Despite questionable quality, ‘Fifty Shades’ resonates with audiences

by Talia Raoufpur, Staff Columnist

Another film from the “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise, “Fifty Shades Darker,” was released just in time for Valentine’s day. For many, the series of novels have become a socially acceptable form of pornography, and has created a community of tens of millions of members.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is perhaps the most iconic bestselling series of pop literature in recent memory, and has ignited its own sexual revolution. The series has sold more than 100 million copies and has been translated in 52 languages. Sex, intimacy and romance are universal themes all sorts of cultures, ages and backgrounds can identify with.

The franchise has created a community of women and some men whose desires of romance, instant wealth, an attractive partner and materialistic possessions are realized throughout the three novels.

Both films feature cringe-worthy scenes involving dialogue between main characters Anastasia and Christian. Scenes drag on too long, and actor Jamie Dornan’s fake American accent is often forgotten in favor of his Irish one.

Regardless of the film’s poor quality, lack of chemistry between the main characters and cringe-worthy dialogue, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is one of the only socially acceptable forms of pornography in mainstream society. A person can announce, in public, plans to pay $15 dollars to watch “Fifty Shades Darker.” That is more acceptable than announcing plans to watch pornography in the their own home. While both are visual representations of sexual deviance and arguably non-consensual sex, the films are more positively received.

The literary characters found in the novel became part of the reader’s own sexual fantasies. The reader is left to imagine what the characters look like, their body language and demeanor. The interactions in the novels are open to interpretation, allowing readers complete freedom interpreting the various erotic experiences in elevators, on desks and in red rooms of pain.

Despite the franchise’s negative reviews by members of the BSDM community and inherent promotion of eating disorders, the film continues to dominate box offices across the globe. Many women are drawn to the characters’ own connections and somehow resonate with the experiences portrayed throughout the series.

Linda Murray, editor-in-chief of, said the franchise is responsible for a baby boom in 2012. According to Murray, the novels have allowed couples to be more sexually honest with one another, engage in sexual activities more often and ultimately becoming pregnant more quickly.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” has grabbed audiences’ minds by their sexual organs and allowed them to seek pleasure without any physical stimulation. Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s volatile relationship has allowed readers to explore their own sexual fantasies and desires without opening an incognito tab. The greatest effect “Fifty Shades of Grey” has had is not the titillation it has delivered to its fans, but the control over their sexual lives and the confidence needed to assert their desires.