Friday, May 28, 2010

Sex & The City and "The Terrible Twos"

Sometimes we're our own worst enemies. "Sex & The City," the ginormously popular HBO sitcom understood this. Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), the heroine of the whole enterprise, was the worst offender. She bought shoes when she needed to pay rent. She cheated on her boyfriends. She broadcast her business to the world when she would have been better off keeping her mouth sh -- oh, uh, yes, job hazard as a sex and relationship columnist. Mr. Big (Chris Noth) was also skilled in the art of self sabotage, continually pushing his perfect girl (Carrie, duh!) away when she needed to be pulled close. He perfected this dynamic in the first movie's act one climax by leaving her at the altar. Ouch. Two year old spoiler alert: They got back together and married in the end.

Now the Fab Four (Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte) are back. They've mostly settled down so Sex and the City 2 will pick up the baton and practice the fine art of self sabotage on itself.

Read the rest at Towleroad

...and if you're seeing it this weekend, please share your thoughts. I'm curious to know how you responded.


City_Of_Lights said...

I saw the first flick simply for Mr Big. I am unashamedly a Chris Noth fan. He's the reason I watched the whole series. From the moment I saw the trailer for #2 I thought "Oh no." The more I see and read the more I say "Oh no". If someone could condense Big's scenes into a 20-30 minute short I would be more than happy to pay for a ticket.

Who am I kidding? I'll probably see it anyway though. It's been too long since I went to the cinema. And I wouldn't mind an "abso-f*cking-lutely" from Big.

Tory said...

I actually saw the movie yesterday, and I had a great time. I don't know why people/critics are taking the movie to heart. It's suppose to be fantasy and fun, and that's what it was. It's for the fans of the show. It's not suppose to move you in some emotional way, but to have some laughter and some thought. I liked it. It was nice to see them again :-). It wasn't bad, it wasn't amazing, but it was fun and that's all that matters

Robert Hamer said...

"Forgive them this sequel and hope that the sparkle returns for Sex & The City 3."

Why not just let the sparkle fade out? I mean, let's face it, the series should have ended when the show ended. These movies just seem to manufacture contrived conflicts and artificially extend a story where there is none left.

What's going to happen in Sex and the City 3, Mr. Big does something really bad, like have dinner AT their extravagant apartment? A lesbian wedding with Melissa Etheridge? Samantha literally becomes a cartoon character (which is what the writers have portrayed her as for quite some time)? Steve does something else completely unlike the character written in the show? Maybe it could try to break a world record for most shots of tacky designer clothing?

I was never crazy about "Sex and the City" (that label I would apply to "The Wire"), but it was a good show because for all its glib sexual humor and affluence, it was actually about something, and it had characters you cared about. These films are stamping all of that out. Let's just cut our losses and let this franchise die, already.

S said...

In my opinion the 2nd movie is actually quite akin to the spirit of the TV series. Carrie Bradshaw in her worse judgment and argue with the girls and get snarky with Charlotte? The dynamics between she and Big? Samantha Jones swallowed in her desire to get younger and hot guys? Miranda's constant struggle between her family life and career, Charlotte's worries after getting what she wants? Familiarity all again.

The big gay wedding is indeed rather over the top but this is kinda perfect opening to say how time has passed and people will(and should?) change yet remain themselves all the same---the theme of the this movie.

I was thrown a little bit over they went to Abu Dhabi and all those extravagance, but sometimes one has to be out of her/his elements to know where the heart truely lies, in this case, no other than NYC. So I guess it's all good.

Anyway, I had a good time watching the second movie and thought it is much better than the 1st movie. I judge it not as a general film fan but as the TV series fan, reckon that makes all the differences?


S... i think fandom for the series does make a lot of difference in how one responds to the movies. It's kind of amazing to me that so many critics who are usually so discerning can talk out of their ass so much about the series with only very little familiarity with it (god forbid YOU should make a judgment about something you've only seen 1 or 2 episodes of that they love, you know?)

i think this second movie has a ton of problems but the type of things people are writing about it only yet reveal how far we still have to go... if the franchise is so irrelevant how can it work the haters up into such a terrible THIS-IS-THE-MOST-DISGUSTING-THING-EVER-AND-JUSTIFIES-HATRED-OF-AMERICA frenzy?

People really need to get over themselves.

at the very least it would do 90% of the Sex&hte City haters a little good to step back for just a second and realize that the franchise KNOWS that Carrie Bradshaw is a narcissist. This has caused her a lot of pain over the years. The franchise has never once not known this, they've said some very interesting things about it along the way and furthermore they've never said "you really should be EXACTLY LIKE CARRIE"

@Robert -- i agree that the movies have retroactively damaged the series some in the minds of people who aren't very familiar with the series. But really... who gives a toss about what people who have know interest in it think about it in retrospect?


i feared this would happen.

adelutza said...

It's funny Nathaniel, I had the same reaction , defending-wise. The film is mediocre at best, but it infuriates me how everybody launched missiles at it because it would - apparently - make an already dumb female population even dumber. Give me a break. I don't even want to start looking at the movies marketed towards men and their general intelligence levels.

Trevor said...

I'm seeing the film tonight and I plan on enjoying myself. Screw the reviews. I invested six seasons into this series and those characters plus the first film, and I'm ready to revisit them again. Cheers to the gals! Make it a trilogy!

Anonymous said...

The reason these movies attract such vitriol is simple. The show and/or movies pride themselves on being some sort of new-century feminism when, in reality, they're the exact opposite.

