A group of activists gathered at London’s Leicester Square Thursday night to protest the premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey.
The R-rated film, which is an adaptation of E.L. James’ erotic novel of the same name, is predicted to be one of the biggest films of the year. The book series has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and has been the subject of debate since being announced.
Close to a dozen people from a group which calls itself “50 Shades of Domestic Abuse” held banners with messages that read “Mr. Grey is a Rapist” and “Christian: Predator not Protector.”
“We kind of take issue with the idea that Fifty Shades is a love story,” protestor Emma Tofi told The Hollywood Reporter. “It comes from this very stereotypical thing that there’s the damage man who needs to be fixed through love, and I think the whole BDSM thing gives it a new dimension.”
The group was founded more than two years ago by Natalie Collins after the publishing of James’ book.
Tofi explained her opinion that the novel isn’t “anti-consensual BDSM,” and that the practice is “dangerously misrepresented” in Fifty Shades of Grey.
“There are two major abuse myths that we think 50 shades propagates,” she added. “One is that if you were abused in your past it completely excuses your behavior in the present. The other is that if you love an abusive person the right way, they’ll magically change and they live happily ever after, which is hugely dangerous and actually very offensive to men and women who have experienced a relationship with somebody abusive.”
The protesters claim they’re not trying to stop people from seeing the film, but simply want to start a conversation.
“When something is so massively excepted into popular culture, when it features such troubling issues, that discourse needs to happen,” she asserted.
Director Sam Taylor-Johnson fired back at the criticism at the London premiere, saying her film doesn’t glamorize domestic abuse. “Every sexual encounter that she has with Christian is one that she’s gone into willingly and complicity until the moment he crosses the line,” Johnson told BBC.
“And when he crosses that line it’s a very firm no and she has the final word–she has all the power and he’s the vulnerable one so I don’t think there’s any glamorization of it,” she finished.
A source confirmed to THR that similar protests were planned for screenings of Fifty Shades in Los Angeles and Spain.