Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste
The way the media are hyping the upcoming Sex and The City movie, you'd think it was the fucking Second Coming. Seriously. Enough already.
I came late to the whole SATC phenomenon. Didn't have a television for a good chunk of 5 years or so, right when the show was in its prime, so I only knew it through the sort of pop cultural detritus it spewed here and there in terms of it being Sharp and Life-Changing and Profound and whatever re: relationships and urban living and single womanhood in the new millennium. Finally caught up with the series thanks to a miserably rainy January and a stack of DVDs a few years back, so I now feel qualified to excoriate the whole damn thing with a certain amount of understanding.
Candace Bushnell's series has always seemed to me like a vaguely disguised autobiography with better clothes and prettier actresses. But in spite of that, certain episodes did succeed in making some astute observations about real life and relationships and whatnot, in between scenes spent chugging pink martinis and shoe-shopping. Despite any small wisdoms parlayed, however, I can never forgive SATC for spawning the middle-aged lady default drink that is the Cosmopolitan. First of all, that was seven years ago, ladies. Second of all, get a fucking new drink. Third of all, DON'T ORDER IT. IT'S NOT COOL. OK? I MEAN IT.
Whew. Breathing again. So SATC has a mixed legacy of a little cultural relevance and a lot of gratuitous crap. And in the realm of gratuitous crap lies the whole excessive consumerism thing. Which is ultimately the reason that I can't wholly appreciate this series for its observations on romance and relationships. Because these women's lives revolve around shoes and overpriced clothing and ridiculous handbags and bizarro couture. I mean, really; who of us knew what the hell a Manolo Blahnik was before this show? And now it's the go-to iconic image for every chick lit book published, often appearing on the cover with a martini glass or two, as well.
The NYT has an article this morning on the advertising involved in this spring's upcoming SATC movie, and reading it nearly turned my stomach. The shameless promotion carefully built into what was once ostensibly a creative pursuit illumines to what degree the entire SATC industry has become a brand churning out a certain aspirational lifestyle for women viewers, most of whom probably live in bumfuck Idaho or thereabouts and certainly have no access to a Prada store on the corner or any place to wear a $5000 pair of high heels other than the local Wal-Mart. It makes me sick. You've heard about the bus tours that suburban women flock to in NYC that highlight the shops and neighborhoods featured in the series, right? Of course the entire tour experience is a consumeristic shill: buy the flower Carrie wore on her lapel here! Buy the suit Mr. Big wears here! Drink the Cosmo the girls drank here! Live vicariously through four archetypal caricatures who NEVER REALLY EXISTED! Because if they did, they certainly couldn't afford $5000 shoes on a sex columnist's salary.
Ugh. Few things make me want to wretch as much. Since when does a flighty chick who can't afford her rent-controlled apartment because she spent $40,000 on shoes serve as a major icon for American women? What is it about her that is so attractive? The martinis at lunch, the wobbly shoes, the heavily-caked make-up? I don't know. But the Times article this morning reminded me how much the incestuous relationship between advertising and art has sullied the rich potential for cultural observation that was SATC.
SATC and Its Lasting Female Appeal (NYT)