Fifty Shades' endorses sexual violence

By Drum Digital
12 February 2015

"Fifty Shades of Grey" hasn't even opened in theaters yet but already it is getting a big thumbs-down from religious and other groups who say it is degrading to women and endorses sexual violence.

One social media campaign is encouraging would-be movie-goers to donate their ticket and popcorn money to women's shelters, while Roman Catholic bishops are using it as what-not-to-do guide to marriage.

Even as screenings sell out in advance, critics, including the American Family Association and National Center on Sexual Exploitation, are pushing for boycotts, saying they were compelled to speak out because of the attention the movie, with its scenes of bondage and sadomasochism, has attracted.

A Madison, Wisconsin, group planned to picket outside a Thursday premier.

"We'd like to see theater chains refuse to take the movie," American Family Association President Tim Wildmon told The Associated Press by phone.

That is unlikely to happen. The ticket-buying site Fandango has said pre-sales have propelled the movie, which stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, into the company's all-time Top 5 for R-rated selections. The rating means that children under 17 years old must be accompanied in the theater by an adult guardian.

The movie opens in theaters Friday. It's based on a best-selling book by E L James about a university student and her torrid affair with a 27-year-old billionaire with a penchant for bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism.

"What's unique about it is the overall message is that they're trying to glamorize and romanticize violence against women," said Amanda Smith, spokeswoman for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which launched a website: www.fiftyshadesisabuse.com.

James, who wrote the erotic trilogy that launched the film, has heard the backlash and says the critics have it all wrong.

"Who is interested, as a woman, in reading about abuse? Why have these books taken off if they are about abuse?" said James, who discussed the film with the AP over the weekend. "Domestic violence, rape, are unacceptable. They are not entertaining in any way. Let me be absolutely clear. Everything that happens in this book is safe and consensual. .... What do I need to do to convince people?"

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