By Jen McNeely
What’s fun about Sex and the City 2 is arriving at a theatre packed full of smiling women wearing frilly dresses, overhearing them gush about their favourite episodes and feeling the flutter of excitement in the air. Yes the reviews are unfavourable, and if I were a film critic I’d thumb it down too but I’m not – I’m a woman who loved Sex and the City.
Is this film sequel as good as the show? Certainly not. Did we expect it to be? No. It is what it is – which is a ridiculous and extravagant ride in and through over-the-top glamour wherein the characters we love play into their stereotypes. Carrie’s hats (tiaras?) become harebrained, Charlotte preaches the sanctity of marriage until we want to slap her in the face, Miranda has a blackberry addiction and Samantha becomes an out-of-control parody of her horny self – to the point where even pervs like us feel grossed out. We sympathize and relate to their meltdowns, laugh at dick jokes, critique the fashion and walk out yammering about which one we are most like; a conversation that never tires. Like a microwavable Hungry-Man dinner – we thought we knew exactly what we were getting….comfort food but then we arrive in Abu Dhabi (actually Morocco), which leaves me feeling totally tongue-tied and uncomfortable.
Camels and deserts make for exotic shots and it’s fun to play dress-up like an Arabian genie – but is it fun to mock women wearing burkas? I don’t know about you, but I view the burka as a form of oppression. In post-premiere chit-chat many moviegoers didn’t seem to think this was worth addressing….after all the film is fancy and fun. But if, at its core, the series is about friendship and female support, then is it not our responsibility to address this?
Perhaps Carrie’s curiousity of watching an Arab woman eat a french fry through her burka, and Samantha’s near brush with violence for exposing too much skin in a crowded local market, will encourage discourse. However, as one friend mentioned last night, “will it be helpful discourse?” The film paints a shallow portrait that portrays the women from the United Arab Emirates as being just like Carrie and the girls. They sport the latest Louis Vuitton and Chanel, idolize Suzanne Somers and giggle about the backward thinking men they have to put up with. Beneath the veil, everything is just like Sex and the City! Yeah…I don’t think so.
While at the after-party at Hazelton’s One, I shared my opinions of the film with Susur Lee, who asked me if I was a feminist. We talked about post-feminism for far longer than I could have ever predicted. Frankly, I don’t even know what I was saying but Canada’s master chef was interested to the point that he suggested doing an entire menu at Lee around this theme. I hope this happens. What does feminism taste like?
I wish that this post could be, as Carrie would say full of ‘sparkle’, but it can’t. I left wanting to walk into a university lecture for a course called “Women in Pop Culture” where some smart academic professor could explain to me what I just saw. Instead I just drank SKYY Vodka cocktails named Glamour Girl and Park Avenue Princess, ogled dresses and twirled in my puffy chiffon.
It is what it is – which is what we love until we are confronted with a stylish burkini. So I guess, go see it with your girlfriends and then start a conversation about Louboutin heels and women’s rights in the United Arab Emirates.