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Is Audrey Hepburn To Blame For Carrie Bradshaw?

Illustration for article titled Is Audrey Hepburn To Blame For Carrie Bradshaw?

A new book blames Audrey Hepburn for SATC2. Okay? Sort of?

Everyone knows that Truman Capote wasn't sold on Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, and if you've read the original, bleak novel, you can see why he'd prefer Marilyn Monroe for the vulnerable call-girl trapped in an image of her own making. And, if you've seen Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Audrey Hepburn Story, you also know that he was so impressed with Jennifer/Audrey's rendition of the final, cat-in-the-rain sequence that he immediately admitted he was wrong. (This was poetic license; he apparently never liked the adaptation. Details!)

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What's with our Audrey/Holly fascination, anyway? "No Holly, no Carrie Bradshaw, no Sex and the City," says Sam Wasson to New York Magazine, speaking of his book Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m., in which he examines the making of the film and the cult of Saint Audrey. In said book, he apparently reveals that Audrey hated the danishes she had to nibble in front of the iconic jewelry emporium, that George "Fred" Peppard was an enormous dick, and that the studio was all kinds of skittish about a "party girl" heroine, and instead referred to her persistently and aggressively in press materials as "a kook."

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The cult of Hepburn is not a new phenomenon: as New York points out, she'd famously played princesses and nuns prior to Holly. Her work with UNICEF and her early death - to say nothing of her son's efforts on her behalf - have only burnished the "Audrey Style" 2-D legend that everyone loves to love. Marilyn, we all allow, was "complicated." Audrey was...well, perfect, even if a cursory glance at a biography shows a lot more than ballet-flats.

Says Wasson, "Before Hepburn, there was the prude and the slut, and the reality of in-between had no cinematic correlation...If Monroe had played her, she would have just been a hooker. That was when I got the power of the movie, and the genius of casting Audrey Hepburn." But, see, I wonder if the legacy isn't more problematic than that. The original book is about the brutal nature of the city and the dangers of reinvention. It's about a gay man and a woman escaping a brutal past. Now — even when we acknowledge the horror that is Mickey Rooney in full Asian-minstrel — we think romance, "Moon River," and true love. Just as now, rather than the darker realities of early SATC, we think of Manolos and "Lawrence of My Labia." Can we lay Carrie Bradshaw at Holly's feet? Or the young women who come here in droves now, looking for Cosmos and cupcakes? And if that's what they find — without choosing to see the road that led there — should we question it?

Safe Sex [New York]

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DISCUSSION

adah
Jane, you ignorant slut.

Holly is sad, damaged, but also intelligent and brave, in her way. She runs away from life and pursues it at the same time. You want the best for her, but understand she's the type of person who tends to sabotage everything in her life, because it's never quite right. She doesn't know what she wants, and can't admit that, so she destroys what she has, saying she didn't want it anyway. I find her very engaging as a character, and very real. But I want to steal her away from all the young women who try to emulate the superficial aspects without realizing the constant undercurrent of sadness and hopeless attempts at escapism that run throughout Hepburn's portrayal.

Carrie Bradshaw feels equally real, but I honestly couldn't care less about what happens to her. Where I wanted Holly to somehow find herself in the world, I never really cared if Carrie found the perfect relationship.

So if Holly's responsible for Carrie, I can take that. I'll just stop paying attention to Carrie, but remember Holly fondly.