Churnalism and Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Rumour Industry: A Rant


Most people who know me from Twitter know I am a huge Fifty Shades of Grey fangirl. They also know I am a huge Ian Somerhalder fangirl. Put the two together and you have a HUGE Ian Somerhalder as Christian Grey proponent. I make no bones about it.

Fair warning.

When I discovered Fifty Shades of Grey in April of 2012 along with the rest of the world, I had also just discovered Damon Salvatore in the CW’s The Vampire Diaries. One of the first articles I read on Fifty Shades of Grey linked to Ryan Seacrest’s interview with Ian in which Ian was very coy about potentially being cast in the role as Christian Grey. Over a million views of one film clip from the interview alone…

I just about fell on the floor because I was fresh from reading all three books in the FSOG series and watching S1 of The Vampire Diaries. Talk about synergy! While it was true that Ian has darker hair than Christian, may be a tad older and not as tall, I could ONLY see Ian in the role and from that moment on, I was a diehard IFCG (Ian For Christian Grey #IanForChristianGrey) fan and supporter. It was Ian’s good looks and intensity. And of course, the blue eyes…

So, since then, I’ve re-read the series, still can only see one face when imagining the film and of course, have read pretty much every article I could lay my virtual hands on regarding casting of the film.

Casting has been a very torturous process. It took quite some time to get producers and then a screenwriter. There is still no director. Without a director, I think the most that can be done is tap into the favourite actors by all the principals involved in making the film so far — EL James herself and the producers. There would likely be consideration of fan favourites. I’m not an expert, having only taken a screenwriting and film production class in college, nor have I been involved in making a feature film, but from what I remember of studying the process, a director is really critical to the film and casting because it is her/his creative vision that will ultimately bring the film to life. They have to make each scene come to life. So a director is critical. A director has to be able to work with and feel excited about the actors who play the main roles.

That is so important.

So, while there is much that can be done about making a film without a director — talking to leading contenders for roles, their agents, etc. I doubt the serious decisions would be made without a director’s input. I doubt it. But I suppose anything is possible. Casting the two roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele may be the most important casting choices of the decade. Favourites may have been given the nod, have done readings, and may just be waiting for a final conflab once a director is chosen. Final auditions might be held once that happens for the handful of actors who might be favourites.

I am curious about why it’s taking so long to find a director. Maybe they want a screenplay to shop around to directors? It would be crazy not to be interested in this film for anyone who might be considered. There can be no doubt that the film will be a mega-blockbuster. Given the success of the books, given the global phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey and how it has changed romantic fiction and the publishing world in general, I can’t see the film not being a mega success, regardless of the casting choices.

All that being said, I am completely disgusted by the churnalism surrounding this matter and how us FSOG fangirls are both sucked in by it and contribute to its growth and survival.

What is “churnalism”? It is bad journalism. It is so lazy, it does nothing more than recycle existing actual journalistic pieces, again and again, trying to generate clicks on ads on websites. The new business model on the internet is to sell advertising space and get paid through “clickthroughs” so the more views a website garners, the more clicks may happen on advertising, the more money a site makes in advertising. How to get views? Simple. Create buzz and nothing creates buzz more than rumours about Fifty Shades of Grey casting.

So every single word a potential (or even non-potential) actor says about the film and roles is enough for a 400 word article on a website that may generate thousands or tens of thousands of views. Someone asks Actor A if he would be interested in playing Christian Grey and he says Christian Who? BAM! That’s an article guaranteed to generate views and clicks. So, maybe it is news that Actor A doesn’t even know about FSOG… that’s interesting in itself. But when fifty “gossip” news outlets recycle that single line into an article speculating on casting for the film, it’s churnalism. It’s purely to get you, the news reader, to visit the site and click.

While this kind of churnalism is just plain lazy journalism or outright blatant rumour mongering to get click throughs, the really worst kind of journalism is the kind that makes up a story and then denies it in the same breath.

Example: Consider this potential headline:

Ian Somerhalder turns down Christian Grey Role Because Girlfriend Is Jealous?

You think there must be something more than made-up shit when you see a headline like this, right?


All you need to do is put the “?” at the end and it’s just speculation. It’s possible that an actor might turn a role down because his significant other might be too jealous. It might even be possible that Ian might do so if Nina was jealous. The thing is that according to the principals involved in making the film NO CASTING DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE!

So this is just speculation, pure and simple. Yet, a headline like this draws fangirls and the curious in, and maybe, just maybe, they will click on an ad and make money for the site.

That’s it folks — your hunger for news on this film and casting has just generated money for someone writing lousy articles in the hopes of getting you to click on an ad for weight loss products…

An entire industry has grown around this film and casting rumours. These so-called journalists are playing on the knowledge that fangirls will rush to read every article no matter how yellow it may be, hungry for any tidbit of news.

Here’s what we know for certain:

  • There is a movie being made
  • Film rights have been obtained
  • There are producers
  • There is a screenwriter
  • They do not have a director
  • No one has been officially cast in any role

That’s it folks. The rest is rumour. We can read into every word every actor says about the role and film and books anything we like but none of it has any more authority than any other.

DON’T FEED THE MEDIA CHURNALISTIC PIGS! Follow EL James and get the real news when it is newsworthy.

If you really do love your choice for Christian Grey, sure — tweet about it, talk to your friends on social media about it, vote in online polls about it. Support for a contender may have some influence with those making the decisions. Or not.

But don’t rush to read every article that comes out purporting to have news on casting. THEY’RE MOSTLY JUST BAD CHURNALISTS TRYING TO GET MONEY WHEN YOU CLICK ON ADS FOR WEIGHT LOSS PRODUCTS!


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