Thursday, June 05, 2008

SATC: Review

I stupidly read all of the reviews beforehand and so not only was I not surprised by most of the movies, but I became very convinced that this movie was antithetical to all of my feminist principles. There are some really good critiques of this movie (mostly at Jezebel), and they're right-on--the movie celebrates gross materialism and strident selfishness, and doesn't exactly celebrate diversity, even if they hire black magic in the form of Jennifer Hudson.

However, reading misogynistic reviews from male reviewers like this one galvanized me to say "Fuck that shit, I'm going to see this movie. Feminism is above all about choice and defying the patriarchy." Of course, it's not choice in abdication of responsibility, but I wouldn't paint a woman with an anti-feminist tar brush for liking Sex and the City, or for wearing heels, or for wearing makeup, or for liking fashion and designer clothes. I've always figured that so long as your head, heart, and voting politics were in the right place (and as long as you used that checkbook for some good causes and those manicured fingers for some good phone banking), that's feminist enough for me. I didn't watch the show religiously, but I watched the last season (the most mature, emotional season in which the characters dealt with cancer, marriage, adoption) in its entirety, and I have seen a fair few episodes from the earlier seasons on syndication. It definitely celebrates a post-feminist world, even as we live in a world very much in need of living feminism. But it's not a horrible show. And the values it celebrates, while personally repugnant to me in the extreme form (materialism, labels-obsessiveness, selfishness, love above reason), are not necessarily bad in and of themselves in moderate doses. Unless you are living in a hut, do not tell me that you do not value things, good things, and yourself. And yes, love.

So I was prepared to boycott the movie, until I got a sweet invite from a dear friend, who wanted to celebrate after doing a practice oral defense. So of course I went. I went prepared to hate the movie and knowing every plot point. I found myself crying at the genuine camaraderie of the girl friends, who in the wake of heartbreak will feed each other with spoons and defend each other against the injurers with a heartbreakingly defensive shout of "No!" My friends were crying too. I went for my friend, and I could see why other women like this series and film, and how the non-material values it celebrates--love, friendship--well, they're good things, and in celebrating them, this movie is not at all that bad.

So, while this may seem to be a tepid review, but it's more of an ambivalent one. I liked it, but you may or may not. Go see it and decide for yourself without making this an issue about where you stand on post-feminism. Yes it suffers from delusions of grandeur and materialism and fairy tale love that can be bought and sold on an exchange economy (whereas love is a gift economy). None of that really matters in the movie though, and many of the critiques are oddly not really good readings of the movie--labels matter less than love. If you want to see it, see it. You don't need to boycott it to take one for the sisters, or to protest the beauty industrial complex. I blame the patriarchy for a lot of things, and I blame it for the PR machine for and against the movie. So much of the press about the movie is telling us, the audience, whether we should see it, and what we should think of it. Again, fuck that shit.

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