Writing mean and snarky is much easier than writing smart, balanced and nuanced. The hateful harrangue flies off the fingertips, but the measured evaluation takes some time and contains fewer quotable gems. The internet has intensified the snark factor in cultural criticism by at least a million. A little web browsing to see what the empty heads with mouths are saying and you need a good hot shower, if not the oil spill clean-up crew.
Steve Otero sent me a slew of SATC critiques, including an unintentionally hilariously bad article "How Not To Date Like Carrie Bradshaw" written by Jen Simon for The Frisky. My favorite piece of her advice to women: Don't over-analyze men/dating/relationship as she over-analyzes a movie, a piece of entertainment, as if it were the oil spill. Other writers, including movie critics, have been vicious in their attacks on "Sex and The City, 2", some blaming both the TV series and the subsequent two films for creating a culture of over-consumption. (Were none of you here in the 80s? Have you never heard of Gordon Gecko? Christian Lacroix? Ivana Trump? Wall Street?) The Female Fab Four have been accused of ruining the culture of New York City when, in fact, they have reflected their times, not created them.
SATC was a hit TV show that resonated with women all over the world because the dialogue on sex and relationships was insightful, honest and witty. The conversations these characters had inspired real women to open up and speak up. The four actresses so inhabited their characters that they became as real to us as friends. The soul sister bond they share is a fantasy as appealing as the clothes and shoes. But let's face it: the franchise (and Sarah Jessica) became so successful that it was bound to enrage many little minds.
I planned to meet Arie Thompson and some of her friends Tuesday night to see the movie together and discuss over drinks after. The 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. showings at Chelsea Cinema were sold out. I left to meet my lover; they bought tickets for the 10. I finally saw SATC 2 on Wednesday night; and Arie and I are having that discussion via email.
While we quibbled on whether or not the portrayal of the Arab world is fair and accurate--we agreed on this:
"Much of the negativity aimed at the movie," she says, "is this crazy obsession with women’s age. I read a few reviews that made snarky comments about how the women look too old for close ups and then slammed the film for being materialistic. Isn't that hypocritical? Watching the film, though, I could almost feel the spectre of age/loss of sexiness just hovering in front of the lens. Honestly, walking out of the theatre, I had one of those profound moments of “FUCK IT—Enough with all of this age bullshit, people. Live a little deeper than your wrinkles and it won’t be such a fucking problem!!!
"Really, is the most interesting thing that we can say about sexuality is that as people get less photogenic, only the ones who go crazy trying to remain physically ageless can have hot sex--or at least the hot sex everyone wants to look at?"
I left the theatre feeling that SATC 2 danced around the sex (like a heavily veiled belly dancer) because the writers couldn't figure out how to show us what happens in bed between mature adults after the thrill (that NREU high I discussed in Tuesday's post) is gone. For real sex on screen, we still have to plunk our money down for a foreign film. Most of the bullets were dodged here. Carrie's Big Kiss was much ado about nothing. Charlotte's nanny turns out not to be a sexual threat to her. Miranda's sex life is entirely off-screen.
Cattrail bravely played Samantha, allowing the fear beneath the outrageous behavior to show on her face, in her eyes. She is the best actress in this film and deserves recognition for playing the difficult role, not castigation for the character. More than anyone else, she created, in me at least, the desire for another sequel. Will Samantha learn how to tone down her style? Will she figure out that good sex doesn't look like porn stars coupling? What does a sexually active single woman at fifty look like?
The script writers let us down, but, all things considered, this is a film worth seeing. Is every reunion with old friends an unqualified success? Do you sometimes come away with more questions than answers? But, yet, you go back.
SATC fans love the clothes, the sets, the fantasies; and we love the characters. And we want/need to see them handle sex and aging in a way that has everyone talking once again.
Arie says, "The film definitely plugs into a place of deep fantasy/longing for a lot of women and at the end of the day that’s both its strength and its weakness."
Re. the Arab storyline: I dated an international investment banker and thus spent time with Arabs. The rich take ostentatious to a level that would awe Gordon Gecko. The women do wear designer clothes under their burkas and read Western books in their book groups. There are kind and honest people selling their wares in souks. A British couple recently almost went to jail for PDAs. And, yes, Dubai is over and Abu Dhabi is where it's at.
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