Film Analysis: Fifty Shades of Grey Franchise

The Fifty Shades of Grey movies surpasses the original prose trilogy while capturing its original spirit. Unlike the novel, I could endure the film until the end — mostly by picking apart everything wrong about them. With the release of Fifty Shades Darker, I’m confident that I cannot be further entertained by the franchise.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

In Fifty Shades of Grey, literature senior Anastasia Steele interviews billionaire entrepreneur Christian Grey and is utterly attracted to him. Grey instantly falls for her, and begins to pursue her. Classic female fantasy. If Grey were a homeless bum or just an everyman, this would be a psychological thriller, but since Grey is a billionaire it’s billed as a romance.

It’s easy to understand why she is attracted to him. Christian Grey is wealthy, powerful and not ugly. But what does he see in her?

It’s obvious that neither E L James nor the scriptwriter have any inkling about the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Billionaires do not live in the same world as regular people. The one percent hang out at exclusive clubs and societies that cater to the ultra-wealthy. They attend galas, pageants and social events to network with their fellow one-percenters and strike up marriage alliances. They are the guests of honour everywhere they go.

In these appearances, they smile and strut and schmooze and scheme. They know they are the movers and shakers of society, and they know that there will always be people waiting to pounce on the slightest sign of weakness. Thus, they have to learn impeccable manners and social skills, and see and be seen only by the luminaries of the world. The companions they bring to these events reflect their wealth, status and taste; they choose their mates very selectively and demand a hundred percent at all times.

An eligible bachelor like Grey will have no end of women throwing themselves at his feet. He will be invited to events where supermodels, actresses, athletes and fellow billionaires will be in attendance. During meetings with clients and investors, there will be no shortage of opportunities to meet glamorous hostesses or hire gorgeous escorts. More ordinary women (like Ana!) would do everything in their power to gain the privilege of a single night with him. Wealth and power are the most potent female aphrodisiacs in the world, and men like Grey would be spoiled for choice.

So why Ana?

Anastasia Steele is slim and pretty, but she is not supermodel material. She doesn’t demonstrate any sign of superior intelligence — her one shot at this, when interviewing Christian, was entirely unmemorable. The movies offer no opportunities for her to demonstrate qualities like resilience, independence and determination to him. As she makes abundantly clear, she does not share Christian’s sexual tastes.

Men like Christian Grey can afford to be picky. People do not become billionaires by the age of 27 by thinking like regular people. A man like that knows that he has to be highly selective to hire the right employees, and be ruthless in firing those who fail to meet his standards. Christian isn’t a complete naif either; he’s implied to have plenty of sexual experience in his past. Ana clearly doesn’t completely suit him — so why should he care about her?

The answer is simple: the series is not about Christian Grey. It is about the enduring female fantasy of being swept off her feet by a powerful man who finds her irresistible.

Romance? What Romance?

Romance stories are driven by interactions between the main characters. But when characters are flat, the story falls flat.

Take a look at Vox Day’s socio-sexual hierarchy and Heartiste’s Dating Market Value Test for Men. Grey is described as ‘dominant’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘intimidating’. By all accounts he should be an alpha or a sigma. But he acts like a low beta (Heartiste) or delta (Vox Day).

A high-value man seduces women by careful displays of wealth and attention, attracting them to him. Grey lavishes time and money on Ana, but receives no financial gain in return. A high-value man sets the pace of the relationship — he may negotiate boundaries with his mate, but the relationship is on his terms. Grey does everything Ana asks of him without the slightest complaint or protest. A high-value man employs wit, charm, game and deep penetration to win women over. Grey’s dialogue is either utterly bland or breathless proclamations of how much he adores Ana. A high-value man will run background checks on potential mates to guard himself, and hide that fact from people. Grey casually surrenders that knowledge to Ana without even drawing a concession. A high-value man seeks to maximise profit and cedes ground in negotiations only reluctantly. Grey displays none of the drive that makes men billionaires. A high-value man maintains frame. Grey surrenders it.

Christian Grey doesn’t act like a dominant high-status male. He doesn’t even act like a billionaire. Men like that do not have the luxury of dropping or delaying appointments on a whim just to chase a girl, not if they want to land the multi-million dollar deals that made them rich in the first place. They know that women are everywhere, but a sales opportunity may be once in a lifetime. They will remain focused on their mission of making money, especially if they are single, and only turn their attention to their women after they are done.

And if the woman keeps complaining about it? She’s fired and replaced without a second thought.

Christian Grey acts like every woman’s fantasy. He is rich and powerful, but eats out of Ana’s hand. He has the ability to devote time, money and attention on her, and will change his essential nature for her. He won’t ever chase other, higher-status women with more compatible sexual fantasies because he is utterly obsessed with her.

And in the real world, men who act like Christian Grey become hollowed-out shells of their former selves, losing everything that made them great.

Characters? What characters?

Every person in the film franchise revolves around Anastasia Steele. Their thoughts, feelings and actions revolve entirely around her. When she is not in the frame, they cease to exist. Case in point: Fifty Shades Darker.

The trailer promises that people from Christian’s past shows up. They do, but not in any significant way.

