Sunday, November 16, 2008

But the-- and the -- oh, for the LOVE.

So I made the grave error of watching the "Sex and the City" movie Saturday night. Watching a modern-day fairy tale with the obligatory happy ending -- not the best idea I've had as of late. (Spoilers lay ahead)

I was an intermittent viewer of the show. It depended on whether or not I had HBO at any given time, basically. While I could find it entertaining, more often than not I found it baffling and irritating. But at the end of the day, I was never the target audience for a show about four single women navigating the wilds of single life in New York City because I was never a single woman navigating the wilds of single life. I never had anything resembling a "single life" (and one could quite easily argue, have never had anything resembling a "life"). If I went out with my fellow single girlfriends, I sat at the bar observing as they were talked up by the dudes. I never got very bent over whether or not I'd have a date on Friday or Saturday night because it simply wasn't something that ever happened to me. And I'm not boo-hoo-poor-me-ing, it's just the way things were. When I read advice columns (I READ WAAAY TOO MANY ADVICE COLUMNS), the agony aunts go-to advice is "OMG, ask yer friends to set you up!" Well...that wasn't something my friends did, either. Trust me, I am a tough fucking sell on a good day, I'm self-aware enough to realize that. So coming from the background that I have, watching "Sex and the City" (TV and movie) is like watching a foreign film without dubbing or subtitles or a twisted version of the "Planet Earth" mini-series. Imagine a breathless Sir David Attenborough narrating the wacky hi-jinks and heartbreaking moments of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte. Wait, I think I may have just made it more entertaining for myself.

My mood swings with the SATC movie began within the first two minutes of the narration as Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) explained that women moved to New York City in search of "labels and love". Forget advancing your career, ladies. That's not sexy. Spending beyond your means so you can have Vivienne Westwood on your hiney: THAT IS SEXY. It's SEX-AY, even. Goddamned irritating. But I sucked it up, tabled it in my head, and soldiered on. I must be honest and say that I enjoyed it here and there. I always thought Cynthia Nixon was excellent on the show and I liked her relationship with Steve (David Eigenberg). I laughed out loud hither and yon. I was generally bored with Samantha (Kim Cattrall) as I was when I watched the series and love-and-hatey with Charlotte (Kristin Davis). I thought it was rather brave of SJP (not to be confused with Super Jackpot Party) to appear on film sans make-up and looking like a woman of age when Carrie is in her post-Big-wedding-bailage depression. And my personal jury will always, always be out on whether Big's a rang-dang-diggety-douche or swoon-worthy.

But I don't know if I have enough words available at the moment for the utter ridiculousness of actual screen time being devoted to Samantha's tragic, horrific...WEIGHT GAIN. I know, I know, hold onto your hats and tell the children to leave the room, A WOMAN GAINED WEIGHT AND SHE DIDN'T STAY INDOORS SO AS TO NOT SULLY THE WORLD. Of course, the requisite "what the hell is wrong with you" scolding went down with a weak-ass side of "but we'd still love you and you'd be beautiful at any weight" and Samantha was shown scarfing down food so as to further hammer home the message that she was being shameful and lacking control. But as I reflected upon the movie later on (and tried very hard not to be irritated with my mother for fucking up my red velvet cake that I had baked earlier in the day), SATC has always talked out of both sides of its mouth. Women should be independent individuals who should take pride in their achievements and are not defined by the men they are with, awfully tragic it is to be without a man and certainly without pretty shoes. Why on earth would I expect that they would avoid the silly-ass trope of a woman eating her feelings and begging forgiveness for being "bad" and "out of control"?

And why in the name of all that is good and holy did I think I wasn't going to wind up in my well-decorated and cozy pit of despair after watching a movie that in my world should have been titled "Sex (Which You Don't Have) and the City (Which You No Longer Live In Because You Are Quite the Loser--Keep On Keepin' On, Failurebritches)". To make it even worse, TBS was showing "Shrek"--you know, the HI-larious fun cartoon movie about the anti-social ogre who manages to find someone to love him. OF COURSE I COULDN'T TURN THE CHANNEL. I had to blubber through John Cale's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and simper through Shrek coming to Fiona's rescue at the wedding and spew firehose-strength tears as they proclaimed their love for each other. The best thing - THE ONLY THING - I could do at that point? Grab my DVD of "Aliens" and revel in a movie that contained nary a whit of romance and an absolute fuckton of...well, "Aliens".

The lesson learned (yet one more for the "Life Lessons" folder)? Avoid movies that have "Sex", "Love", "Sweet", or "Heart" in the title; limit viewing to movies that contain many explosions, some car chases, and enormous amounts of martial arts; and just keep watching Discovery. Never turn away from Discovery if I can avoid it. "Mythbusters" will not break my heart.


Andee J. said...

Even though I enjoyed SATC most of the time I watched it, it was never a show I identified with all that much. It was like watching a Road Runner cartoon -- funny, but a world all its own, with rules that defied even gravity. I remember when I was married I had it on once, and my husband kind of looking on in horror and saying, "Women don't really talk like that to each other when they're alone, do they?" "Not that I've ever experienced," I told him.

But yeah, ZOMG 10 pounds. Sneeze three times and blow my nose hard enough, and I can lose that much too. YAWN.

Andee (Meowser)

CL said...

I always hated Sex and the City because when it came out, I was a lesbian living in a conservative southern town. And as a lesbian, I always felt like the show was rubbing in my face that I don't fit in with thin, pretty, cliquey straight women who are out there having tons of sex, buying tons of shoes, and bonding with other straight women over their experiences with men. I felt completely excluded from that world, and the show made me feel like crap.

I don't think my dislike of the show comes only from jealousy of their (very fake) world, though... it also strikes me as vapid, sexist crap.

Diana said...

So coming from the background that I have, watching "Sex and the City" (TV and movie) is like watching a foreign film without dubbing or subtitles or a twisted version of the "Planet Earth" mini-series.

I watched the show in college, and that was pretty much my reaction. I saw it as educational. Most of what I learned about dating I learned from the show. For the record, I don't think that was a good thing.

When I saw the movie in the theater, the scene with Samantha's weight gain felt like an awkward one for the entire audience. There was a lot of cringing among the women around me.

Anonymous said...

Oh, but the 'beer goggles' myth did break my heart. Damn you! Back to Animal Planet, I suppose...

Jenn said...

*smacks you*

Dude, WTF are you watching that crap for?

SATC ranks up there with "What Women Want" in terms of ways women are portrayed in Hollywood that make me want to hit things. Grrrrr.

Dollface said...

I admit I was a fan of the series on HBO, but the movie was terrible! Whatever likeability the characters of SATC had on the show was lost on the big screen. Basically, I felt it was meant to depress its viewers for 2 hours (I mean, we're essentially watching one big break up between Carrie and Big, all the while wondering why there isn't more attention shown to poor Miranda and Steve).

If that isn't bad enough, we are inundated with labels the entire movie. I never thought I'd say this, but it took consumerism to a whole new level.

You make a good point about Samantha's "weight gain". I was one of the women cringing in the audience. Considering Kim Catrall is 50+ years old, she's looking pretty good for her age -- according to Hollywood standards, of course.

I'm definitely with you on this one -- no more crappy chick flicks with mixed messages.