Tuesday, June 03, 2008

StinkyLulu's Sex and the City Rant

posted by StinkyLulu
As an unrepentant actressexual, I've become increasingly crabby about the array of hostility toward the series/movie/phenomenon of Sex and the City. It's tiresome and dismaying (especially when voiced by bloggers and radio progams I usually admire). As a late arrival to the SATC phenom (I'm a reluctant aficionado by gaymarriage), I mostly liked the film. And seeing those strange creatures named Miranda and Samantha and Big up on the big screen stomping around a "Magic Kingdom" version of New York City started me to thinking of the whole SATC phenomenon as a fotonovela (a soap opera in comic strip form).

click image to enlarge

I'm now inclined to think of SATC as a fantasy serial franchise that shares more with The X-Men or Harry Potter than it does with some putative post-feminist lodestone of female consciousness from which dudes "might learn something". Indeed, the predisposition to critique SATC as "a beautiful lie" problematic for its shallow misrepresentations of real women (a snap that snarked even the excellent "Vexed in the City" conversation over at Joe R's place) seems proof positive of Rebecca Traister's supersmart riff on the backlash against Emily Gould. Traister writes, "Rather than being troubled by the fact that Gould -- or Bushnell, or Bradshaw, or whoever -- has the spotlight, why not question why so few other versions of femininity are allowed to share it?" All of which is to say, I'm thrilled for SATC's "surprising" milestone success, in the hopes that MORE astonishingly unapologetic, similarly imperfect and comparably enthralling big-screen-event treatments of women's relationships might soon crowd the multiplexes the same way such erratic idiocies as Indiana Jones and Spider-Man are wont to do.

Do YOU have a Sex and the City rant?
Let it rip in comments.



this is like my first birthday gift of the birthday month! just as i'm about to board the plane for the second one.

thank you. I've been distressed about the reception... everyone who dislikes it --even the odd gay out --seems to be especially pleased to dislike it or explain that it's NOT FOR THEM.

what did these girls ever do to garner such wrath? wear memorable fashions and hope to marry their prince charmings? don't most movie girls get rewarded for doing these things? oh right... it's also about their point of view and their intimacy needs and their neurosis and their friendships with each other (always the bigger topic) and that's just too much GIRL for the movies that are [SARCASM] supposed to always be about the male pov for men and women if they want to enjoy the men too [/SARCASM]

These four women should not be burdened with the expectation to represent ALL females in any way. Nobody expects that any movie about men is a big statement about every men.


anyway... i had a ball watching the movie. people who think this series and movie are spiritually empty are just not looking past the designer labels. I actually don't care about labels. I can't afford them. I don't wear them. the series is not about that to me. it's fun from a visual standpoint to have all these pretty expensive things in every scene but the series has always been about this created family of women.

now i must get on the plane. i'll shut up now.

Greg said...

I will happily share my rant (although it's not really a rant). I theorized earlier today with someone that the problem people are having with this film seems to derive from it being classified as a "strong women's" film which immediately gives it a weighty gravitas instead of as a "fun, women's film." Admittedly, I've not seen it yet but I compared it to someone equating "Superbad" with being a "strong man's" film. If "Superbad" were labeled that way plenty of men might be a tad offended. As a result there appears to be more than a few people who are almost angry at it's success.

Of course, having not seen it yet I could be wrong about all of this. Feel free to scold me if I am.

Anonymous said...

I have no rant, sorry, but I am pro-SatC, in fact, I could not have loved it more. Okay, maybe a little.

Robert said...

I think the problem comes in when some people attribute the ladies of Sex & the City to being realistic depictions of women today.

It seems like society or pop culture has an obsession with taking whatever woman (or women) are in the spotling and holding them up as monuments to their gender.

Think of Sex & the City's post-feminist precursor Ally McBeal. Even Time Magazine couldn't resist taking a solitary character and turning her into a gender-ecompassing figure.

Even the Hilary Clinton campaign has been both buoyed and sunk to some extent because she's become less a person and more a representation of women everywhere.

So where is the man who is supposed to represent men everywhere? Pop culture seems to have no problem seeing male characters (or real life men) as individuals.

Which brings me back to this: Women don't go to see Sex & the City because they see a true depiction of themselves up there any more than men go to see Iron Man because Tony Stark is realistic. They go because it's a fun time.

