Controversial. If there was one word that was NOT on my mind while I was writing the original draft of the screenplay for Old Fashioned, it was controversial.
When I began what would become a more than a 10-year journey to bring Old Fashioned to the big screen, I had never even heard of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey (let alone the film) and I had bigger issues at the time to deal with other than imagining when we might release the film in theatres at some imaginary point in the future (primarily, I was concerned with finishing the script and figuring out just how we would be able to actually get the film financed and produced).
My focus was on crafting a story that accurately reflected the lives of many people I knew at the time, including myself—singles with hearts for God, but with hearts also trying to navigate the tricky waters of romance in contemporary America. None of us had ever seen a film that approached the subject in a serious way or told our story. Ever.
I wanted to tell a story that was beautiful. Tender. True. One that honored both men and women… and God. Believe me; I wasn’t thinking, “edgy.” I wasn’t thinking, controversial…
Last week, everything changed. None of us could have ever predicted the online explosion of press or flurry of activity and conversation that would follow our announcement to release Old Fashioned the same weekend as Fifty Shades—Valentine’s Day 2015.
We are grateful, but we are dizzy.
And this was the biggest surprise: Just based on the press we received, my quotes, and our tagline, some have suggested that the ideas in our film could be regressive and potentially even dangerous. Dangerous? When did the idea of men and women respecting healthy boundaries and each other become… dangerous?
Then, it clicked. In a strange, upside down way it is true that we are somehow fringe. It’s odd, but maybe things have so turned culturally that we are now indeed edgy and dangerous to suggest there is a more beautiful way to approach love.
Think about it. The trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey premiered on the TODAY show. The TODAY show! That’s not fringe. That’s about as mainstream as it gets. And it’s opening as a mainstream romantic date night movie on Valentine’s Day. Not edgy. Not counter-cultural in the least. Not punk rock by a London mile.
And so many in the media and our culture seem to just be giving a coy wink and nod to the whole thing… like it’s no big deal, just another game. Like this is, in fact, what most audiences want. Is this really who we are as a people, in the majority?
Honestly, I find it nearly impossible to believe that…
If that’s controversial, so be it. Funny and ironic as it may be… welcome to Old Fashioned, the new punk rock.