The Sex and the City backlash is in full swing! Isn't it just awful, with its squawking, sideways attacks on feminism, its materialistic hedonism, its Brooklyn-bashing, and its general New York-ruining? Recent articles in the Post and in Time Out New York certainly seem to think so. Though, with two weeks remaining until the big movie sashays into theaters, we suspect that the backlash will earn its own backlash. What will people say? And who's right, the pros or the cons? After the jump find five of the biggest arguments against Sex and the City, how its fans might respond, and who we think is right (and fabulous).
Prosecution: The movie ruined Manhattan, especially the Meatpacking District. When the sex-crazed Samantha moved there, and when Carrie and co. started trotting over to Magnolia in the nearby (kind of the same fucking neighborhood) West Village, all club-going, cupcake-scarfing hell broke loose. Thanks, Jonesy.
Defense: Meh. It would have happened anyway. The reason the neighborhood was on the show was because it was becoming trendy, not the other way around. The show was on premium cable for God's sake. It wasn't that influential. Sure, maybe the exposure expedited the Disneyfication, but it was inevitable. News flash: it's happening (or has already happened) to all of Manhattan. Just look at the Lower East Side. That once-hidden neighborhood was never really featured on the show and nowadays you can't swing a keffiyeh down there without hitting someone you want to punch. Come out to Brooklyn, where it's reasonably safe (for now).
The Verdict: We're gonna go with the "it was inevitable anyway" argument on this one. It's fun to make grand social theories out of a television show, but there were bigger reasons for the muppets taking Manhattan.
Prosecution: The ladies on the show promote some weird brand of feminism where men are both disposable (their word) and completely necessary to one's happiness. So what is it, are they objects or idols? Whatever the answer, both are damaging ideals for modern women.
Defense: Whoa, back the Subaru up there, Gloria. It's a television show/movie. The women and girls who are taking clues on how to navigate relationships from fake women who refuse to take subways and say things like "the subtext of that text" have bigger problems to deal with than Sex and the City. The show is a pleasant diversion, and was never meant to be anything else. It's not SJP and company's fault that other people are idiots.
The Verdict: Gotta go with the Prosecution here. Yes, women who heed the show's precarious "advice" about men and women need a wake up call, but the trouble is, the show never offered any caveats that it was, you know, fake. We're pretty sure you were supposed to treat the show as gospel.
Prosecution: The shopping. Oh God, the shopping. $400 shoes! $3,000 handbags! $bamillion dresses! Sex and the City functions as material porn on overload, by not just pimping the products, but enforcing high-end fashion as every woman's right and need. You're just not urban, you're not chic, you're not anything unless you traipse around in $20,000 worth of designer shit, just so... what? A man will look at you? Poor nannies and housekeepers will be jealous? It's not just snobby and over the top. In these credit-crunchy times, when impressionable young people are amassing mountains of debt, it's downright irresponsible.
Defense: Oh, get over it. Nearly every show and every movie geared toward women features fancy clothes and shoes and accessories. It's partly how these movies get made. Product-placement is a necessary evil. And hey, Sarah Jessica Parker understands. Her Bitten line of clothing retails for like three cents a pant. Sex and the City celebrates style, which can cost $10 or $10,000.
The Verdict: The excess on the show is awful and damaging. The next time you see a fourteen year old galoompfing down the street wearing the monetary equivalent of a Tercel, you can definitely blame Sex and the City.
Prosecution: Errrbody's a sex and dating columnist now. You know who we can blame on Sex and the City? Fuckin' Julia Allison. And the myriad other oversharers and "got to wondering"ers. Candace Bushnell was a revolutionary in her own way, and now that's just being co-opted by lesser writers. Sex and dating are fun to read about, yeah, but it should be more rarefied.
Defense: Don't blame SATC, blame the internet. Blame increasingly frequent and public discourse about sex. Bushnell represented something a bit new, yes, and SATC capitalized on it, but it was inevitable that someone would. If you don't like them, don't read them.
The Verdict: Kind of a draw. Yeah, SATC encouraged the trend, but who really cares. It's kind of on its way out anyway.
Prosecution: Frankly, Sex and the City ruined fucking. What could possibly be less sexy than a bunch of grown women sitting around at a restaurant, punning about cocks? All the dirty talking (and talking and talking and talking) and graphic sex scenes just overexposed and distorted sex. SATC makes sex seem like a theme park ride, rather than the loving and intimate (or dirty and hot) act that it should be.
Defense: Like the dopes who take feminist cues from the show, anyone who learns carnal lessons from SATC has bigger problems to solve. What on TV doesn't trivialize and sugarcoat sex? If we wanted to watch realistic, sweaty, sorta shameful sex we'd watch Tell Me You Love Me. And God knows no one did that. Sex and the City sex is fun and easy and honest enough. It probably helped some women overcome some sexual fears, and that should be commended.
The Verdict: Nah, sex is still fun.
The thing about Sex and the City phenomenon is this: it can be really fun if you just don't take it all that seriously. Yes the whole affair is ridiculous, but that's why it's entertainment. The trouble comes when people do take it at face value and, sadly, try to shape their lives in a similar way. We feel bad for them, yes, but they're also really fucking annoying when they clomp by us on sidewalks or push past us in bars. So, go. Have fun. But if we see you at Houlihan's, throwing back SATC-themed drinks or making up annoying nicknames for the dudes you've boned, then we have a problem.