Fifty Shades of Running For Your Life

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Arguing "Hollywood doesn't need your money - abused women do," the social media campaign #50dollarsnot50shades is urging people to donate $50 to a battered women’s shelter rather than go see the much-hyped, critically-panned, soft-porn film about a sadistic sexual predator targeting and abusing a young woman. Organizers charge the film "tells lies about women's lives...You might think this is a romance story (but) in reality it’s a horror story for most women.”

In case you've been living in a cave: The movie, released this Valentine's weekend, is based on what by most accounts is the eminently mediocre, bondage-themed 2011 book by British author E.L. James about a college student seduced and abused by a sadomasochistic billionaire who pressures her to do all these kinky things she in fact doesn't want to do. The book, which has inexplicably sold over 100 million copies with its lurid tales of whips, handcuffs and infamous Red Room of Pain, has also launched a slew of parodies - 50 Shades of Lego/chicken/bacon - and products, including a Christian Grey teddy bear with "smoldering eyes, a suit and satin tie, mask (and) mini handcuffs."

The film, scoring a pathetic 28% on Rotten Tomatoes, has been lambasted by critics and audience members who have variously called it ludicrous, dubious, unintentionally hilarious, punishing, bland, boring, painfully dull, an Ambien pill, and as erotic as an ad for Pottery Barn. "It can't be easy to make S&M sex boring," said one reviewer, "but they pulled that off quite well." Another termed it "thematically reprehensible," adding, "If you think rape is a turn-on, this is the film for you." Gail Dines, an activist and professor at Boston's Wheelock College who organized the boycott campaign, likewise argues the film inexcusably suggests that if a woman caught in a relationship with a violent creep just submits to her abuse, she can "love him into being a good man."

Dines chose the $50 donation as roughly the price of two movie tickets, snacks and/or a babysitter. She chose battered women's shelters as the recipients of the campaign because she has learned from her work that's where the female character would likely end up in real life - if she was lucky. "I meet women who married 'Christian Grey,' she says. "They are on the run for their lives. They are living in battered women’s shelters. They’ve got two teeth knocked out, cigarette burns up and down their arm, and traumatized kids in tow." The campaign has been picked up by women’s groups and domestic violence organizations in the U.S., Canada, England, Sweden, Australia and elsewhere. You can donate to some of them here, here, here, here, here or here.

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