Amanda said...

Anon above me,

You got that one oh so right. I have always hated the series, and being forced to sit through the first movie during a cross atlantic flight actually made me suicidal and wishing my flight would magically turn into Oceanic 815 and crash in some crazy island far far away where I'd end up devoured by a smoke monster.

The problem with everything related to this franchise is that it talks itself waaaaay too seriously. It is super pseudo-intelectual, it has always pretended to be deep, relevant, and some sort of anthropological statement of the realities of the female condition on the XX century- as if there was only one, universal female condition. Fuck off- it has always been shallow, materialistic, stereotipical, silly, childish, pretentious, and way too in love with it self.

But what I think is the most problematic and complicated of all is it's claim on feminism. Really? I see pretty much the opposite, actually. Women who only validate themselves through men, who aim their self-steem and sense of worth on their partners, who define themselves by the men they are with, who are needy attention seekers and who correspond to women's worts cliches- consumerism, shallowness, sillyness, neediness, self-obsession, all of them being label-whores and, truth to be told, social climbers. Because they didnt want a decent, honest, loving, caring, strong, well-educated, intelligent man- they wanted, above all, a man rich enough to buy them a penthouse on fifth with a gigantic walk-in closet, pay for their ridiculous shoe addiction and take them to fancy restaurants. Social climbers indeed. (Ok, Samantha as far as I know could be an exception to the social climbing gold digging rule but she has always been a charicature and never a real person made of flesh and blood).

I dont, and never would, look up to a woman who spends all her money on shoes she cant afford, then cant pay rent, goes broke and has to borrow money from friends. Who,at almost 40 years of age, or maybe 40 already, cant control and manage her own finances. I dont look up to women who dont ever have a substantial conversation, who dont ever go to an exhibition, the theater, to a bookstore or a library. Who have no interests beyond purses and shoes. Who make jokes about burkas cutting the Botox bill (this is insulting and disgusting). Who complain about their children ruining their vintage valentino while they are in the kitchen baking cupcakes (how stupid can this person be?)

For me they are no role models. They are no examples of anything. That's not what women of my grandmother and my mother generation fought for. Being in my late twenties, seeing girls/women of my own generation looking up to this makes me puke in my mouth.

This is not feminismn. If anything, it has made us go years back. It has confirmed the worst stereotypes and cliches about us.

Arkaan said...

I was wondering what would be the focus of conversation with this movie here.

ClaudeMedwenitsch said...

Woody Allen's Sex and the City 3
that's what I want to see!

Henry said...

I have no desire to see the film whatsoever (and I basically fast-forwarded through the first one on premium cable), but I'm mildly amused at how it's getting so bashed by the critics at large. Many of my women friends are looking forward to it so much so that I would compare the phenomenon to Twilight or Harry Potter, but for women only.

Kelly Ripa told Sarah Jessica Parker an interesting story about the first film while she was interviewing her: Ripa's friend had seen the film in a theater when a fire broke out near the end. The entire audience -- somehow all women -- didn't want to leave the theater before the end, despite the fire. Would the second film engender that kind of passion?

ZiZo said...

I'm sorry but I LOVED the movie, more than the first one, and I laughed my ass off.


amanda and anon -- someone will REALLY have to explain to me why this series and these characters set feminism back.

a) they are hardly the only flag-carrying validate yourself through your ability to attract men women in pop culture. There's also the Disney princesses, the female pop stars, and the Twilight lead... and I'm sorry, of those choices i'll take (with the possilbe exception of the pop stars) the sex & the city women every time. Because the message is NOT change yourself for the man. even though it is still validation from men. see the difference?

b) they are sexually liberated. someone will need to explain this to me why it's a bad thing for a woman to be able to decide how and when and with whom and how often she has sex. You're free to judge people's choices sure, but HAVING CHOICES is something we should all be grateful for and willing to defend for others.

so i just fail to see what's so bad about these characters and i also fail to see how they are any less self absobred than uber wealthy male heroes who people fawn all over.

S said...

Nathaniel, WORD.


and one more thing. where did this notion that these women needed rich men come from? Miranda and Samantha and Carrie are all self made successes with big careers. Charlotte is the only one who totally ditched a career -- and basically intended to -- once she found a rich man to settle down with.

Kyle said...

I'm glad you had a good time, but critics are just doing what critics are supposed to do...if they thought the movie was crap...I mean, do they need to shield their opinion of it because it's "fun" for its general fanbase?

My question is, why don't producers make a GOOD film with females in mind? I can get behind that!

NoNo said...

Yeah, Big was never Carrie's Sugar Daddy and Miranda is the breadwinner of her family. Samantha was always pretty clear that the most important thing a man could ever give her was an orgasm.

I think the only problem was Charlotte. She quit her job for one husband and changed religions for another. Even then she was more the exception than the rule.

adelutza said...

Maybe this isn't the right forum for this, but what the hell of a society we are living in? Women are not allowed to even have a summer blockbuster like everybody else? They have to look good, be sexy, bear children , work - because you know, they fought for it - and dismiss a stupid movie that take them to a fantasy land - because , you know, who in their right mind would care for shoes ? Come on people, be real , shut the fuck up and go see Prince Of Persia or whatever else make you feel good about yourselves.
And critics, well, when they are going to rate SATC2 and Iron Man 2 with the same amount of stars, maybe I'll give a thought about them.

NoNo said...

