Belfast Telegraph

Sex in the City is just one great turn-off

By Jane Graham

My inability to avoid the feverish anticipation of the new Sex and the City film has left me entirely convinced that my gut instinct after seeing the last one was correct:

I really would rather gnaw my own arm off than watch another chapter of this breathtakingly stupid, materialistic, dispiriting guff. The idea — propagated by every female-slanted magazine in the country — that an entire generation of UK women are counting down the minutes until the revelation of Carrie’s new dress and Samantha’s latest toyboy isn’t just depressing, it’s offensive.

I have no idea why Sex and the City has struck a nerve with women outside America. To me it represents all the worst things about American popular culture and sexual politics, presenting a world in which relationships are operated and graded like the Wall Street markets, male appeal is measured by wealth and the ability to behave coldly and cruelly for no reason, and the most vacuous, men-dependent idiot women are held up as totems of female liberation.

There are many things I like about Sarah Jessica Parker but none of them are duplicated in her most famous character.

Carrie Bradshaw is a terrible, very American, creation. Her habit of dropping vapid Hallmark-style platitudes (“Do we need distance to get close?”) as if they were precious pearls of Obama-esque wisdom would be met with howls of derision if she ever voiced them in a British pub.

Similarly, her all-consuming fixation with her ‘life journey’ and adjoining obsession with creating a fashion water-cooler moment every time she walks down the street would be considered both hilarious and simple-minded by the average woman outside of Sloane Square.

Most ridiculous of all is the idea that Carrie is a great symbol of the independent single woman.

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In fact her only real interest in life is finding a man who can keep her in Manolo Blahniks. She is completely in thrall to the ludicrously, and unconvincingly named, ‘Big’, whose main attraction for her seems to be that he is immensely wealthy, often unkind and finds the notion of commitment a trial for his superior sperm, even as he enters his paunchy fifties.

In the UK we’d call him a pathetic loser in serious denial; in America he’s the one who keeps getting away. Presumably Carrie’s Big obsession is meant to exemplify the nothin’-logical-about-love incongruities of the human heart. I see it as nothing more than proof of a masochistic, self-loathing weakness in her limp, lost, sad soul.

As for the others — Miranda’s aggressive, patronising dismissal of her decent and thoughtful husband’s concerns is evidently supposed to impress us of her inner strength. I don’t see the strength thing myself, I see a constantly complaining, joyless, humourless windbag.

Samantha’s inability to connect with a man beyond what he offers in bed is probably intended to be a sign of how liberated she is, but actually suggests a shallow, ageing desperado whose weird mental block regarding nice men might benefit from therapy.

Charlotte is often the butt of the joke, a simpering, man-seeking missile — but as she’s the only one who found a decent bloke with a sense of humour and treated him with respect, I can just about stomach her.

So, along with brunch, ‘modelizers’ and the need to restyle your hair every day, let’s export this sinister, reactionary vision of modern womanhood back to whence it came. All the smart Stateside gals wrote it off long ago anyway.

Belfast Telegraph

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