Unless you’ve been living in a hole, you’ve probably seen the trailers appearing all over the Internet for Fifty Shades Darker… the sequel to 2015’s anticipated blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey, which grossed $571 million worldwide. Fifty Shades of Grey is based on the best-selling (but astonishingly badly written) 2011 erotic romance novel by E.L. James, which has since sold 125 million copies worldwide. The new film, the second of E.L. James’s trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker and again starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, is due to be released on Valentine’s Day 2017. In case you’ve missed it, find the trailer below:

Like with all films centralised around the themes of sex, lust and desire, it’s difficult to distinguish the occurrence of sexual objectification from themes of sex within the movie. But Fifty Shades of Grey is different to a lot of films with its focus on dominance and submission, which in a sense perpetuates violence against women, objectification and inequality, concealed beneath weak attempts at the portrayal of romance. It also generates self-objectification amongst women – causing women to “try to be seen and get attention in a mediated and porn-ified culture“.

The plot can be briefly summarised in one sentence: Anastasia Steele, an introverted woman with no self-esteem, becomes rich businessman Christian Grey’s sexual object, or “Submissive” as he calls her, for the entirety of the film. He never views Anastasia as a person, let alone an independent woman. If these are the messages that the first film promoted to young women, what will the second film be like?

The Fifty Shades Darker trailer hints that the film will include a horror or thriller element – is this to try and distract from the fact that the trilogy is all about sexual objectification? Ironically, we will have to wait until Valentine’s Day to find out.

– S x



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