Fifty Shades of Debasing Women

 

Dakota

 

Did you watch the Academy Awards? If so, did you happen to catch that totally uncomfortable interview Lara Spencer did with Melanie Griffith and her daughter Dakota Johnson?

If you are a parent, you have most likely experienced an awkward moment or two dozen of them with your child. However, not many of us experience it on live television in front of God and millions of viewers.

Raise your hand if you winced for Melanie when Dakota snapped at her momma: “All right, you don’t need to see it.”

For the record, I hold Lara Spencer accountable for setting these two up. Any interviewer worth her weight in questions knows that the Academy Awards is not the time or place to play commando journalism. Lara put Melanie on the spot by asking if she had seen Fifty Shades of Debasing Women, the mainstream porn movie that depicts Dakota in bondage.

C’mon, Lara, what mother wants to see her daughter in a starring role in such a flick? (It can hardly be called a film, no more than the books can be called literature).  Shame on you for setting this pair up for a spat on national television.

Melanie Griffith is obviously uncomfortable with the role her daughter filled. There is nothing about such a flick that would make me proud of my daughters. No amount of money earned would make me happy, proud or pleased to have my daughter tied to a bed, and I wouldn’t care that, as Lara insisted, “It’s only acting.”

Time after time, we have heard about the power of movies to change the way the public thinks. Thankfully, actresses like Julianne Moore and Felicity Jones are using their skills and talents to educate as well as entertain. These women are advocating for people suffering from ALS and Alzheimer. That’s the kind of thing that makes a momma proud. Not starring in a box-office hit meant to appeal to sexual appetites gone awry. A film in which women are showcased as white-collar slave girls, replete with ropes and whips.

Fifty Shades of Debasing Women is not harmless, and Dakota Johnson’s appearance is not just acting. It is designed to change the way we think about porn as a society. Its message to young men and old men alike is that women exist for their pleasure, however abusive their desires may be.

I was mortified when a friend told me she went to see the movie. I was even more mortified when she told me that after seeing the movie (which she declared to the most awful movie she has ever seen) she went home and told her 16-year-old son that he was never to see the movie no matter how long he lived. What’s the likelihood he’s gonna to take his mother’s advice on this, knowing she and his dad saw it?

While watching the Academy Awards, I had a moment of piercing clarity about the troubling and growing problem of porn. I received a text from a man I have known for many years. Someone I know through church. When my mother was dying this fellow often called to see how I was doing, to let me know he was praying for me, for my family. And I am sure that he did pray.

I know him to be a compassionate and caring man. He does a lot of good things for others. I don’t hear from him much, however, so I was surprised to get a text from him. Usually he calls me. When I opened the text, it wasn’t a note. It was a photo. A close-up of a man’s genitalia. A very graphic photo.

I was so stunned that I showed it to my girlfriend. Because she knows this fellow, too, she suggested that his phone must have been hacked. Surely, this photo had not come from him! So I sent him a text and asked if he had just sent me something. “Oh S**t!” was his reply. “I am so sorry. I meant that for someone else. Please delete and forgive me.”

If only it was that easy.

I will not knowingly maintain friendships with people who think taking pictures of their privates is an exercise in good judgement. If you are sexting,  for the love of all things holy and sacred, please do not ever send me such a text. I have absolutely no interest in seeing your package, up close and personal.

I agree with Melanie Griffith on this issue – I don’t want to see it.

We are a visual people. The images that we fill our minds with has the power to make us better people or less than human.

It isn’t true that porn and sexting doesn’t hurt anyone. It strips us of dignity and sacredness. That’s not something we talk much about in the society, but perhaps we should.

By the way, Dakota, you owe your momma an apology for being so ugly to her in front of God and everybody.

 

 

 

 

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

6 Comments

AFRoger

about 5 years ago

In a memorable scene late in the documentary film Twenty Feet From Stardom, Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner (aka "Sting") reflects on the music business and being a true artist. Considering the shortcut path that scads of young singers want to take when auditioning and performing for American Idol, Sting comments that unless one has done the deep spiritual work of becoming a true artist, one's success based on manufactured fame is "wafer thin." Amen. I'm deeply moved by this man's story of losing his ability to write songs for a long while, regaining it only by telling the stories of the real human beings in the working class life of the shipbuilding town on the Tyne River where he grew up. His musical When The Last Ship Sails is remarkable. Judging from the brief snippet of the above video and my own experience of raising a strong willed daughter who once thought she was all-knowing, I realize how slowly maturity sometimes comes in our culture. So, questions for Ms. Johnson: 1) If you had been offered the role without pay, would you have done it? 2) If you had been required to sign a contract accepting liability for the lessons taught by your performance, would you have accepted that? 3) If someday you become mother of a daughter, would you choose such a role for her? 4) How many durably bonded relationships have you formed in life to date? 5) Essay Question: If you think durably bonded relationships are important, describe what you think they are based on? If you do not think such relationships are important for humanity, write an essay defending that position? Either way, include the role of sexuality in you answer. Questions for all who have seen or will see Fifty Shades and/or who send & receive sexts: Would you choose this for your own child? If not, why would you choose it for someone else's? Do you think it has changed you? Are you in control of it, or does it now control you?

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 5 years ago

Speaking of which, see today's post.

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LRU

about 5 years ago

Karen, I share your opinions but something came mind as I was reading. Years ago our cable provider "awarded" us a free movie channel without our knowledge. While flipping through the channels one day I was shocked to see a porn scene! It is something I have tried to forget but in a flash it was brought back to mind, as it was a younger Julianne Moore. A few thoughts: 1) Not all, but most of what comes out of Hollywood is not fit to watch. 2) Maybe when she's Julianne Moore's age, Ms. Johnson will be doing a different type of movie. 3) We need to be so careful what we read and watch! Most of us can remember the first time we saw something inappropriate with great detail. Those things "stick" in our minds and can be brought back in a flash- to temp us, accuse us, shame us etc. It reminds me of a children's song that begins with the words, "Oh be careful little eyes what you watch..."

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 5 years ago

Wish more people remembered the words to that song. And the truth of it.

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Jennie Helderman

about 5 years ago

Karen, I totally agree with everything you said and thank you for speaking up once again. I do see the interview in a somewhat different light. Just about the whole world of movie-goers is aware of Fifty Shades . it's big box office, it's news. So when Melanie Griffith and Dakota present themselves together at the Oscars to someone whose job is to ask questions, it's only natural that questions would come about the movie and esp a mother's thoughts on what her daughter had done on screen. For Melanie Griffith not to anticipate such questions is naïve. Would have been better that the two not appeared together for that occasion., esp if they were aware they had differences, as surely they did. I don't fault Lara Spencer for asking the questions. Thatls the job she's chosen to do.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 5 years ago

I agree that she should have anticipated the question, but I also think that as a journalist, I would not have asked a mother if she had seen this particular film of her daughter.

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