A Little Context for that “Hilarious” 50 Shades Cowbell Story

This piece has been circulating today about a “quirky disruption” on the 50 Shades set:

While recently shooting a scene in the rain, the source says, “Neighbors at the building were upset over the noise and water flying everywhere. An older man continued to ruin scenes by opening his window and shaking a cowbell. He did not stop until they came to some sort of a resolution with producers. Another person in the building told production that if any water comes into his house, they will have to pay for the water damage. Residents are not happy with them shooting there. Eventually they met half way with the cowbell resident—they had to move the rain machine to another location.”

The part of Vancouver that this movie has been shooting a few of its external scenes in — Gastown — is a bit of a paradox for the city. It’s one of the most beautiful areas, with brick roads and buildings, beautiful lamplight, trendy bars and restaurants and boutiques and coffee houses… oh, and the majority of the city’s homeless, mentally ill and drug-addicted residents.

The particular building being discussed above is what’s called an SRO — a single room occupancy apartment building for people on disability and/or welfare. These SROs have exited for a very long time, and will likely continue to exist through all of the trendy gentrification. The real problem is that, for these residents, even though this is their neighborhood, they’re made to feel extremely unwelcome by the gentrifiers who started flooding the area in the last couple of decades to set up the aforementioned cafes and restaurants and boutiques.

We can talk forever and ever about the merits or evils of gentrification, but everything said above is definitely an issue that needs to be solved somewhat quickly before tensions rise any further. For now, the SRO residents won’t be literally edged out, as major zoning laws would have to be changed, but they are made to basically feel unwanted in their own community.

So, for clarity, the guy ringing the cowbell was likely not some hilarious prankster who thought he’d get one over on that terrible book-to-movie adaptation. Instead, he’s probably an alienated addict dealing with major mental health issues who is being rained on and noise polluted in his own small home.

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