Mrs Robinson, the woman who originally seduced Christian, makes hostile remarks at Ana and…nothing more. As Christian’s business partner, she has leverage over him. She can whisper into his ear, spread rumours about Ana and use her resources to make life difficult for Ana. Instead, the movie resolves the conflict simply by having Ana throw water on her and walk away.

In the real world, women as powerful as Mrs Robinson don’t act directly. They will plot their revenge, hire thugs and lawyers, and ruin their target without any trace of suspicion falling on her. It may feel good to throw water on her, but people like Mrs Robinson won’t rest until she or her target is destroyed. And Christian ought to know that too. The movie shows no attempt to resolve the conflict, wasting an opportunity for drama.

Leila Williams, Christian’s former submissive, also shows up. She appears for a few scenes, utters a couple of lines, and fades away. There is no sense of personality or motivation to her. The one moment she makes an impact is when she breaks into Ana’s home. And even then, Ana’s reaction isn’t one of fear for her safety (what if someone else breaks in?) or relief (thank God Christian and his bodyguard dealt with this madwoman) but jealousy. Leila is simply a device to make Ana jealous, compelling Christian to further emasculate himself through signalling his loyalty. Once Leila has served her purpose, she disappears.

Jack Hyde was Ana’s boss, working as Commissioning Editor at Seattle Independent Publishing. When he first shows up, he serves to make Christian jealous. His existence signals to the audience that Ana is attractive to other men. When the three meet at a bar, Christian introduces himself to Jack by saying, “I’m the boyfriend.” This is a signal of anger, jealousy and insecurity; it is a definition of identity based on someone else instead of who he is. It is what an ordinary man would do, not a true high-status man.

In the real world, a true dominant would smile broadly, focus his gaze on Jack, extend his hand and say, “Hi. I’m Christian. Nice meeting you.” At the same time, he would wrap his arm around Ana’s waist and pull her into him. This is a demonstration of confidence, superiority, ownership and frame — without openly giving Jack a reason to get mad at him.

Later, Jack threatens to expose Ana’s relationship with Christian unless she provides sexual favours and tries to assault her. She fights her way out (the only time we see courage from her), then runs outside into Christian’s arms. Christian moves to have him fired. Jack naturally seethes at this treatment and plots Christian’s downfall, paving the way for the next story. Here, he simply exists to provide an element of danger and set up the next story.

In the real world, a man like Christian wouldn’t settle for having him fired. He would call the police and use his influence to have Jack locked away for sexual assault. Any regular person would do that, but once Jack is off-screen, he is immediately forgiven of all sins. This makes no sense whatsoever — unless you want a reason for the next story.

Kink? What kink?

All I will say about the sex scenes is that you can find much harder porn on the Internet for free.

Bondage, domination, sadism and masochism is the forbidden fruit that draws in customers. It is taboo, yet dramatic and glamorous. But its on-screen portrayal is tame. The movies walk the fine line between showing just enough BDSM to tantalise the audience while staying clear of the hardcore aspect that will alienate the vanilla audience — and errs on the side of the latter.

It’s All About Ana

Despite being named after Christian Grey, Fifty Shades is all about Ana. She effortlessly attracts and changes a wealthy man, but has no need to mold herself to him. She is the focus of his attentions, but since she can tell him off and he respects her limits, he isn’t really a stalker. There is just enough kink to lure in the audience, but it’s always on her terms and he never pushes her. She doesn’t have to do anything to earn Christian’s affections, but he makes grandiose displays for her. She enjoys the attention and wealth of a billionaire, and has no need to hold up her end of the relationship.

Fifty Shades of Grey is the perfect female fantasy. It allows a female audience to insert themselves into Ana’s shoes and pretend that they, too, can haul in a billionaire without having to lift a finger. No matter how cringe-worthy you may find the franchise, it is the textbook for understanding the solipsism, fantasy and hypergamy of the modern female.

Credits:

Fifty Shades Darker No More Secrets Poster: Universal
Christian Grey: Fanpop
Fifty Shades of Grey still: Aceshowbiz
Leila Williams: The Daily Mail
Meh: Media Makeameme
Fifty Shades Darker No More Rules Poster: Universal

Three Essential Mindset Books for the Modern Man

There are three books every modern man must read today. These books are not for the faint of heart or weak of will. They are not soothing feel-good diatribes designed only to part your money from your wallet. These books are forges for the soul, created to scrub away your weaknesses and temper your spirit for greatness. If you desire to live a high energy life of accomplishment and greatness, these books are for you.

Gorilla Mindset

Mike Cernovich is an author and independent filmmaker. A lawyer by training, he blogs at Danger and Play, and is one of the world’s most successful mindset writers. Among his many achievements, he accurately predicted the rise of Donald Trump, produced the critically acclaimed documentary Silenced: The War on Free Speech and wrote one of the best-selling nonfiction book on Amazon. That book is Gorilla Mindset.

Gorilla Mindset is more than just a mindset book. It is a workbook chock-full of exercises for mind, body and spirit. These exercises are designed to bring out your fullest potential by developing proper posture, deep breathing, mental flexibility and more. The heart of Gorilla Mindset is to develop a mindset that allows you to take on the challenges and chaos of the world — and thrive.