I think that maybe the problem lies with Michael Patrick King. I think it would've helped if they hired a director who can handle the film medium better (Not Nancy Meyers!). Despite all the lavishness, it still felt like an HBO Special.

That doesn't excuse that script. Carrie's narcissism stands out more in the movies because she doesn't really have Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha to counteract it. They really don't have much to do in the films.

Also, the series was fresher and edgier. The films tends to do the same themes that were done better in the past.

The film is no where near as bad as the reviews. But I did feel like the whole Abu Dhabi thing was sanctimonious. I don't think a couple in the USA (let alone the UAE) would be comfortable with Samantha's little public display.

Robert Hamer said...

You make some seriously good points, Nat, but how is any of this worth defending?

Sure, you could say that the SATC girls are no different than the vapid, materialistic male protagonists of countless summer hits, but why be the apologist for that? Wouldn't it make more sense to reject all of that crap and demand more from female-driven films? It's not like Hollywood hasn't done it before.

You quoted this as a joke earlier, "sex & the city is so unrealistic. ugh. now let's go see that movie where the awkward nerdy guys hooks up with Megan Fox," but last I checked, that movie was also reviled by critics and won the Razzie Award for Worst Picture of 2009. Vapid, cynical shit is vapid, cynical shit, male or female-driven.

I'm just not sure what your aim is, here.


robert hamer -- it's just for balance. I just feel that the vitriol that sex & the city always gets is inherently connected to sexism. I see no way around this because there is never this much venom and judgment for male driven movies. i mean what are the "values" of THE HANGOVER? nobody writes reviews of things like that that say "these people make my skin crawl"

i think it's worth defending for this reason.

people need to realize where their venom is coming from. There is a LOT of anger in our society about women... especially women who are living for themselves and not for men (sorry. i don't really buy that everything is about the men in sex & the city). a lot of venom for women like that.

i just think it's very sad.

Kyle said...

But Nathaniel

I know (at least as far as I can recall, correct me if I'm wrong) you didn't like The Hangover...but by most critic's accounts, it was a well-made film (I was indifferent, Golden Globe nominated or not) I'm not certain The Hangover would be a good point of comparison...

300 on the other hand...

Robert Hamer said...

What's your opinion on female critics who despise it? Jen Yamato, Lindsey Ward, Ann Hornaday, Kim Voynar (whose specialty is feminism in cinema), MaryAnn Johanson, Jessica Bennett, and a lot of others really hated this.

Some of them are pretty big fans of the show, and I think that's why I just can't stand with you on this one. It would make more sense to me if the films were standalone train wrecks, but the fact that it was once a great feminist series that went down the tubes into shallow caricature is something that I think deserves resentment.

Certainly, sexism could play a part in some of the really negative reviews, but isn't it just as reasonable to claim that a lot of the vitriol stems from lamenting what the show once was and what the films now are?

Amanda said...


The difference is that Disney princesses- who are just adaptations of stories much much older than cinema and Disney itself, stories from a very different time, looong before feminism was even a subject- dont sell themselves as feminist icons or groundbraking.

And every single fairy tale there is- and fairy tales themselves as a narrative form-have been beyond slashed and destroyed by feminists. Neither does Britney-who I despise- Miley, or Rhianna, who was beaten the hell of and at some point even apparently took the guy back before dumping him for good and moving on with her life. Them dont claim to be "serious" feminists voices who have a say on womens rights or the state of the feminine condition. (One I could see maybe doing so is Alanis. From the older generation, Chrissie Hynde). They sell their bodies as well as whatever crap they call music.

Never seen Twilight, but from what I have heard, its utter crap. For teens. And again, Bella or whatever her name is doesnt claim to be a feminist voice or to represent independent contemporary women or whatever. She is just a girl obsesses with her love life, and she is not an adult woman.

Sex and the City does claim it. It takes it self seriously and sells itself as some feminist groundbreaking revolutionary icon. Its not.

And above all, those women confirm some of the worst stereotypes for women (as well as the hangover might have done for men). Shallow? Check. Vain? Check. Superficial? Check. Label addicts? Check. Childish? Check. Spend more than they have? Check. Fashion Victims? Check. Only validate themselves through men? Check. Whiny? Check. Why cant they have a conversation about books or intelectual ideas? Why arent they ever shown reading? Why cant they ever go to a museum, a film festival, an exhibition? They live in NY for God Sake. There's more to NY than shopping, as there's more to life than bags and purses.

I dont think they represent women or whatever crap they claim to. I dont think they are examples of anything. I dont think women should be looking up to them.

Amanda said...

And Nathaniel, the Botox/Burka joke is beyond insulting. Its offensive, disrespectful, highly unsensitive to the subject of human rights and its conflicts with cultural diversity, and as non-feminist as it can be.

And what kind of idiotic human being wears vintage Valentino to bake cupcakes for children? She's at her kitchen, not at the Met gala. I though this "oh so sophisticated lady" would know how to dress for the occasion.

NicksFlickPicks said...

Well, I did feel exactly that way about The Hangover, which was demonstrably worse than the first SATC movie. But I have to side with Robert here. No question the sequel is turning into a lightning rod for more than specific dislike for the movie: feelings about the recession, about the most inane forms of "girl power," about the stupid ways Hollywood depicts the rest of the world, etc. But none of the (few) defenses I'm reading of the movie are able to stand without relying hugely on fondness for the show. If anything, the most interesting writing I've come across is taking pains to differentiate the complexities of the series from the politics and character construction of the films, which always come out sounding worse.

