Sex (for) Sale: Sex & The City

Posted by Irresponsibility

I avoided watching the Sex & The City film because I thought it would depress me. I wasn’t wrong. Mostly I hate the blatant consumerist brainwashing. Our entire culture is obsessed with consumption already. It’s not like we need any encouragement to waste money on pointless material objects.

What makes the film so teeth-grindingly awful is its explicit message that love is commodity just like Prada bags or Manolo Blahnik shoes. The emotional core of the film is a maelstrom of bitterness, narcissism, greed (spiritual and material), anger and vindictiveness. The central crisis – Carrie’s quasi-jilting by Big – reeks of selfishness and self-justification. She isn’t hurt because he doesn’t love her (he does); she’s angry because he screwed up the consumerist fantasy (what’s the point of love that doesn’t come with a nice frock and a Vogue spread?)

The idea that love means always having to say “I do” in a (carefully product-placed) Vivienne Westwood wedding gown makes me retch. Not even the registry office wedding at the end makes up for it.

The characters are emotional capitalists. Love and friendship are doled out on the strictest market terms. In one harrowing scene Samantha makes a deposit in the lovebank, as it were, by cooking a romantic dinner for her boyfriend. When the funds aren’t available for immediate withdrawal (he gets home late) there’s hell to pay. Love has to be bought and earned, it’s never just given. Everyone’s a miser, everyone is afraid of getting hurt, of not getting their emotional money’s worth.

It’s draining to watch because everyone is so pinched and desperate. At one point Charlotte – happily married and newly pregnant – wails to Carrie: “I have everything I’ve ever wanted. I’m so happy that I’m terrified.”

Charlotte’s right, of course. The more you have the more you stand to lose, so in a material world having everything you want is terrifying. The system is rigged so we all fail; so the haves and have-nots will be equally miserable and grasping. The only solution is the one the movie doesn’t offer – learning to let go.

Whether you believe in Buddhism (“Desire brings more suffering”), the Bible (“charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not… seeketh not her own”) or Sting (“if you love someone/set them free”) the truth is the same: love can’t be bought or sold. Anything that can be isn’t love.

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4 thoughts on “Sex (for) Sale: Sex & The City

  1. I love the fact the women weild out Sex & the City like it’s some feminist fingers up at the opposite sex.

    Do I watch Sex & the City? Yes. Would I describe it as a true and accurate account of female independence? No.

    The fact that all four characters seem unable to have a conversation that DOESN’T evolve around men and sex is ridiculous. The fact that samantha is heralded as the icon of a 21st century modern woman is also ridiculous. Yeah, she shags about. And? Her life still revolves around pleasing men. Sure, she gets to choose when she has sex. Who she has sex with. Etc…But her life still revolves around attracting men. Christ, she even dyes her nether-regions to please a man.

  2. Oh completely. The women are all incredibly passive-aggressive. And then there’s Carrie’s body language when she’s with Big which is just… creepy. She’s literally clinging to him, most of the time. It’s so infantalised and submissive.

  3. Like thousands of women, I watched the first ever TV show, because it promised (it really did!) SEX and…NYC, as perceived by “modern” chicks. It didn’t deliver. I gather it never has, though I’ve never been inspired to go back and check on a full episode since that first let-down. The desperate gluttony and endless tiresome insecurity is embarassingly unattractive. The self-conscious tokenism (“my GAY friend!” camp as Xmas, natch,) is also very embarassing.

  4. You’ve spoilt the ending now 😦

    I would rather poke my eyes out with a blunt fork than watch the SATC movie. It’s only enjoyable to see that hailed ‘modern woman’ (one of the most emotionally blank, logo and label obsessed showers of irritating insecurity that ever graced our screens) fail in love, and wonder why on earth she’s so unlucky. The mirrors must be broken in her house. Guff.

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