Brave Souls Come To SATC2's Defense

You know what? We're just going to keep going with this SATC2 thing. Because it combines sex, shoes, and pink cocktails, and those are the only things we ladyfolk can talk about! Today, however, we'll stop the hate.

That's right: We'll withhold commentary on the insultingly dumb dialogue or the off-key consumerism or the ethnic stereotyping or horrifying marketing… It's all old hat at this point, hashed and rehashed ad nauseum (and we're as guilty of it as anyone). So instead, let's turn our attention to the movie's defenders. There are some!

In a genuinely thoughtful — and fair — defense of the movie, New York mag's television critic Emily Nussbaum argues against the major critiques that have been made against the film, from comparisons to the franchise's past glories on HBO to the one-dimensional characters. As for the much-maligned scene in the market where an "immodestly" dressed Samantha waves around condoms and screams at the angry men that yes, yes, she enjoys having sex — Nussbaum quite rightly points out that most criticism of the scenario has been utterly void of context:

In fact, it's a motivated flip-out: She's been arrested for kissing and nearly jailed. She's pissed - and having mood swings because her hormones were confiscated. She's wearing short-shorts because she is sweating like crazy, having hot flashes, and is so angry she refuses to dress modestly as they race to the airport in 100 degree weather. In the market, someone grabs her pocketbook and condoms fall out and the group is surrounded by disapproving men in turbans. She blows up: It's like Jack Black meets Eve Ensler. She screams with frustration that she's a woman and, yeah, she likes sex.

Rather being offensive, the scene is a valid attempt, Nussbaum argues, at combining "dirty gonzo humor" with an "absurdist moment of raging feminist slapstick" — and whether it worked or not, it was certainly "interesting and screwy," kind of like the politically sensitive goofball humor of Harold and Kumar 2. And, if I recall, there wasn't quite so much vitriol directed to that male-centric screwball comedy.

And on the matter of that vitriol: so much of the criticism of SATC2 doesn't equate with similar shallow and/or silly films starring men and geared towards male audiences. You don't hear about the men who star in buddy flicks looking too old or sounding too slutty or being too materialistic, for example. Regarding that last point, Ashley Sayeau over at The Nation posits that the materialism-driven critiques may be rooted in something more significant:

It's hard not to suspect more is going on here than a collective sense of disappointment that Carrie is buying shoes instead of saving the world, especially given the almost absurd levels of spite expressed and the fact that we rarely see such wrath aimed at all the stupid ways men spend money. […] When P. Diddy flaunts his pool boy, we tend to see him as witty, not "trivial" and "shallow."

Sayeau notes that for decades — as far back as the Flapper era — the increase in ladies spending their money is connected to the increase in female education and independent employment. And, as we all know, these things are really freaking scary. Maybe it's unknowingly that critics thus lash out at the characters' materialism, a result in deeply ingrained cultural stereotypes — a subconscious reflex is certainly the lesser of two evil explanations.

Now, In Defense Of 'Sex And The City 2' [Surf/NYM]
When Women Flaunt Their Toys [The Nation]