The Time Out New York cover portraying the ladies of Sex and the City with duct tape over their maws isn't the only media coverage of the fabulous foursome that has the whiff of sexism about it. Newsweek critic Ramin Setoodeh discusses the near-violent dislike for Sex in the City that many men, particularly male movie critics, have shown. "Movie critics, an overwhelmingly male demographic, gave it such a nasty tongue lashing you would have thought they were talking about an ex-girlfriend," Setoodeh says. And no male critic was nastier than the New Yorker's Anthony Lane. Best Week Ever calls the caricature seen above left (which accompanied Lane's review) "almost masochistic in its grotesqueness." Setoodeh at Newsweek points out Lane's problematic phrasing when he describes Carrie and the girls as "hormonal hobbits, and all obsessed with a ring." But what galled me was Lane's description of Kim Cattrall's body, and it reminded me of his unfortunate criticism of Tina Fey's figure in his review of Baby Mama.
Here's Lane on Kim Cattrall:
Samantha's efforts to signal her appeal, which might have seemed languorous on the small screen, are blown up here into an embarrassing semaphore: thudding closeups of her slurping through a cocktail straw or swallowing a mouthful of guacamole. No self-respecting maker of soft erotica would countenance such shots, and, as for the matching dialogue ("Something just came up," Samantha murmurs over the phone, as her boyfriend stands beside her in bulging briefs), it's a straight lift from flaccid, mid-period James Bond.
And here's his take on Tina Fey in Baby Mama:
[Fey's character] Kate stalks around bare-legged in skirts that lurch to a halt two inches above the knee, which is a length that Christy Turlington would struggle to carry off. It's possible that Fey, like other television stars, is unused to being framed in full length, and, though in complete command of her delivery-dry, spiky, but unthreatening-she hasn't yet made up her mind how funny her body is meant to be. She isn't big enough to make a joke of her ripeness, like Bette Midler, but she's no Lily Tomlin, either. She could do worse than steal a trick from Lucille Ball-a lovely, elegant figure who taught herself to be graceless.
It seems that Lane has a problem with women of a certain age being sexual on the big screen; he can take mature sexuality in the bowdlerized form he sees on television, but once those over-30 legs are stalking around, larger than life on celluloid, he must object.
But Lane's female problem is nothing when you read Timothy Noah's comparison of Carrie Bradshaw and Hillary Clinton in Slate. Basically, Noah posits that the older white women who watched the SatC movie are the same ones who voted for Hillary, and went to see the movie because they were bummed about Hillary's primary loss. "By this past weekend, however, it was becoming clear to all but the most delusional Hillary supporters that the game was up. Sisterhood was powerful, but in this case it wouldn't prevail. That realization left a lot of white women all dolled up with nowhere to go. And so … they went to the movies," Noah writes. "The connection, I'll grant you, is somewhat glib," he adds…glibly. So glib, in fact, that it makes no sense whatsoever.
Even with all the punditry, the Sex and the City movie's popularity at this point, is similar to the appeal of the much-loved SatC-approved Magnolia Bakery cupcake. You have to wait on long lines to consume it; it is full of saccharine and empty calories; you might feel a little sick to your stomach when it's over, but you were happy to let yourself indulge, just for a little while, in a buttercream fantasy. And once it's out of your small intestine, you forgot it ever existed.
Sexism And The City [Newsweek]
The New Yorker Turns "Sex And The City" Gals Into Monsters, All Of Them [Best Week Ever]
Carrie [New Yorker]
Switching Places [New Yorker]
Hillary And The City [Slate]