So, imagine this scenario. You're just settling down with a glass of wine and the latest episode of House of Cards when your best friend rings. She's distraught, as her tumultuous affair with her boss has turned nasty: he's broken into her house, forbidden her from seeing family, and has frequently threatened physical violence. Do you a) advise her to cut all ties with the man and consult the police, or b) assure her that he really does love her and all this is just his way of showing affection.
A) is the obvious choice. But as Fifty Shades of Grey taught us, b) is the more romantic option. Which is very concerning to say the least.
The Fifty Shades of Grey book was nothing if not a talking point with its controversial content that angered everyone from conservatives to liberals, titillating others with its graphic sex scenes and steamy erotica. The film's announcement was met with a wildly mixed reaction of horror and delight, but the jury's out on whether it lived up to the hype. And now we're getting some big changes for Fifty Shades Darker, but will they just make matters worse?
Fifty Shades Of... Comedy?
Humour might not be the first thing you think of when someone mentions Fifty Shades Of Grey, but there's no denying that some parts of the book (and movie) are downright hilarious. With descriptors such as "the colour of the communist manifesto" and the oft used "holy crap!", EL James' writing style certainly does amuse. And of course, there's plenty of humour to be derived from dramatic readings...
Though this probably not what Dakota Johnson meant when she said Fifty Shades Darker needs to get a sense of humour.
When speaking with the magazine Elle, Johnson explained how difficult it is for viewers to relate to Ana. After all, not all of us have corporate billionaires to rush us off in private helicopters (and considering what they want in return, I'm ok with that). Her solution? Make Anastasia funny! And that actually makes a lot of sense.
The audience needs to sympathise with Ana, but crucially, without a sense of comedy in the films, the subject matter just gets too heavy. And that's pretty much exactly what Dakota Johnson meant: that without a sense of humour these films are just hard to watch.
"If you can’t laugh during a movie like that, you’re fucked. Literally. You need to have something that everyone can relate to."
But what would be the consequence of injecting some humour into Fifty Shades Darker? There's definitely a danger that this would trivialise the story, poking fun at an emotionally manipulative and dangerous power dynamic. Besides, Marlon Wayans is already releasing a comedy version of the film...
Hmm. Well. I'll let you decide what to think about that. In any case, with EL James taking the reigns of Fifty Shades Darker, Dakota Johnson may not get much say in the matter...
EL James Takes Command
It's difficult to pinpoint what's the most controversial part of the immense pop culture phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey, but author EL James definitely hasn't shied away from creating scandal. From her humble beginnings as a (notorious) fanfic writer, EL James has ridden the fame train hard, and seems determined to retain as much control as she can over Fifty Shades Darker.
By now, Sam Taylor-Johnson's fights with EL James are pretty much common knowledge, but they didn't start off as mortal foes. Before the on-set arguments, the two got on pretty well together...
Ultimately though, the two ended up having just too many creative differences, and their conflict could have been a deciding factor for Taylor-Johnson when she departed the franchise.
"We battled all the way through. She'd say the same. There were tough times and revelatory times. There were sparring contests. It was definitely not an easy process."
So said Taylor-Johnson just before she resigned as Fifty Shades Darker's director. But it's not just the directing which James had trouble with: Fifty Shades of Grey saw a few screenwriters depart, as EL James disagreed with both Kelly Marcel and Patrick Marber's adaptations.
We can expect a big shakeup in the script for Fifty Shades Darker, as EL James is helping her husband Niall Leonard to write the sequel's screenplay. This probably means it'll stick closer to the book, but there's no doubt that there have been some big changes on the production side.
So will Dakota Johnson get her wish for more comedy in the film? Only time will tell, but if it deviates from EL James' vision, it doesn't see likely we'll see a lighter side to Grey...
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