SATC: Of men and money and self…

Spoiler alert:

Last night I saw Sex and the City: The Movie, because after the longest job interview of my life, and because I’ve been anticipating this movie for a year or more, I couldn’t bear to wait any longer, even with those qualms I hinted at here. All in all, it was pretty much what I expected from a 2 1/2 hour big screen rendition of that predictable but charming little series — everything I liked and hated about the series but with the hated stuff magnified and more drawn out.

With this mixture of emotions, I found myself wondering: “Is all –” hahaha no, no, I kid. I won’t write this post like a Carrie Bradshaw column…

Dana Stevens at Slate wrote a review I agree with almost entirely. Here’s a highlight:

No real-life relationship, Carrie and her cohorts reluctantly concede, can live up to the impossible expectations our culture places on romantic love. But luxury commodities? Those are more than capable of fulfilling every fantasy. The right Louis Vuitton bag—hell, any Louis Vuitton bag—can change your life.

Now, there is a plot thread in the movie naysayers will point to as an exception to this part of Stevens’ argument. Carrie’s desire for a big and fabulous wedding at least contributes to ruining her first attempt at marrying Big. This could be read as a tsk tsk against pomp and circumstance and materialism. But it’s a little ironic if big spending Big is the character who is put off by money. It’s more like he can’t handle cliched romantic settings and commitment, rather than anything he has against a little glam.

And when a romantic partner fails them (like Big fails Carrie in epic fashion), the girls can take solace in the one constant in their lives: No, that’s not in their own selves or even necessarily in each other (Samantha, for example, is going it alone in California for a large portion of the movie). It’s in things. Fancy things. Really, really fancy things.

Getting Samantha a $60,000 ring is the only kind thing Smith does for Samantha in the entire movie. One of two romantic gestures Big makes during the movie is agreeing to buy Carrie an apartment she thought was outside their price range. Fashion Week makes Carrie feel like herself again. (What is this “self” she speaks of then? A gaggle of labels and lights?) Buying a Louis Vuitton bag for Louise is her final grand gesture to her servant/savior. Why is all the stuff about stuff so problematic?

While the ensemble is praised (and rightfully so) for normalizing discussion of female sexuality and highlighting the beauty that can be female camaraderie, and these are feminist aspects of the series, I maintain that these characters are some of the weakest women on television. They rise and fall with men, and while Carrie had the chance to prove she could be strong and happy with or without Big in this movie, but that she simply prefers having such a companion, all she proved is that she can fill the void left by a man by spending money and surrounding herself in some glamor, i.e. decorating her apartment, hiring a Personal Assistant/Rent-a-Friend, going to Fashion Week.

I won’t deny that her close group of girlfriends is a huge part of her life and helps to determine her happiness, but where, in all this mash-up of men, money, and mates, is Carrie’s independence or self-reliance? Where’s the actual person beneath the designer clothes and apart from all these friends and lovers?

And I shudder to ask: In this fictional world where money is the vehicle for the vast majority of women’s happiness outside of upper-class marital bliss, how do less privileged women keep themselves from slitting their wrists? — I guess they just have to keep their spirits up with rental designer bags and hope they get lucky enough to be a P.A. to someone like Carrie Bradshaw some day…

A round-up of good SATC reviews and reflections:

Dana Stevens at Slate

http://www.slate.com/id/2192379/

Stephanie Zacharek at Salon

http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/review/2008/05/30/sex_and_the_city/

Sex writers reflect on the impact of SATC

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/05/30/sex_writers_on_sex/

Manohla Dargis at NYTimes

http://movies.nytimes.com/2008/05/30/movies/30sex.html

Karina Longworth at Spout, gives the top 5 reasons to explain why you might “semi-rationally” hate the movie:

http://blog.spout.com/2008/05/30/5-ways-to-dismiss-the-sex-and-the-city-movie/

And Ed Gonzales at Slant Magazine on the racism of the relationship between Jennifer Hudson’s character and Sarah Jessica Parker’s, and the materialism of the film:

http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/film_review.asp?ID=3695

The Sex and the City movie

Friday’s U.S. debut of the Sex and the City movie brings a mixed bag of emotions for me:

1. Fear: First and foremost, I’m nervous the movie will ruin the sense of peace and promise the series finale left me with in 2004.

2. Excitement: To be honest, I’ve been pretty psyched about what the big screen version of one of my most beloved shows will be like and contribute to my warm and fuzzy memories of the ladies while the series was running. I’ll admit the prospect of a Carrie-Big wedding makes me giddy.

3. Ambivalence: Yeah, I already mentioned I love the show, but I also hate it for many reasons (reasons to be discussed in detail after I see the film, which, yes, at least in part, have something to do with socioeconomics).

4. Indecision: The aforementioned ambivalence makes it a little difficult for me to decide how to approach the premiere date. Do I embrace my love for the characters and their relationships and their shocking dialogue and get tickets now so I can be among the first to see it? Or do I wait for the hype to die down a little and see the film casually, when it’s convenient and not crowded, just to avoid being counted in the opening weekend stats for a film I have some definite qualms with?