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Friday, June 4, 2010

A Chill Pill and a Cosmopolitan: Why Everyone Outraged Over Sex and the City Needs to Bring It Down A Notch

Who knew that a chick flick could cause such a stir??? The criticism for the sequel of Sex and the City 2 has been down right brutal. This film has been called anti-feminist, anti-Muslim, racist, consumerist, materialistic, unrealistic, a "gay fantasy," vapid, insipid, superficial and my personal favorite, a "Taliban recruitment film." These critics would have you thinking that this movie is the Birth of a Nation of our generation.

I have seen review after review that took the same emotionally charged, self-righteous and downright hostile tone that went far beyond simply not liking the quality of the writing, direction or plot. Not only has the critique of this film been unusually harsh, I was unusually bothered by it. I never pay attention to reviews, but many of the things I read just did not sit well with me. When I went to see SATC2 on opening night, I was seriously confused as to what was it that got folks so angry. As my cosmopolitan-induced buzz wore off, I thought to myself, what on earth has so many people worked up?

I could not ignore the overt and covert ageism reflected in many of the comments. I actually read the women's faces being described as "leathery." There was much ado about these four middle aged women carrying on like high school girls, how "childish" they are and how they are getting too old to do these movies. I expect men to make these comments, but when that sentiment is also shared by women (many of who claim to be feminist), I am saddened, annoyed and frustrated. Why are people so quick to remind us of what we are too old or too young to do? Isn't this just another way to keep us wimmenz in our place? Ironically, in the movie Samantha has to check a sales associate who tries to discourage her from buying a trendy dress by saying that it is too young for her. Samantha was not having that BS and neither should we.

In addition to a great deal of criticism over the film being rooted in ageism, I also think there there is some serious sexism and class warfare going on as well. I gave the side-eye to many of the male critics of this film because many of their criticism is either over the cast members appearances, how "slutty" they are or how they are engaging in behavior that they deem wrong. It just came off as more behavior policing to me and I was turned off. Which brings me to my other comment about class warfare. It is very strange to me that this film is being called materialistic. I am starting to thing that materialistic is becoming one of those dog-whistle terms used to demean any woman who dares to live well. Think of a time when you have heard of a man being referred to as materialistic. In my Katt Williams voice, "Don't worry, I'll wait."

Sexists hate women who live well because they hate any woman who aspires to want more and be more than just what some man thinks she deserves. Class warfare wagers hate them because for the most part they hate anyone with money. And like blacks, women are criticized even harsher for this because we are expected to fight the good fight since we "know what it is like" to be oppressed by the man, society, corporations, etc. As a black woman, this line of thinking offends me. My race or my gender does not obligate me to fight any system, nor does it require to be on my best behavior at all times in order to be a good representative of my people. Every woman's film does not have to have some deep, political, "feminist" message.

The one good thing that came out of this is that there appears to be some backlash to the backlash that the film is getting. I suspect that many other fans of the movie were irritated at the mean-spirited and hypocritical nature of the reviews and are finally starting to push back.

While the Box Office numbers have been somewhat disappointing, I believe this installment much better than the first. I absolutely loved that they bought Aidan back, Samantha's over the top antics were hilarious as usual, and I appreciated that they allowed Charlotte to shed her Pollyanna Super Mom image and "get real" about the challenges of parenting. The fashion was fierce (Miranda's dress in the wedding scene was TO. DIE. FOR.), and contrary to what many have said I thought that the Abu Dhabi theme was integrated into the story in a very entertaining and thought provoking way. Was it Citizen Kane? Of course not, but neither is Transformers.

H/T Women and Hollywood
H/T Mendolson's Memos









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2 comments:

Opinioness of the World said...

Amaka, great review! You had so many wonderful insights, particularly regarding how not every women's film has to have a deep message. I loved the film's escapism; it was fun and campy. I also enjoyed many of the scenes, including where Charlotte "gets real" about becoming a mom.

I also wrote a review of SATC2 on my blog (http://opinionessoftheworld.com/2010/06/01/queens-of-the-desert-review-of-sex-and-the-city-2/). While I don't care if everyone loves or even likes it, I'm disgusted at how many critics (male and female alike) have succumbed to sexism and ageism while disparaging the film. People can't seem to handle a film about women having fun and spending money on themselves.

While audiences forgive male characters who are selfish and juvenile as in movies like 'The Hangover,' women are not afforded that luxury. They are not supposed to pamper themselves but rather put everyone else in their lives first. In films and in reality, women are always held to a higher standard.

Amaka said...

Opinioness,

Thanks so much for the comments! It is odd that the fellas in Superbad or American Pie are never referred to as "selfish." I think that selfish is another one of those dog whistle terms as well lol.

I am just frustrated at how both men and women are so quick to police the behavior of other women. We are allowed to have out moments of indulgence just like everyone else.

I visited your blog, and enjoyed your review as well.

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