The Honest 50 Shades trailer: oh so true!

For those who haven’t seen an Honest trailer before, they’re a series of satirical trailers on YouTube that (as the name suggests) are honest about a film’s or TV series’ faults. The 100th Honest trailer was – you guessed it! – 50 Shades of Grey. The humour in Honest trailers won’t be to everyone’s taste (not all of it is to mine) but for anyone with an axe of bugbears to grind, the 50 Shades trailer makes satisfying viewing. Here it is, along with 10 thoughts I had after watching it:

(1) “Is that it?”
“Is that it?” has to be the best summary reaction to the film. It failed to be any one thing. It lacked sexual tension, it lacked out-and-out violence (not that I’m particularly into that), it lacked romance and it really lacked a plot. I’ve read a number of reviews that commended Sam Taylor-Johnson for her subtlety of direction in making it light, funny and artistic, and there’s a case to say she succeeded in dredging some kind of workable film out of the books. But even so, the film remains a deeply lacking mishmash of a film, undeserving of its popularity.

(2) 50 Shades started as Twilight fan fiction
And anyone who wants to understand the film and/or book, needs to appreciate that. For more on E.L. James as Snowqueens Icedragon and the original Master of the Universe version of 50 Shades, click here.

(3) E.L. James wrote 50 Shades on her Blackberry
Actually, I’m not going to fault E.L. James for that – people who want to write in the midst of busy life have to find ways to make that work. But I do care that the end result lacks finesse and here’s why I don’t think that’s intellectual snobbery.

(4) Christian is “emotionally repressed”, “rude”, a “stalker” and “controlling”
Yes he is. Despite the fact that the film is much milder than the book. For more on this, see Jenny Trout’s review.

(5) The Audis and apartments
There is a strong case that says 50 Shades is more about money than it is about sex. Haven’t had a chance to delve this line of thinking too much just yet, but there’s a “final thoughts” piece on the whole Fifty Shades trilogy that makes this point well. The post is primarily about the BDSM angle (that being the author’s primary interest when he did his chapter-by-chapter commentary of the entire trilogy) but towards the end he makes the money point. No content note for this post other than major plot spoilers – you can find it here.

(6) Christian is a CEO does next to no work
This bugged me throughout the books. It’s just not realistic. And for any financial reporting geeks out there with an awareness of the USA’s regulatory environment, this might amuse.

(7) The “steamy action” includes: contracts, negotiation, clauses, conditions, emails, texting, non-disclosure agreements…
In other words, the Honest trailer thinks there wasn’t enough sex. I actually think it’s more complicated than that.  Here’s why.

(8) The cringeworthy lines that didn’t make it into the film
Rumour has it that E.L. James will enrol her husband to adapt the screenplay for 50 Shades Darker. Given the number of reviews that have complained about E.L. James’ stubbornness around (for example) the “laters babe” and “xbox” lines that did make it into the film, it does make me wonder why. Meanwhile, despite her difficult relationship with Sam Taylor-Johnson, there are some lines from the book that – thankfully – didn’t make it into the film. If you fancy an amusing angle on why Ana says “Holy cow!” so much in the books, you might like this piece of anti-fanfiction. Alternatively you can find out which author I preferred in my comparison of a simile from 50 Shades of Grey and one from The Lord of the Rings.

(9) The parody of Byonce’s Crazy in Love
Listen carefully as you watch the trailer and you’ll hear some alternative lyrics. For a parody of the Spice Girls’ Wannabe (sadly, it’s lyrics only at the moment), click here.

(10) “Six slaps is the worst it gets?!?!”
This is undeniably one of the most irritating things about the book and film that I’ve had to get my head round. Ana asks Christian to show her “the worst”. He asks her if she’s sure. She says yes. He says he’ll hit her six times. He then hits her six times. He then stops. Does this mean she actually was consenting to the whole relationship and he’s not actually abusive? You can read my answer here.

Content note: The film has strong language, sex scenes and abusive behaviour. This is a trailer of the film – it has all of these things in it too. On its own, I’d guess this trailer would have a 15 certificate in the UK, whereas the film got an 18 certificate. (And bear it mind, the film was banned in some countries and can be seen by 12 year-olds in France.)


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