We are accustomed to many children’s movies making some extra bucks through commercial tie-ins or merchandising. So it’s not surprising that just as the current “SpongeBob” movie was released, little SpongeBob fans began begging for all kinds of SpongeBob toys. Some of these are just silly, but I admit others are clearly destined to become cultural icons such as the classic Pants-Droppin’ SpongeBob. When it comes to regular mainstream grown-up movies, it’s not all that common for them to have merchandising tie-ins. I don’t think we’re going to see a “Boyhood” doll that will amaze everyone when it ages over the next 12 years. Yet, there is no reason for us grown-ups to despair, thanks to “50 Shades of Grey” and the release of its tie-ins (puns intended).
Since “50 Shades” involves a relationship of punishment, dominance, and pain, it is obviously fitting that the movie was released on Valentine’s Day. Forget about that bouquet of flowers this year. Now it’s time to “Say It With Leather.”
Not content to merely allow the audience to enjoy this romp in their neighborhood theaters, those who are behind this film are being nice enough to offer all kinds of “50 Shades” merchandise, giving people the opportunity to relive the movie’s sweetest moments in the privacy of their own locked rooms with creepy lighting. That those responsible for the film are anxious to try to make as much money as possible is certainly not shocking or deplorable. What took me by surprise are the range of the products and the places where they are hawking these things.
We all remember how important Valentine’s Day was to us when we were little kids. Don’t worry. The “50 Shaders” have not forgotten the kiddies. There are even onesies that say, “Nine Months Ago Mommy Read 50 Shades of Grey.” These darling items don’t just announce to the world the mother’s literary preferences, but they also hint at the circumstances under which that cute little baby was conceived.
No longer will you have to feel embarrassed sneaking into your sleazy neighborhood sex store in between the dry cleaners and the nail salon to buy some titillating toy. You don’t even have to leave your house to get “50 Shades” items. You can order them from Amazon. The handcuff bracelets are a natural, and so are keychains with that special key, neckties that can be tied as tightly as you’d like, and charm bracelets with “charms” such as a blindfold and a riding crop. There is even a “50 Shades of Grey” board game, obviously ideal for rainy day family play when grandma and grandpa come to visit. At Amazon, with just a single click, you can buy the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” and your own personal good vibrations.
There are also unofficial tie-ins with “50 Shades.” Surf laundry detergent actually has come up with a Limited Edition “Flirty Shades of Surf.” Their customers are encouraged to try Surf’s “naughtiest fragrance yet.” It’s amazing that in the right hands and minds, even soap can be dirty.
For people who like to take care of all their errands in one place, you can get your “50 Shades” needs met at your local Target while you do your regular shopping. In at least one Target store, some of “50 Shades'” most intimate toys were right next to the children’s toothbrushes. Leave it to Target to make the shopping experience as convenient as possible for the busy mom or dad.
Target does seem to be the perfect place to do your “50 Shades” Valentine’s Day shopping, with just a slight change from previous years. The store’s logo is, of course, that red circular target. Traditionally, on Valentine’s Day, Cupid shoots his arrow into the target which is the human heart. For Valentine’s Day, that love target was just somewhat lower than the heart.