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Fifty Shades too dark - Local Christians join push for boycott of popular film

Published:Sunday | February 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Dakota Johnson (left) and Jamie Dornan in the film 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.
E L James' Fifty Shades of Grey

Scores of Christians locally have joined the international campaign mounted by domestic violence activists, religious leaders and conservative politicians for the boycotting of the erotic film Fifty Shades of Grey.

Despite being banned in several countries, the film managed to rake in more than US$266 million worldwide last weekend, but if the critics have their way Jamaicans will not be adding much more to that take.

The big-screen adaptation of E.L. James' bestselling novel of the same name has already been banned in Kenya, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia. There is also mounting concerns that the film glamorises violence against women and distorts the concept of a healthy relationship.


Social media campaign


President of Jamaica's Love March Movement for Sexual Purity, Daniel Thomas, is among those who have called for a boycott of the film. He said the movement has already started discouraging persons from watching it through social media, articles and posters.

"A national call to boycott the movie is still warranted and necessary," Thomas told The Sunday Gleaner.

"It should be boycotted, not just because the writer visited sex dungeons to help create it, or because it has been banned in nations like Malaysia as a fifth of the movie is pornographic sex, but because this movie deceitfully glorifies violent sexual abuse and the degradation of women under the guise of erotic," added Thomas.

"Women should not be forced into having sex, neither should they be stalked (but) this movie says they should. We call upon every Christian, everyone that has interest in adding value to our ladies and every well-thinking citizen to boycott this movie. It should not have been shown here in the first place," declared Thomas, who pointed out that several members of the movement's leadership team have read the book and have seen reviews of the film.

Hundreds of Jamaicans flooded local theatres on the Valentine's Day weekend to watch the film debut. Some of those who didn't manage to secure their tickets in time for the film's debut took to social media to vent their disappointment even as others published 'selfies' of themselves at the movies.

The film, which will continue showing this week, has managed to eclipse Passion of the Christ which up to this point had the highest February opening day ever. There are also talks of a

possible sequel.


Discussion among youths


National director of the Jamaica Youth for Christ, the Reverend Dexter Johnson, said the film was the basis of a discussion among the organisation's youths recently.

"I know my own young people had a discussion on it and they are split right down the middle," he said.

"One group is really saying you should see it and then make your own assessment, and the other group is saying that could be dangerous," he explained.

Johnson said that although he has not watched the film or read the book, he is generally opposed to anything that encourages sex outside of the context in which God intended. He believes watching these films could make things worse for youths who are already

struggling to abstain from sex.

"Without a doubt, we are in a society where sex sells everything, so the balancing act, the Church and what the Bible say is tremendous, and we ask people to guard their minds so that we can be the best ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ," said Johnson.

Pastor of the Gateway Deliverance Centre in St Catherine, the Reverend Herro Blair Jr, also expressed concern about the messages movies such as Fifty Shades of Grey might be sending to young people. He said that although he has not seen the film, he has seen several reviews of it in pastoral magazines.

"For me, there is a big fight ahead. Hollywood has been doing this over and over and it's becoming more and more accepted. If we withdraw from these kinds of movies, then they cannot make money, but once we support it, then they will continue to make money," he said.

"We have to take a stand. People are looking for things to go and see, people want things to see, but when you have Fifty Shades of Grey being advertised and marketed as strongly as it is being done, people are going to see it. We have to take a stand and boycott it and I fully agree with that," he asserted.

But not all Christians are opposed to the watching of erotic movies. Christian sex therapist Dr Sidney McGill is one.

"I have no problem with adults who chose to watch these things. I think the important question is why you want to watch it," said McGill.

"I am hoping that the people who are watching it are people who already have some moral base and values that wherever they go, whether it is that they are going to be watching porn or wherever they go, they already have this base on which to judge and to make sense of what's going on around them," he stated.