Fifty Shades of Grey

Universal Pictures

Well, perhaps she’s drunk on something else besides love. Money? Bestselling but terrible novels? Drunk on money? Drunk on fan fiction? Singing superstar and national treasure Beyonce recently took to her Instagram to share a teaser of the first trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey  — and, no, we don’t think it was Bey herself who brokered this deal or even uploaded the damn thing, no matter how much the chanteuse loves her social media (which is a lot) — but it still seems like a weird little bit of cross-promotion and marketing. Why does Beyonce (the brand, or the person, or whatever) want you to care about Fifty Shades of Grey? And is this even a good fit?

The teaser is, quite notably, finely tuned for Beyonce’s very own tunage, because it sure sounds like it’s set to a slowed down, kind of creepy version of her “Crazy in Love.” Crazy something. Gird your loins and take a look:

Wait, did you not actually gird your loins? You should have, otherwise a much older man in a tremendous position of power who you are interviewing for your college paper may try to just snake his hand right up there. Ah, who said romance was dead?

This teaser does sort of work — if its intention is to make Beyonce sound crackly and craggy (how dare you) and to make the film itself look, well, pretty much just phenomenally creepy. Based on E.L. James‘ bestselling novel of the same name (and originally conceived of as Twilight fan fiction, a fact that no one should ever, ever forget), the story’s uncomfortable elements are hard to ignore, though that has not stopped legions of fans from latching on to the property and steaming up their e-readers with copies of the book (and its two sequels) and touting its quality and readability. Initially designed as Twilight fan fiction, James’ first crack at what would become Fifty Shades imagined a world where sparkly vampire Edward Cullen could actually touch his human lady love Bella Swan (remember how the icy vampire could only go so far with her before freezing her out?), and instead of being nice and gentle about it, he pulled her into a world of submission that the virgin had never previously conceived of.

James eventually had to repackage her work — copyrights, damn em all to hell — in order to sell it, but the imbalanced relationship that drives the narrative is still very much center stage. In Fifty Shades of Grey, rich dude business guy Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) ensnares the innocent and kind of idiotic college virgin Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) in a highly sexual relationship charged by, well, the use of some off-the-beaten path accessories and perhaps emotionally manipulative tactics. You probably didn’t read it, but your mom might have (sorry about that).

The books are indeed the “worldwide phenomenon” promised in this trailer, but that doesn’t mean that Sam Taylor-Johnson‘s film is going to be the same thing. For one thing, the first film will arrive nearly four years after James’ first book was published. People may have (read: should have) moved on since then. There’s also been some production upheaval (remember when Charlie Hunnam was going to play Christian? memories!), the kind that could have a trickle down effect on plugged on fans (is the film going to be a mess? eh, skip it). There’s also the graphic sexy stuff, the kind that’s not exactly conducive to group viewing (has there ever been a film that so loudly screamed, “see me in the middle of the day by yourself, it’s okay!”?).

What Fifty Shades of Grey needs to do to capture an audience — one that includes new fans, too — is to make it somehow seem hip and dangerous, not (again, sorry) fan fiction based on Twilight that the older set seems to gravitate to. It has to seem fresh and cool and unexpected, and there’s no better way to do that than to get a perceived seal of Beyonce Approval. What does Beyonce get? Well, almost 400,000 Instagram likes. This is marketing!

The first trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey will arrive on Thursday. Perhaps Solange Knowles can introduce that one.

Fifty Shades of Grey will hit theaters on February 13, 2015, just in time for Valentine’s Day.


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