Just like millions of other women across the world, I have lusted after Christian Grey. I have booked tickets for the Fifty Shades of Grey films and anxiously waited for his strong presence to grace the screen before getting lost in the fantasy. However, upon deeper thought, what exactly is it we are lusting after – His body, his bedroom or his bank account? Cut (the clearly beautiful and utterly fab) Jamie Dornan out of the equation for a second and look at the character of Christian himself, would the story be half as sensual and romantic if he wasn’t worth billions of dollars? Would we really want to be that vulnerable and intimate with a man who is abusive and emotionally unavailable? A lot of the story is about trying to change Christian, but should we be romanticising the fact that we should work to change a man? Should Anastasia really be expected to put that much effort into their relationship when she clearly has so many other men who would jump at the chance to be with her?
I do agree that Fifty Shades of Grey is a love story, a love story that I thoroughly enjoy, but I don’t necessarily think it’s going to land in the pile of classics like Titanic and The Notebook. Could you really grow old with a Christian Grey over a Noah Calhoun, or is Christian just an erotic fantasy that brings out temptation and a darker side in all of us because we know we’ll probably never end up with a Christian? Although it is important to remember, the unimaginable wealth and sex side is unlikely, but the abusive side happens to people every single day. So many women are living with Christian Greys but there is nothing sexy or romantic about it. He is a man who needs control in every way, he knows he is not the man for her and warns her about it but he also knows how to turn on the charm, romance and promise to change when he senses the control slipping out of his grip.
It is very easy for us to read the unfolding story in a book or watch as the actors undress on a screen, but in reality, do we really want to be in the red room with a man who is as controlling outside as he is inside? Take away the lavish apartment, helicopter, fancy masquerade balls, and the seductive soundtrack lingering in the background as you get lost in the idea of being Anastasia herself, would you really settle for the Christian Grey lifestyle in a rural village with an ordinary, everyday man? Perhaps, that comes down to the person, but I know I am much more struck by the fantasy of Christian than the reality.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the franchise and the idea of Anastasia and Christian, but she is too much of a strong and independent young woman to be caught up with a man like that. He is extremely overpowering by nature and being with a woman who is so focused on her own goals and independence, could this really end well? Should young women like me who are waiting for the perfect love really be watching this film and waiting for the happy ending where Anastasia changes Christian and they live happily ever after? No, because I don’t think she could really change him nor should she need to. She shouldn’t have to fight for the parts of him that are physically or emotionally untouchable. Christian refuses to give Anastasia access to the most important parts of him but he still wants power over all of her, is this fair? No, this is abuse. The way he controls her is also abuse – Purchasing her work place, telling her who she can and can’t spend time with and deciding what food she can eat. Ana is very much trapped by Christian, so maybe just like the rest of us she is caught up with the idea of the fantasy. Maybe she can’t see the extent of the toxicity because she’s too invested in the relationship.
Why are we so captivated by this story? Forbidden love perhaps? The thrill of something different? The break away from our own ordinary lives? Do they even really love each other? Maybe they do and that’s what the story is teaching us, falling in love isn’t always perfect, falling in love can often be falling flat on your face and realising that just because you love somebody it doesn’t mean they’re healthy for you. Or maybe Anastasia thinks she loves Christian because she is so young and new to all of it, maybe she hasn’t discovered real love yet and maybe Christian loves the control and power he has over this innocence and naivety rather than actually loving her… maybe Christian is incapable of loving anybody.
Fifty Shades of Grey is extreme – A story of power, control, love, sex, romance and red rooms set in a very wealthy environment. This fantasy is all well and good but when this fantasy becomes a reality do we all realise we shouldn’t keep writing the story? As Ana’s character continues to grow and develop as we have already started to see, shouldn’t we be hoping she walks away from Christian for good rather than succeeding in changing his nature?
Let’s take things down a notch for a second, lets take away the wealth and the power of Christian in society and let’s turn him into the men we meet and fall for every single day. Should we ever need to change a man? And if we try changing one shade of him, won’t it eventually shine back through?