Thursday, November 14, 2002

From The New Republic:

best takedown of Sex and the City I've ever read



Now, a part of the reason for the show's portrayal of women seeking sex for sex's sake is that the series' two creators, Darren Star and Michael Patrick King, are gay. On this level, Sex and the City is part of a long imaginative streak in popular art, a trend that includes Cole Porter and Lorenz Hart and George Cukor and Rock Hudson and most of the writers of the 1970s series Bewitched and many other gay figures whose portrayals of heterosexual life brilliantly subverted heterosexual conventions even as they were providing models for (unwitting) straight boys and girls. But there is a quality to Sex and the City's subversions that is more bitter than playful, an element that is almost vindictive.

Running through Sex and the City is a subtext that amounts to a manifesto for a certain kind of raw, rough, promiscuous, anonymous gay male sex. Star and King sounded the call to arms in one of the very first episodes, when they had Stanford Blatch, Carrie's loyal gay friend, declare that "the only place where you can find love is the gay community. It's straight love that's closeted.".... One of the most recent of the half-hour-long episodes had the women finding happiness for a full ten minutes in a gay men's dance club. A segment this past season sent Carrie and Samantha, both blondes, on a train across the country, joking all the way about Some Like It Hot. Some of the quartet's boyfriends in the show's first two seasons actually wore their sweaters tucked into their pants; and if the actors playing these straight guys weren't gay, I'm Montgomery Clift. Sex and the City's ongoing impersonation is admirably resourceful and daring. But the show's misogyny is not admirable at all.

Commenting on Sarah Jessica Parker's recent pregnancy, Michael Patrick King said: "Sarah's our workhorse, our show pony. We put her in high heels and tell her to run thirty blocks. Now, all of a sudden, she has to be babied." In its caricature of women who talk about sex like men, and, like men, have orgasms every time they have sex, the show represents a kind of counterattack on women's biology. The expensive, mismatched, chic-ugly clothes that Carrie wears; Sarah Jessica Parker's confused interpretations of her character as a black girl one episode and a self-conscious suburban cutie the next; Samantha's robotic-erotic, stud-like manner (and the sweaty, atrocious acting of Kim Cattrall, who could not stand still and convince you that she is a person standing still); the women's starry-eyed gold-digging; their countless humiliations: the picture of heterosexual life projected by Sex and the City, though it sometimes hits the nail right on the head, is the biggest hoax perpetrated on straight single women in the history of entertainment. The series' misogyny is matched by its homophobia: the only regular gay characters, Stanford and Anthony, are self-hating and flaming, respectively. Perhaps the exhilaration that the show provokes in some of its fans stems from the reactionary character of its assumptions about sexual identity.

Also in TNR,

Michael Sean Winter takes down George Weigel's approach to the Situation

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