Friday, February 13, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey

Warning, the following review may be offensive and is intended for adult audiences only, it may also contain spoilers.

Now let me say from the outset, in the past I have done reviews that have caused me to lose friends both on social media and real friends just for the fact that I have chosen to review the movie. I suspect that will be the case for my review of Fifty Shades of Grey. Let me also say, as a film reviewer it is my obligation to review film, even film some may not like, or for that matter, film I may not like, just as a Christian plumber does the work they do, I do the work I do, which is review film, and find points of truth to point people to Christ if possible.

The truth is, protests, news stories and all of the controversy drove me to want to see the movie, not stay away from it. Many will ask why, well let me be clear; most of the time when I have seen protests and controversy like exists with this movie, it drives me to want to see it, and this time, like many others, I believe the comments about the movie are greatly over exaggerated, in more ways than one, and the  movie that is being protested is so far from what is being said about it that it is unbelievable. In fact most of the time those protests come from people who have not seen the film or know anything about it other than what they have been told.

Now some facts about Fifty Shades of Grey.  Does the movie contain scenes of explicit sex?  Yes, albeit not as explicit as I thought although there is a great deal of nudity in the film. Does the film contain sadomasochism or dominance and submission sex? Yes!  Does it glorify this act?  Absolutely not!

This film is the story of a soon to be college English Lit major graduate, Anastasia Steele played quite well and innocently by Dakota Johnson. While doing a report for her friend and roommate she goes from Portland to Seattle to interview young billionaire, Christian Grey. In a sort of twisted tale, resembling at times Last Tango in Paris,  a relationship develops between Steele and Grey. Grey has secrets though, secrets that go back to a childhood that included being involved in sexual acts at the age of 15 in a non voluntary way, (BTW this is rape for those that don't know). There is more to his past but we are left to figure much of that out. Steele, a virgin falls in love with Grey although the feeling is not quite amicable. Now at this part as the story develops and concludes I was reminded that this movie is based off of the first book of a 3 book series. In that every show for the Friday, Saturday opening weekend is sold-out in Wichita, I suspect the movie will do well enough to make the other two films at some point.

On a technical perspective, the film is well lit, a lot of great cinematography and a very interesting story line that is about far more than sex, although sex is a backdrop to the story but more on that in a sermon a little later. I was also frankly surprised at the level of character development and for a movie of this sort, at a little over 2 hours I felt myself compelled to the characters and the story, and while there is a great deal of nudity in the movie it was not nearly as important to me as the characters in the story. That for me causes me to give kudos to the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson.

Now back to another question just for clarification. Am I promoting this movie? Absolutely not, I will say in fact, many need to stay away from it as they may not be mature enough to deal with the subject matter. I would imagine for example teen age, hormonal individuals will focus more on the nudity and sex than they do the actual story. In this area, I must also make another comment, just as many Christians have gone overboard to be critical of what they believe the story is, so have many others who are promoting the story as a sordid love story. The truth of the matter is, Fifty Shades of Grey is not a horrible promotion of perverted sex, neither is it a lustful, to be desired love story. It is instead, a story that deals with the after effects of many of sexual abuse.

Those who know me as more than a movie reviewer also knows my history and of my book The Keystone Kid, which chronicles my life, including being sexually abused. I have heard from no less than 5 individuals in the last week who have commented on how much that book helped them because of its honesty. I have shared my story in print, on television, on screen and in a book as well as in person across the globe. I have said many times, "How is a child who grew up in an abusive situation, never being taught an appropriate concept of sex supposed to have any understanding of sex, or for that matter love." That my friends, is the exact same concept that is presented in this movie. Grey, in a yet to be determined fullness of understanding, has gone through a period of what I would consider abuse from at least the age of 15 maybe longer.  His first sexual encounters seem to be atrocious and the character has literally no understanding of sex in a loving or caring way. Now for the Christians who may be offended. I have read all of the Bible, including the Song of Solomon which includes scenes of as much graphic nature as in the film. The difference is, it can be determined that one is in a loving way, the other not; of course the Bible also includes stories of rape, incest and more. The discussion of sex amongst Christians should not be Taboo.

Now for my mini sermon, I really wish that adults, people of faith, would not be so ashamed to address human sexuality, and in the case of this film, as I have discovered in my own life, the issues and consequences that come about from being abused or children who have been abused and not developed an appropriate attitude or understanding of sex. Here is a reality, whether we like it or not, accept it or not, we live in a society where the abused have had the sins of others swept under a rug and never addressed. It is sad especially when people of faith have to go through situations of this nature, no wonder so many, when they are seeking healing, even from sexual sin and misunderstanding are condemned for the sins of others. Here is a shocking truth, Christians could use a film like Fifty Shades of Grey to start a discussion that would provide healing for multitudes of people who seem to have gone through what the character Christian Grey has gone through.  Again let me make it clear, THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO WATCH THE MOVIE, OR SHOULD WATCH THE MOVIE!

Now does any of this mean that I am saying see the movie?  ABSOLOUTELY NOT!  Just as I stated earlier, this film is too mature for many, can be a stumbling block or for many a movie they can not to handle. It is an adult movie but an adult movie that for me, as a former sexual abuse victim, does not glorify sex, premarital sex or sex at all. While sex is a backdrop, it is a backdrop to what appears to be a misunderstood, search for love and misunderstanding of love due to abuse in his own life of Christian Grey. It is also a search for love for the lead female character, which can bring about appropriate discussion of how one discovers love, how far do they go, and when does one or should one give in to sexual activity.