While Gorilla Mindset focuses on instilling mindfulness and a positive mindset, it covers a broad range of topics: health, nutrition, emotions, fitness and more. Cernovich recognises that the mind, body and spirit are intertwined: to bring out your best, you need to improve all three aspects of your existence. The book also has interviews with subject matter experts, delving into the science behind some of the more esoteric principles discussed in the book.

Gorilla Mindset isn’t just for men. While it is targeted at men, anyone can apply the same principles to living. This is a book for everyone, accessible to anybody motivated to kick their life into high gear.

Gorilla Mindset can be purchased here.

New World Ronin

Written by Nick Kelly (aka Victor Pride) of Bold and Determined, New World Ronin is a handbook of hard-won wisdom, aimed at artists, entrepreneurs, rebels, warriors and outcasts. B&D focuses on building up men to become masters of their destiny. Both blog and novel are unapologetic about their core audience: men who desire to escape the humdrum of 9-to-5 life and become online entrepreneurs.

New World Ronin is a lean, mean book of principles. Delivered in a direct, no-nonsense style, it delivers hard-hitting advice on a plethora of subjects: the right mindset to be a winner, works of genius versus work that maintains business, how to be a professional creator in the modern world, and so on. Every line is crisp and brusque, filled with just enough information to spur the wise reader to read between the lines and live his advice.

More focused than Gorilla Mindset, this is a book that drives readers to cultivate a mindset of success. While there are many practical tips in here, there is only one major exercise in the book. Most of the work here is mental, demanding the reader to view the world through a specific mental paradigm and act to achieve his goals.

As Kelly says, do not overthink it. The genius behind New World Ronin can only be fully experienced when acted upon. It is not a book for deep meditation; it is a book that demands you to act, to seek out what he saw, and become the kind of man to seize the reigns of destiny.

New World Ronin can be purchased here.

The Nine Laws

The Nine Laws is a book that will be remembered through the ages. But it is not for everyone.

The author, Ivan Throne, is a man of action and achievement. He is a martial artist with over three decades’ of training in ninjutsu. He is a business manager and a veteran of the financial industry. He is a public speaker and writer nonpareil. He is also the writer behind Dark Triad Man, a blog that teaches men how to apply the dark triad of Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism to achieve success. In The Nine Laws, he describes the nine laws that govern existence, and discusses how a man can utilise the traits of the dark triad to leverage these laws and achieve success in a brutal, uncaring world.

The Nine Laws is not a book to be skimmed over. Every paragraph, every line, every word, must be studied and mined to the depths of meaning. Throne writer in a highly baroque style. Combining powerful rhetoric and impactful vocabulary, the book demands you to use both the logical thinking of your left brain and the intuitive leaps of your right. Seldom does Throne go into explicit detail; either you grasp the meaning of his words immediately or you do not. While I found his writing understandable, I should add that when I was younger I read Friedrich Nietzsche for fun — his style might not be for you.

The Nine Laws is a book of transformation, but it is not merely a mindset book. Read deeper and you will see how it combines Christian doctrine with Taoism, Ninpo and Buddhism. It coldly and unflinchingly describes the state of the world and the fallen nature of Man, and how you can live in accordance with the Will of Heaven. Karma is an everyday reality, to be understood and utilised for one’s ends. To live in such a world, you must have a strong spirit, and to have a strong spirit, you must train your body and master your mind. The Nine Laws will show you how. Filled with mental exercises, it demands the reader to hold up a mirror to his life, identify his weaknesses and strip them bare. Then, naked before the world, he must forge mind, body and spirit into the apex of mastery.

The Nine Laws is a masterwork of philosophy and personal transcendence. It is not for everyone. But it is a book the world needs at this stage in history.

The Nine Laws can be purchased here.

Uniting the Trinity

View these books as steps on a spiralling staircase, taking you from mundane life to an elevated state of existence. They are not books to be read, but advice to be acted on. Once you have exhausted one, move on to the next, and when you have completed the last, go back to the beginning and plumb it again for more insight.

Start with Gorilla Mindset. Its combination of practical advice, coverage of the mind-body-spirit unity, and accessible language makes it ideal as the foundation for a dedicated self-improvement plan. If there is only one book you can read, read this one. It is broad base upon which you can build a platform to explore other aspects of life.

New World Ronin is next. While targeted at a very specific group, it shows you the mindset of winners and creators. You may not have any desire to be an Internet entrepreneur, but his approach of taking life by the horns is critical to achieving the apex of success wherever you go.

Last of all is The Nine Laws. it is the equivalent of a graduate text. It offers no workable advice for mundane matters like gym, dieting and martial arts. It will not tell you how to shape your life like an entrepreneur, if indeed you want to be one. Its attention is on more rarefied subjects, delving into the nature of man and existence. The exercises here are all psychological and spiritual, and require you to think hard and deep.

Taken together, these books form a trinity of transcendence for the modern man. If you are not content with where you are now, if you strive to achieve greatness and immortality, if you seek to emulate magnates and join the ranks of the Caesars of the world, you owe it to yourself to study these books.