“Sex and the City 2″ and traditional values–go figure!
Intrigued by a review, I went to see “Sex and the City 2.” I found, much to my surprise, that the movie winds up going to bat for much of what one might call “traditional family values.” For those new to the franchise, it’s about four professional women who are very close friends, living extraordinarily privileged lives in NYC. Our narrator, Carrie Bradshaw, (Sarah Jessica Parker,) is a writer for magazines like Vogue, and has recently written a comedic book about her first two years of marriage. In this film, the 4 jet off to Abu Dhabi for a week of girl-power carousing.
**SPOILER ALERT** Indeed, there’s a lot of casual canoodling–one sub-plot involves a couple busted for public kissing. There’s a whole lot of leering going on, as well, and in this equal opportunity fantasy, the women get to leer as well as the men. One character is essentially the id in fancy clothes, and this causes problems throughout the movie. But her behavior is described in the movie as disrespectful of local mores, and she’s clearly in profound denial about aging, which denial is tolerated but not endorsed by her friends. It’s good to act one’s age. One question raised throughout the movie is whether fidelity is important in marriage. And here the move gives a ringing endorsement to fidelity and total truthfulness in relationships. In another scene, two women talk about how difficult mothering is, even though both women have full time help. They raise a glass to women who manage to be great mothers without nannies. Bradshaw is called to account by a stranger for her childlessness, and it is seen as creating a certain rudderlessness in her marriage. Later she learns that the butler at her hotel is only able to see his wife once every three months, if he can find the plane fare–and she admires his steadfastness and leaves him cash for a trip home. And when all is said and done, she realizes that writing a funny book deconstructing marriage vows means that she really doesn’t know much about marriage yet after all. Finally, our group encounters a group of burqa’d women who invite them into their home (just in time, as a mob of scandalized men were about to cause them real trouble.) The Arab women, in addition to saving the day, are revealed to be wearing the latest in NY fashion under their burqas, have a book club reading one of the same western books one of the Americans is, and are generally bold, beautiful, intelligent and fun. Given the free-for-all, fashion-first, fast-lane presumptions of the film, it’s a surprisingly positive vision of observant Muslim women.
Now mind you, this movie is basically meringue, of a fairly salacious variety. It features fabulous clothes, an extreme interest in pricey shoes, sexual license as lifestyle, and bears not a smidge of social-justice awareness. And it’s not without movie-making flaws–the film is too long for a fantasy, and tends to a cartoonish portrayal of men generally, (and some of the women also–viz. Ms. Id.) But when it comes to basic values like fidelity, family and friendship, well, here the movie positively puts “Ozzie and Harriet” to shame. Go figure!