Sex And The City was number one at the box office this weekend, in case you've been living under a rock. The flick made $55.7 million, which "exceeded expectations." How come people had such low expectations, anyway? Matt Lauer was on the Today show this morning saying something like it must have made so much because couples went to see it together. In other words, surely women couldn't make box office history without men! But no: Women made it number one; the audience was 85% female. On one hand, there's some pride in the fact that dollars-obsessed Hollywood has proof that women will go to the movies if you give them what they want. On the other hand, it's a little tragic that there's so much hoopla surrounding Sex And The City. Because the movie was terrible.
To be honest, I was a fan of the TV show when it first aired. A female writer living in New York and dealing with messy relationships? Of course I could relate. Of course I was attracted to the glitter, the nightlife, the search for love and the dating psychodramas. And what the show did really well was to tell those modern urban love legends: The Guy With The Funky Spunk, The Guy Who Died Before The Second Date, The Time The Writer Fell On The Runway, The Time Your Friend Had A Brazilian Lesbian Lover For Like A Week. But the movie made me want to cut myself. It was a showcase for how hollow and soulless these characters were. Do they have hobbies, aside from shopping? Interests? Do they read anything beyond Page Six? They are just rich bitches who don't even have the decency to be over-the-top, and therefore amusing, like Absolutely Fabulous. I was seriously offended when Charlotte wouldn't eat anything except packaged chocolate pudding on their trip because "It's Mexico." I was also offended by Miranda's rudeness to her nanny and Samantha's "Honey, we can pay people to do the stuff we don't want to do" attitude. Then it dawned on me: These women are assholes.
Unlike many people who live here, I actually grew up in New York. I used to roll my eyes at the women wobbling on heels as they navigated the litter of soda cans and condoms on downtown streets. Real New York women need to be mobile. Real New York women never know when they might have to run for their lives. So when HBO first started airing Sex And The City, it was a given that the characters were ridiculous — their problems, however, were entertaining. Much like a Woody Allen movie, the New York pictured was very specific: Mostly white and subway-free, with oodles of money on display. While the SATC TV show often presented silly conundrums easily solved and then post-mortemed over cocktails; SATC the movie insists that the audience empathize with these fools. Carrie cares more about herself and her elaborate gown than her groom, and we're supposed to feel sorry for her? I always thought Big was a smug cad who dyed his gray hair black, so I didn't care if she ended up with him or not. Samantha breaks up with Smith by saying "I love you, but I love me more," and that's supposed to be empowering? Is getting a lapdog really a happy ending for a 50-year-old? I found myself hating every single one of them: Idiotic, superficial Carrie; stuck-up, naggy perfectionist Charlotte; cold, ruthless Miranda and bitter, narcissisitic Samantha. The worst part is that these women have spawned a new generation of materialistic empty-headed women: When Carrie thanks Jennifer Hudson's character, Louise (rightfully called a magical negro by Moe's sister) for bringing her back to life, Louise replies, "And you bought me my first Louise[sic] Vuitton." Because the only thing more important than soul-searching is having a thousand-dollar bag that will be out of style in three to six months. (Marketing Daily claims that the "feel-good" movie will get women shopping; but wasn't the message that "stuff" is not as important as relationships?" You know, the last line of the film: "Love, the one label that never goes out of style.") We're supposed to think Louise is smart because she cleans up Carrie's website, something every fifth grader in America can do these days.
Still, the movie gave women a chance to "remember the sisterhood" and bond, maybe because relationships between women is an under-explored topic in Hollywood. We need another superhero like we need a hole in the head, but those flicks keep on coming. Yet obviously movies like SATC, Juno, The Devil Wears Prada and Baby Mama prove that women are interested in movies about women (and pregnancy need not always be at the core). It also gave us a chance to read the many horribly sexist reviews ("Parker is an actress who puts the horse in clothes horse," Dominic Rushe wrote for the Times Of London) and to think about what we' d really like to see in a movie about modern women: Ethnic diversity, genuine soul-searching, "Big" questions — not about men, but about women. About our changing role in society, about our continued second-class citizen status. About the way we deal with each other. About the tough choices we have to make every single day. Especially this year, election year, when the focus on looks, cosmetics and cleavage became politically correct.
In the end, while it's embarrassing that SATC: The Movie is the woman-centric sensation of the summer and will go down in history for its record-breaking weekend box office, it probably will not stand the test of time and become a classic, like, say, The Women, All About Eve, Breakfast At Tiffany's, La Femme Nikita, Alien or even Clueless or Mean Girls. Which is fine with me: I'd rather forget all about it.
'Sex and the City' Opens Strong [Wall Street Journal]
'Sex and the City' Is No. 1 At Box Office [LA Times]
'Sex/City' Poised To Become Era's 'Feel-Good' Movie [Marketing Daily]
Aren't you just sick of Sex and the City? [Times Of London]