50 Shades of Grey - The SSL Review, Guest Style

Today is a very special guest SSL Review from the one and only Barnaby. He's one of the other 2 directors of Science, Sex and the Ladies, and he kindly volunteered to do the SSL Review for the much awaited 50 Shades of Grey. I'm all for a good guest review, so here it is. Enjoy the voice of Mr. Barnaby Aaron.

Fan’s of this blog might be disappointed to see that Trisha is not writing the review for this movie.  I mean this is 50 Shades, this is big.  So why is it being left to me?  Well, Trisha is in Brazil for work for 3 months.  She’s enjoying exotic locations, tropical climates, cheap and delicious Brazilian Steakhouses, and next week she’ll be enjoying Carnivale in freaking Brazil!  Not to mention all the different varieties of juices available to her everyday,  I mean freaking watermelon juice for breakfast everyday!  Meanwhile, I’m stuck in Indiana where everything is puke green grey and dirty. The freezing wind is blowing the will to live out of my body, so if anybody is going to hate watch this abomination it’s going to be me.  Snarky bile is the only thing warming my insides.

First of all I want to talk about the movie itself and the cultural phenomenon surrounding its release. This movie has generated so much talk in the last couple of weeks and most of it has been bad.  Reportedly the stars of the movie, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan hate each other and their loathing for one another was pretty evident on their publicity tour.  Also, they seemed to be distancing themselves from the project, knowing that it was going to be bad.  Then the reviews starting coming in, and it seemed that everyone had a problem with the movie.  Bad writing, promotes unhealthy relationships, one dimensional characters,  misrepresentation of bdsm, bad directing, no chemistry, he isn’t hot enough,  the sex scenes are boring, it’s too long,  etc.  Yet, at the time of this writing, 50 Shades will have the biggest Valentine's Day Weekend boxoffice of all times.  Why is this?  I can think of two reasons.  The first reason is something I’ve mentioned before, Hate Watching.  This might seem like a stretch, but I believe that perhaps the producers of this movie have knowingly or unknowingly discovered a radical new way of marketing a film.  Promote it as a trainwreck and have all those irony loving hipsters come watch it.  I mean that is why I watched it, and it delivered with lines like, “I don’t make love, I fuck….hard”  and  “I’m fifty shades of fucked up.”   I’m not the only one who came out to hate watch. There is a lot to hate about this movie.  All the criticisms of the movie I mentioned before are legitimate.

But then, the second reason people came out to watch this movie, they like the story.  Despite it all, all the reasons it’s bad and damaging and silly and unrealistic, it is popular and that is why I started to feel gross about piling on.  50 Shades is not a deep movie that has profound things to say about sex or relationships or love, it’s a trashy romance novel come to the big screen.  It’s popular because it’s fantasy, and like most romance novels, it doesn’t adhere closely to realistic depictions of sex because that’s part of the appeal.  To quote our own movie, Science Sex and the Ladies  “Because women wish they could have them - the amazing, effortless vaginal orgasm is as appealing a character as the mysterious yacht captain, or the widowed antique dealer.”   It’s trashy fun that some women like, and that’s fine and totally legitimate.  

So did I like the movie?  Yeah, but maybe not for the right reasons.  It’s goofy as hell, and the writing is really stilted and weird, but I enjoyed that about the movie. Again, the irony thing, it made me laugh, and if the writing were better the movie would have been worse, if that makes any sense.  I thought Dakota Johnson’s Anastasia Steele was really good and not as one dimensional and bloodless as Jamie Dornan’s portrayal of Christian Grey.  The movie is two hours long but it kept my attention, and the way it ended made me want to see what happens next.  (The sequels need to happen...and with the same actors no matter how much they hate each other. Let’s keep the trainwreck rolling!)  Just one more quick thing before we get down to it, the names.  Christian Grey,  as in shades of (ugh).  Anastasia Steele, as in made of (uuugggh).  And there is one Hispanic actor in the movie, his name is Jose.   

Just a few things before we get into it.  I have not read 50 Shades, I heard a little bit about it before hand but have largely avoided it.  I wanted to go into the movie with as little knowledge of the book as possible so I won’t be comparing it to the book.  I’m just viewing it as a thing in itself.  Also I don’t know anything about bdsm so I’m not going to focus on how that stuff is presented.  I’m sure you can find a million reviews with that subject as the focus.  As always we will be looking at the depiction of female orgasm and trust me there is plenty there to talk about.

