Universal Studios Sues Over Porn Parody Of '50 Shades Of Grey'; Ignoring 50 Shade's Own History As Fan Fiction
from the fan-fiction-begets-fan-fiction dept
Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of porn parody movies created. Porn studios have realized that it’s an effective way to differentiate themselves from “everyday porn.” While some have wondered about the legality of these things, very few have bothered to take the producers to court, recognizing that parody is generally considered protected under fair use. However, apparently Universal Studios has decided that enough is enough and has sued the maker of a porn parody of the book 50 Shades of Grey, Smash Pictures. 50 Shades, of course, is that insanely (seriously: insanely) popular erotic novel, and Universal is arguing that the flick hits a little too close to home, so to speak, and isn’t a “parody” so much as it’s just an adaptation of the book, which Universal holds the rights to. Specifically, the lawsuit, filed by Universal and “Fifty Shades Limited,” uses the claims from the director that the movie is “very true” to the book to suggest it isn’t a parody at all:
box for the First XXX Adaptation promotes the infringing work as “[b]ased upon” the Fifty Shades Trilogy and as “[putting] the kinky fantasies that you only imagined into vivid color.” According to a Smash Pictures executive’s interview with L.A. Weekly, the First XXX Adaptation is “very true to the book,” with the script written “to be as close to the series as (director Jim PowersJ can get.” Due to the popularity of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, Smash Pictures expects that the First XXX Adaptation “just might be our biggest film to date.”
By lifting exact dialogue, characters, events, story, and style from the Fifty Shades Trilogy, Smash Pictures ensured that the First XXX Adaptation was, in fact, as close as possible to the original works. Beginning with the First XXX Adaptation’s opening scene and continuing throughout the next two and a half hours of the film, Smash Pictures copies without reservation from the unique expressive elements of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, progressing through the events of Fifty Shades of Grey and into the second book, Fifty Shades Darker. The First XXX Adaptation is not a parody, and it does not comment on, criticize, or ridicule the originals. It is a rip-off, plain and simple.
Universal also seems pissed off that the studio is selling a “Fifty Shades of Pleasure: Play Kit & Movie” that has not just a DVD of the porn flick, but “various adult novelty items used in the Fifty Shades Trilogy.”
Universal may very well have a case here. At the very least, it raises some questions about how one creates a “porn parody” of an already pornographic novel. And, that’s especially true when the language in the novel is barely above the level of your typical porn script already. The complaint has over four pages of dialogue comparison between the original book and the porn flick and… well… it’s not exactly fine literature.
Still, the thing that strikes me about this — and which isn’t mentioned in the filing at all — is that Fifty Shades, itself, actually came out of a “pornographic adaptation” of the Twilight series. In fact, while those behind Fifty Shades have sought to erase this history, it does seem like a relevant point. Fifty Shades was pornographic Twilight “fan fiction,” which was later rewritten to scrub it of references to Twilight. While Fifty Shades’ author, EL James, her agent and publisher all like to claim that the Twilight fan fic James wrote and the eventual Fifty Shades book are really different works, someone compared the two using a plagiarism checker and found them to be 89% similar.
And, of course, out of that form of “infringement,” something else came about. Seems pretty hypocritical (but, really, all too typical) to try to stop other adaptations/extensions of the work now that you’re profiting off of the same sort of thing.