With anticipation, enticement, and thrill, Egypt’s female audience is waiting for the second part of 50 Shades of Grey. After the Twilight Saga, the film series is the second obsession for audience to follow the love story happening between Anastasia, the innocent young lady, and Christian Grey, the dominant successful young businessman.
After the huge success of the first instalment of the romantic drama, 50 Shades Darker is now showing in Egyptian theatres. In a press release, Four Star Films, the sole films’ distributor of Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures in Egypt, said the film started to be screened on 15 February in all cinema theatres.
Known for their adult content, the films feature explicit, erotic scenes. This is the reason why the first part of the series was not screened in Egyptian cinemas.
With a romantic twist, the trilogy of 50 Shades of Grey takes the audience behind the closed doors of a dominant-submissive sexual relationship. This includes the practice of bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadomasochism, commonly known as BDSM.
The motion pictures are a depiction of English author E.L. James’ trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey, one of the best-selling books of all time, selling more than 100 million copies worldwide and translated into 52 languages. The novels have been dubbed by many as “mummy porn” or “Twilight for grown-ups.”
On the international level, the films were reprimanded for their sexual violence content. Civil society organisations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia fought hard to encourage the public to boycott the film.
Before the release of both the first and second instalment, an online campaign called “50 Dollars, not 50 Shades” widely spread among social media users with the hashtag #FiftyShadesisAbuse.
The campaign that aims to boycott the film trilogy stated that while the films seem to beautify a relationship that allegedly rests on love, it in reality presents violence, abuse, and emotional disturbance.
The campaign also requested that instead of buying cinema tickets for the film, people could donate the money for shelters fighting domestic violence and supporting women trying to escape their partners’ abuse.
On Valentine’s Day, the screening date of 50 Shades Darker, North America-based The Domestic Violence Organization published a Facebook post stating, “this Valentine’s Day, we’re asking you to remember that love shouldn’t hurt. Healthy relationships involve open communication, partnership, equity, and respect.” The organisation said that these attributes are not part of the relationship portrayed in 50 Shades Darker. The organisation continued to say that “we’ve partnered with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation to urge moviegoers to boycott the film and donate to a domestic violence shelter instead. Take a stand with #50DollarsNot50Shades by giving what you can to a shelter’s wish list.”
The campaign directed against the trilogy was adopted by London Abused Women’s Centre, Collective Shout, Culture Reframed, and The National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
In a press release, the organisations stated the reasons for fighting the film: “Hollywood is portraying the Fifty Shades story as a risqué, passionate romance, but it’s actually a story of sexual and domestic abuse. Christian Grey, the male lead, consistently displays the traits of an abuser through possessive, manipulative, coercive, and violent behaviours, including frequent stalking. Anastasia Steele, his ‘lover,’ is consistently isolated, threatened, and manipulated, yet she comes back to Christian time and time again because she thinks her love can change him. As the story progresses, Ana, who was first fearful and disturbed by Christian’s controlling behaviours and dark sexual practices, gradually becomes desensitised to his harsh treatment. The Fifty Shades series is permeated with graphic scenes of violent sex and sexual abuse. Its lead male character exhibits classic hallmarks of a sexual and domestic abuser, and yet Hollywood is portraying his relationship with Ana as a sexually titillating Cinderella story.”
In a study conducted by Amy E. Bonomi, Lauren E. Altenburger, and Nicole L. Walton and published in the Journal of Women’s Health about the effect of the trilogy, it was stated that the film showcases “dangerous violence standards being perpetuated in popular culture.”
Other than the physical abuse, the study also identifies emotional abuse throughout the film’s plot, depicted in the form of stalking and intimidation. Their study said that “our analysis identified patterns in Fifty Shades that reflect pervasive intimate partner violence—one of the biggest problems of our time.”