Monday, July 5, 2010

A ridiculous review inspired by Sex & the City 2

Once upon a time in the ‘90s, two lovely British ladies called Edina and Patsy created all sorts of trouble for themselves in the confines of a stage that we were supposed to believe was a luxurious, yet tiny and hardly decorated, apartment in London. These two women were inseparable, and together consumed large amounts of booze and drugs while raising Saffron, a too-serious college student who did not seem to be able to leave her mother’s home and who, as we all remember, was Edina’s daughter.

Amidst an explosion of utterly dysfunctional female bonding, everything was a joke: substance abuse, child neglect, emotional blackmailing, co-dependency, feminism, cougars, fashion, wealth, you name it. It was a ridiculous set-up. We as the audience may have been in love with Edina and Patsy, and we may have even respected and longed for some aspects of their lives (i.e. endless time to hang out with your best friend, an enviable sense of humor, speaking your mind, etc.), but we did not necessarily aspire to be like them, and surely we knew we could not be exactly like them. And that is because it was an obviously absurd world, a shameless impossibility, a total absence of consequences, an endearing fantasy that delved head first and unapologetically into the ridiculous. The obvious joke was on Edina and Patsy, and they carried it proudly. It was awesome.

This weekend I went to see Sex & the City 2. Not against my will, I admit. But, yes, in spite of myself. Everyone keeps repeating, apologetically, that the TV show is better than the movie, and I sure hope that’s true, considering its amazing popularity. Otherwise, panic may paralyze me into a coma, and I may subsequently die perplexed by the epiphany of some cruel cosmic irony that had been lost on me all along.

Because, you see, these women love to drink and party as well—although they could not hold a candle to Edina and Patsy, of course, who had ways more fun without even leaving the apartment—they are also obsessed with fashion, and rich as hell. The problem, however, is that, that’s not the joke. As a matter of fact, I want so badly for the joke to have indeed been lost on me. However, I suspect that the elusive joke was partly on Middle Eastern cultures, and, above all and ever so subtly, the big joke was on us. This is something I am still somehow trying to rationalize so as to not burst into rage, on both counts, but I will here only address the latter.

According to Sex & the City 2, we are supposed to believe that ridiculous tasteless yet expensive dressing is cool (go shopping!), that love in relationships is shown by gifting vintage Rolexes to men and black diamonds to women (go shopping!), that everyone everywhere in the world wants desperately to be (and shop!) like the U.S., and that you can revel in utter economic independence and have endless leisure time and great jobs (and go shopping!) without ever actually, well, working. But all of this is not a joke, and you are supposed to aspire to be (and shop!) like these women, as well as, under the pressure of a well articulated capitalist discourse, come to ignore the fact that you know you can’t, and, above all, feel very bad for not being able to do so. And go out and get a credit card if you don’t have one, and start purchasing your way into a lifestyle as close to this as you cannot buy but may be able to trade debt for. The difference will be, obviously, that as opposed to the superficial team of uninteresting characters in this movie, for you, there will be economic repercussions. Consequences, if you will.

In a nutshell, Sex & the City 2 is far from a parody of itself. It’s the very serious and troubling formula of consumerism+superficiality=happiness+women’s lib.

If Patsy and Edina taught me something well, it's that the best course of action for this situation would be revenge, along with a cocktail of my favorite licit and illicit substances. But I feel like I’m falling a little short. Sigh. What would Edina and Patsy do?

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