"Sex and the City 2": Materialistic, Misogynistic, Borderline Racist
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I'm not asking for much. I just don't want to be sick in my mouth. I don't want to leave the cinema feeling like I've paid £7.50 to be mocked, patronized and kicked in the face. I don't want to be filled with despair at Hollywood's increasing inability to conceive of women in comedic films as anything other than self-obsessed babies with breasts. And I don't, most of all, want to spend two hours watching dreams and memories from my youth being trampled into humiliating self-parody. Is that too much to ask?
Judging from the hideous trailer and even more hideous scenes that have been leaked on the web, yes, all this is just beyond the capabilities of the pink-fringed, cliche-ridden, materialistic, misogynistic, borderline racist Sex and the City 2.
And depressingly, it's no surprise. After all, my God, did you see the first film? As Carrie herself would have once said – before she became the demented harpy she was in it, one whose response to having been jilted at the altar was: "How am I going to get my clothes?" – could a cinematic experience be any worse than that SATC film (part 1) was? The answer from this Friday, when SATC 2 opens, looks set to being in the affirmative (and I warn you now, this article will be full of spoilers, spoilers of both the film and your memories of the show).
There's been a lot of nonsense written about SATC the TV series in recent weeks, often by journalists who never watched it (in fact, one writer of a recent piece cited that achievement as a point of pride before then listing his reasons for hating the show, reasons he presumably pulled out of his ass).
But the truth is, the show was fantastic: smart, funny, warm and wise, a far cry from the "middle-aged women having embarrassing sex with various unsuitable partners" cliche that the above writer used. It was about four smart women, three of whom had no interest in getting married. Candace Bushnell's original book on which the show was based was good, but the show was great. Yes, there were stupid puns (although I maintain that Carrie's response to Big when he said he was moving to California because he was tired – "If you're tired you take a napa, you don't move to Napa" – is pretty funny). And, yes, there was sex and shopping. But unlike in the films, that's not all there was, and that wasn't all the characters cared about. What elevated the show way above the normal chickflick tat, and way above the films, was that it had genuine emotional truth. It sang with lines that you knew had come from real life ("How can I have this baby? I barely had time to schedule this abortion" being quite possibly my all-time favorite) and plots that went beyond the limiting convention of cliche. Samantha's breast cancer, for example, showed not only how scary and sad cancer (obviously) is, but also how boring, sweaty and plain inconvenient it is, too.
But now, treacherously, the films confirm all the worst (and wrong) assumptions (men, mainly) made about the show and its (largely female) audience. The most humiliating example of this was the review of the first film in the New Yorker by Anthony Lane, one of my most revered journalists. Lane wrote: "I walked into the theatre hoping for a nice evening and came out as a hardline Marxist, my head a whirl of closets, delusions, and blunt-clawed cattiness . . . There is a deep sadness in the sight of Carrie and her friends defining themselves by . . . their ability to snare and keep a man." Oh, Anthony! You're right, but it wasn't always thus!