The Sydney Morning Herald - In the film Fifty Shades of Grey, Irish actor Jamie Dornan played a man who enjoys hurting women. In the TV series The Fall, which resumes this week on SBS, Jamie Dornan also plays a man who enjoys hurting women. In Fifty Shades, Christian Grey seeks permission from the women he hurts. In The Fall, Paul Spector murders them, which makes him the target of Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, played by Gillian Anderson.
The parallels are somewhat frustrating for the creator of The Fall, Alan Cubitt, because they distract from his purpose in writing about psychopathy and misogyny and the sense of entitlement some men feel in their power over women.
"I don't know if Fifty Shades of Grey has any serious political or intellectual content or not," Cubitt says, "but I think it's confused things for me and for The Fall that Jamie chose to do that part. That was his decision. I wasn't party to that decision. If I'm honest, I think it's maybe a tad unfortunate for The Fall, because The Fall has a very serious intent behind it, and I don't know about Fifty Shades of Grey."
Cubitt came in for some criticism that season one of The Fall was making an entertainment out of social problems such as stalking and domestic violence. He thinks season two will clarify his intentions.
"I understand that initially if you started watching The Fall, you couldn't know how deep into gender politics I was going to get with the piece," he says. "I've seen many, many gratuitous TV programs, with all kinds of violence against women just used as a device. My aim was always serious and political and moral. By the time we got to the second season, many more people were recognising it and calling it essentially a feminist piece. I'm the father of a daughter so I've thought about it a lot over the last 20 years."
Does he want viewers to understand the behaviour of the psychopath Paul Spector, played by Dornan?
"Yes, yes I do. The only way you can have any understanding of why certain people do the things they do is by recognising that their behaviour has meaning for them. The challenge is to understand what could conceivably be done culturally in terms of how we treat offenders of that sort. The tabloid kneejerk is that they're monsters and should be locked up, or better still, destroyed. It's a massive challenge to think that someone like Spector can be an abused child as well as a sexual predator and what are the implications of that for the rest of us.
"These individuals have a very strong sense of self-entitlement. They think if they want something they should be able to take it. Something we all need to be taught as children is that that is not the case in this world. We need to learn deferred gratification. It's not just an issue that relates to psychopaths. It's a modern problem that people feel entitled to fame and celebrity, let's say, or to wealth, or to material possessions. It's become part of our culture, I think."
Just as SBS is about to show season two, Cubitt and his actors are about to start filming season three, wherein the battle continues between the devious psychopath Spector and the determined detective Gibson. I asked Cubitt to reassure us that by the end of season three, justice will be done.
"I'm not going to make any such promise, no, but if you know where I'm coming from, given my political leanings, given my feelings about the females in my life, there was never any possibility that this could have been ever anything immoral or misogynistic or any of those things," he says. "So there won't be an easy answer for that, but I hope you'll enjoy it."
The Fall, season 2, starts on Thursday, November 19, at 8.30pm on SBS (Australian TV Channel).