Let’s talk about Sex (and the City)

I wanted to write about the newest addition to the Sex and the City franchise before watching the movie in order to make a different point about the several negative comments and not so much to write an actual review of the film. Alas, I’m no movie critic.

As summer graced us with its presence in London this never happened so this post is actually written a day after I watched the film – both the Sex and the City films actually. We spent the better part of our day in a lovely Notting Hill cinema (sitting a few rows away from Adele) with Cosmos, finger food and goody bags. Yes, I dressed up (a bit) and I did fork out a generous amount for all this. And yes, I absolutely enjoyed it.

I enjoyed spending several hours with a good friend, chatting away in person and not on Skype as we frequently do. I enjoyed the lovely cocktails and the goody bag that was waiting for me on my seat. I enjoyed watching the films – both of them, even though I distinctly remember disliking the first when it came out. I wanted to watch the second one even before the trailers came out.

Why – you may ask?

I think that for me Sex and the City is like an old friend. The type of friend you used to be really really close with. The type of friend you used to hang out with all the time – which sometimes was a good thing and sometimes not so much. Because all friends have their flaws and at certain times can be extremely irritating but you come to accept them for who they are and know what to expect from them. I admit that my relationship with the series was very rocky during the last season; I loved some storylines like Samantha’s cancer and how she pulled through but Carrie annoyed me so much I had to fast-forward her scenes when I was watching the DVDs. That’s pretty much how our relationship ended back then. I enjoyed the (many) good times I had with the show and realised that as most television programmes, the ending was long overdue.

When the first movie came out, I was very excited to go and see that old friend that we’d grown apart but I still had fond memories of. When I left the cinema back then (an open air cinema on the roof terrace of a building in the center of Athens overlooking the Acropolis), I felt nostalgic for the good old times but I did remember the reasons we were not close any more.

To this day, I still watch the re-runs when they’re on TV. It’s almost like the case of Friends; you come home to something familiar which is playing in the background and it takes your mind off the silly things that happened at work/college/with your friends etc.

I never watched that programme secretly hoping I would once get a life of designer clothes, a walk-in closet and a billionaire to pay for my expensive lifestyle. I saw these women for what they were and I still see them like that today.

Ultimately what I saw them as, was television characters, manipulated by their creators to suit the script and the ups and downs of a viewership that had to be enticed with plot tricks to remain faithful to a programme (and a subscription channel). That was my attitude when I went to the cinema to watch the second film; I didn’t expect much from the franchise but I still wanted to revisit that old friend.

And that old friend was more or less how I remembered her to be; only a bit older now, married and with different preoccupations. We had some laughs and we parted our ways 2.5 hours and 2 cosmos later. She didn’t really have much to say about her new life and to be fair the stories of domestic drama fell in deaf ears. There was not much there I could relate to. But I still enjoyed seeing her one more time and I had a great time in the dark room away from my own domestic routine (and the chores I have to do without any ‘full-time help’). I put my feet up (no Blahniks, I’m afraid, the recession has hit this part of the world harder as it seems) and enjoyed the girls being caricaturised to death walking in the desert in high heels.

Then I went back home and put on a wash, washed the dishes and tidied my room. No thoughts of exotic travels (for free) in the New Middle East crossed my head and no urges to go out and shop up a storm.

To the women who feel they have to criticise the movie to not be compared to the shallow heroines, I’d like to say this. Who cares? Judging someone’s personality based on a movie they chose to watch is almost as silly as watching Sex and the City and feeling inadequate because your wardrobe doesn’t compare to Carrie’s.

To the men who have enjoyed calling these women (and subsequently anyone who chooses to watch them) vacuous airheads who should be reviled. Really? We’ve seen all the so-called ‘unmissable’ reviews of video games (?!)  and the sympathetic reviews to macho films in which the characters spent most of the movie shooting, jumping off planes, seducing airheads (like the ones in SATC) and looking damn cool while they do it.

Why we have to always be apologetic for ‘our’ type of entertainment is beyond me. And why to this day the double standards of ‘low/high’ culture for anything that women consume are still so strong eludes me. This post could go on for ages so I’d like to direct you to a few interesting commentaries in the press. I feel that Bidisha’s article expresses perfectly the point I’m trying to make here, combined with Anna Pickard’s blog post.

If you’d like to read more about the low/high culture debate and women’s genres, Charlotte Brunsdon’s book Screen Tastes is brilliant read for scholars and non-scholars alike. Rachel Moseley and Joanne Hollow’s Feminism in Popular Culture is interesting read as well and it appeals to a young readership as well.

To conclude, I’m using Bonnie Dow’s quote from her book Prime-time Feminism: Television, Media Culture, and the Women’s Movement since 1970.

‘The danger is not in enjoying them (programmes such as SATC) but in mistaking them for something more than the selective, partial images that they are… [and in] believing that image is equal to politics and material change.’

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2 comments

  • As I get older I am a lot more honest about what I like, I watch “the hills” but I also enjoy a good novel or listening to an audiobook on neuroscience. Whatever.

  • A bit late I know but will share my thoughts. I also see SATC as an old friend, one that relates to a particular part of my life and one that I resisted for a long time but finally succumbed. I was fortunate enough to be able to teach about it eventually along with other goodies such as soap operas. ..
    On the night of SATC 2 I put on a frock, had a glass of wine before going to the packed cinema (first night!). The audience went wild, which was great. Charlotte in particular was a heroine to them and got lots of cheers. Maybe she was the one that had kept her sassiness and spirit even tho fuelled by HRT. She was a survivor. She is also English and I think we claim her as a bit of ‘our’ own.
    I think its great that a woman over 50 was portrayed as actively sexual and not on the edge of old age. About time the media got real about what it means these days to be in that age category! Sex doesnt stop at 49. Charlotte embodies that. Neither do STDs as recent figures show the highest increases amongst the over 5os an a more darke note.
    Carrie and her real life actress SJP. Hmm. The less said the better.
    I came out feeling that I was glad to have gone but I wont be going to see SATC 3 if they ever make it. There is nothing left to say now in this franchise. Its over. Goodbye to the girls. I will still watch the old TV series of course.
    Now, where is my cosmo?

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