I’ll admit it: I went and saw Sex and the City 2 last night. Although I loved the series, I was really apprehensive about SATC2 after the first movie left a bad taste in my mouth. Just knowing that it was going to be set in Abu Dhabi made me wince, because let’s face it: the “girls” aren’t known for race/culture consciousness.
But I went anyway. Girl’s night. And I gotta say, the most pleasant part of the evening was spending time with 5 friends that I’ve known since sixth grade, some of whom I haven’t seen in years. After the movie, we made plans to meet for dinner later this week. So thanks, SATC2.
Unfortunately, those are the only kudos I have for the film. I halfheartedly laughed a couple of times through the entire 2.5 hour mess, but mostly I just found myself cringing and sinking further and further down into my seat. The movie was cliched, poorly written, poorly executed, too long, and “culturally insensitive” (to put it nicely).
The film’s asinine comments about Muslim women—more specifically, about their veils—were offensively played for laughs. Sadly, the comments achieved their intended effect: one of the biggest laughs in the theater came from Carrie’s “burkini” comment during the swimming pool scene.
But I digress. Race, class, and the fact that these women are now hollow shells of their former fabulous selves have already been covered in greater detail by other bloggers. So without further ado:
Tom & Lorenzo: “We didn’t love it.”
It was like a day at the zoo for them. Very “Oooh, this GAY WEDDING sure is VERY GAY!” along with the visible discomfort or condescending amusement they all displayed, there was an even worse, overwhelmingly negative (akin to horror) reaction to the idea that gay relationships might be different than straight ones. And we all shouldn’t judge! Even though EVERY SINGLE MAIN CHARACTER WAS CLEARLY JUDGING THEM FOR IT. By the way, the thing they were judging the gays for is one of the worst stereotypes about gay people and one that’s particularly damaging when injected into a discussion about gay marriage.
Like curious visitors staring at an exotic animal in the zoo with equal doses of horror and fascination, the four “girls” observe a niqabi female eating French fries by carefully lifting her veil for each consumed fry. After witnessing this “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” event, Samantha declares, “It’s like they don’t want [women] to have a voice.”
Not since 1942’s Arabian Nights has orientalism been portrayed so unironically. All Middle Eastern men are shot in a sparkly light with jingly jangly music just in case you didn’t get that these dusky people are exotic and different…it is roundly proven here because the film-makers’ knowledge of the Middle East begins and ends with Lawrence of Arabia.
NY Times: Sex and the City 2
[T]he ugly smell of unexamined privilege hangs over this film like the smoke from cheap incense. Over cosmos in their private bar, Charlotte and Miranda commiserate about the hardships of motherhood and then raise their glasses to moms who “don’t have help,” by which they mean paid servants. Later the climactic crisis raises the specter either of Samantha going to jail or the friends having to fly home in coach, and it’s not altogether clear which prospect they regard as more dreadful.
4. Emirati women don’t all wear the niqab: Although various reviewers described the Emirati women in SATC2 as being fully veiled…pictures on UAE government sites and elsewhere on Flickr show that Emirati sport everything from abayas to hijabs to niqabs. It would seem to be quite an unusual vacation in the UAE in which one exclusively encountered women in niqabs.
What Tami Said: What Tami Said can save you $8
[A]s the main characters go from iconic to pitiable, there exists a faux girl power thread running through the film. The protagonists even, inexplicably, sing “I Am Woman” in an Abu Dhabi karaoke club. SATC was never as feminist as it was made out to be. It sure as hell wouldn’t pass the Bechdel Test. But now it seems as un-empowering and pandering as a those pink “girl” computers by Dell.
Samantha is the most nakedly offensive (get it?), Charlotte is clueless and condescending but gets called on it, and Carrie gets wisdom from a zen-like brown person who is serving as her butler. True to form, Miranda has read a lot of books and muses about how men everywhere want women covered up and oppressed. Dodai has a friend who saw it and posited that the movie could be used “as a terrorist propaganda film to pump up the Taliban,” as so potent a symbol of Western decadence and blithe indifference to the outside world.