The annual mozzarella fest is upon us. The schmaltz is oozing fast and furious, restaurants are serving up gourmet cuisine with portions barely big enough to feed a small bird (at prices you could buy a Porsche with) and hideous bright red helium balloons are popping out at you from every shop corner.
If it sounds like something straight out of a horror film reminiscent of Stephen King’s It, you’re not far off the mark. Nay, ’tis not today’s Friday the 13th to which I refer, but rather, the unofficial holiday that has come to represent much the same sense of fear and loathing for many: St Valentine’s Day.
Never ones to miss a marketing opportunity, studio execs over in Tinseltown have marked this very V-Day weekend as the perfect moment to release the movie version of the book that had everyone’s knickers in a knot, Fifty Shades of Grey.
(As if singletons needed yet another reminder of their non-existent life between the sheets. Or couples need the equivalent of a neon sign pointing to the fantasy-driven slap, spank and tickle distinctly lacking in their by-now formulaic bedroom shenanigans, for that matter.)
When the book it’s based on first hit shelves back in 2011, it caused a ripple of titillation across continents and through women of all ages. Particularly your hassled housewife with typically tousled hair, sweatpants and a perpetual look of exhaustion across her face after spending most of her waking hours feeding/fetching/bathing/ clothing/ disciplining/interacting with her equally dishevelled offspring. All while intermittently wondering (a) whatever happened to that thing called s-e-x; (b) just how her dreams of becoming a high-powered, globe-trotting attorney turned to this and (c) whatever happened to that thing called s-e-x?
Hence the term “mommy-porn” that was coined in honour of Fifty’s predominate fan base.
Nevertheless, it’s one thing to indulge in the decidedly dire prose (“My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five-year-old” anyone?) that describes all manner of graphic acts when curled up in the private comfort of your own couch. It’s quite another to have to sit through a public re-enactment of sadomasochistic reveries in a public place with, you know, actual people around.
Some of whom could very well be parents from your son’s soccer club. (And we don’t mean in the groupie orgy sense, either!)
All of which brings us to the question of the hour: can Fifty realistically be deemed a film in the creative, dramatic interpretation of the term, or is it outright pornography romanticised as art? And if it is, indeed, the latter, should we be concerned about the manner in which it seemingly seeks to normalise hard-core erotica by introducing it into the mainstream?
Personally, I think society’s got bigger fish to fry. If we’re going to go that route, then we should likewise examine the level of extreme sexuality, violence, discrimination and hatred that’s glamorised across our computers, television, laptops, magazines and social media each and every day, but about which barely anyone bats a proverbial eyelid. So what, then, is the difference, exactly?
Perhaps the only way to fully answer that is to actually see the film. Something which, despite the outcry and protestations surrounding it, audiences will no doubt be doing in droves…
LARA DE MATOS