Just when you thought the whole E.L. James spawned Fifty Shades of Grey debacle couldn't get any more nonsensical along comes Marlon Wayans to remind you that no matter how bleak the outlook may be, things can always get a little bit worse.
Yep, that's right. There is a Fifty Shades of Grey / Fifty Shades Darker parody movie written by, produced by, and starring Marlon Wayans. It's here, it exists and it's coming for you.
In case you don't fully comprehend how cringe inducingly awful this is, remember Little Man? If you don't, that's probably a good thing, and if you've performed a self-lobotomy in order to forget that film existed, I'm sorry for bringing it up. And now here we are; against all odds and hope for humanity Wayans rolls ever onwards with his latest offering, Fifty Shades of Black. Check out the trailer below, if you dare:
Okay, okay. I'll be fair. The trailer makes Fifty Shades of Black look as like it could maybe be some fun, certainly better than some of the other stuff he's produced (or indeed the films from which it take its source material). Though I suspect that watching the trailer is enough to get the general idea.
I loved the image of Christian Grey (Christian Black in this iteration I suppose) as a bag snatcher / car thief, and at least this seems like a somewhat self aware parody. The mirroring of the infamous elevator make out scene from Fifty Shades of Grey nicely encapsulates the social uncomfortableness of couples who insist on engaging in public displays of affection on the underground, on the street, sitting next to you in the pub. You know the ones.
Christian smacking Ana (sorry - Hannah) in the face when she's stuck in the elevator doors perfectly parodies the carelessness Grey displays towards her throughout the books, so as it certainly succeeds on that count.
Fifty Shades of Black is directed by Michael Tiddes, whose other credits include A Haunted House and A Haunted House 2, both Wayans comedy "masterpieces". It stars Marlon Wayans as Christian Black and Kali Hawk as Hannah (she doesn't seem to have a surname as of yet, which further notes her bland, personality-less status in the books).
The Fifty Shades of Grey series and Wayan's previous work do have a parallel though - poorly reviewed but financially successful, they're fairly un-engaging pieces of work churned out by studios because enough people will pay to see them to make them worth doing.
Both reflect different issues though, Fifty Shades of Grey as exploitative of female sexuality and Fifty Shades of Black for a prime example of the lowest common denominator humour that saturates contemporary Hollywood.
But maybe, just maybe, that's a good thing. Perhaps it takes this kind of humour to expose just how ridiculous the whole Fifty Shades thing has become.
You'll hear the work of E. L. James described as a "worldwide phenomenon", and that's inarguable. But just because something is a phenomenon doesn't make it phenomenal. Phenomenons are often misunderstood, appearing from a niche of society and spreading despite controversy, which is certainly the case here.
Phenomenons are also often short lived, and even fans of the series are getting disillusioned with the poorly received films and confused production surrounding them.
At least now we know that production is finally underway on Fifty Shades Darker, so I guess we have that to look forward to...