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What’s happening here? Lindy West’s review of SATC2.

May 27, 2010

It may be ideologically dicey to blog about a movie review of a movie I have yet to see, but I felt like this merited some attention. Lindy West has written a review of Sex and the City 2 over at The Stranger website and it’s sticking in my craw in a major way. The review, while making some excellent points about the culture-vulture/colonial nature of the women of SATC’s trip to Abu Dhabi (an element of the movie that I have already been cringing over), the offensive, Western-centric ways they try to challenge sexism in a Muslim country and the way that their lives of excessively glamorous excess are hard to swallow in these recession-strangled times, I find that her opening lines tend to cast a pall of tired bullshit over the whole review:

We’ve been thinking it for two long years. All of us. Gnawing our cheeks at night, clutching at sweaty sheets, our faces hollow and gray, our once-bright eyes dimmed by the pain of too many questions. Sometimes we cry out, en masse, to a faceless god and a cold, indifferent universe that holds its secrets close. What… rasps the death rattle of our collective sanity. What is the lubrication level of Samantha Jones’s 52-year-old vagina? Has the change of life dulled its sparkle? Do its aged and withered depths finally chafe from the endless pounding, pounding, pounding—cruel phallic penance demanded by the emotionally barren sexual compulsive from which it hangs? If I do not receive an update on the deep, gray caverns of Jones, I shall surely die!

She goes on further to say

Sex and the City 2 makes Phyllis Schlafly look like Andrea Dworkin. Or that super-masculine version of Cynthia Nixon that Cynthia Nixon dates.

Sigh. There’s a few major things going on here for me. The first is that, look, I don’t care if someone likes or dislikes the SATC TV show, the SATC films or the entire SATC franchise, how can you be criticizing the feminism (misguided or otherwise) of a this film when your opening salvo is an incredibly ageist, sexist rant against a fictional female character over the age of 50 who likes to have a lot of sex? And then to go on and make some really dicey, gender-stereotyped, kinda homophobic comment about the female partner of one of the actresses?? Are you going to trump their ‘bad feminism’ with your own? I actually thought I was reading a review by a man until I got further into the article. Which is not to say that a woman can’t have those feelings or isn’t entitled to write them. But it had such a virulently misogynistic tone to it that I was a little taken aback to find that it wasn’t written by some total asshole dude.

But the other thing happening for me in the review is the intense overload of snark. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed some well done snark in my days and I will continue to do so. But this to me is kinda straight-up hate veiled in a thin veneer of snark. And frankly, I’m fucking tired of it. More often than not, snark seems to take the place of actual good writing or actual thoughtful criticism both as a way to sway your audience with your razor-sharp wit and as a way to deflect from that fact that, hey, maybe you actually aren’t capable of good writing or thoughtful criticism! It’s an increasingly flimsy facade to hide behind and I would really enjoy seeing it fade out of popularity. Or at least fade out of usage by the folks out there who are less adept at using it skillfully as a part of their well-written, well-though out articles, essays, blog posts and what-have-you.

That being said, I certainly think SATC2 will and should receive a lot of critique. The trailers alone have me wincing at the trip they’re taking to Adu Dhabi and what kind of misguided antics will ensue. I just hope people can separate their own intensely sexist thoughts about the franchise in general from the very valid criticisms they may have of the film. And please, for all of our sakes, have an editor go through it and red-pen away some of the excessive snark.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. ray permalink
    May 31, 2010 9:22 pm

    I saw the film today and loved it. Clearly, Ms. West was not the intended audience for this film since she lacks a sense of humor, doesn’t understand camp, and can’t look below the surface of what she’s presented to see the message of the film is one heavy on the power of women and independence. The film shows, from the opening moments at Stanford and Anthony’s wedding, that the way relationships and marriages are lived is best left up to the individuals involved in them, not society’s norms. Under the fluff, fun, and ridiculousness is a very powerful message about independence and not giving up who you are to fit into what society believes you should be.

    I’m shocked at the vitriol thrown at this movie and suspect that a lot of people just aren’t comfortable seeing four women lead a film where the men are merely supporting players. This movie doesn’t deserve what’s being thrown at it.

    • June 1, 2010 12:40 am

      I’m going to see the movie tomorrow night with a friend so I will reserve my judgments until then!

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