I'm taking a more close-minded view than I usually like to, in that I've only seen 6 or 7 episodes of the show, and I refuse to go near the movie. I turned down free tickets to an early screening, and the first movie seemed bad enough, compared to which almost everyone likes this one even less. I probably couldn't get over the lack of a real movie director or the fact that three of the four actresses are just atrocious in everything I've ever seen them in, including the first SATC movie.

But I have to say, every time I hear the movies defended as though to dislike them is to commit misogyny, I partly want to point out that the movies seem outrage people at least as much in terms of class politics as in terms of gender. The first movie played to me like a kind of valentine to the ways in which New York (read: "Manhattan") has become a playground for the wealthy and their insane blinders about everyone else. So, the first movie + Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason-style cultural imperialism x even more jaw-dropping money worship = hell no, I won't go.

I guess I see the argument for how the movies can be defended in their gender politics, even though I never agree and thought SATC1 was at least as sexist as its detractors. But how can you even start to defend the movies' spiraling-out-of-control religion of money, spent in the crassest possible ways? Newly attached to a desire to throw your money around the world and be gobsmacked when not everyone is seduced?

Amanda said...

Their shallowness has always been difficult for me to handle. Its ok to like fashion, I enjoy it immensly. Bt there is more to life than labels. Not everything is about the logo. There are other ways to spend your time instead of shopping. There are other things to besides buying stuff.

NicksFlickPicks said...

(And since that comment was a little bit high-horse, I should be clear: I have plenty of soft-spots and guilty pleasures, so I don't really mean that everyone should have to "defend" this if they love it... I only mean that I'm not as surprised as some people are that SATC2 pushes people's buttons in unusually hard ways, and I do think it merits some intense cultural pressure. I'm clearly one of the people who's buttons are pushed, so I feel like I ought to defend that reaction as much as fans or at least tolerators of the movie ought to "defend" it.)

Jose said...

I think Nick touched a very interesting point by bringing up "Manhattan".
I love Woody Allen and I love "Sex and the City", a few weeks ago when I wrote a post here that compared them, people got offended as well.
So I wonder...
Woody Allen's films usually involve wealthy people who spend their whole time devoted to talking about arts, philosophy and relationships.
We rarely see them working to make a living yet they have incredible apartments, dress up quite well, devote themselves to complaining about why their love lives are so messed up and rarely bring up economic issues.
Yet, at least in the 70's movies, everyone loves Woody for it.
I've never read a review of "Annie Hall" that wondered how Alvy could afford to fly to LA just to talk to Annie in the end, but let Carrie Bradshaw take a cab and all hell breaks loose. I also never hear people complain about the way Woody makes caricatures out of foreigners and creates incredibly self centered characters for whom Manhattan is the center of the universe.
I'm not trying to pitch these two things against each other, again I worship Allen and SatC, but I guess the one different thing about them is that one has a penis and one doesn't.

Arkaan said...

One other thing worth mentioning. There are so few films made about women in Hollywood, so few blockbuster successes, that the ones that do get to a large degree of success are focused/scrutinized to a far greater degree than their male/masculine counterparts. Nathaniel, how do you respond to the fact that many female critics loathe this film? How do you respond to Nick's cogent remarks?


in order to respond to all of this I should write a full post.

I didn't even like this movie but I find the reviews just so insulting.

I think the very very specific problem is that the popularity of the series has completely inflated people's notions about what the show is and or what it claims to be.

It was never a series about ALL WOMEN EVERYWHERE. It was about very specific women in a very specific place and a very specific part of their life (relationships)

suddenly it has to stand in for all women everywhere and what they should be like.

But even if you are going to place them on this pedestal and claim that "you should be like this!" (which the show and movies have never done) there are a lot worse role models than women who are

A) sexually their own
B) career wise their own
C) willing to experiment with lifestyles that do not involve staying home and raising children.
D) unwilling to disappear once they turn 40

This isn't at all radical in terms of feminism BUT the response to it shows that feminism still requires a lot of pushing because people are still so angry at these women for not being more traditional.

I guess i find it hard to stomach that they're so resented for being successful and even harder to stomach that people always have to point out how "old" and "tired" and "unatttractive" they are... as if aging and not having 20 year old tits is a crime against humanity!

I just don't think they ever get any credit for showing vibrant women who are not willing to go quietly. People keep saying they're passe but i think if you look at the impact on pop culture they have probably given a lot of hope to older women who still want to feel vibrant.

I know some people find "cougars" insulting... but why is it insulting for the culture at large to suddenly have to confront that women want to have sex and that they want to have it at an age when previous incarnations of pop culture didn't have any use for their bodies.


And, sure they're shallow to a degree if you hold them up to some other female heroines (though not half as shallow as the haters say... but then many people haven't watched the series and are only responding to the movies which are, yes, no argument... more shallow)

... but why is it a crime to love a fancy pair of shoes? Many many many many beloved movie characters have been uber wealthy and flaunted it (yes, during The Great Depression too) by constantly being dressed to the nines and going out on the town and they weren't so roundly despised for it.

My feelings about why some female critics hate them are very complicated and i don'[t have time to get into it in a blog comment. But a lot of minority representation engenders this response. Especially when people are willing to assume that the character they're looking at is meant to represent them, fully and totally. Which to my way of thinking is a path that inevitably leads to misery.

If i needed every gay character onscreen to represent me i'd be in a heap load of trouble and angry all the time.

