For the last several weeks the mainstream media has been promoting the movie Fifty Shades of Grey as if their life depended on it. For NBC Universal, perhaps it does. As Roger Sterling on Mad Men said, “Hollywood isn’t happy unless things are extreme.”
After the Today show on NBC spent weeks building up the movie with exclusive clips, interviews and insight on its presumptive popularity, it’s no surprise that millions of women flocked to theaters over the three-day weekend.
However, I’m worried that men may think that Christian Grey is what women want.
A male friend emailed me:
The majority of women have spoken as to what they want out of a man. I’m not interested in competing with the character in 50 Shades because I actually have a conscience. Do the majority of women who are fans have a conscience? At this point I’m not convinced they do.
The worst lesson men could take from the movie’s temporary and forced success is to think it represents the real desires of women.
All of the attention the media is giving to Fifty Shades of Grey reminds me of the fervor for Sex and the City. For years women have been told by the media that it is cosmopolitan to consume sex-obsessed entertainment and pursue casual, and physically and emotionally dangerous sex.
Now that Fifty Shades of Grey has surpassed The Passion of the Christ’s opening weekend the media is drooling. Have women finally embraced the message Hollywood and the mainstream media have been feeding them?
Ultimately, I’m not worried about what women take away from Fifty Shades of Grey because it’s fantasy. Also, the media seem to leave out of their reporting on casual sex as entertainment and “mommy porn” that the endings [SPOILER] usually portray a traditional relationship. The women of Sex and the City ended up with significant others and all but one married. Would Fifty Shades of Grey be as popular if the female character lived the rest of her days as a sex slave? Women might imagine life with a billionaire in a helicopter, but not life in a dungeon as a kept woman.
There is one movie in theaters that tells an amazing love story. Speaking of Fifty, this movie recently became one of only 50 movies in history to surpass over $300 million in domestic ticket sales. This feat was done without the mainstream media begging the public to see it. That love story is American Sniper.
Though you wouldn’t know it by the coverage, American Sniper had far less blood-thirst than Fifty Shades of Grey and a much more realistic depiction of a romantic relationship that women and men should want to emulate. Though a majority of the movie is devoted to Chris Kyle’s four tours in Iraq, the story of Chris and Taya’s relationship is significant.
Chris ultimately decided to retire and focus on strengthening their marriage and raising their children. While Fifty Shades of Grey is about a transactional relationship, American Sniper is one of a love greater than oneself. It shows love for another person, love for country, and love for family.
In a recent interview with People, Taya Kyle said,
I miss him so much. I loved being in his arms. I loved holding his hand. But what I miss most about Chris is the feeling when he was in the room. He just changed the feeling whenever he walked in. I missed him even when he was just gone from the room.
Taya went on to say of Chris, “He was a man with a huge heart and charisma and kindness.”
Contrast that with a line from Anastasia Steele, the female character from Fifty Shades of Grey, on Christian Grey: “He was polite. Intense. Smart. Really intimidating.”
Women worthy of a man’s attention aren’t looking for a sadistic boy-billionaire like Christian Grey. They’re looking for a man like Chris Kyle. One lesson I learned while writing Finding Mr. Righteous was that women are guilty of shirking their responsibilities in a relationship. To be worthy of a “Mr. Righteous” like Chris Kyle, one must be as strong in faith, behavior and support as he deserves. For starters, skip Fifty Shades of Grey because the real-life Christian Greys look for the weak and shallow. The women, like Anastasia, set their own value when they participate.
John Nolte compares the “relationship” in Fifty Shades of Grey to another movie. He wrote:
Christian Grey is a predator who uses the trappings of his wealth, looks, and fame to manipulate an innocent young woman into consenting to abuse. To pretend that this kind of experience can in any way be healthy and liberating is sinister and twisted.
There’s a story to tell about a man like Christian Grey. It’s called “American Psycho.”
We’re expected to forgive Grey’s sadistic desires because he’s handsome, he’s a billionaire, he’s fighting his own demons and he likes the plain girl. When you remove Grey’s money and power in business, he is less desirable. As the old saying goes, “Poor people are crazy, rich people are eccentric.”
Men and women should look for a partner who lives in the light, not one comfortable in the dark. In its depiction of both love and popularity, Fifty Shades of Grey was forced and fake. In love and popularity, American Sniper is pure of heart and true.