Advice for the Fifty Shades Of Grey Movie: Be NC-17.

What Women Really Think
June 28 2013 12:50 PM

Advice for the Fifty Shades Of Grey Movie

154624699
Sam Taylor-Johnson (left) should aim for an NC-17 rating.

Photo by Eamonn McCormack/Getty Images

Mark your calendars: the mega-hit erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey now has a director, British filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson, and a release date, Aug. 1, 2014. This means it's time for us to give the team behind the 50 Shades movie some advice! Here's how to improve E.L. James' book, which might have been a hit for its steamy bedroom scenes but really could have used an editor.

1. Consult someone who actually knows about/engages in BDSM: One of the creepiest parts of E.L. James' book is the way she conflates Christian Grey's interests in BDSM with practices that feel a lot more like abuse (like controlling Anastasia's eating habits and who she has contact with). Talking to someone who knows more about the BDSM community might help make the movie's sex scenes hotter—and as a side note, Fifty Shades really needs to be rated NC-17, or what's the point—without demonizing BDSM or encouraging women to see abusive and controlling behavior as acceptable or romantic.

Advertisement

2. Make Christian and Anastasia's initial meeting less ludicrous: In the novel, Christian and Anastasia meet when Anastasia's friend Kate—who is the editor of the school paper but apparently lacks any reporters on staff or the ability to reschedule an interview—gets sick and sends Anastasia to interview Christian, a wealthy donor to their college, in her stead. Once there, Anastasia conducts the world's stupidest, least professional interview, but apparently Christian becomes infatuated with her anyway. Why not eliminate the stupid and make Anastasia seem more generally competent by just making her a reporter in the first place, and lend that initial interaction some electricity by making it an actual battle of wits?

3. Find a way to spice up Anastasia and Christian's interminable emails: James doesn't just devote pages upon pages to Anastasia and Christian's email correspondence—she reproduces Christian's email footer every time he dashes off a note to her. Finding a visual way to represent the emails—Ryan Coogler's upcoming Fruitvale Station does a nice job making the act of sending and receiving text messages dynamic on screen—or turning them into steamy phone conversations would be great.

4. Ditch Anastasia's food issues: One of the weirder elements of Fifty Shades is the way James paints Anastasia's eating disorder. She forgets to eat frequently, eats very little when she does actually remember to make a meal or is forced to attend one, and often loses her appetite when faced with Christian's gorgeousness. Getting rid of this element of the novel would also eliminate one of the ways Christian acts controlling with Anastasia (he requires her to eat as part of the contract they sign), and would ease the general air of unhealthiness to make the whole thing more fun.

5. Make Anastasia's friends actual human beings: Fifty Shades started as fan fiction, and these roots are most obvious when it comes to Anastasia's friends Kate and José, who are rip-offs of already-thin characters from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight franchise. It's creepy enough when Christian alienates Anastasia from her friends, but given how flimsy her relationships with them are in the first place, the movie could benefit from making Anastasia face an actual choice: between her intoxicating new boyfriend and the friends who are concerned by her total devotion to him.

Alyssa Rosenberg writes about culture and television for Slate’s “XX Factor” blog. She also contributes to ThinkProgress and theatlantic.com.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.