But i don't need that. I'm willing to find pieces of myself in whichever characters I respond to and go from there.

Arkaan said...

But isn't that the cheap way out? (the not about WOMEN everywhere remark). And from what I hear, doesn't the film undercut that argument (the Muslim women with the high fashion underneath the chadors/burkas). I also think you believe the show to be more self-critical than it was in actuality (see Carrie's nature with money, for example). And given how often HBO pushed the show as groundbreaking etc, I don't think it's wrong to analyze the film from those standards.

The minority comment is intriguing. Nathaniel, you've often gotten annoyed at negative/shrill depictions of gay people. What would the difference be here?

This argument fascinates me. In the end, I wonder if the sexism you ascribe to the response negates a lot of the things said (especially since you seemed to bend over backwards to be nice to the film - describing Carrie as his "perfect girl"). I'd have to see Iron Man 2 (which I don't want to, the first was boring enough) to compare it's materialistic excesses, but I think it have a long way to go to match SatC in series form.

Kyle said...

I think someone should define which movies made in the past 5-10 years were made specifically with males in mind, and then which ones were made for females...truthfully, I can't think of all that many...(honestly, I avoid as much crap as I can, so I come from a point of ignorance). I just have a hard time buying that alot of of movies are made for men and men only.

For example, in my eyes, The Hangover wasn't made for any one gender in mind...and I know just as many women who loved that movie as men.
All those Apatow comedies as well, they're basically romantic comedies at heart that happen to appeal to men AS WELL, but not exclusively.
I would even argue those stupid Transformers movies are made to appeal to the masses and not just teenage males. Half the women I work with went to go see that with their kids and/or husbands and enjoyed it...

Maybe it's a weak argument, but I'm just not seeing this whole movies are made for men mentality.

Iggy said...

For me, the series was harmless entertainment/fun that didn't take itself too seriously, as compared for instance to the US version of Queer as Folk. At least that's the way I saw it back in the day, but I've got to admit I wasn't a real fan, I only watched episodes randomly. So, I don't quite understand the controversy around this franchise. That said, I find it even less understandable the line of defense against all the criticism that goes like "we have the right to our junk food, too". To me it's like if McDonald's defense against criticism was "well, there's Burger King, too". I don't get it, I guess it's a consequence of this need for speed/simplicity on the internet.

So, thanks for taking some time to elaborate a more insightful defense of a the movie.

NicksFlickPicks said...

@Jose: Interesting point! But I actually didn't meant the Woody Allen movie, I meant the way Manhattan as a borough comes to stand in for New York in pop representations, which is just a personal gripe of mine, and so not limited to these movies. And yes, I know Miranda moved to Brooklyn.

NoNo said...


The defense of "we have the right to our junk food" is because equality is to right be bad or mediocre.

The majority of movies that comes out are catered to a 18-35 year old, heterosexual, white males. Does that mean every movie that doesn't fit that demographic has to be impeccable or even just good? There's no fairness in those high standards.


@arkaan -- the difference would be that i didn't get violently angry about them. sure i get annoyed if too many gay characters are portrayed in a certain way (and don't get me started on Sex & the City's problems with this... it's one of my least favorite parts of the show since day one) but i don't look at Stanford or Anthony (both super annoying in the series and in the movies and think THEY REPRESENT ME. or more importantly i don't think THEY *SHOULD*/*HAVE TO* REPRESENT ME.

I suppose i used to get more angry about this but that was when there were fewer gay characters. Contrary to popular belief, there are quite a few movies made each year with female protagonists. There's no need for everyone to act like Sex & the City is the only movie ever made to talk about women.

another thing i also kind of hate what i see as hypocrisy in the reviews. So many people slamming the series for excess. (though I agree that the movies don't have the same nuances that the series did about this... which is part of the perception problem.)

You think these same people would give all their money away if they had it? I hope they're all voting for universal health care but i bet half of them are like THIS IS MY MONEY. I EARNED IT. DON'T YOU DARE TAKE IT FROM ME TO HELP OTHERS WITH YOUR EVIL PLANS OF TAXATION. ;)

you know?

sorry to get political but i think people are much more likely to be altruistic with other people's imaginary fortunes than with their real fortunes.

And one more thing. I'm not asking you to see Iron Man 2. But if you think a billionaire who throws himself year long multi-million dollar exhibitions and multi-million dollar parties just to glorify himself and hear the cheering roars of crowds is not as or more materialistic/vain than the sex & the city women... well I just can't figure that.

anyway. why do men enjoy stories about successful men with more money than God but get very freaked out when women display wealth and label it "spiritual emptiness"?

@Kyle -- but that's part of the problem. Women have been trained to view everything that's for men as also for them because it's a patriarchal value system. Ethnic minorites are much more likely to attend white movies than white people are to go to movies without white characters as the leads. And in the same way gay people have had no problem enjoying heternormative cinema since the birth of celluloid.

The reality is that most straight white men have trouble seeing that everythign is made with their needs in mind because everything *is* or mostly everythign at any rate. They've never had to develop any perceptions to the contrary.

I think the Sex & The City women are way better models of femininity than the Hangover girls who have approximately one dimension each: shrill nag or hooker with heart of gold. They're female characters entirely defined by male hangups.

so it's sad that women would enjoy that movie can then go and be offended by movies about women where the women are allowed to exhibit more than one character trait... and not all of them negative, no matter what people say.

