Zero Shades of Grey

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Memo to America: THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T FUCK NICE THINGS.

It's Valentine's Day weekend, and while personally I find the holiday incredibly inconvenient thanks to two other celebratable life events happening on the same day, from a societal standpoint, this Valentine's Day is sort of significant from a sort of societal sort of pop culture aspect, because Fifty Shades of Grey has a movie now and I guess we care?

Nothing shows how fucked up we are about sex than the success of Fifty Shades of Grey. OK, one thing does, but I'm saving that for the second half of the column, so let's say nothing shows how fucked up we are about sex and art than F-SOG.

On the sex side, the fact that there are millions of people who sincerely think this thing is transgressive is sad. It's 2015. We have the Internet. We have Dan Savage. Broad City just aired an episode about a girl fucking a guy in the ass with a strap-on, and Fifty Shades' deepest, darkest fantasy is that it wishes it could be a quarter as empowering and sex-positive as a half-hour Comedy Central show.

Artistically, of course, the whole thing's as transgressive as it gets. I know the "It's kinky Twilight fan-fiction with the names changed" is old news, but it can't be repeated enough. You can argue that fan-fiction is not automatically an artistic disqualifier, and I will let you, and I will listen quietly, and out of politeness, I will wait for you to leave before I start laughing. But add in the rest and you've got a perfect recipe for the most embarrassing pop-culture phenomenon in a decade.

That said, America, on the off chance you have a gun to your head and your options to get out alive are watching either Fifty Shades of Grey or Old Fashioned, well, try to find a seat far away from all the 50-year-old Midwestern housewives snickering about handcuffs, is all I'm saying.

In case you haven't heard about it, because why would you, "Old Fashioned" is one of those Christian films, you know, like Kirk Cameron's "Fireproof", or Kirk Cameron's Christmas movie from last year that I'm only mentioning briefly here before my brain shuts down this line of thought and goes back to pretending it never existed.

Anyway, the point is, there are dozens of these low-budget movies that make their profit back on church group showings and home video every year. It's part of the whole Christian attempt to have their own sanitized pop culture - their own "music", their own "stand-up comedy", and now their own Fifty Shades of Grey.

Of course, the similarities end with "released on Valentine's weekend" and "made by people who want to trick you into thinking it's romantic". The "Old Fashioned" producers basically made a movie about people falling in love and never getting farther than zeroth base to make sure Jesus doesn't smite them and are presenting it as a godly alternative to America's latest fling with socially acceptable porn.

One of Old Fashioned's taglines is, I shit you not, "A vow to love, honor, and respect never occurs in a 'room of pain'", which is, from what I've heard, both factually incorrect and way more creepy than anything going on in E.L. James' laughable "room of pain".

It's just fucking, America. Get over it.

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