The Male Backlash Continues…

Earlier in the week I posted a piece about the Sex and the City sequel, now in cinemas, entitled Sexism and the City. The piece was about the male backlash to the movie that I felt was clearly evident in reviews, magazine articles and the general media coverage of the movie.

Well the posting proved to be one of our most widely read pieces here on Remote Patrolled and received a lot of comments – a few for, but most against the position I took. Well one of the things I said in the article was that I still had yet to see the Sex sequel – my piece was about the coverage of the movie – not the movie itself. Unfortunately quite a few people didn’t take that point on board!

Anyway having now seen the movie I feel even more fired up about the coverage Sex and the City 2 is receiving… and can’t believe anyone would actually doubt that there’s a sexist agenda at work. I mean are we really seeing the same article, reviews and comments people?

First up, let me start with the movie itself. I’m a Sex and The City fan (the series and the first movie) but with just 15% on Rotten Tomatoes I was truly expecting a train wreck. Well you know what – Sex 2 isn’t a bad movie at all. In fact it’s pretty good in my opinion.

I’d be the first to admit the film isn’t perfect. It’s too long for starters – with a few pointless scenes – camel riding for example – that would have worked better as a montage. I hated the karaoke scene – but than I hate karaoke scenes in movies in general! And the film’s humor becomes too broad towards the end with an excruciating moment of female solidarity as the burkha clad women of Abu Dhabi remove their black burkhas to reveal brightly colored designer clothes underneath. It sure isn’t subtle and is without a doubt the worst scene in the movie.

But that for me is the sum total of the bad stuff. There’s a lot that really works in this movie. For starters it’s really refreshing to see an adult comedy about truly adult problems (instead of high school kids fretting over who to date). Big and Carrie’s too-comfortable relationship has been seen as indulgent by some, but I think it’s a conversation a lot of childless couples have. I thought Charlotte’s parenting issues were also well handled – including a terrific drinking scene with Miranda where the two confess how being mothers really makes them feel (it’s vintage Sex and the City and just sizzles on screen). Plus there are some great one-liners along the way – my favorite being Samantha’s ‘can this wedding get any gayer…?’ and out steps Liza Minelli… Love it!

But yet this movie gets 15%. While Transformers 2 gets 20%. A noisy, incoherent, horribly edited move that objectifies Megan Fox as though she’s in a porn movie. And people say there ISN’T a sexist agenda at work…

Now let me make it clear – just because you don’t like Sex and the City 2 – it DOESN’T make you sexist. I completely understand that a lot of people won’t like the movie for a lot of reasons. And undoubtedly the film is geared more towards a female and gay audience that straight males. As I’ve said all along I’m talking about the movies coverage – not the movie itself.

A lot of the criticisms hurled at the film I’m just not seeing, but at least I understand them. Critics have complained the characters are spoilt rich girls – but for me one of the joys of the movie is how excited the girls get by the opulence shown to them – they’re thrilled by the lavish hotel they’re staying in and the private, chauffeur driven cars – and certainly don’t take it for granted. One of the things I was most pleased to see actually was how respectful the characters were – always saying please and thank you, Miranda trying to read up on the culture, adhering to the clothing restrictions (except towards the end of the movie)

Then there’s the culture issue – with some saying Carrie and co are disrespectful of the Muslim culture. Really? The only character who really chafes against the religious restrictions is Samantha – and well that’s Samantha. I could completely envision a movie where Samantha travels to the Bible Belt and is scorned by the Christian locals for her promiscuousness.  For me Sex and The City 2 was a lot more respectful of Muslim culture than the majority of gung ho male action flicks… (and as a gay man living in New York please don’t get me started on organized religion – be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism or whatever your faith).

But the main criticisms of the film – and this is where the sexism (and ageism) really kicks in – is that the girls are getting older. Gosh! Can you believe it – people getting old in Hollywood! How can that be?

Now I must say I thought Miranda looked a tad tired in the movie and for some reason both Carrie (and Big) had unflattering looking spray tans – but Samantha and Charlotte looked terrific – and Carrie is, well a 40 year old woman in New York City. How and why is this even an issue in an adult comedy?

And it’s not like the movie completely ignored the age issue. Samantha’s whole plotline is about her aging (early on she accidently wears the same dress as Miley Cyrus to a premiere and people think she’s her mother), taking hormone pills, trying to keep her sex drive alive. But that’s not enough for the media – they have to talk about how haggard and sexless the cast is…

And for those of you who really don’t think coverage and comments on the film have been sexist – take a look at some of these reviews…

“Like a plastic surgeon, storyteller King keeps trying to find new ways to lift and tighten his characters, but they have become garish caricatures of themselves.” – Dallas Morning News (why mention cosmetic surgery – it’s not like this is a movie starring Nicole Kidman and Meg Ryan)

“Despite its “Lawrence of Arabia” length, this film — the Sexless and the Self-Pitying — is as unfunny and shapeless as another famed desert epic. Just think of it as “Bitchtar.” – New York Post. (ah, the B word – was wondering when this was going to come up!)

“When Carrie asks Big, “Am I just a bitch wife who nags you?” I could hear all the straight men in the theater — all four of us — being physically prevented from responding.” –

And here’s a quick trawl through some of the comments on the Nikki Finke message board…

“Guess there really are a load of lonely women out there. Keep eating the “Ben & Jerry’s” ladies….”

“Great God, is there no stopping this behemoth of banality? I thought aging would do the trick. Well, it does, there’s no chance in hell of confusing SJP with an attractive woman in her mid 30’s anymore”

“Any husband or boyfriend who willingly agrees to go see this atrocious film should have their testicles immediately removed upon exiting the theater.”

“I’ve heard in the third movie the ladies all move down to Miami and Carrie’s wise-cracking Italian mother moves in.”
See what I mean.

I’ll be interested to see what scores the truly dreadful looking Grown Ups receives in a few weeks time. That’s the one starring Adam Sandler (43), Chris Rock (45), Kevin James (45), David Spade (45) and Rob Schneider (46) – with the trailer that includes gags about peeing in the pool, falling out of trees and breast-feeding. Sophisticated stuff. But of course guys can make jokes along those lines… for a women to do the same would just be desperate…

And for the record the Sex Cast’s ages are Sarah Jessica Parker (45), Kim Catrall (53), Cynthia Nixon (43) and Kristin Davis (45). But of course you can’t be over 40 and female in Hollywood and still be attractive in any way. And you can’t make a movie for a female fan base without being bashed by the media as bitchy, shallow and emasculating.

2010. We really are so very modern these days aren’t we…