I've seen very few series in my lifetime that went to such lengths to show the value of non-biological families. How can people not see the love these women have for each other as a positive character trait?

Volvagia said...

And, talking about excess, wouldn't it be exciting, if, just for one year, no studio could release a movie with a budget over $50 million? (So: Bruckheimer, no Emmerich, no Bayhem, no Harry Potter, nothing big, huge, expensive.) Let's get back to a system that actually awards Star Wattage. Who's with me?

Iggy said...


I got that part and I agree. I just think it's a poor defense to point at your right to be bad, because stating from the very begining of your argument that the movie is bad, though honest, gives the haters reasons to hate it. I don't know if I'm explaining myself :).

Anyway, Nathaniel is defending a movie he didn't like and I'm trying to understand the controversy about a movie I probably won't see. It's just that I'm the kind of guy who needs to understand everything and a Lost follower at the same time :( (yes, I'm still trying to put the pieces together).

fabiog2 said...

Oh Nathaniel, I love you so much. LOL.

BUT, this film was VILE, Nasty, awful and hideous. Those characthers scream "I would die if I were poor".

Those women are vapid, selfish and superficiaL. All they care about its clothes, shoes and spent money way. This actually made me hate all of them. The scene where Charlote cries over her vintage Valentino because her daughter ruined with dirty hands, or hoe they dont want fly couch, UGH.

Its been a while since I hated a film with so much power. But I hope to God thia bombs


i guess i just don't trust that people are this angry because the characters are rich. i mean every year we get stories about obscenely wealthy people and no one freaks out like this about how vile the characters are because they have it.


i just think the response is totally disproportionate to what's actually in the movie (they barely spend any money in the movie actually since they're on a business trip all expenses paid. and when they find out they have to pay, they freak out.

NicksFlickPicks said...

As in, then they want a bailout? And isn't it only "business" for Samantha? They get cars and $22,000 hotel rooms and butlers and little day-trips and whatever, while they weare their crazy-ass wardrobes and have flings with other vacationing white people... when three of them are BFFs just along for the ride... and then they freak out that it isn't free?

I mean, that's straight-up Goldman Sachs Syndrome, right?

Again, haven't seen the movie. But am I keeping up correctly with what I'm reading?

NicksFlickPicks said...

Just for conversation's sake, here's a really extended and thought-provoking defense of the film. I'm still not convinced I agree but benefited from reading the case articulated this way. I think the writer shares a lot of Nathaniel's thinking about the movie, but it spreads around the burden of having to ward off all of us panty-twisted naysayers (almost) by himself! -


@Nick -- not exactly. spoiler it's supposed to be an all expenses paid trip but when some people who'd rather see all women in burkas report Samantha for indecent behavior (she's spotted kissing a Danish guy on the beach), they arrest her and the Sheik business guy who is paying their trip changes his mind --He doesn't want to employ Samantha's PR services for his hotel after all. He wants them out of there that day unless they pay their own way.

the girls freak out because who can afford a $22,000 a night hotel room?


oh and @Nick... thanks for the link. it is a thought provoking piece (though again, I didn't much care for this sequel)

but I do need to respond to a much earlier comment. You said something along the lines of 'we all have our guilty pleasures' but I guess one of the reason I bristle so much about the immense negativity (american critics really do want Samantha and these other sexual women stoned to death like the fundamentalists in the middle east might) is that I feel no guilt whatsoever for loving the series.

It's not a guilty pleasure. It's just a pleasure. (again: the movies, less so)

so when all of these reviews take great pains to want these women stoned to death and want to describe them as the most hideous sorts of people that ever walked the earth (never mind our standard cultural idolization for male characters who are wealthy or violent or straight-up criminals i.e. too many movies to count) i take it a bit personally.

if these women are truly

a) the devil
b) the epitome of spiritual emptiness
c) the flag bearers of american obscenity...

what does that say about the people that have enjoyed watching them navigate their lives over the years?

NicksFlickPicks said...

This is hilarious: you defending a movie you don't like and me critiquing one I haven't seen.

About the (spoiler) reversal of fortune: I understand that it's not literally asking for a bailout, but thematically it sure seems like it is. Any plot turn that invites any sympathy along the lines of "But who could possibly afford this?" in relation to characters who have been enjoying all this luxury without bringing anything to the table to warrant it, and with the movie by all accounts set up as a resplendent "fantasy" ad for all of these pleasures -- it's just impossible to do all of this and then sympathize when they can't afford something they shouldn't have been up to anyway. That's why it sounds "bailout" to me. The culture of "business trips" that involve all of this obscene coddling, even for people with no connection to the "business," is part of what we're all steamed about, right? Again, class > gender in the way I'm thinking about this. I don't really want to say four hedonists, male or female, take a hyper-luxurious vacation to Abu Dhabi on a corporate expense account right now, and if they get stuck with the bill... well, so what? (Though having these arguments is making me think I am actually going to have to see the movie, so I don't feel like such an asshole.)

