By Allison Antram
“Are you curious?”
A seductive Super Bowl commercial beckoned to its audience, advertising the enticing and highly inappropriate book-made-movie, 50 Shades of Grey, released on no date other than, of course, Valentine’s Day.
And its opening weekend proved successful. According to an article in Forbes (“Box Office: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Whips Record $81.7M Weekend”), the debut made $81.7 million last weekend, making it the largest President’s Day weekend opening and the fifth-largest debut of an R-rated film.
The Forbes article also stated that “pre-sales were heavy in Southern ‘Bible Belt’ states.” And this bothered me as I read it – how do the states that are famously Christian mass such significant sales?
Despite the huge number of articles, protests, and even petitions against this movie in the last few weeks, don’t be deceived – many Christians don’t see any issue with this film. 50 Shades was watched by many who excused its questionable morals because they enjoyed the book, valued the plot, or, of course, “it’s just a movie.”
I’m sure we’ve heard all a laundry list of reasons why the movie is bad, immoral, and just plain wrong. Honestly, it’s pretty self-explanatory. To summarize the plot, according to Wikipedia, college student Anastasia Steele gets involved with the young, wealthy entrepreneur Christian Grey. Christian, whose unfortunate past largely contributes to his present psychological issues, requests that Ana sign varying contracts to outline their violent, non-romantic sexual relationship. 50 Shades involves pornographic concepts, abuse, and a horribly skewed view on love and sex. The film was almost given an NC-17 rating. But, hey, it’s just a movie, right?
We live in a culture that craves intimacy and seeks it in all the wrong places, and that isn’t hard to recognize. Media, which tends to be a large reflection of what society reveres, points to fleeting happiness and highs to fill our voids. But as Christians, shouldn’t we know better? Even if we’re more subtle about it, I frequently see us doing the same thing as the rest of the world. Particularly our attitude towards this movie has been more evidential of this.
So, considering how our society glorifies sex, why is 50 Shades so shocking? Why is this so concerning? I think it’s because, as society becomes increasingly passive towards these topics, Christians do too and our views change alongside culture’s. We have lost our determination to strive for what is pure because we want to be socially acceptable or serve our own desires. Or, maybe on a deeper level, we have the same lack of intimacy as the rest of the world and seeking to fill our voids in similar ways. But shouldn’t we be different? Shouldn’t we be setting an example here?
While the inappropriate content of the film was not entirely unexpected, it is still a small leap in terms of what we deem acceptable or permissible in our society. How we as Christians respond to that not only sends a message to the rest of the world, but is also a reflection on our own faith and even our perception of love and sex. If we have an authentic understanding of these things and are committed to our spiritual health, I don’t understand why or how this movie would appeal to us. And yet, there are a large amount of Christians who are “curious.”