Tomorrow evening I’m lucky enough to be going to the Sex & The City 2 premiere. That means I’ll be going to three movies (one movie twice) in less than a week which is pretty much as many movies as I saw in 2009. Hectic.
It’s a tribute to the pop cultural impact of this show that so many women around the world can be so excited to go and pay money to see something we got for free for six years. But we are. At least I am. Not every woman shares my enthusiasm as I discovered this week when Melbourne Talk radio asked me to defend Sex & The City in the face of attack.
What? Someone dissing my bitches? Don’t worry Carrie. I got your back.
My SATC nemesis in this interview (not really, but stay with me) was Susie O’Brian, a columnist who declared in the Herald-Sun this week “WHY I HATE SEX & THE CITY”
I have re-published some of her piece below complete with commentary from me. Alternatively (or as well), you can check out SATC from a man’s perspective. I loved this video.
According to an article in The Herald Sun today that has been republished here with full permission
ONE week to go, and I’m starting to hate Sex and the City.
Isn’t it funny how men come out of a James Bond movie and think they could live the life of a secret agent? But I already have a feeling Sex and the City 2 will leave me feeling about as cool as a cold sore.
Oh what an absurd ideal to live up to. Compared with these glamazons, I’m a neglectful friend, a dud lover, a bad dresser and a career loser.
[Is it really an ideal to live up to? I think James Bond is an excellent comparison. It’s like dress-ups for adults. And I actually think none of their lives are particularly ‘ideal’. They’ve all struggled with various bits of shit so far and my understanding of SATC2 is that there is a bit more of that to come.]
Am I the only one who’s not so much Sex in the City as Sad in the Suburbs? Try making a $108 million movie out of that one. [I’ve already seen it. It’s called The Castle. And American Beauty. And that movie with Kate Winslett and Leonardo Di Caprio. They’re all great but they’re not quite an ‘event’ movie that you go to with your girlfriends….]
Heck, I drink chardonnay that costs $10 a bottle, not ritzy Cosmopolitans at $20 a glass. I’m yet to wear killer 12-inch heels although I should admit I could probably do with the height. [I don’t wear 12 inch heels either but I like to look at them].
And when it comes to wardrobe, I’m more Cotton On than couture. [Oh me too. As are 99% of women. But this film is not about Sportsgirl jeans and Converse. If I want to see people wearing those I can look in the mirror.]
There is much to love about the show that bought us the battery-powered rabbit, women who want to have sex like men, and $3000 Louboutins. [Totally. The community service performed by SATC in bringing discussions about sex out of the pages of Cosmo and into real life lounge rooms, bars and even workplaces is not to be underestimated and should, in fact, be applauded. * APPLAUSE * ]
However, there’s also a lot to hate about it as well.
Nudging 40, most of my friends see the show for what it is – pure fantasy.
But a lot of the Gen Y gals I know seem to see the stories of Carrie and co as a how-to guide to life. Whether it’s the streets of New York or the sand dunes of Abu Dhabi, it’s all about how you look, and who you do, not who you really are. They are buying the lie that getting the right shoes is all that really matters. [Really? I’ve found that SATC is not a huge deal among Gen Y. They’re more into and influenced by shows like The Hills and The Kardashians. The Gen Ys I know see SATC as something of a cautionary tale. I remember one 26 year old girlfriend once said to me “We watched all those sad women sitting around in their 40s whinging about their lives and we thought ‘shit, I hope we don’t end up like that.’
Also, I think there’s a theme running through the show that what you THINK you want doesn’t always make you happy. Whether it’s shoes (remember the episode where Carrie can’t get a bank loan and reaslises she’s wasted thousands of dollars on buying things that she can’t borrow against? Which led to her sick realisation that she ‘might up as the real old lady who had to live in her shoes’. Miranda think career will make her happy and is surprised by the pull of motherhood. Charlotte thinks marriage and babies will make her happy and discovers that’s not necessarily the case.]
And they learn the hard way that women can’t – and shouldn’t try – to have “sex like men” if it’s love they’re really after.
Are these the women we really want to be? Do they lead the lives we’d really like to lead if we weren’t a mother from Sunshine raising two kids on a teacher’s salary?
Surely not. [Of course not! Yes, they are in some ways broadly drawn characatures but when we play the game which-SATC-character-are-you? we don’t mean it literally. It’s more who do we broadly identify with.]
Take a look at their latest escapades.
All Carrie wanted was Big but now she’s got him she’s not sure that being married to him is what she wants. And what’s going to happen when she bumps into Aidan in the middle of the desert?