As for other: I'm really trying to insist on a series vs. films separation when I say "guilty pleasure," b/c as frustrating as it is to you that people are slagging off the movies without acknowledging what almost everyone agrees is the superior ambition and complexity of the show, it's equally baffling for those of us who only know the movie (or, now, the movies) to have the legacy of the series called in to redeem the evident failings of the show. I understand the logic that the movies exist "for" the fans of the show, though I don't agree that's true, given the scale at which it's been budgeted and marketed. And if the movies are such a cliff-dive off the quality of the show, I think it's just as logical to think, e.g., if the same cast and crew of Once and Again or Galactica or a show I adored suddenly produced a bunch of movies that chucked so much of what was interesting or examined about these flawed characters and inflated everything that's off-putting or clichéd about them, I'd be pissed. Part of what steamed me about the first movie, especially when I started hearing more accounts of the relative richness of the series, concerned my defensive movie-love: why did these people believe in subtlety and self-critique for television but view the movie theater as a place to just splash us with money and tacky clothes and internalized sexism ("You got so chunky in LA! OMG, you need a bikini wax!"), and bring nothing else to the table cinematically to compensate?

I'm'a back off unless I see the movie, since however many plot summaries and reviews I'm reading, this is a false position to be arguing from. But since you're still wondering, why are people SO upset, I'm just trying to clarify why I'm upset, even sight-unseen. And I can see how it feels personal to see beloved quasi-family members dragged through the mud in particularly heated rhetoric, but it's also personal to hear that hating this movie or its forebear or their politics is akin to wanting women stoned to death in the street.

JayJ said...

The SATC movies are nothing but Transformers for women. Yes women should be allowed to have their frivolous movies just as the men do, but just as people criticize movies like Transformers for being a brain cell killer people can criticize movies like SATC for being such as well. However, at least the cast of Transformers knows that they are making a brain cell killer and don't try to disguise it, while the ladies of SATC do try to disguise their movie with talk of "It's a movie about sisterhood." I'm not going to go see SATC 2 since I know I won't like it, but I do give it credit for not being a stupid Katherine Heigel like romantic comedy that studios like to sell to women.

Kimberly said...

Wow. I can't believe I missed all this discussion! And after reading all the comments (all 48, word for word) I would like to add my two cents. Because, oh, why the hell not.
I find most of what has happened to the franchise of SatC is, besides unfortunate, typical. The public at large finds something they like, put it up on a pedestal then rip all it's clothes off and points out it's flaws. Or just stones it until it falls. SatC the series WAS groundbreaking in 1998 when it began & right up until it ended it's run in 2004. But it's 2010. How much of the things you felt/believed in 1998 still hold up? Please. I was just shy of 16 when this series started and am now about to turn 28. How much comparison can you make to a series that started 12yrs ago to it's sub-par movie counterpart? It's like comparing apples and oranges! TV Shows should NEVER be made into films - they aren't designed to.
I loved the series (catching up about midway through it's run) and the film - I saw it in the theater twice - the second to apease a friend who was out of the country when it was released. Do I own it? No. Have I watched it since? No. Will I see this installment? Most likely at some point.
I agree wholeheartedly with Nathaniel - the amazing thing is the particular type of venom people (men & women) hold for this franchise and it's four heroines. Saying they've set back feminism is simply untrue. Wanna say that Mary Tyler Moore set it back too? and Maude? Honestly. The films don't take themselves as seriously as I've seen some people on this board. How much credit are we giving ourselves to ask for a film character (hello! CHARACTER!) to represent US? That's a hefty load to bear!! I don't look at a fictional person to be my role model and neither should anyone else. To look for yourself and to take any type of direction from a person made out of MANY people's opinions is, quite simply, preposterous. Don't look for others to define YOU - YOU DEFINE YOU.
This was a show about love, all kinds. It was about friends - who believe it or not - shop together, have lunch, and don't always take things so seriously. The movies aren't the show. Period.
The most offensive thing I found about this was the Stanford/Anthony pairing. While I'm HUGE fans of both actors and am thrilled to see them return in these roles - I don't like that the two featured gay characters marry one another. They loathed one another before! Even the set up in the first film of their NYE kiss bugged me. It's like saying "Oh, they're both gay - they belong together." Because, didn't ya know, there aren't any other gay men in NYC. Typical of bad story telling to use the First-I-hated-you-but-now-I-wanna-jump-your-bones trick. I ain't buying it!

Welcome! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
costa said...

I just got back from seeing it. And here are my issues:

1. It is so simplistic and insulting to make out that all muslim women secretly want to live like americans.

2. worse, it is bullshit to buy so totally into the idea that buying Louis Vuitton clothes = freedom. Everyone involved in SATC was around in the 90s. they should have read nologo by now.

3. It is bullshit going to someone else's country and flouting their customs literally yelling fuck you and throwing condoms around.

4. Basically, if you are not going to appreciate the complexities of life in muslim countries, you have no right making such negative harmful comments about it.

Ben said...

I love Sex and the City the TV series - and to me, they are not just about materialism and the need to look for love. It is about an extraordinary friendship that these 4 women share.

This is the ultimate occurring problem in SATC2. Instead of making a movie about evolving friendships between these women in difficult times, they seem to become simplistic and instead of knowing each other better after all these years, their dialogue has become simplistic, corny and unaffecting.

If SATC3 is to be filmed, please please please, produce a decent script! It's such a shame to put down its brand name after having built goodwill after so many years on TV.


costa -- all good points.

nick -- i know. it is a crazy argument right? thankfully i feel like i'm done with it for now. at least until the year end reviews start and people start saying politically dangerous things again.

ben -- yep. i never did feel like we needed the movies. And the finale of season 6 bugged me in the way it wanted to wrap up everything... part of the smarts of the series was the not knowing how things might end up relationship wise and the inching towards a still amazingly progressive statement: you can live a full life even if you aren't married! so progressive in fact that the series abandoned it.

even though i am part of a couple and i totally understand the need for companionship it is disheartening to me that even the most progresssive movies about romance never allow the "it's ok to be single" option in the end.

although i suppose they have allowed for it a bit with Samantha's character after the end of Movie 1.

