With the highly anticipated release of the 50 Shade of Grey film only a week away everyone is either making plans to see it, had their tickets purchased 3 months in advance, or viciously rejecting even the idea of having to see a second of this film. It seems as if everyone holds some sort of judgment about this controversial movie and whether or not they will pay to see it in theaters next weekend. Having never read the books myself, I’ve had a hard time forming my own clear opinion about 50 Shades. However, one quick Google search is all it would take to find yourself neck deep in articles that either support or reject the franchise. In my own similar search, I came across one campaign that caught my attention with a single hashtag, #50DollarsNot50Shades.
Ever since the books were released a few years ago, everyone has seemed to have very strongly held opinions about the series and how it reflects on the BDSM community. The acronym, BDSM, stands for a form of “sexual activity that can include bondage, domination, submission, sadism and masochism”. Since I haven’t read the series, I can’t really comment on how I feel about the books’ portrayal of this lifestyle, but from what I’ve read time and time again, many would argue that 50 Shades does not offer a fair representation of what BDSM actually is. Either way, people are going to see this movie. Whether it be from a love of the books themselves or just plain curiosity, the crowds will do doubt flock to the cinemas on Valentine’s Day to witness this awaited film.
Many people will have expressed their distaste for the books and film on the grounds of its misrepresentation or its unusual sexual nature. However, there is one campaign that is taking a different approach. The hashtag #50DollarsNot50Shades promotes not only boycotting seeing the film in theaters, but actually encourages spreading domestic violence awareness and activism as an alternative to supporting the movie.
Started by domestic violence activists from Stop Porn Culture and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, the message behind this social media campaign is that 50 Shades of Grey glamorizes and sexualizes violence in a way that becomes domestic abuse. One of the taglines, “Put your money where women like Anastasia end up”, encourages people to donate money to domestic violence shelters instead of supporting the film. The campaign also makes a point to mention that they are not targeting the BDSM community as being at fault here. “A lot of the criticism of our campaign is that there’s nothing wrong with BDSM—we’re not saying there is. But people within the BDSM community are outraged by how the book portrays their lifestyle. This book romanticizes a perpetrator of abuse,” states Natalie Collins, an advocate for domestic violence victims who has headlined for own efforts against the film.
The campaign promotes awareness of the realities of abusive relationships and what really happens to women who are in them. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, as a sponsor of the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign, states, “Real women don’t end up like Anastasia; they often end up in a women’s shelter, on the run for years, or dead.” The campaign’s approach to target the 50 Shades audience has gained them over 6,000 Facebook likes in less than two weeks and inspired many similar campaigns that boycott supporting the film.
What do you think about boycotting this movie? Has 50 Shades become an offensive misrepresentation of actual BDSM lifestyles or a platform to promote awareness and start a discussion on domestic violence prevention?
For more information about the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign and how you can support domestic violence abuse victims, please visit the campaign’s Facebook page.