The Fifty Shades brand has gained total acceptability throughout popular culture, despite the storyline romanticising stalking, manipulation, threats, unwanted control, isolation and coercion. The storyline gives out the dangerous message that abusive behaviour is somehow acceptable as long as the abuser had a tragic childhood they can use as an excuse. It also perpetuates the dangerous lie that the love of the right person can somehow magically "fix" an abusive person. The books dangerously misrepresent BDSM and give the impression that the BDSM lifestyle stems from an abused childhood and needs to be "cured."The group even goes so far as to supply an image for a book cover to print out at home, take to bookstores and place on the covers of the Fifty Shades of Grey books to dissuade customers from purchasing. The website also supplies protest posters and postcards to place in public areas to further their cause. Natalie Collins, who runs the campaign, told The Mirror, “The thing that I would say to people who are reading the books, who are going to see it, is, if he wasn't rich and very attractive, would this behaviour be normal? Is it romantic when somebody tracks your phone, when somebody knows where you live before you tell them, sells your only means of transport, or buys the company you work for? How can you marry that with being romantic?” Another domestic abuse group in Canada called PATHS has called for a boycott and is asking people to donate $50 to a local domestic violence shelter instead of seeing the film. PATHS coordinator Jo-Anne Dusel admitted she had not read the books and does not plan to see the movie, but she has read blog posts on the book containing excerpts that reminded her too much of an abusive relationship of her own: “I started reading through and I had to stop because it was triggering me, certain parts of it were so much like what had happened in the relationship I was in when I was 19.” Domestic violence is horrible and it needs to end. But perhaps these groups are giving far too much credit to a series of mediocre Twilight fanfiction and not enough credit to audiences. Most rational human beings understand the difference between fact and fiction. The belief that a book or movie franchise will lead to an increase in domestic abuse (or legitimizes it) is like believing violence will skyrocket because people are playing Grand Theft Auto V on their gaming consoles. Anyone so easily influenced by an entertainment medium clearly already has issues and needs help. If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship, seek help. An international directory of domestic violence agencies can be found here. Do you plan to see Fifty Shades of Grey this Valentine’s Day? What are your thoughts on the theme of the books and movie? Post your comments below!
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