Movies are probably the best legal, temporary escape from reality…except when they’re not.
I enjoyed seeing Whiplash and 50 Shades of Grey, although for different reasons. What disturbed me was an almost parallel storyline that involved powerful adults taking advantage of college students.
In Whiplash Fletcher is a feared, highly regarded music teacher in a cutthroat music college. He recruits gifted drummer Andrew to his advanced jazz class where he mistreats all his students. But we see it from Andrew’s perspective. When Fletcher instigates a hallway conversation with Andrew, a little “getting to know you,” he asks about Andrew’s parents. I winced when Andrew said that his mother left the family when he was young. I know that such a revelation can go horribly wrong. And it does, during a tirade where Fletcher throws it at Andrew like a weapon. In 50 Shades of Grey, Christian Grey uses Ana’s naiveté to his advantage. It doesn’t hurt that he is wealthy and she appears to be your average middle class kid who could never afford the things and experiences he has to offer. He wants a dominant/submissive relationship from someone who has never had an intimate relationship before.
The recurring imagery is telling: Ana nervously biting her lower lip which, by the way, turns Grey on. Andrew’s bloodied hands. (I didn’t know you could drum so long and so hard that you could injure yourself.) As a mother, an aunt and a former young person I found this idea hard to take. We all know there are people who prey on the vulnerable. I don’t fault the moviemakers; they are telling stories and we gladly see them.
I think it’s safe to say, though, that these kids turn out alright. (Different movies, different views of “alright.”)