Friday, 28 May 2010
SATC2: The review
About 20 minutes in Sex and the City 2, Carrie Bradshaw is celebrating her two-year wedding anniversary with the man she bleated and bellyached over for six interminable HBO seasons. They are seated in their sweeping New York apartment that has been over-decorated within a throw pillow of its life and surrounded by strategically placed designer labels. When her big bacon-earning husband unveils his thoughtful albeit unsexy anniversary present to her (after he has cooked them a meal and presumably paid the gas and cable bills, and dismissed the housekeeper for the night) she balks in disbelief. Upon asking her what she would have preferred she cocks her head, twirls her hair and responds coquettishly, "A piece of jewellery would have been nice."
And that's when a barf bag would have been nice. Suddenly I felt sick to my stomach. I'm not a fool and I'm not new to the SATC franchise; I know it's a cultural phenomenon that is based on unabashed consumerism and an inability to function outside the borders of white, privileged America. Unless of course, it's white, privileged Paris. But to break your husband's balls for not buying you jewellery for your anniversary is where I draw the line between harmless fun and the obliteration of feminist ideals, not to mention the poisoning of young women who have yet to navigate the choppy waters of a committed relationship. (Here's a clue girls: he's not obligated to buy you expensive stuff.)
Flash forward to an extravagant trip the frivolous foursome take to Abu Dhabi, because Samantha, who is taking a drugstore of pills to delay the onset of menopause (I want to fuck young boys! Isn't that fabulous?!), decides that she's done with the economic austerity of the last two years that has seen her downsize to a smaller Birkin and wants to live large Middle East styles. Shocked by the religious restrictions of a country that — WTF? — frowns upon public cunnilingus (evidently Sam doesn't bother with things like CNN) she brazenly throws propriety, respect and the law out the window. After all, she is American and who else to burst into a foreign land and tell people how to live their lives? In one especially appalling scene where [SPOILER ALERT] Samantha's purse flies open and sprays condoms across the souk, she proceeds to affront the chastising Muslim men who gather around her with "Fuck you! I like to have sex!" It's American arrogance at its best.
Perhaps what astounded me most was the sheer ignorance these four women displayed. They are educated, wealthy and reside in New York, a city that owes much of its appeal to multiculturalism. And surely they've travelled to other countries at some point in their lives? Yet they are utterly uninformed on the customs, rules and secrets of the Middle East. Crushed by a lacklustre review of her latest book in The New Yorker, Carrie says she's been walking around with the magazine in her purse for 20 years. Maybe she just never pulled it out and actually, like, read it. Because if she had, she wouldn't be so dumbstruck at the discovery that many Muslim women are wearing couture under their robes. Who doesn't know this?
The movie is two-and-a-half hours of the most idiotic observations since Sarah Palin saw Russia from her backyard. Upon first seeing a Muslim woman in the traditional hijab, Carrie opines, "It's like they're not allowed to have a voice" (uh yeah, thanks for the insight, Benazir Bhutto); and when her butler tells her that he and his wife are reunited once every three months because she lives in India and that's how long it takes him to scrape together the money to get over there, she interprets this as "how their marriage works." Um, actually, no. It's how he makes ends meet.
It wasn't all racial profiling and Manolo Blahniks, however. In one very touching and uncharacteristically self-aware scene, Miranda and Charlotte drink themselves silly to ease the guilt of admitting to the hardships of motherhood despite having live-in nannies, and raise their glasses to toast all the mothers out there who don't have full time help. It was a heartwarming albeit brief moment of humility. And [SPOILER ALERT] Liza Minelli makes a cameo and does a vaguely terrifying if mesmerizing rendition of All the Single Ladies. She may be a certified loon, but man can that lady dance!
And the clothes? Well, between Sarah Jessica Parker wanting to promote her own designs for Halston and Patricia Field being in dire need of some Lithium and a long nap, the costumes were nothing short of nightmarish. For a desert camel riding scene, a lackey appears with clothes for the ladies to change in to. In a flurry of Hermes, Dior and Chanel shopping bags, the women are transformed into a motley foursome of circus freaks reminiscent of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, but less classy. Carrie wears a white bustier with nipple tassels fer Chrissake!
I know sequels can be tricky, and I suspect that's why we'll never know what happens when Ben and Elaine get off the bus or if ET will ever phone Elliot, but I beg of the powers that be at SATC to pull a condom out of Samantha's purse and slip it on before considering spawning another movie. Nine months from now, you and the viewing public will thank me.