Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

So, what’s wrong with the SATC girls growing old disgracefully?

Spoiler alert! Sex and The City 2 isn't Citizen Kane. But stuff like this is about more than a movie review: “Some of these people make my skin crawl.

The characters of Sex and the City 2 are flyweight bubbleheads ... Their defining quality is consuming things. They gobble food, fashion, houses, husbands, children, vitamins and freebies.”

Skin crawling? Carrie, Samantha and the other two sound more like flesh-eating zombies than four ladies of a certain age. One critic said that the movie made her vomit in her mouth. Another pronounced the women irredeemably vulgar.

The depiction of the two gay men is apparently ‘ridiculous'. Somehow, they ‘sell out’ by getting married, as if the Iron Law of RomCom — everyone gets hitched in the end — shouldn't apply to gays.

The film is anti-Muslim because Arab women were shown wearing designer clothes under their burkas. That’s a hoary old joke but, as anyone who has sat through TV travelogues about the Middle East can testify, it's not even untrue.

But mostly it’s the old jibes against women, full stop. SJP’s ‘leathery skin', Kim Cattrall's ‘jowls’, Charlotte's ‘thick ankles’ and the other one ‘looking older.’

Which is, of course, a crime when ‘skinny’ and ‘young’ are the vogue. Look at the pummelling Catherine Zeta Jones took last week. Papped looking a bit peaky, her face was taken apart in one newspaper by a cosmetic surgeon in a bid to explain why she looked so “old” at 40. CZJ?

Men haven’t forgiven her for actually marrying an old guy just like them — except he’s Michael Douglas and they aren’t.

The airbrushed SATC2 posters drew vicious comparisons with their real-life versions at the premieres — SJP’s aged claws, Cattrall’s basset-hound cheeks. And that's really what it’s all about.

SATC is an explicitly women-directed phenomenon which mixes fun, escapism, fashion and modern romance with ‘ishoos'. It works a treat if you like that kind of thing.

And tens of millions ‘like that kind of thing’. The show at the outset had women in their 30s and 40s confronting the paradoxes of modern life.

Women in their mid to late 40s and 50s aren’t allowed to do that. It's vulgar, repulsive, like being one of the undead.

Older women are meant to be the maternal backdrop for younger women to have ‘isshoos’ in very short dresses and small underwear.

Older women are not meant to have fun. They are meant to be married to men, after all.

The SATC women, however, have gone on, like Madonna, just as they were — outrageous, bolshy, sexy, embarrassing, fit and a little bit nasty.

When they should have resigned their roles like sensible women to much younger versions that men of all ages could continue to leer at, instead they ratcheted up the extremities and went at it again. So now we’re meant to jeer at them for their ridiculous frocks, ‘vanity' and ‘shallowness'.

Everything that makes a young girl a fantasy figure for several generations of bald ‘paternal’ and ‘fraternal’ men simultaneously, makes a grown woman threatening, dangerous, loathsome, ridiculous and attackable.

Hence the talk now that it’s time for a SATC prequel — the originals are just too old to be safe. They’re all millionaires for a start.

Still, SATC, even 12 years after its first airing, is being immoral, risky, offensive, outrageous, unexpected and nice.

We’d all forgotten that’s exactly what made it so good.

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