On one issue, at least, men and women agree: they both distrust women

review
SEX AND THE CITY 2

It's rare that I agree with London's Evening Standard newspaper, a tabloid so awful they now have to give it away free. It's written by the snide, English middle-class bourgeoisie for equally snide, self-regarding Londoners who think they're the centre of the universe. In fact, Londoners who'd very much like to emulate the characters in Sex and the City, yet simultaneously feel the need to be horrid about them. Anyway, this isn't about my loathing for the middle-classes, it's about a review of the Sex and the City movie, which encapsulates everything I want to say about that fetid franchise.

Sometimes I get accused of being a misogynist. I'm not. I just loathe the kind of shallow scum portrayed in Sex and the City. I love Mae West. Jo Brand is a joy. Jocelyn Esien is utterly wonderful. People who think, who have something to say. Clever people. As for the "materialistic whores" who defile the screen in Sex and the City? Uh uh. It's they who would incite misogyny in me. Andrew O'Hagan, writing for the Evening Standard, says it best...

"These girls are so hung up on looking great they’ve forgotten there are several ways to be ugly. At one time, around the year 2000, their whole gay cult of youth thing seemed quite funny and quite ripe in Sex and the City. Their love of handbags and designer labels appeared gleeful and sometimes satirical in an American Psycho kind of way, and their dreams, oh, their dreams, appeared to chime with those of many a late-twenty something looking for love. Now, though, Carrie Bradshaw is 45 and Samantha, her blonde slut friend, is 53, and it’s more than difficult to love them. Why? Because they are greedy, faithless, spoiled, patronising, women-degrading morons who confuse their common vulgarity for camaraderie, that’s why. When we last saw Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her gaggle of gay impersonators they were suffering the ups and downs of having the New York society wedding of the year. But Carrie got her infamous Mr Big (Chris Noth) and they all lived selfishly ever after. Except not. Two years into their marriage, Carrie is beginning to get bored. She lives with her dream man in a bling apartment with walk-in wardrobes (the soundtrack shimmers when she opens its doors, as if a hundred years of women’s suffrage had found its Nirvana in an expanded shoe-drawer) and they have more money than the entire state of Iowa. But Carrie wants more. She misses her old cocktail life and resents the fact that her husband wants to watch TV. A bit rich that, in one way or another, the screenwriters imagine the unglamorous life to be represented by people staying in and watching TV. Producer Darren Starr’s addled brain has spent a whole decade feasting on the fantasies of such little people. Meanwhile, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), the ginger one, is failing to cope with the work-baby thing, feeling undervalued in her job while feeling under-present in her son’s life. Not content just to get on with it and thank the Lord for nannies, she packs in her job to become a better person, an ambition that falls at the first post, with the assumption that working mothers are bitches. Charlotte (Kristin Davis), the brunette one who was always so easily shocked, is kind of unshockable now when it comes to the depths of her own venality. She has babies and one of them is always crying. Perhaps he knows, by child osmosis, how terrible a movie he’s in, and hot tears of shame come a-spouting. Charlotte can’t cope and she is jealous of the bra-less Irish nanny. Ho hum. It is not enough to have everything: other people must have less. But there is nothing less about Samantha (Kim Cattrall), the erstwhile diva who is Stonewall on Ice. Bette Davis, in the days when narcissistic fantasists knew how to earn their keep, could show the world how to grow old disgracefully, but Samantha, good God, she makes you want to cancel the Botox appointments and take up macramé. She has been on the run from the school run for so long she looks haggard with false optimism, yet still holding out for the next mega-shag with the kind of man who looks like he was rejected for being too buff for the cover of Men’s Health. Samantha’s inner life stops at her labia but I’ve never met a real-life woman who would envy her. For all her put-downs, for all her junk jewellery and swishy frocks, she is a quagmire of denuded self-worth, a mature woman of means with the desperate mentality of the School Bike. To escape their complicated lives, the ladies go on a junket to Abu Dhabi, a place chosen, one presumes, because it might be the only place on earth where the nasty antics of this quartet might be mistaken for feminism. And sure as nuts, it’s not long before the condoms come out and the Dior T-shirts come out, every frame driven by the dull-minded assumption that any country without slingbacks is a nation in chains, that any country where the women don’t shout about screwing, or behave like materialistic whores, is a country where women are enslaved. This is the point at which the last drop of old-style, nostalgic jollity associated with Sex and the City drains away. It has become a neo-con fantasy, an Anne Coulter-like reversal of radical politics to suit the spirit of the age, where Western “values” must be imposed on savage nations. At the lowest point in the film, Carrie and her mates enter a room full of women in burkas, and the latter remove them, as if compelled by the power of moral example to reveal their own big-label gear, which they are wearing underneath, closer to their true selves. “We too can be American, like you, Carrie,” they seem to say. The insult to Arab women is an insult to all women, to all people: it lies there, festering in the suggestion that without the right kind of currency you are nobody at all. It confuses liberation with imperialism, as if George W Bush and Rush Limbaugh, dressed top to toe in Oscar de la Renta, had suddenly found their way into the heart of a gay sensibility. I wanted to walk out of this film. It is certainly the most disgusting thing I have seen this year. In a time of economic slump, a time that might make us contemplate certain shortcomings, here is a film steeped in late Nineties, you-are-what-you-buy selfishness. These characters are aliens, at one giant remove from everyday life, and the producers should not compliment themselves with the notion that Sex and the City 2 provides “escapism” in difficult times. We know about escapism and this is the opposite: it spits in the face of struggle and difference, and asserts a repulsive red-rope mentality when confronted with any life, or part of life, that stands outside Carrie Bradshaw’s wind-tunnel miasma of selfish needs. Yuck. This could be the most stupid, the most racist, the most polluting and women-hating film of the year, with a variety of ugliness that no number of facial procedures could begin to address."

Title quote: "On one issue, at least, men and women agree: they both distrust women." Henry Louis Mencken, American journalist, 1880-1956.

5 comments:

ToddyEnglish said...

Oh my goodness you felt the same way I did! It was everything I could do to keep from falling a sleep. Yes, this movie was bad...
and I am a SATC fan!

Eduardo Guize said...

Thanks for reassuring me in my determination to never watch Sex and the City, series or movies.

LIBERATOR | Émigré Éire said...

To be clear, Toddy, I didn't go see this movie, or the other one. I don't need to...

thegayte-keeper said...

The movie was okay...nothing special...

TheatreMad87 said...

I have only ever seen one episode of Sex and The City, and I new then what seems to becoming clear to the world now: mindless trash which is offensive, especially to wome, and which revels in the hedonistic mores of capitalism without any scope for detailed or insightful critique. I have hated the entire ugly franchise ever since, and thank goodness everyone else is beginning to see why. Hopefully, the madness will end here.

PS: You can have as many production values as you like, the acting is still shit.

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