Disclaimer: Though I have seen more of the show than I am comfortable with, I have not seen and will never see the Sex and the City movie. I do, however, have some thoughts about it. Which I will now proceed to unleash from my ass.
For years, geeks have been camping out in advance of release dates, dressing up in costumes for conventions and re-releases, prequels and parties. It’s absurd but it’s expected, and, aside from the costumes, it’s borderline mainstream, at least for a property as woven into American culture as Star Wars.
And now it's Ladies Night. For the first time, women got to join in on the fun with the theatrical release of the female Star Wars, Sex and the City. The women going to see their favorite show debut at the local multiplex treated it like a night out, not daring to dress anything less than fabulously -- almost as if they were attending the wedding featured in the movie -- buying their tickets weeks in advance and planning entire weekends around seeing their favorite characters on the big screen.
"Industry insiders” were surprised to see the Sex and the City flick win the box office its debut weekend, toppling Indiana Jones. Apparently these insiders don’t get out much. If they did, they’d have realized that a) just about every woman between 18 and 50 bought tickets for Sex and the City and b) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is not any good. Once word of mouth starts to spread, it’s over for that one.
The bizarre singularity of the Sex and the City movie is, that unlike even the cheesiest chick flick, it has no crossover audience. It’s women and women only, gay men notwithstanding. No wife or girlfriend is dragging their significant other along, both because 99% of all men were repulsed by the show and because 99% of all women want to watch the movie alone with their "sisters," no men allowed. And that’s not even necessarily because they like the movie itself that much, they merely want to hang out with their friends. And I’m not only talking about the gaggle of gals with whom they attend the movie, I’m talking about the fictional characters from the show.
TV shows inspire a closeness with their characters that movies simply can’t. Inviting the same people into your home every week while you chill in your pajamas and eat ice cream creates an intimacy that driving to a theater and shelling out 25 bucks to spend two hours in a room full of strangers just can’t match. And after spending 6 seasons watching the exploits -- and sexploits (zing!) -- of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and the randy Jabba the Hutt, the characters probably do seem like friends. And the fans sure think of them that way.
But here’s what I don’t get. After being debriefed by my wife on the details of the movie, it sounds to me like the qualities so many women admire about their “friends,” -- their close bond, the ersatz family they’ve created, and most importantly their independence and ability to survive without men -- were basically scuttled by the movie’s primary plotline.
Big ditches Carrie at the altar yet she still takes him back? What happened to self-sufficiency? And self-respect? Is this show about the independent woman in the 21st century or about sex-starved (hardly), label-obsessed, money-grubbing whores willing to sell themselves out to the nearest, hopefully rich, male in desperation?
Don't answer that, I’m over-analyzing. Sex and the Cityis about women getting to do what they resent and envy men for doing for years: having their cake and eating it too. And making shit jokes.
I am not here to review a movie I haven’t even seen and I am predisposed to hate. But good for you, ladies! Just like us men, you’ve sacrificed self-respect for sex and money and material things. Except we mostly keep our self-respect. At least in the movies (Indiana Jones’ latest adventure notwithstanding). A Pyrrhic victory, but when you take the #1 spot at the box office, it’s a victory nonetheless. Even if it is over an aging, emasculated adventurer reduced to being a bystander in his own movie.
At least we guys are guaranteed a few more nights to ourselves. Years from now, when the new string of female-centric flicks hits the theaters on the heels of this cash cow, we'll be out, living it up at strip clubs and driving ranges, thanking god that someone thought it was a good idea to make women as subservient in pop culture as they are in our fantasies. The path is clear for the men of the future to jilt their fiancees at no risk to their relationship. So long as they ultimately make room for her shoes.
Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".
ABOUT MIKE JULIANELLE
more about mike julianelle
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
6.9.08 @ 8:49a
Back in the sixties when I suggested that if women killed men as often as men kill women maybe they wouldn't kill us so often, it was interpreted that I was advocating that women kill men. I thought that "if" made it a hypothetical question, but what the frack do I know? If women pulled a Lysitrada (sp?) and refused to have anything to do with misogynistic men, maybe they'd get that point, too. Now that we have sperm banks, jar openers and vibrators, what the frack do we need you guys for anyway? With the (hopefully) demise of the internal combustion engine we won't even need you for car talk. :-) IMFO, of course. I used to like you, Mike. I hope this was all sarcastic, but if so, I missed the humour. When anybody talks about whores and chicks I get my suffragist fists up.
