Since the release of E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” in 2011, Catholic writers, organizations and newspapers, including this one, have been speaking out against the dangers of the wildly popular franchise, especially when it comes to normalizing — and even celebrating — sadomasochistic behavior.
Wrote OSV columnist Teresa Tomeo in 2012: “I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that the desensitization in our culture is so strong that we can’t recognize pure unadulterated porn when we see it, or the fact that so many Christians ... are among those going ga-ga” over the books.
According to the studio, the film has 20 minutes of sex, and one presumes the bondage and violence are included within the count. Government officials in Malaysia have opted to ban the film, citing it as more pornography than feature film.
Yet in the United States, before the movie was released on Valentine’s Day weekend (an irony in itself), presales were reported at being through the roof, with the highest numbers coming from the conservative South. The movie trailer alone has been viewed more than 51 million times on YouTube.
And so we ask: Where is our shame? Millions of people are lining up to watch a depiction of sexual bondage and violence that once could only be viewed by slinking into a XXX video store. Now it’s celebrated. Encouraged. Made into an outing for group viewing. Where is our shame?
In 2013, Pope Francis called shame a “true Christian virtue.” What a shame that more of us can’t embrace it.