Sex Story: Fifty Shades of Grey Review

SEX STORY – FIFTY SHADES OF GREY: Sunday 29th July, Channel 4, 10pm

I once asked John Glen MP what pornography he enjoyed. He replied that he didn’t indulge in any – surely putting him in the minority amongst men. Lets face it, most blokes enjoy pornography. Hell, most men love pornography. People don’t really talk about it that much though – despite our liberal attitudes when it comes to sex, and our enthusiasm for sharing content, I’m not tweeting porn clips to my mates. Porn doesn’t seem to go viral, unless of course it features a celebrity or a likeness thereof.

Porn has had a bit of a tough time of late. The industry is shedding money from piracy, and here in the UK, Claire Perry MP has called on the government (and by extension, ISPs) to have an “opt-in” filter to look at the good stuff. This is absolutely unrelated to Perry’s Christian views, of course – it’s about protecting children, apparently.

We’re told it gives us an unrealistic depiction of sex. I disagree. When I watch porn, I’m seeing two (sometimes more…) people having sex, whilst I browse the internet, alone. Seems about right to me…

Now, porn is firmly in the mainstream. Previously you’d be shot all sorts of disproving looks if you went and loaded up ‘Youporn Mobile’ on the bus. Now you can’t look up in the underground without seeing that now ubiquitous image – a silver tie set against the glooming background that comprises the cover of 50 Shades of Grey.

Sex Story: 50 Shades of Grey attempts to answer whether E.L James’s erotic best seller has converted us from prudes into full on sex people. To answer it, they’ve recruited a bunch of talking heads, including Pamela Stephenson, members of a Yorkshire book club, and Amy Childs. (Yes, the one from TOWIE…)

Unfortunately for us humble viewers, this isn’t really answered at all. We’re just offered vague opinions, and in a display of utter cheek, if not arrogance, we’re shown them again, and again, and again. I’m not sure if there is a single thing in the entire program that we were told only once. The same gags are recycled like Tetra-pak cartons for the purpose of filling time, thus stringing us along more than the Peter Kaye fans who purchased multiple DVDs of the same routine

This condescending use of ‘recaps’ isn’t the biggest flaw with the programme however. By attempting to find out whether E.L James’ erotic bestseller has broken the shackles of our prudishness, it heavily begs the question. Everyday observations of our culture and attitudes make it quite apparent that we are not  particularly prudish, much  to the chargin of groups like Safermedia et al.

In a brief ray of sunshine into an otherwise intellectually shadowy programme, it does attempt to answer an interesting question: What are the implications for feminism posed by a massively popular book with themes so rooted in male subjugation of women and commodity fetishism? There’s a start of an interesting dialogue here, but unfortunately it comes with only 10 minutes left on the run time. If anything, it’s a token gesture to feminist thought, a bit like wearing fake reading glasses in order to have a facade of intellectualism.

Fans of 50 Shades are unlikely to find anything new here, and I’d be hard pressed to recommend this to anyone who wasn’t interested in the book. At best, it’s only worth watching if you have a passing curiosity in the book, but you don’t really want to learn anything about it.  Sex Story: 50 Shades of Grey is nothing more then a cash in masquerading as factual programming.