As the Valentine’s weekend release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie approaches, controversy continues to surround the adaptation of E.L James’ bestselling books, the latest being the decision of the Malaysian Film Censorship Board to ban the film from that country entirely. While the UK has issued a rating of “18” through the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) — highlighting “strong sex and nudity, along with the portrayal of erotic role play based on domination, submission and sadomasochistic practices” — and the U.S has labelled the film a more relaxed “R,” it seems the Malaysian Film Censorship Board are taking a much harder line.
A statement issued by the board chairperson Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid made the objections more specific, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph.
“The board made a decision in view of the film containing scenes that are not of natural sexual content. The content is more sadistic, featuring scenes of a woman being tied to a bed and whipped.”
Malaysia has previously banned Darren Aronofsky’s Noah for its depiction of a prophet, and also Bruno for “promoting homosexuality.”
Anticipation for Fifty Shades Of Grey has been high ever since the adaptation was announced, due to the explicit nature of the source material. The book series sees inexperienced and naïve student Anastasia Steele meet twenty-something entrepreneurial billionaire Christian Grey. A mutual infatuation develops, as Grey “encourages” Steele to agree to a relationship that incorporates an element of BDSM. Speaking to the Guardian, the director of the film, Sam Taylor-Johnson, explained her view of the production.
“I thought, if we can take this girl on a journey, where we empower her and don’t leave her as a victim, that’s job done. We start with Anastasia coming into his world and grappling with it – so she’s an autonomous person. BDSM is a boundaried sexual environment. It’s not like you’re with someone and you go to have sex with them and you don’t know what’s going to happen. There are rules… Yes, the film is hardcore in places, there’s dominance in places – but at no point did I feel like it had crossed a boundary.”
The Guardian reports that many people across North America do expect the film to cross a boundary, however, based solely upon the nature of the well-known source material, along with trailers already released. Beyond the BDSM story element, the protest cites the many instances of stalking behaviour, intimidation, and coercion employed by the character of Christian Grey. A coordinated campaign on social media, using the hashtag #50dollarsnot50shades, seeks to encourage potential moviegoers to donate their cash to women’s shelters instead of buying movie tickets. The Facebook page for the protest — which launched on January 26 2015 and currently has 4,783 “likes” — details the aims of the campaign along with its high-profile sponsors.
“#50dollarsnot50shades is a grassroots, women-led campaign encouraging people to boycott the ’50 Shades Of Grey’ movie and give a $50 donation to [a] domestic violence shelter or agency.
“The money you would have spent on movie tickets and a babysitter or movie tickets, popcorn and drinks will go towards serving victims of abusive relationships like the one glamorised in the ‘Fifty Shades’ series. Hollywood doesn’t need your money; abused women do.
“#50dollarsnot50shades campaign sponsors include: London Abused Women’s Centre, National Center On Sexual Exploitation, and Stop Porn Culture. Co-sponsors are: Antipornography.org, one angry girl designs and PATHS Saskatchewan.”
Collective Shout has also recently joined the campaign as co-sponsor.
Fifty Shades Of Grey will premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 11, 2015 and opens around the world on February 12 and February 13, 2015.
[Image via Google]