All Charlotte wanted was a baby and now she’s got two she can’t cope. She’s fortunate enough to have a nanny most of us would kill for – but she still can’t cope. [I think this is great! I would hate it if she had the perfect life! See above point about what you THINK you want may not turn out to be the basket of rainbows you ordered.]
All Miranda wanted was the perfect job and now she’s got it she doesn’t really want it. In fact, she doesn’t know what she wants. And she’s a cow to that nice hubby of hers. [This is life. Relationships have ups and downs and it’s not just necessarily happily ever after. Marriage takes WORK and it ain’t always pretty and sometimes it’s messy and that’s LIFE.]
All Samantha ever wanted was lots of sex and now that she’s going through menopause she’s worried she’s not the woman she once was. If she can’t enjoy sex, can she enjoy anything? [I LOVE the fact that menopause is even a plot point in a movie! Fucking cheers to that! When was the last time a main character in a mainstream movie was even older than 25!! Let alone going through menopause! I think that is pretty fabulous myself.]
What’s to like there? The problem is that these four women are continually held up as role models for women of my generation, and therefore the next generation also. [Couldn’t disagree more. Who holds them up as role models? Not me or anyone I know. They’re more like old friends. Friends whose weaknesses and failings you’re very familiar with, whose triumphs you’ve shared and who you feel like you know really really well. That’s all. Don’t confuse affection with adulation.]
There’s also the age factor. It’s no coincidence that the latest poster showing the four Sex and the City girls is so Photoshopped it looks like the skin on their faces has been stolen from the butt of a newborn. [Agree with you on this one 100%. Don’t insult us with the ridonk photoshopping. We love our girls because they DON’T look 22 or like models. Don’t turn them into Barbies in the hope that will make them more attractive to us because the opposite is true. It just pisses us off.]
The actresses and characters are in their 40s and 50s, so why do they have to look like twentysomethings with perfect bodies and unlined faces? In fact, the Botox is getting so out of control the foursome look like drag queens out of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert rather than real women.
Kim Cattrall is in her mid-50s but she’s still required to be buffed enough to have her bits on display, donning ridiculously tiny dresses and walking tall in skyscraper heels. They’re “allowed” to be women in their 40s and 50s as long as they don’t act their age or look their age. They’re running from their age, not accepting it. Where’s the liberation in that?
In the end, the friendship between the girls is the show’s saving grace. Through all the years the foursome have stuck together, supporting each other through a succession of broken hearts, bad marriages, career crises, cancer, and dodgy sexcapades. Half of them have young kids but they still manage to look amazing, and find time to get together in restaurants and bars – often without their kids or partners.
Although I like the idea – who doesn’t? – it also just makes me feel depressed that my own social life is down the toilet. [Nup. Doesn’t have that effect on me. Makes me want to call my girlfriends and go out to dinner.]
Why aren’t I spending more time drinking Cosmopolitans in The Hairy Canary rather than de-nitting the kids’ hair and making school lunches?
And don’t get me started on the sex – these days the only way most of my friends get a multiple orgasm or even a leg-opener is with a piece of fruit and a mini umbrella. [Sounds painful and possibly illegal. But I think the whole subject of sex and the way it can ebb and flow in long term relationships has been very thoroughly explored in the lives of all these characters. From Carrie farting in bed to Charlotte dealing with Trey’s premature ejaculation to Miranda going off sex with Steve entirely under the pressure of juggling a child with paid work and a relationship. It’s not all slings and dildos while swinging from chandaliers. In fact only Samantha has that kind of sex and why shouldn’t she?]
Despite my misgivings, I am still going to opening night with about 50 mums from our local school and kinder.
And yep, I’ll probably go back the next week for another dose of cinematic cholera with another 150 mums from my son’s Auskick clinic. [And that’s the point. When was the last time you got together with girlfriends to go see a movie together? It’s a mistake to think that SATC is about sex. It never was. For me, it’s always been about friendship and celebrating the way women love each other.]
As a movie, Sex and the City 2 is bound to be brilliant. As a fantasy, it’s the female equivalent of porn. But as a guide to happiness or fulfilment, I think we can all do a heck of a lot better. [I will come back to your first point about it being the female James Bond. It’s not a guide or a documentary or a rule book. It’s simply a piece of pop culture that has resonated with women all over the world for a whole bunch of reasons. When I see the film tomorrow night, I feel like I’ll be spending a couple of hours checking in with old girlfriends. We won’t solve all the problems of the world but it will be fun.]
OK – that was intense! I’m going to hand over to you. Will you be going to see SATC2? With whom? And why has it resonated (or not) with YOU over the years?