I predict that a lot of people are going to pillory Sarah Jessica Parker for her comments in this week's New York magazine cover story, "Sarah Jessica Parker Would Like a Few Words With Carrie Bradshaw." The crux of the piece is Parker's apparent life of contradictions: she hates things that are "vulgar" and yet she spent years playing a freewheeling sex columnist (albeit one who never took her bra off); she helped usher in a Cosmo-drinking Manolo-clad, expensive-cupcake-eating era in New York, but laments the loss of the gritty, unsanitized Manhattan that existed when she moved here in 1976. Writer Emily Nussbaum paints these contradictions as intrinsic to Parker's charming personality, though I think it will be easy for others to see the internal conflicts as hypocrisy. Thing of it is that Parker is just like every other urban bobo, who partially misses the creative poverty of her youth but mostly likes the arugula at the now-conveniently located Whole Foods. And I don't fault her for it.
The one thing I do fault her for is the creation of SJP the brand. New York's Nussbaum touches on the issue of Parker-the-brand with her subject — Parker says she was reluctant to do commercials because she found it, in her favored parlance, vulgar, but eventually did it because someone whom she respected told her it was okay. I mean, she probably did it because Garnier offered her some astronomical sum for one day of work and that shit is impossible to turn down — even for someone who purports to not care about money. If Parker really didn't care about money, she wouldn't do those ads. As executive producer of Sex and the City, there's no way she didn't make tens of millions of dollars. Maybe she did those ads, and her Bitten line for Steve and Barry's, so she'd stay in the public consciousness once Sex and the City was over. And that's a fine reason! But her whole "I'm really above this vulgar advertising" schtick is so tiring. She even calls her choices "unconsciously conscious." She even claims that Carrie never cared about Big's money!!!! I mean, come on. Mr. Big's alpha-male, captain of industry thing was a huge part of Carrie's attraction to him.
Nussbaum writes that "Parker's solution is to be almost religiously involved in product development, creating her own perfumes and insisting on a democratic ethic for her clothing line, which runs up to size 22, 'so I don't feel it's vulgar. So I don't feel it's just arbitrary or mercenary.'" But ultimately it is mercenary. If only she would own up to it.