You know what’s great? Weird kink, that’s what’s great. It makes people happy to be bound and gagged and whatever else during sex. And it’s dirty and subversive and— oh shit, no, sorry, it’s not any of those things anymore because you can buy it at Target.
That’s not an exaggeration; this stuff is on the end-cap just like the limited edition blood-red Oreos on the next aisle. Big red dot in a circle hovering above it all, commanding you to enjoy everyday savings. Oh well, if it takes Target to bring light flogging to the masses, then so be it.
Anyway, here’s what we like the most (and least) — in order from best to worst — from some of the products created in the wake of the immense popular novel series that are actually Twilight fan fiction.
Fifty Shades of Grey Beginners Bondage Kit
You know how on Valentine’s Day there’s always that guy at the intersection selling four-foot-tall teddy bears? And then you’re like, “Okay, I’ll buy this for my lover and they’ll FULLY UNDERSTAND my desire. This will convey the urgently burning, unwieldy amount of lust I carry inside me.”
The paradox is, of course, that you’re completely right. You come on strong. You make statements. You buy that giant stuffed animal with the strange chemical fumes pouring off it, and you present it to your intended, and you get majorly laid because gestures and whatnot. This is the BDSM equivalent of that gift.
Also, it all fits neatly in a box you can hide under the bed. We assume there are also little instructional pamphlets; if there aren’t then you should really consult the internet for advice or else you’re going to end up a blurred face on one of those TLC specials about people getting stuff lodged in their rectums.
Fifty Shades of Grey Inner Goddess Silver Pleasure Balls – $74.00
Never having read these insults to literature (best case scenario = gateway drug to Anaïs Nin; worst case = Fifty Shades of Grey parody cookbooks, which already exist and no that’s not a joke) I can only assume that “inner goddess” means something, theme-wise, like it’s some kind of empowerment tag to make you feel legit about being handcuffed to the banister.
Having said that, I also hope that there are twelve of these balls on the string so that “inner goddess” is spelled out with each ball popping into or out of whatever body cavity you employ to enjoy them. Did you think it was just a chunky necklace? [RESEARCH UPDATE: Only two balls! That means you have to just keep putting them back in until you reach inner goddess level.]
Fifty Shades of Grey Please Sir Flogger – $26.99
Let’s forget about the gendered assumptions of this product’s name for just a moment and focus on what’s cool: approaching the person you love and whipping them with a collection of tiny straps. When your kids accidentally find it, tell them it’s a Swiffer and let them dust the coffee table with it for a minute. They’ll get bored quickly and then you can COME UP WITH A BETTER HIDING PLACE FOR YOUR SEX IMPLEMENTS, DUMMY.
Fifty Shades of Grey “You Are Mine” Metal handcuffs – $14.99
The price is right, just a couple steps above the cops-and-robbers play set at the 99-Cent Store. And the engraved “You Are Mine” sentiment on each cuff conveys an appealing combination of controlling and sinister and kidnappy.
But look at those little rickety keys. They’re going to break easily, you just know. And then you are figuratively fucked, rather than the kind you were hoping for. Gonna have to call the locksmith and explain. But wait… maybe the locksmith is hot and then three-way(!) and — actually that’s not going to happen.
Fifty Shades of Grey Twitchy Palm Spanking Paddle – $29.99
Smooth and elegant. Just look at that neatly sewn leather or leather-ish material. But then there’s the thing where it’s really thin and narrow and going to sting a lot.
Did you see The Who’s movie Tommy and there was that part where Roger Daltrey’s sadistic cousin took a hot iron to his butt and they were singing at the same time? I think that might be more enjoyable a sensation than this thing repeatedly breaking the blood vessels in your ass-meatloafs. They do make larger, impact-diffusing paddles, you guys.
Fifty Shades of Grey No Peeking Soft Twin Blindfold Set – $14.99
NASCAR-themed bandanas, cozy sleep masks, dish towels, bathrobe belts, duct tape, a necktie, an Hermes scarf whose extravagant price fills you with a previously unnamed contempt: all more interesting choices than this. Also, probably not for people with oversized skulls. That’s a real problem in the world that nobody talks about.
Fifty Shades of Grey Pinch Nipple Clamps – $39.00 + Fifty Shades of Grey Soothe Me After Spanking Cream 1.7 ounces – $29.00
“Queen Helene” brand of cocoa butter cream is six bucks at the Rite-Aid and A BAG OF WOODEN CLOTHESPINS IS TWO DOLLARS. FUCK. With your savings you can buy a bottle of après-boning wine. You’re welcome.
Fifty Shades of Grey Party Board Game
The product description promises more “inner goddess” identification, as well as “giggles, laughter, oohs and ahhs.” And there probably is a certain kind of margarita-fueled, slumber party stupidity to this pog-based board game that could be momentarily enjoyable in a sad, never-having-sex-with-another-person-for-the-rest-of-your-life kind of way. Look — just do whatever you want. They made a Left Behind board game that can’t be much worse.
Fifty Shades of Grey Bear and Midnight Fantasy PJs – $169.98
Back to teddy bears. Except this one costs a shload of money. Bear comes with a suit, tie, mask, and handcuffs. Because that’s something you want on your couch as a conversation starter. (“Oh, I see that you, too, enjoy rubbing carnival prizes on yourself. We have so much in common.”)
You also get some crispy, ill-fitting lingerie to get scratched by in the boob area. And then what? Do you bang it out with the stuffed bear? Does somebody throw it at you like sex-dodgeball? What is step two in this scene?
Here’s what: go buy item # 1 on this list, work out your fantasies, then use the leftover 80 bucks for some cheesy Cheddar Bay biscuits at Red Lobster. Those are so good. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Dave White is the film critic for Movies.com and co-hosts the Linoleum Knife podcast. You can follow him on Twitter.