what he wants. His bdsm practice is *supposed* to be flawed. That’s the whole point. A movie in which his sexual practices and his acceptance of them are not flawed, and he gradually introduces them to her and awakens her kinky desires–that could be a fine movie, but it’s not at all what this movie was trying to do. Unless I REALLY missed the whole point! If people wanted FSOG to be that movie, though, they’d have been sorely disappointed.

    I do think the movie is a failure at successfully exploring a very real challenge for couples–what to do with sexual incompatibility (other than break up). So there’s a missed opportunity there. But that just makes it forgettable to me, not offensive.

  15. Aeshna
    February 19, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    I haven’t planned to watch the movie as I have also decided to not read the book, after reading your book review. I am a virgin and the closest things I got to sex is porn and erotic fiction (mostly yours). But as an emerging fiction writer myself, I also like to think of myself as open-minded about sexual practices I may or may not actually do, in the future. But after learning about 50 Shades’ background, I have decided to safely ignore it altogether. (I hate Twilight.)

    I typically avoid BDSM porn as I tend to get off of psychological domination-submission games rather than physical ones. So after reading of 50 Shades being a poor representation of BDSM, I decided it might be dangerous or misleading for me.

    • February 19, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      You know… people eventually find what turns them on. It bothers me that people get pressured into stuff by society. You’ll find your way to what you want, I’m sure.

  16. john parr
    March 24, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Dear RG
    I came across your blog tangentially, almost. Very well informed, and attractive writing which is neither tub-thumpingly didactic, nor boringly ideological.
    I am an ex film editor and I havent seen Shades either. Im a great fan of Claire’s Knee. And Secretary.
    I have to confess that I dont often immerse myself in other’s online work. However your writing is triggering quite a bit of re evaluating, of past experiences, and that means life in general.
    Im in the UK in South Wales. Not far from where Dylan Thomas wrote all his stuff. But we have a chemical works on the edge of town, Dow, and similar to Bhopal. So Hollywood it aint.
    Have bookmarked and will delve, a real treat

    • March 24, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      Oh, Claire’s Knee! Yes, I am also a fan.

      Do you know the first thing I ever remember being read at bedtime? It was Under Milkwood. My father read it to me, using handpuppets to act out the voices. It seems everyone has a chemical works on the edge of their town, and perhaps we even need that to appreciate the view in the other direction. Hugs. Thanks for your comment.

      • john parr
        March 25, 2015 at 10:42 pm

        Great masthead RG!
        Jan de Heem ?
        17thC something, later rather than earlier. Nice print too well saturated,
        I first read The Black Tulip when I was about ten, and re read it recently. So brilliantly kinky!!!

        • March 29, 2015 at 7:47 am

          It is indeed! Well spotted. I took a picture of this painting at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. They have a great collection of Dutch botanical paintings.

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