My impression of Submission didn’t improve with the second episode.
I suppose it was inevitable that, given the prominence of (a version of) BDSM after Fifty Shades and the creative opportunities of the golden age of cable TV, somebody would do a BDSM-themed TV series. To be honest, I went into Showtime’s Submission with low expectations.
Last week, a US federal district court ruled (PDF) that there is no constitutional right to engage in BDSM.
Weiss, Margot. Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality. Duke University Press, 2011. Amazon
You can get an idea of how thought-provoking I found Weiss’ book was by the sheer density of post-its as bookmarks.
As of this writing, Fifty Shades of Grey holds a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a 47 on MetaCritic, and a 3.1 on IMDB. Suffice to say, it won’t sweep the Oscars next year. I do predict it will do well at the Golden Raspberries. Its loyal fanbase will probably guarantee a commercially successful opening weekend and a lot of DVD sales, but I suspect it will do poorly in the long run.
I am a little disappointed we won’t see little CGI chibi versions of Dakota Johnson’s subconscious and inner goddess hopping around.
On Thursday, October 17th, 7pm, I am presenting at the Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre’s production of Venus in Fur, a two-hand play by David Ives.
I’m surprised at how much material from AMC’s Mad Men I find for this blog. First there was protagonist Don Draper’s masochistic sessions with a prostitute who slaps his face. Then there was the episode “Mystery Date”, which showed that Don was trying to be faithful to his wife, while a toxic cocktail of lust, fear and rage boiled inside him. Meanwhile, other characters had their own reactions to sexual violence.
And now, in “Man With A Plan”, Don goes full on dominant. Since the season began, he’s been having an affair with his downstairs neighbour Sylvia, the wife of a heart surgeon. While Don’s been lacking in sales meetings, he makes up for it by expertly playing on Sylvia’s Catholic guilt, setting her up for their trysts in the maid’s room.
Perkins, Lori, ed. Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey. Benbella Smartpop, 2012 Amazon
Much like Christian Grey himself, the Fifty Shades trilogy is everywhere, overwhelming and relentless, dominating bestseller lists, metastatizing into countless imitators, and spawning an entire industry of gifts, CDs, boardgames and other branded merchandise, plus a feature film. Through sheer repetition and ubiquity, we find ourselves trying to accommodate it, even to make excuses for its flaws and offences. Some of the authors in this essay collection try too hard to put a positive spin on Fifty Shades. Even the collection’s editor, Lori Perkins, says:
Some have wondered how a “classic” can be so “poorly written.” But I contend that it is not poorly written, but rather written in an everywoman’s voice, a necessary part of its success I once worked with an author who used plebian language…. When she returned my edits, she told me that she did indeed know the word “simultaneously,” but when she was fantasizing, she always used the phrase “at the same time as,” and she knew that her readers did as well. [Pg.3]
EL James’ prose is not “plebian” or “in an everywoman’s voice”, it’s just plain bad. You don’t need an MFA to read or write good prose or hot prose.
Revised, edited and expanded, The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to the Fifty Shades trilogy is now available in ebook format for Amazon Kindle, with more formats to come.