Anonymous said...

I am a HUGE SATC fan, BUT the movie was just awful! It was missing a strong story line. Period. There were too many other things going on (random events and "glitter") this time around. And it was not THAT FUNNY. Parts of it were funny, but most of it was just not that funny. I loved the fashion and the scenary was great, but those things plus crazy adventures really took away from the story. I almost felt insulted as a fan because it was assumed that we don't need a strong story and that it's all about fashion and glam. I wanted/expected more than that. Now I'm looking for a final movie that brings balance back. (I did appreciate the scene about motherhood between Char and Miranda) Overall, however, I WAS SO DISAPPOINTED! Don't hate me for being real here. I'll never stand by something just because I'm a fan no matter what. They made a mistake with this one. Sorry :(

Trevor said...

Saw it over the weekend and had a great time like I thought I would. Don't give a shit about the immense hate or the outrage over its lack of propriety or loss of feminist ideals. What the hell ever. It was a good time at the cinema with characters that I've spent a decade with and want to continue re-visiting in the future, which now looks like it won't be happening anymore (all the more reason to have made these films HBO films that aired on TV so expectations would have been lowered -- churn out a series of them like "Prime Suspect" and no major critics or the masses would have cared at all after the first one, just make 'em for the true fans). It's sad really. This film was nowhere near some damn F-level. That's insulting to everyone involved in the project. Whatever.

Elphaba said...

Okay, I'm a Muslim woman - I've watched SATC for years -not religiously (pardon the pun) but I generally enjoyed it. So do most of my friends in the Mid East.

My best friend - also Muslim - went to see it to see if it warranted the reviews and she came out P I S S T enought to write several articles.

Let me clarify something for all of you ladies -
1. We do not wear BURKAS. A burka is a regional item of clothing pretty much restricted to Afghanistan. You may see women in hijab (scarf) some in a chador (black cloak Iran, Iraq) or an abaya (loose fitting dress) or even wearing nigab covers the face except for the eyes). There is different dress for every part of the Muslim world and many are very, very beautiful that would surpass Dior and Chanel.

2. All my friends and acquaintances are extremely cultured and most very well educated women but all are very gracious ladies.

3. The movie was very rude in many instances, particularly considering their host country of Morocco is overwhelmingly Muslim. And with all that's going on, Muslim women didn't need a slap in the face from a film about women and their freedom.

4. And BTW...yeah, most of us do wear chic clothes and 4 inch heels underneath our abayas and look quite beautiful in our headscarves that can be wrapped 30 different ways.

We are not the stereotypes that was perpetrated on the screen. We love our clothes and our differences from you. And in our countries a woman truly feels like one and I say this in the best spirit.

James T said...

I saw it. I wasn't sure I wanted to but I did it anyway. Well...

Nathaniel and Nick - I kind of agree with both. Weird, right? :p

I do hate it when people criticize the series based on the movies and I really don't get how they all think these characters are shallow. I mean, are they more shallow than the average woman? They're certainly funnier and wittier.

I thought both movies are at 6/10. Not bad but not as good as the series. I have many problems with the (Paula) Abdul character (I can't believe people still laugh with these caricatures) and the way the movie forgot about what fanatical Muslims do to these people (Well, the film wasn't really interested in going to a really dark place) is just annoying.

I also didn't like the "everything is magically OK - The End".

Nick - I think you imply that you only have some respect for Nixon but do you really think the others are all horrible? Don't you at least think Catrall does (almost) all there is to do with her character? It's your right, obviously, but I disagree.

Costa - There is some logic in what you're saying but:

1) Samantha was in menopause and had a really hard time by that point.

2) I hope I'm not insulting anyone but what is there to respect? Yes, Samantha could have been much less provocative but it's not like Muslims "just" have their own beliefs and everyone else should just accept it. I think there are many problems in these societies and things should change.

elphaba said...

Dude...the whole of the Muslim world is NOT, N O T filled with the fanatical kind. Just like this country is not filled with the likes of Glenn Beck or Jim Hagee. Believe me, there are probably more of these here than those there.

The point is, WHY go to a Muslim nation, UAE, Morocco, Dubai and then make tacit fun of their beliefs and culture. I mean...they could have simply gone somewhere else. The respect is in the cultural differences. Clearly if you are going somewhere for vacation, it's because it's somewhere you wanna be not to sneer and be derisive because it's culturally different.

V. Igra said...

Lest you get the wrong idea about what we're saying here, let us just offer the following: the only scene that felt like we were watching our old friends was one wherein Charlotte and Miranda have a cute, funny, and frank discussion over drinks about how hard it is to be a mother. We have no problem with the more traditional life choices most of these characters made.

whatsaysyou said...

Sex and the City is definitely the worst ever show to be made in television and media history. Carrie Bradshaw is a terrible character whom I despise to the hilt. She is whiny, selfish, shallow, stupid, disloyal, nasty, materialistic, spoilt and very b****y. She also thinks with her body and legs rather than with her head. She has the worst fashion sense too.

When the Sex and the City movie sequel came out last year and got butchered by the critics, it left me smiling knowing it became a total box office flop of 2010 :) Boy am I glad I never love the show when it first came out in the late 1990s when I was about 15 back then.