Friday, June 11, 2010

Sex and The City 2: We know it was bad. Here’s why it is my top film of 2010. And oh yes, Spoilers Galore!

I might not enjoyed the movie as much as I did if I hadn’t read this io9 review of it, so I knew what to watch for. . Time was indeed tricky throughout the film and The City does control all. For example after Carrie and Aidan have kissed and Carrie frets over whether or not to tell Big, she says, “We’re eight hours ahead of New York, so it hasn’t happened there yet.” Carrie then decides if she tells Big it won’t be a secret she kept from him because it hasn’t really happened yet. Bad writing or a commentary on the fluid possibilities of time and fate? Can I really decide that after just one viewing?

Perhaps I enjoyed it so much because Sex and the City 2 was a testament to the power of objects to control our identities. And instead of the second rate objects which control my life, the women of SATC-2 are controlled by designer and vintage objects. Like the butlers who can’t leave the $22,000 a night hotel suite until they are dismissed by their mistresses, the women of SATC-2 do the bidding of objects.

Carrie’s kiss with Aidan was clearly caused by an eyeliner she bought at the Souk (along with some genie shoes). Carrie’s voice over notes as she puts on the eyeliner that she “wasn’t herself.” The dark eyeliner liberates Carrie’s past self which Carrie later notes is a insecure, affection starved self. Luckily for Carrie, she has a gold purse, after which she grips frees her from her past self and brings her back to her present self who is married to Big and doesn’t want to be kissing Aidan. Whew!

Objects are in charge of the sex act as well. Samantha’s two sex scenes are tame compared to the television series; we see Samantha’s legs and her face and hear her shouts, but Samantha’s most graphic sex in the film takes place her and a hookah. Samantha goes on a date with a Dutch man, says something tasteless about how good she is at sucking, then briefly performs fellatio on the hookah. It’s the most graphic moment of the whole film. The sex-scene finale takes place on the hood of a jeep, on the beach on the forth of July. Samantha appears more intimate with the jeep than with the man, as she grabs onto the windshield wipers while she moans.

And in the end it is objects rather than Samantha’s flashing of flesh that gets her into trouble. Samantha’s condoms turn up at all sorts of inopportune times, culminating in a dramatic scene at the souk. During the call to prayer, Samantha’s purse is torn and condoms spill all over the ground. Dressed in a tank top and shorts (she’s having hot flashes) Samantha begins waving the condoms at a mob of Arab men in white robes. The men surround her – she screams she’s American and she has sex, then thrust her hips while she shakes condoms at the men.

The foursome is rescued by a couple of burka clad women who unveil themselves behind a shop. The women are wearing the Spring Prada beneath their burkas, and are reading the same book about menopause that Samantha plugged earlier in the movie! Is the pairing of these holy capitalist vestments with the call to prayer a coincidence? I think not – it’s a glimpse towards the post-colonial church of the future!

I’m worried that it sounds like I’m only dissing SATC-2. I loved it because it showed just how cultural colonialism works so transparently. And entertained me with wonderfully hideous outfits in the meantime. Even when the plot was predictable, there were so many exciting clothes to look at that I didn’t care. And Liza Minnelli! During the dynamic foursome rendition of “I am Woman” in a nightclub -- and there’s so much more to say about that – the club belly dancers even get in on the liberating action --Samantha wears a red jacket with spiked silver epaulets. She looks kind of like Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Or like Bowser from Super Mario. Is this a commentary on a spiky exterior that protects a vulnerable core? Or is Samantha truly a sexual warrior?

There’s so, so much more to say about this movie. I’ll think this email I wrote to a friend sums it up why I loved it: It’s a snapshot of gender, race, class and colonial racism balanced on designer stilettos, delivered with bad sexual jokes. It's the best type of satire there is: one where the creators didn't know they were mocking themselves. I think the whole movie was taken hostage by the American collective unconscious. It was written by the spirit of colonial capitalism itself. It was like reading good theory, but watching it. With glitter.

No comments: