Revisiting Sex, This Time With Our 1996 Selves

Illustration for article titled Revisiting Sex, This Time With Our 1996 Selves

It's a very special edtion of Sex & The City this week, presumably because it appeared on June 3, 1996, the seventh anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre and like the ninety-fifth anniversary of the first time Janey Wilcox's first summer having sex with undesirable men with the intention of staying in their luxurious summer homes for free. In this episode, Janey not only injures herself falling off a roof and resists the peer pressure to do cocaine, we learn why she is so fucking vapid and worthless: because her mother is vapid and worthless. It all dates back, you see, to high school! Which is what I was graduating when this column first appeared. So I tried to revert, for the sake of the column, back to my 17-year-old self while reading it. Here's how it went:

Me: So, what do you think about this?
Me at 17: Um, do you remember that time Sister Elizabeth made you write that essay taking a side as to whether Gregor in The Metamorphosis actually turned into a bug, or whether he was just suffering from some mental illness?
Me: Is that a trick question?
Me at 17: Exactly!
Me: Wait, what? I've killed a lot of brain cells since them.
Me at 17: God that's so lame.
Me: Fuck you.
Me at 17: Well anyway, I wrote this essay about Gregor and was like, "Ummmm, if the whole point of the story is that it's a, like, allegory about alienation, than who the fuck cares if he turns into a bug or just goes insane? I mean, the point is no one cares, right? Why the fuck are you asking me to busy my pretty little head with your completely pointless question?
Me: So, like,you think Candace Bushnell is up there with Kafka? Or reading these columns is profoundly alienating? Or what?
Me at 17: Well I was going to say the whole exercise is pointless, but actually I also think whoever wrote this probably has a mental illness. I mean, check out this excerpt:

"You don't feel much of anything, do you?"

"No," she said. She shrugged. "Guys don't stick around. So why not beat men at their own game? Use them. I'm a feminist, Zack," she said, which somehow made her feel better.

"Oh, the modern woman speaks," Zack said. "How old are you?"


"You look older," he said, and laughed. "You use men, but you yourself are totally useless. You think your views are revolutionary, but they're not. They're just immature."

"Yours aren't?"

"As a matter of fact, they're not," Zack said. I'm what you Yanks call a self-made man. Everything I have, I got myself." He lit a cigarette. "But along the way, I lost my emotions, my ability to feel. From having to fuck people over all the time, to get what you want.' He smiled. Those teeth. "You and I are really quite alike.

"I have my reasons," Janey said.

"No doubt you do. But they're probably very mundane," he said. Janey reached across the couch and slapped him. He grabbed her wrist. "You're getting the idea," he said.


The only person I know who would even think to make up a character who talked like that is this little borderline-autistic kid I babysit who has seen Gone With The Wind like literally nine thousand times. So she's got to be sick. I mean, do thirtysomething writers in New York also use baby voices and play dress-up, too?

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♥ dosido☮

Reading this column is like eating rotten sushi. It reeks of the dregs of what was (only slightly) avant-garde in the mid-to-late 90's. The HBO show Sex and the City holds up as light entertainment because it never had pretensions beyond being a fluffy little show about dating and sex. Bushnell fancied herself the F. Scott Fitzgerald of fin de siècle NYC. All she managed to do is look like a deranged Zelda, drunk and vacant, splashing around in a dirty fountain.