Secretary: Revisited

Written by Tracy

This week, Fifty Shades of Grey opens in theaters and it’s likely going to be a big hit…or maybe not. Looking at the Fifty Shades trailer and previews, there is one movie that is comparable: Secretary.

Secretary is a kinky independent film starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lee Holloway and James Spader as E. Edward Grey (heh). At first, it was about a woman, who left the mental health facilities, trying to get re-establish in the real world. After Lee seeing her father abused her mother (the mother’s name is Joan Holloway, by the way), Lee goes back trying to hurt herself. It was until she got a job and met Mr. Grey. It was Grey who help free Lee from her troubles by using BDSM tactics. It help Lee throw away her needles. It was Mr. Grey who induce more pain to Lee to help find herself. Lee realizes she wants to feel the pain from Mr. Grey because it leads to pleasure in the end.

I’ll be the first to admit this is not an original topic to discuss (see here, here, and here), but why people prefer Fifty Shades of Grey is for fantasy purposes. If you read Fifty Shades of Grey, it was not great literature, but E.L. James uses keywords to stimulate readers in believing they have this moment with Christian Grey and readers are Ana Steele living their fantasy having BDSM with a “hunk” This is why people assume Dakota Johnson, who was great in the short-lived Ben & Kate (and a model), was in this role because her appearance is relatable (overdressed, brown hair, submissive personality) to some in the audience who loved the book. This is why older women are still attracted to Fabio all these years because they want to be part of the fantasy they never dreamed about.

In Secretary, you have the same elements of erotica and fantasy, but it relates to the average person not by their appearance, but by their actions and emotions. Why Secretary is revered these days because it was quirky, light, and we understand why Lee needed BDSM. If any scene fell apart in the movie, the movie would be flat. That is a credit to Maggie, James, and director Steven Shainberg of teetering a movie that could of been porn, but it was an understanding of growth of the characters.

If you are out this weekend for Valentine’s Day to watch Fifty Shades of Grey and feel guilty about it, watch Secretary to spice up your love life…but without the sex toys, if possible.


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