365 Days movie still; two main characters stare into each other's eyes

‘365 Days’ Misunderstands the Role of Consent Within BDSM

The steamy film is at the top of Netflix's popularity charts. However, its messages surrounding healthy sexual relationships are dubious.
July 17, 2020
10 mins read

Even though “365 Days” is dominating the top 10 rankings on Netflix in several countries, the Polish erotic film has received a mind-blowing amount of criticism. Plus, its fans have proven to lack any understanding of consent.

“365 Days,” also known by its original title “365 Dni,” attracted an audience of over 1.6 million viewers before cinemas closed in Poland due to the spread of COVID-19.

Before the movie became available on Netflix, Polish audiences enjoyed the film for its daring sex scenes, attractive cast and cinematography.

The romantic drama, which has frequently been compared to “50 Shades of Grey,” is based on the popular erotic trilogy of the same name by Polish cosmetologist and author Blanka Lipińska.

The movie tells the story of Italian mob boss Massimo (Michele Morrone), who kidnaps a young Polish woman named Laura (Anna Maria Sieklucka).

These two main characters are the perfect stereotypes for a movie of this make and caliber. Laura is another blank slate of a protagonist for horny women to picture themselves as, with her pretty features and untamed penchant for short sparkly skirts. While, on the other hand, Massimo is a terrifying figure constantly hulking over her without a shirt.

Massimo justifies his kidnapping because he has been having visions of Laura’s face throughout the years since his father’s murder.

He tells her that he will hold her captive for 365 days in order to convince her to fall in love with him. And if she does not fall in love with him by the end of a year, he will free her from captivity. Isn’t it so romantic?

The description Netflix gives for “365 Days” leads audiences to understand the movie as a drama or thriller before a romance. “A woman falls victim to a dominant mafia boss, who imprisons her and gives her one year to fall in love with him,” the description reads.

After viewing the movie, however, it becomes apparent the creator of “365 Days” thinks abuse is steamy. As a result, the film is nothing more than a series of sex scenes strung together by a thin and forgettable plot line.

Some of Massimo’s lines are creepy and not at all romantic. His incredibly disgusting catchphrase “Are you lost, baby girl?” is the best example.

However, “365 Days” is receiving backlash for more than its confusing plot and poorly written script.

The very nature of the movie makes audiences question how such a film has been able to succeed in a post-#MeToo movement world.

Mikayla Zazon started a petition to remove “365 Days” from Netflix for glorifying Stockholm syndrome and abuse.

“As a social media public figure and a victim of these crimes, I am outraged and heartbroken that this movie shows up on teens’ ‘watch next’ recommendation,” reads the description of her petition.

Zazon, who goes by “Mik,” is a writer, online creator, social media influencer and the creator of the #NormalizeNormalBodies movement.

“By taking down this movie on Netflix, we can protect sexual violence in adolescent women and adult women,” Zazon explained in her petition. “And we can prevent boys from seeing such horrific behavior as permission to sexual assault and rape women.”

In addition to her petition, Zazon posted an Instagram story explaining her stance to her 540,000 followers. Both in her story and on the petition, Zazon provides some of her personal history with abusive relationships.

“This is a mockery for me and all of the other victims and survivors who deal with serious long term effects,” Zazon said. “For me personally, I have been diagnosed with PTSD and continue to go to therapy, having gone through a 4-year abusive relationship starting at the age of 17.” Zazon’s petition has recieved over 70,000 signatures and an influx of press coverage.

In addition to Zazon’s petition, several other users on Change.org started their own petitions in response to the popularity of “365 Days.”

Sophia Venables started a similar petition to have Netflix remove the controversial erotic film from its streaming service.

“As a company, Netflix stepped up and created a category for Black Lives Matter, an important human rights issue,” Venables said. “Now, in the context of this human rights issue, trafficking, Netflix has chosen not only to glorify sex trafficking, but also to facilitate sexual aggression towards women.”

Although Venables’ petition is newer, her petition already has over 15,000 signatures on its own. Venables stated her call to action at the end of her petition’s description.

“Netflix needs to remove this movie from all country streaming services immediately, and release a statement addressing how the company will choose to fight human trafficking instead of encouraging it, through their vast media platforms and profits,” Venables said.

In addition to online petitions, shocked audiences are sharing their responses to the popular movie through YouTube and other social media platforms.

Popular YouTube accounts dedicated to reviewing movies such as Let Me Explain, Alex Meyers and Kennie J.D. critiqued the movie for its entertainment value, quality and portrayal of abuse.

Similar to “50 Shades of Grey,” the Polish movie received praise and criticism for its portrayal of BDSM in mainstream media. However, the main difference between these two films is that “365 Days” does not even pretend to feature any form of consent.

The main characters of “50 Shades of Grey” use a safe word, but the couple quickly realizes that a safe word just isn’t enough. For example, when Christian (Jamie Dornan) first spanks Anastasia (Dakota Johnson), she initially feels ambivalent. But after reflecting, Anastasia concludes that there was no need for her to worry. In a healthy BDSM relationship, she would have been able to use the safe word to express her uncertainty.

While previous softcore erotic films do not show it, consent is so much more than a simple “no” or the use of a safe word.

“365 Days” makes even less effort to create a false sort-of consent than its predecessors.

Throughout their kidnapper and kidnapee relationship, Massimo physically controls and hurts her as well as tells Laura that he will not touch her unless she gives him permission — all while groping her body. Their entire forced relationship is more than a red flag, it is a blatant refusal to allow Laura agency.

Laura eventually falls in love with Massimo after he takes her on a bunch of shopping sprees and forces her to watch other women perform sexual acts on him. This makes “365 Days” not only the most recent film about BDSM to completely ignore consent, but also — quite possibly — the worst perpetrator.

While movies like “50 Shades of Grey” and “365 Days” are praised for bringing certain kinks and the BDSM community into the limelight, both movies perpetuate the harmful stereotype that a lack of consent is somehow hot or erotic.

Consent is necessary in all sexual, physical and romantic interactions. Just because someone enjoys some BDSM in the bedroom, doesn’t mean they don’t need to consent to it.

Even if you disagree with the efforts to take “365 Days” off of Netflix, one thing should be certain: “365 Days” is an incredibly unhealthy and nonconsensual look at BDSM sex.

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