- Film Theory lays out how, in the movie, Christian Grey's process of getting Anastasia to be his submissive is scarily reminiscent of cult brainwashing. Here are the steps:
- Step 1, the small "yes". Get the target agree to a small, harmless thing to get them in the habit of agreement: Anastasia goes out for coffee with Christian. The coffee in itself is quite innocent, but it leads to the other steps.
- Step 2, the love bomb. Shower the target with good things (praise, gifts, affection, so on) to make them associate the cult with feeling good: Christian gives Anstasia loads of expensive gifts, like signed first edition books by her favorite author.
- Step 3, dangling The Prize. Showing the target The Prize, which is the value for joining the cult: In Christian's case, The Prize is him- being loved by her very own rich Tall, Dark, and Handsome romantic hero. Several times, he almost does something loving, like kissing her, but pulls away- this is him saying "all this romance could be yours- but you're not deep enough into the cult yet."
- Step 4, getting the agreement. Getting the target to explicitly agree that they do want The Prize: The Non-Disclosure Agreement is this. And in the process of getting the agreement, Grey tips the scales by raising the value of The Prize- it's not just romance, now it's also a private helicopter and a luxurious apartment.
- Step 5, shutting down dissent. Shut down the target's dissent by threatening to withhold The Prize: After he has her agreement in the form of the NDA, Christian shows her his playroom and the less romantic side of being with him- the BDSM. And when Ana gets worried and would potentially back out, he shuts her dissent by threatening to withhold the romance she craves.
- Step 6, establishment of guilt. Guilt trip the target for not appreciating the cult enough: Grey does this by revealing his backstory and his emotional troubles to Ana, making her feel sorry for poor hurt Christian. He also makes her feel special by saying that she's the first person he's done certain (romantic) things with.
- Step 7, the carrot and the stick. Reinforce the target's cult-approved behavior by rewarding the target's good behavior and punishing their bad behavior: A line from the film-Christian: I have rules. If you follow them, I'll reward you, if you don't, I'll punish you."
- Step 8, controlling the recruit. Control the target's identity, information, and environment to make sure they don't leave the cult: Cults like to isolate targets from their friends and family and control everything about them, and Grey does all of this throughout the whole movie and book series. He makes her sign an NDA to not mention him to her family and doesn't let her get time with them away from him, and he makes her eat what he wants her to. He removes her financial independence with his gifts. He also keeps her guessing by alternating between cold and detached and warm and romantic.
- As pointed out in Das Sporking, Leila and Christian broke up, and Leila moved on to another man. Two weeks after she married him, Christian found out, and she suffered a sudden mental breakdown and was promptly involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, even though it takes a long and complicated legal process to get someone involuntarily committed. Doesn't this scene look like Christian had a jealous fit, pulled some strings to get Leila committed, and her current mental state is the result of her going among mad people?
- Wait, what happened to the husband? WHERE IS HER HUSBAND? Did Christian break up a healthy relationship between a married couple out of jealousy.
- Whoa, whoa. Who said anything about two weeks? It was two years! She Leila did not have a mental breakdown after Christian found out, she had a mental breakdown after her husband died AND she found out that Christian was seeing Ana and not even in the same way that Leila and Christian were seeing each other.
- Considering the way Christian treats Ana and reacts to other men so much as breathing in her vicinity, one can only imagine how he's going to be around their daughter, especially when she reaches her teens. He's going to take the Overprotective Dad act to a whole new level, especially given he never had any problems stalking the women in his life before.
- Come to think of it, both of Ana and Christian's children probably won't turn out too well. Ana mentions in Freed's epilogue that Teddy already seems to be taking after Christian at the tender age of two. She finds him endearingly bossy...imagine what he'll be like as a teen. Christian as a teen was a violent and anti-social alcoholic who hated his parents and fell victim to a sexual predator, contributing to his severe emotional issues as an adult. Meanwhile, considering how horrible and controlling Christian can be to Ana and her meek and spineless attitude towards him, it seems at least plausible that Phoebe and Teddy will grow up believing this is a normal way to treat a romantic partner, which doesn't bode well for either of them. Christian also rarely seems capable of displaying affection without flinging his money at people while Ana is a passive enabler, so it's entirely possible the kiddies will grow up spoiled rotten and/or emotionally neglected. And this isn't even getting into Christian's ideas around discipline and obedience, most of which involve intimidating and/or threatening people into doing whatever he wants. Who's to say he wouldn't act the same towards his children? He himself had extreme reservations about fatherhood, especially if the child were a girl. Ana seems to think everything's rosy at the end of Freed, but she's not exactly been the best judge of characters or situations before (e.g. her thinking it's sweet and adorable that little Teddy is already taking after his father).
Fridge / Fifty Shades of Grey