And I for one think its great that gals everywhere are getting together with their friends and making an evening of it. If for no other reason than it gives me a chance to invite my bros over and play some video games.

StinkyLulu said...

I think that's what I so like about the Traister article -- she adeptly identifies this how certain narrators/narratives are celebrated precisely because they're so easy/fun to dismantle as unrealistic.

Yet we're in a place where the success of SATC is now a benchmark for future female-centric fantasies (like Mamma Mia or the remake of The Women). It's unfair in the way that, a year or two ago, the success/failure of Dreamgirls instigated a referendum on the future of the musical as a genre.

Unknown said...

Yes, I agree. I do like the TV series - for the ridiculousness, the clothes, the friendships, etc. I'm planning to see the movie at some point. And I'm also hoping that it does incredibly well at the box office, so some producers/screenwriters/directors realize that women actually do go to see movies with other women in them.

People who take the series as a representation of femininity forget that it was mainly conceived and written by gay men. Not to say that men can't write about the female experience, but SatC was never supposed to represent all women, or even a narrow slice of women, really. It's about four female characters who never really claim to stand for all the women of the world.

The hysteria and backlack over the movie release makes me worry about the future of other female-centric films.

Anonymous said...

"But SatC was never supposed to represent all women, or even a narrow slice of women, really. It's about four female characters who never really claim to stand for all the women of the world."

Then explain why every other article, interview, and internet meme about Sex and the City almost always focuses on this one question: Are you a Samantha, a Carrie, a Miranda, or a Charlotte?

MichaelMcl said...

I'm not one for this orgy of brand-name film-making, whether it be SPEED RACER, WOLVERINE, INDIANA JONES, LORD OF THE HOBBIT, or SEX AND THE CITY.

Even I, as curmudgeonly a Baz Luhrman critic as you'll find, would prefer AUSTRALIA to any of these attempts to sell a film on brand power.

- The Opinionated Australian

Unknown said...

"Then explain why every other article, interview, and internet meme about Sex and the City almost always focuses on this one question: Are you a Samantha, a Carrie, a Miranda, or a Charlotte?"

Because the media feels the need to make Samantha, Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte representative of all women rather than acknowledge that women can have varied personalities, just like men?

Just a thought.

Glenn said...

What is really ugly about it all is if anybody doesn't show excitement in, say, Indiana Jones or didn't like, say, Iron man then they just "don't get it" and if you like those movies then that's normal, but if you show anticipation for something like Sex & the City then you're (in some peoples eyes) some deranged whacko with no taste.

It's the sort of movie that I imagine gives fans of Fatal Attraction a bad a rash. It's fine for fictional female characters to be knife-weilding bunny-boiling psychopaths as long as they give their man a good bonk on the side, but give them some expensive shoes and a dress and it's too girly.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a rant. What I find terribly sad is that this discussion SATC has arised is taking place 16 years after Thelma & Louise.

As far as I can remember (I was just too young) that movie made people believe women could lead movies and take people to movie theatres. It's too bad 16 years later, the same issues are being discussed. It's even worse, the discussion triggerer hasn't been some undisputable masterpiece lead by women, but just a summer movie sequel to a TV series. That is, I don't intend to dismiss a movie I haven't seen yet, it's just that it seems that so many years later, the only movie actresses have access to lead is one where some audience is already taken for granted. And even that is being discussed.


Anonymous said...


The last word should be questioned ;)


E Dot said...

That's exactly what 'Sex and the City' is: Fantasy! It's a completely contrived illusion, if not fabrication, of female independence (I say that in a good way). I agree, materialism takes its toll, but most people associate a Prada handbag with success. Many giirls (and gays) want to suspend reality for just 2 hours and pretend that this lavish lifestyle exists. It's fantasy! I'm not trying to justify materialism, but in this "looming recession", isn't 'Sex and the City' just the trick to distract us from our disfunctional realities. I mean, that what movies are suppose to do, right? Carrie's manolo blahniks are no more than an overpriced prop and cinematic special effect. It's fantasy.

Anonymous said...

I've gotta speak up as someone who has mixed feelings about SATC-sure it is often enjoyable, but it still irks me. It annoys me for the same reason as Entourage- self-absorbed rich white people with no social conscience.

Anonymous said...

You just posted major spoiler with that fotonovela. I object to that.