Fifty Shades of Guilty Pleasure
This chapter contends that Sam Taylor-Johnson’s adaptation of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey invites its viewers to sit in the muck of their guilty pleasure, a space where taboo and contradictory desires rear their heads and typically repressed tensions turn visible, bringing painfully and pleasurably normalized hegemonies and ideologies to the surface. Fifty Shades of Grey, then, affords viewers the opportunity to see alternative structures of desire, to experience their own attachments and pleasures as simultaneously culture-bound, context specific, socially regulated, and psychically charged. It offers an analysis of Taylor-Johnson’s film that focuses on the entanglement of guilt and pleasure, as well as desire and fear, and the ways the multiple—though often pejorative—positions in which it places us are productive.
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