Did Our Generation Get Fifty Shades Instead of Blue Velvet?

Blue Velvet; MGM.
Blue Velvet; MGM. Photo: MGM

2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey and 1986’s Blue Velvet: Both are motion pictures. Both have titles that imply a deep lushness of color that’s perhaps a symbol for something else. What else do they have in common? Well, smart film mind and director Jane Campion has said that the two movies share similar approaches to commenting on taboo aspects of human sexuality.

In an Interview conversation with Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson, Campion cites the reference:

CAMPION: When I first started reading the book, I thought, “Boy, this is so badly written I can hardly believe it.” There were so many infantile oh golly, oh goshes — almost like a teenager writing. But at the same time, as the book went on — I skipped to the end — I realized, actually, it had a lot of depth to it. A surprising amount …


CAMPION: Of depth and weight. It’s a bit like Blue Velvet[1986] in that you’ve got these kind of corny characters, but they’re going through some very deep shit.

TAYLOR-JOHNSON: You get pulled into the intensity of what their relationship is, and how it starts is so unconventional and so strange, and you can’t help but sort of get curious and aware …

CAMPION: In my book, love is about trust and attention. In this story, it’s ritualized into bondage and S&M … I think it opened up a whole well of women to understanding sexuality beyond what’s sometimes called “flower sex.”

TAYLOR-JOHNSON: Also how to use it as their own empowerment in allowing to play with roles — submissive or dominant.

CAMPION: I’m very interested in those roles and those ideas, which are not really fashionable for feminists, but I think that part of the nature of love in general is that it is necessary for both partners to submit. It makes a man a man to submit to the feminine, and vice versa.

Try making the comparison to your friend’s movie-snob boyfriend. It’ll go over very well and no one will get huffy at all.

Is Fifty Shades of Grey Our Blue Velvet?