There is a lot of sex in the movie but it’s hard to determine if there were no orgasms or constant orgasms. The biggest sin of this movie was that Anastasia seemed to have an orgasmic response to EVERYTHING THAT CHRISTIAN DID!!!!  For example, in one of the first scenes of the movie Anastasia meets Christian and is interviewing him.  There is obviously heavy sexual chemistry between the two, and once Anastasia leaves and walks outside, she lets out a heavy shuddering breath.  This is where the problems begin.  I was wondering “is this supposed to be an orgasm or just a display of arousal?”  Now if it were an orgasm it’s totally without any physical contact and therefore total BS, but if it’s just showing how aroused she was then it’s fine, but I couldn’t be totally sure one way or another, and it was a problem throughout the movie.  

Let’s go through through it instance by instance.  Anna and Christian have gone out a few times, and he has just flown her to his apartment.  She mentions that she is a virgin and has never done anything.  (Quick aside - I’m pretty sure that she means that she’s never had intercourse, given a hand job, blow job etc. I’m not sure if she means she has never masturbated, and a scene I will talk about later will cast some more doubt on whether she has or has not).  Anyway, he hears that and says “I need to rectify this situation” (I know).  They go to the bedroom and instantly she is breathing heavy and moaning at each kiss and caress.  He starts kissing down her body, same intensity moaning. He kisses her legs around her vulva, same intensity moaning. He returns to kissing her face, and you see his hand go down towards her vulva.  Now this is interesting, and it happens again in the movie.  His fingers were curved like in a hook. It looked to me to be the type of hand shape that would be good for stimulating the Gspot.  It seemed like he penetrated her with his hand, though I could be mistaken about this.  However, again she seemed to have the same level of moaning and writhing to this as all the other stimulation.  So after about 1.2 seconds of digital penetration, he lays her down, rips open a condom packet with his teeth (showing safe sex is good),  puts on the condom, and penetrates her - and again, moaning same level.  Then it cuts to him on top of her grinding away as she moans after each pump. It is the type of close grinding that could be stimulating to the clitoris.  Then cut to afterwards.  

This is the problem, there is no build up in these sexual encounters. This is not a realistic depiction of build up of arousal to orgasm.  She is either instantly very close to orgasm or she is orgasming, but I can’t tell which it’s supposed to be.  If you want to give the movie the benefit of the doubt I would say that all of her moaning and writing is depicting her arousal, and the orgasm happens off screen after the cut, but you could just as easily say she is orgasming constantly to everything.   It’s a pattern repeated in every sex scene.  

The next sex scene Christian lays her on her back and tells her to keep her hand above her head, foreshadowing the bondage to come later.  He starts kissing down her body. She is again instantly highly aroused/orgasming (I am going to mention this type of response a lot in this review so from now on I’m going to call it an arousgasm).  He is kissing down her body and is about to get to the vulva when they are interrupted.  I mention this scene because it continues an interesting trend that plays throughout the movie,  the build up to oral sex.  

The third sex scene is the first time they use bondage.  She is laying on her back, her hands tied above her head.  He places a blindfold over her eyes, to which she arousgasms.  Again he kisses down her body with an ice cube in his mouth, arousgasms the whole time. He stops at the belly button and flips her over, pulls out another condom, rips it open with his teeth, and does her doggie style, with her arousgasming the whole time.   It then cuts to afterward when they are lying in bed together and she says, “that was really nice.”   

A few things about this scene. It continues teasing the idea of him going down on her, which is an interesting concept.  I think in other movies he would have gone down on her in the first scenes and saved the intercourse for a later scene to build the anticipation of the act.  This movie is doing the opposite. Here we have a situation where oral sex is implied to be the final and maybe ultimate sex act.  Now for the doggie style. She is arousgasming but it doesn’t seem anymore intense than the act of him simply putting the blindfold over her eyes.  That, coupled with the fact that they are saving the oral sex makes me feel like they are making intercourse just another aspect of their sex lives together, not superior or inferior to any other act.  Another thing - he never orgasms on screen. It’s always implied he does either after the cut or not at all.       

