Domestic Abuse Activists Protest at London 'Fifty Shades' Premiere
The U.K. group claims that the books, and therefore the film, are offensive to those who have been abused.
It may already be set to be one of the year's biggest films, but that didn't stop a group of activists protesting at the Fifty Shades of Grey premiere at London's Leicester Square on Thursday night.
Around a dozen people from the group calling itself "50 Shades of Domestic Abuse" held aloft banners with messages including "Mr. Grey is a Rapist" and "Christian: Predator not Protector," although they were reportedly removed from the grey carpet by security.
"We kind of take issue with the idea that Fifty Shades is a love story," one of the protestors, Emma Tofi, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It comes from this very stereotypical thing that there's the damaged man who needs to be fixed through love, and I think the whole BDSM thing gives it a new dimension."
Although the group, which was founded two and a half years ago by Natalie Collins after the publishing of E.L. James' novels, isn't "anti-consensual BDSM," claims Tofi, the practice is "dangerously misrepresented" in Fifty Shades of Grey, she says, as is the issue of consent, which "need to be more 'yes, please' and not 'oh, I don't know, maybe.'"
"There are two major abuse myths that we think Fifty Shades propagates," she adds. "One is that if you were abused in your past it completely excuses your behavior in the present. The other is that if you love an abusive person the right way, they'll magically change and they'll live happily ever after, which is hugely dangerous and actually very offensive to men and women who have experienced a relationship with somebody abusive."
The main aim of the protestors is not to stop people going to the film, but to start a dialogue, claims Tofi. "When something is so massively accepted into popular culture, when it features such troubling issues, then a discourse needs to happen," she says, adding that attempts to start this discourse with James had been shut out. "I know people who politely sent her tweets and her answer is just to block and ignore."
Director Sam Taylor-Johnson responded to criticisms at the premiere, claiming that her adaptation of the book doesn't glamorize domestic abuse.
"Every sexual encounter that she has with Christian is one that she's gone into willingly and complicity until the moment he crosses a line," she told the BBC.
"And when he crosses that line it's a very firm no and she has the final word — she has all the power and he's the vulnerable one so I don't think there's any glamorization of it."
A source revealed to THR that similar protests were planned for screenings of the film at theaters in Spain and L.A.