Signed: Sandra the Feminazi
6.9.08 @ 10:56a
Local media were falling over themselves to cover this. The newspaper had a big photo of a bunch of women swilling cosmopolitans out of illuminated glasses in the lobby of a local theater. By their tone and talk in the interview, you'd think some of these ladies had just discovered this thing called "motion pictures."
Truth is, all of this has been done before (and will be done again) in every insipid romcom to languish on the big screen. The big difference here is that there's a SUBCULTURE. You're right to link it with Star Wars (maybe less so with Indy, though I respect your right to tear that film a new one) because here, at last, is a film where a not insignificant portion of the audience (according to the media which exposed it, as described above) gets to dress up in costumes (dresses, makeup, jewelry, accessories) and jabber excitedly before filing into individual seats and having the lights turned off, part of a community of individual experiences. And when it's over, they'll go to some restaurant and drink the semi-official cocktail and dissect the experience.
Congratulations, 40-something career women: you now have your geek niche. I'm sure the first SATCon is already being planned.
6.9.08 @ 12:22p
I like Sex and the City just as much as the next girl, and this is perhaps off the subject, but I don't entirely like the image this show gives/gave single women. It tries to cover all personality types, but really it makes every personality type of woman out there appear sex-crazed and mostly using up all of her energy to find someone to sleep with for the night. Commitment from the guy is just the added bonus, but not the original intent for these fictional women. Hence, the title... the show has to live up to the title, no matter how ridiculous it is.
Even Charlotte, the supposedly conservative and verbal prude is a little promiscuous by some standards. No?
This show made quite an impression on women, and numerous articles were written about how the show made women feel like their lives were missing that certain spark, so prominent in the lives of Carrie and the gang.
Sex and the City is just entertainment for me... I don't feel empowered by it, and generally don't feel too many inner "you go girl!" cheers as I watch. I have no membership to the subculture associated with it. Though I can very easily spend a whole day on the couch w/ a Sex and the City marathon, I did not go crazy when the movie came out. And though I haven't seen it yet, Carrie being left at the altar and still taking Big back doesn't surprise me. He did a lot of pretty crappy things to her throughout the show, yet he still was her #1 guy. The fact that he's incredibly good-looking makes that pill a little easier to swallow for the women sipping cocktails and buying tickets.
6.10.08 @ 2:19a
One of my straight dude buddies who watches every possible movie out in theaters and rerun on TBS convinced me to check out SaTC. While I liked the show enough because of the emotional honesty with which the girls explored their lives, I never felt empowered watching it. I have Buffy Summers for that.
And, after I watched the movie, Bryan and I were floored at what an enormous product placement it was. Quite frankly, anyone could have played drinking games for every single time a Louis Vuitton item, designer shoe, or accessory appeared. Even with knowing that SaTC is a fantasy, I thought it was excessive. (And if you were the person popping shots with wedding dresses, you would have been schnockered in the first 10 minutes.)
Ugh. I'm a girl, but I'll pick tickets to Comicon over a SaTC reunion any day.
6.10.08 @ 4:43p
I enjoyed the TV series, but looked at it as mindless entertainment. Having grown up in the 70s and 80s when women were encouraged to be independent and not need a man to make them feel complete I found the attitudes being projected by the characters as kind of a throwback to the days of the housewife. Granted these were career women, and the characters of Miranda and Samantha were the independent women who didn't need a man to feel complete, but Charlotte and Carrie seemed on that endless search for the compliment to themselves. Yes they were independent, but especially Carrie seemed to be constantly searching for a man she could torture into submission.
A side note, I use little sayings to remember drink ingredients and the saying for a Cosmo is Very Tragic Little Chick (vodka, triple sec, lime and a splash of cranberry juice). It seems descriptive of how I viewed the characters in SatC. I'll wait for it to hit cable.
PS. This is out of character for me, but I agree with everything Mike says in this column.
6.10.08 @ 10:50p
I use little sayings to remember drink ingredients and the saying for a Cosmo is Very Tragic Little Chick (vodka, triple sec, lime and a splash of cranberry juice).
I watched many eps of the show and found it pleasantly fluffy. But, overall, the women always wanted the perfect man, yet needlessly made the wrong, desperate choices time and time again. Nice cliche if you can sell it. So I've never understood the mainstream party girl's fascination with the show. Except for putting yourself in debt for "fashion."
And the cutaway to Carrie typing that ONE LINE always annoyed the shit out of me.
And Carrie with Mikhail Baryshnikov? You have to be seriously high to think that's a good pair.
I have no desire to see the movie on the big or little screen.