Review: Marlon Wayans’ parody ‘Fifty Shades of Black’ targets ‘Grey,’ fetishism, sexism and racism


For those completely unfamiliar with “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the parody “Fifty Shades of Black” might seem nonsensical.

In this spoof, Marlon Wayans and Kali Hawk reenact scenes from the BDSM opus as though E.L. James’ characters no longer have filters on their id. Directed by Michael Tiddes, “Black” foregoes too much scene-setting, chronology and logic to stand completely on its own.

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As a piece of cultural criticism, however, it painstakingly eviscerates nearly every scene in “Grey” and skewers latent sexism, classism and ludicrous sexual innuendoes, as well as the original’s numerous plot holes. But it’s decidedly lowbrow, overlooking how all involved in Sam Taylor-Johnson’s self-serious James adaptation fancied it as some modern take on Jane Austen.

Wayans and Rick Alvarez, who co-wrote the screenplay, expose how tropes of romantic courtship in movies serve to objectify women and promote rape culture. They are outraged by slavery as a fetish, equating practitioners of bondage, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism to proponents of prestige pictures such as “Glory,” “Amistad,” “Django Unchained,” “12 Years a Slave” et al., who relish witnessing human suffering.

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With timely sideswipes at microaggressions, white privilege and Donald Trump, the film has enough moments to compensate for its misguided nods at “Whiplash” and “Magic Mike.”


‘Fifty Shades of Black’

MPAA rating: R, for strong crude sexual content, including some graphic nudity, and for language throughout.


Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Playing: In general release