It would be foolish -- not to mention downright stupid -- to stand between tens of millions of lusty American women and their favorite Hollywood S&M fantasy:
"Fifty Shades of Grey."
And I don't want get trampled, or worse.
But for those who aren't into the bondage-as-romance thing, I've decided to help with The John Kass Approved List of Non-S&M Romantic Movies. No whips, riding crops, restraints or handcuffs required.
Since it is a list of love stories, not tales of domination and submission, all you need are handkerchiefs for sharing happy cries together. Maybe some gelato, too.
Whether I like it or not, women are buying "Fifty Shades" tickets like mad. The erotic thriller raked in more than $80 million at the box office in its first weekend, with women heading to the theaters in wild girlfriend packs.
"Oh, 'Fifty Shades,' really? I'm going to waste my time with that?" said our friend Martha on the way to dinner the other night. "Isn't it like 'Twilight' for old people?"
Another friend, Alejandra, said she had no intention of seeing the movie. She said she threw out the book as it depressed her.
"I threw it in the garbage, and it was sad. It was like reading an instruction manual."
And young women in the elevator said men should just back off.
"Men should stay home," said a young woman. "We don't want you with us. It's a girl's night out thing. We want to be out alone!"
OK! Fine! Go up into the mountains with your girlfriends and have yourselves a great old Dionysian time.
But some couples might just want to watch a movie that doesn't feature bondage or submission. Consider:
When Rachel McAdams tells her time-traveling boyfriend in "About Time" that her parents are at the door and he should put trousers on, she DOES NOT SAY, "Oh, and hide my handcuffs."
And in "Notting Hill" when Julia Roberts faces Hugh Grant in the big cry scene, SHE DOES NOT SAY:
"I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to tie her up and spank her."
In "When Harry Met Sally," Billy Crystal DOES NOT SAY, "I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, and control them in some cheap S&M cliché, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
When Deborah Kerr in "An Affair to Remember" explains it all to Cary Grant, SHE DOES NOT SAY, "Oh, it's nobody's fault but my own! It was the nearest thing to heaven! You were there, with the riding crop!"
But in "Random Harvest," one of the greatest of all love stories because it includes Ronald Colman, Greer Garson and amnesia, the character Paula actually DOES say:
"Smithy, do I always have to take the initiative? You're supposed to kiss me."
And don't even get me started on "The Painted Veil," the 2006 version. Betty and I watched it the other night, holding hands, without even a safe word between us.
One movie that should not be on the list of romantic comedies is "Quest for Fire," an earthy caveman movie involving mating rituals.
It's kind of like a "Fifty Shades of Grey 50,000 B.C."
"This is not a love story!" said my wife.
Ixnay on the Quest for Ire-Fay.
Again, we recommend: "Random Harvest," "The Painted Veil," "About Time," "Notting Hill," "When Harry Met Sally," "An Affair to Remember," "The Road Warrior" (he loved his dog) and "The Quiet Man," starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, although there is a troublesome line in that last one:
Fisherwoman: "Sir! ... Sir!!! ... Here's a good stick, to beat the lovely lady."
Call me old-fashioned, but degrading women and bending them to your will just doesn't thrill me. And so, when it comes to "Fifty Shades," I guess certain men just don't get it.
But I'm reminded of director George Lucas' classic sci-fi flick "THX 1138" about a repressive futuristic society, a people crushed by stress and controlled by cops and drugs.
Worker Robert Duvall comes home to his sterile cubicle to watch violent programming. Clicking through the TV channels, he stops on program showing a bound woman being whipped. He flicks the channel to some other violence, then returns to the bound woman.
His eyes are dull. There is no feeling in them.
And that's the problem with such fantasies. The human watching becomes numb, so the fantasies become increasingly violent.
It doesn't take long for humans to become emotionally blind. They can't see.
And love is in the eyes.
Sadly, women and men forget that. We think it is elsewhere. But it's always been in the eyes. That's where it lives.
And if you've been lucky to be married a long time, and if you're lucky to love each other still, just take a look and see.