Portions of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” a controversial movie depicting graphic acts of sexual violence, was screened in a West Virginia classroom this week.
The filmography request was made by a group of Hampshire County students who asked their teacher, who was ignorant of the film’s content, if they could watch it as a reward for good work.
“Fortunately, an assistant principal walked by and saw what they were doing,” said school principal Jeff Woofter. “They got there 10 minutes after it started and shut it down.”
Hampshire County school policy prohibits students from watching movies of any kind in the classroom.
“We don’t do that,” Woofter said.
The identity of the teacher has not been disclosed.
“I will say it was an extreme lack of judgment from an otherwise very capable teacher,” Woofter said. “The teacher didn’t do a background check on the movie or even ask about it.”
Citing school policy, Woofter went on to say he couldn’t discuss whether or not disciplinary action would be taken against the teacher or students. He declined to give any more information.
The movie, which earned nearly $600 million in worldwide ticket sales, is based on a book of the same title. The first in a trilogy of what originally started out as erotic fan fiction, the book catalogs the exploits of plain-Jane Anastasia Steele, a recent college graduate, and the devilishly good-looking Christian Grey, a young business magnate.
Notable for its explicit and often violent depictions of sexual bondage, the book, despite selling 100 million copies, has been placed on many banned book lists around the world.
Critics have spoken out against the book and movie, saying it demeans women and glorifies abusive relationships.
A report looking at social media activity mentioning the movie compiled by Facebook found that West Virginia had the most likes, shares and posts leading up to its release last year. During that study, 3.7 million people had more than 6 million interactions related to the movie, though it did not specify what portion was owed to West Virginians.