Fifty Shades of Grey is not a great movie. It is not a feel good, lets get romantic movie either, instead, it is a movie that could inspire discussion and hopefully motivate people who have a relationship with God, who have experienced real love to open up discussions with those who are drawn to the sexual content of this movie, which there will be. For Christians, the appropriate discussions can be had even if you choose to not see the movie. Personally, I can't recommend that many if any do see the movie.

In closing, I believe sex is a beautiful gift of God when practiced with the intent of which God created it, between two individuals who have made a life long commitment to each other. Does that change the reality that many have engaged in sex in a way outside of God's intent? Of course not, but if discussion is not made, real honest discussion then we will never see things change and the message of a gift of God, when used appropriately and practiced appropriately can never be given or shared with those who need it.

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Mike Furches, Mosaic and The Virtual Pew said...

Now a brief sidebar comment. Please understand when you send comments that contain personal attacks there are two things to understand: It is at my option as to if I post those comments, normally when personal attacks are made or comments of a Pharisaic nature are made, I don't post those comments, more on that later. Secondly, you leave an IP address even if you post anonymously, IP's in most cases are traceable without too much trouble.

Now on the Pharisee thing. This review among others in the past amaze me. Comments that start off with, "What kind of pastor are you?" and things of the sort normally are deleted immediately and I don't even finish reading the comment as there is clear indication that there is no desire to learn, or discuss, but to judge and condemn.

In brief let me say this though, anyone who has ever read the Bible knows: The Bible is not a G rated book, it is at best a R rated book and a hard R at that, or if detailed in full, even a NC 17 or X book. That isn't to put down the Bible, only to say that those who have truly read it, know the answer to this to be true. I also wonder though, what about groups like Movie Guide, (I have debated Ted Baher in the past in Christianity Today, or even Focus on the Family of which these two and many other Christian Review sites chose to review this film.

That said, I have had numerous people contact me in support of the review of this film, I appreciate that, I also appreciate honest discussion from those who want to know about their freedom's of which Romans 14 in part gives liberty to review such film. I also would strongly encourage people to study the teachings of Paul and Christ in other areas, such as being light in a dark place.

I also kindly thank those individuals as a reminder that I seek to reach the lost with my reviews, frankly, the personal attacks let me know I am doing that, when it is especially clear, that in this review, I even bend over backwards to encourage people not to see it but instead, there are those who would anonymously choose to attack me, without ever doing the Biblical thing of contacting me personally and privately. BTW as to what kind of pastor am I, the kind that has been blessed to be used by God to reach those often ignored by some of those in the church, who have among other things, even run their own family away from the love of Christ.

Anonymous said...

If you are not open to true Godly debate or dialog, why have a public website with a comments section? The fact that there is only 1 comment on this post, which happens to be yours, tells me that most of the comments must have been, in your eyes, personal attacks. Why not just have the discussion? If you're not open to differing views why have a comment section. And as I know this comment will not be posted I will just say that you cannot continue to view nudity, sex scenes, violence etc. and it not eventually have an affect on you. Whether you call it your job or not, biblically it is just plain wrong.

Mike Furches, Mosaic and The Virtual Pew said...

Well I have proved at least 1 poster wrong by posting their comment, oh, yeah, as is standard practice, comments that are left as anonymous are generally not posted, now that said, you want to engage in discussion about this, leave your name on your next post and we can do so, otherwise, commenting behind an anonymous comment gives indication that the author of those comments really don't want to address the issue. BTW this review has appeared in many other places, including Hollywood Jesus, Facebook and other sources, where discussion and large agreement about the issues have been discussed. As to my reasoning, read Galatians.

Mike Furches, Mosaic and The Virtual Pew said...

Also the ad hominem, legalistic comments really do show why some people with their legalistic perspectives truly were called what they were in scripture.

r00l3d said...

I saw no discussion whatsoever on Hollywood Jesus and the Facebook discussion was fun. How many comments have come across right here that were not posted?

Mike Furches, The Virtual Pew said...

Maybe 1, that is it. HJ with the direction they are going, seldom has comments any more and truth is, they have drastically changed their format.

Now on a side bar, while I suspect I know who this is, I still wonder why no desire to use your real name, I also wonder, has the same thoughts and concepts been expressed to Crosswalk, Focus on the Family and other "Christian" based sights who gave the movie a far better review than I did? Even had friends at HJ say that in all of the years I have written for them, they have never seen me go so far out of the way to tell people not to see a movie. Now as stated in next to last comment, posters will need to own up to their comments by posting as themselves, that is, of course they are ashamed to do so. Otherwise, if the post above is from who I think it is, enough is enough.

Mike Furches, The Virtual Pew said...

BTW the information provided often comes across depending on the post and from who and how it was posted as spam, in that regard, often linking to other sites if showing up in my notifications as spam, I never publish those and those who run pages understand why, as it allows robots to infiltrate your systems and postings and I am sure that folks appreciate not letting those types of posts for phishing and other areas into the post.