The next part is not a sex scene but there are some interesting elements that could be seen to be supportive of clitoral orgasms.  Christian wants Anastasia to sign a contract that spells out the limits of their continuing dominant/submissive relationship.  There are many parts of the contract that spell out explicitly what is allowed within their relationship.  They have a meeting, and in the meeting they start talking about a passage about sex toys.  Anastasia says something along the lines of  “vibrators, yes.  dildos, ok.  genital clamps, no.”   I might be reading into this little part a bit, but I take it to mean that,  “Yes, I like vibrators because they are used to stimulate the clitoris.  Ok on dildos in that maybe your usage of them on me would be penetration which would be ok but not my fav,  and I’m not interested in genital clamps because I don’t see that as pleasurable for me at all.”   Now this kind of contradicts the part where she said she is a virgin and hasn’t done “anything,” because I think that using a vibrator is something that can inform your sexuality.  This might seem minor, but I think a virgin who masturbates would be able to have the opinion that vibrators are good, but one that never did probably wouldn’t have this insight.  It’s another gray area (sorry)  but one that I think should be clarified so that we can know why she is objecting to these conditions.

Later in the meeting when Christian is getting turned on and wants to have sex, Anastasia refuses saying it’s a business meeting.  He then points out that she is pressing her thighs together, her breathing is getting heavy and there is a  change in her complexion.  Pressing your legs together is a way to stimulate the clitoris and heavy breathing and a change in completion can be a sign of heavy arousal, so I’m going to give them credit for a good depiction on that one.    

There is a quick scene where Christian spanks Anastasia and she arousgasms.  That is about it. If she is just aroused, fine. If she is orgasming, not good.  

The next sex scene is the first in Christian’s playroom.  It’s where he has all his bdsm equipment.  He is the dominant, she the submissive.  He ties her up so that she is standing. He moves his hand down her body. Again with the hooked finger,  he digitally penetrates her for about 1.6 seconds, then starts kissing down her body, again stopping before he gets to the vulva. He then gets out the whip and starts whipping her lightly.  It then cuts to them having intercourse. She is still hanging with her hands above her. They are facing each other, and he is holding her bottom, thrusting into her.  Now she has been arousgasming this whole time, but the intensity of the arousgasm is higher at the point they are having the hanging intercourse.  I think she is more definitely having an onscreen orgasm.  So is this her first onscreen orgasm or just another more intense orgasm? I don’t know.  (I think I’ll call this an orgousal).  Now in their position there is some clitoral pelvic grinding possible but the strokes are much more intense than before, so I would think the implication is that she is having the orgasm due to more intense pumping, not more intense clitoral grinding.  The clitoral grinding in the first sex scene was much more evident than here.   So this scene is a step back for the movie, but it redeems itself in the next sex scene.

In the past, in a movie like this, there may have been scenes where the couple did oral or digital first and that would build up to a scene where intercourse is had.  This gives the obvious impression that intercouse is the ultimate.  To its credit, this movie does not do that.  In the second sex scene in Christian’s playroom,  Christian ties Anastasia down on a bed.  I believe she is blindfolded.  Christian takes out a feather and runs it up and down her body.  She is arousgasming at the instant the feather touches her. He then takes out a flail and gently whips her, and yes, she arousgasms.  And then after teasing it all movie long, he kisses down her body and finally, yes,  he goes down on her.   She arches up and has a pretty obvious and instant orgasm (or orgousal).  This is the final pleasurable sex act in the movie.  There is another sex scene where Anastasia is violently caned but she doesn’t like it, and doesn’t pretend to like it.   There has been a lot of unrealistic depictions of sex in this movie, but I do appreciate the implication that, by saving it for last and teasing it throughout the movie, oral sex, and assumably clitoral stimulation is seen as the most desirable sex act for a woman.  

I give this movie 2 out of 4 clits.  I wish they would have had Anastasia build up arousal to orgasm more clearly, but I did appreciate how they did not put intercourse above all other sex acts.  


1 comment:

  1. Soft porn / hard porn / Hollywood. It's 'sex' for mass consumption.None of this has any bearing on reality. The whole subject of human interaction is a lot more complicated than scientific sexual score keeping.