Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sex and the City 2: Samantha FAIL and a Quick Word on the Rest

I saw the new Sex and the City movie last night, and I was all set to defend it against the charges that it's anti-Muslim. I was prepared to say things like, "Is it really bigoted to ridicule all things cultural? Don't all cultures, typical middle-class American culture included, have those elements that should be brought to light repeatedly until they are changed? Racism was, and is, part of our culture, and it is right to fight against it; should we keep our mouths shut when the issue is blatant sexism?"

But I'm not going to say any of those things, because none of those things apply to this movie.

Samantha, by her inability to keep her language tasteful, her cleavage covered, and her hands to herself, continually insults the religious sensibilities of the people of Abu Dhabi.

What? Shouldn't we have expected that? Isn't she just being herself?

Why, no. No, she's not.

Samantha is a high-powered executive; she runs her own public relations company. Although idiots do sometimes fall into high-paying jobs, they don't create successful businesses that heavily rely on the abilities to read people and cater to their needs. Samantha is a smart woman, and a woman with a clear knack for reading the verbal cues and body language of others.

She's also a woman in control of her sexuality. Her come-ons in New York, while often juvenile, serve a purpose. They tell potential partners that she is confident and in control of her life and her body.

The same come-ons in Abu Dhabi are beyond vulgar. By using them, Samantha demonstrates an utter lack of self control. She's animalistic, and not in the good way. She's unselfconscious, but she can't be called confident. Confidence is a human construct.

Writer Michael Patrick King has turned Samantha into a terrible caricature of herself, especially sad since he wrote the last movie and wrote for the show itself. How can he know so little about one of the women he helped create?

When Samantha wasn't making a pig of herself, the movie was funny and touching, although I do agree with one reviewer who said that the wrong problems were given emphasis. Carrie's concerns were generally overblown by Carrie herself, though that was true to character. Our heroine's way of approaching her problems was also right in line with expectations; she voiced her ill-conceived opinions incessantly and behaved impulsively. The most true-to-life issue was the guilt Charlotte experienced at feeling overwhelmed as a mother, and the most touching scene in the movie sprang from Miranda's concern for her.

I have no idea how to rate or grade this movie. As a fun, watchable, sometimes sweet romp, I'd have to give it a solid B+ or an A-. However, the idea that Samantha's antics were acceptable comedy fodder makes me want to give it an F on principle.