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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