Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sex and the City

Sex and the City Fever has seemingly taken hold of many women in the nation, and quite possibly more than a few men -at least according to my local paper. So my question for these fans -or not so fans- of the series and movie is this:

Big leaves Carrie right before their wedding, and the film's resolution of this storyline is Carrie finding Big in her closet at their penthouse. Why is this a happy ending? I can think of several reasons why the opposite would be true. For one, the audience of this particular couple has already experienced this particular ending. The last episode of the series had Big and Carrie reunite after a period apart for their "happily ever after". Not only is it disingenuous to fans to leave them in practically the same place as they -fans and characters- had been four years earlier, but what is to say that this is any more permanent than their previous attempts to reunite? Nothing. Since the two of them consistently vacillate between being together and being apart, this being the true "end" of their particular cycle to be unlikely. Especially with the possibility of a sequel in the future. So, again, why should we in the viewing audience be any happier or more hopeful for this couple at this juncture than we were at the beginning of the film?

Even more horrifying for me than the idea that this is "the" happy ending is the idea that we as women should be swooning over a guy who would leave us practically at the alter because he was not comfortable with a 200+ wedding; and that after he deigns to come back to us we should capitulate entirely to what makes him comfortable in regards to the wedding. It is profoundly disturbing for me to have Carrie Bradshaw lose every semblance of her own dream wedding and substitute in its place Big's ideal wedding. It seemed beyond odd that it would not occur to Big that a woman who would spend 500+ dollars on shoes may also be the type of woman to throw an extravagant wedding. And as Big tells Carrie that this is his third wedding, does it not occur to him that this is her first? If Big wanted the City Hall wedding and that is what he expected, then he shouldn't have picked a "Carrie" for his bride. This isn't to say that Big should have completely capitulated either. Carrie -as Carrie tends to do- went more than a bit overboard in wedding plans and Big had every right to tell her that he would prefer a smaller wedding -and for his preference to be respected. But the end of the film doesn't show respect for each of their perspectives and does away for the need for compromise. Instead, Big's wishes rule the day. And that, along with the fact that Carrie is once again won over by this man who couldn't man up at the appropriate juncture, riles me so.

There is nothing romantic about a man and woman who continually cycle between breaking up and being a couple. There is nothing sweet or aw-worthy in the idea that we should wait for a man to "find" himself or "discover how much he really loves" us, especially if it impacts our self-respect and happiness. There is nothing worth celebrating or exalting in the message that we should, as women, continue to forgive men who abandon us and our relationship when times get rough because after all, they did think to build us an awesome closet for our shoes. But that is the end of Carrie's story, at least for the moment. She is a strong, smart, unconventionally beautiful woman; she is a woman who deserved a different, better, partner than a "Big". And maybe Big deserved a better partner than a "Carrie" as well. But instead, this movie is heralded as a triumph for women's film, and Big and Carrie and the film are celebrated as being almost everything their audience expected them to be after all this time.

1 comment:

MediaMaven said...

You always bring up different perspectives...I haven't seen this addressed anywhere else!

The more I think about the movie, the more I realize how underwritten it is. I think it's just the excitement that's overwhelming; I hope to see it again and hopefully gain some perspective. I'm beginning to see why critical reception was lukewarm; Michael Patrick King only wanted to highlight certain things and showcase a certain type of romance. In the finale, it was Miranda who was most against Carrie getting back together with Big (he comes before Carrie leaves for Paris asking for her back and she angrily yells at him that she can't do this anymore--a sentiment she acknowledges several times throughout the series, one of them after Natasha catches her [which is also one of my absolute favorite scenes in an episode I LOVE]); from what I remember, even after Charlotte sees Big and yells at him none of the girls seem particularly angry or upset that she returns to Big. It's the end of the movie, so maybe that's why; maybe they accepted the status quo and understand that after awhile there's nothing else you can do or say to get your friend to change her mind. That would be realistic.

The problem with the wedding is that neither of them communicated to each other. The cell phone mishap was just a contrivance to have the wedding called off. If they had, they could have avoided the whole mess.

I would like a woman's movie that didn't resort to such fairytale claptrap and the usual handwringing, but I'm telling ya, if we want one we'll have to make it ourselves!