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Sex and the City 2 (2010)

They're Just Being Miley

And what about these people who tell you their needs aren't being met?

Do you run into this stuff? This is support group shit; twelve-steppers.

“My needs aren't being met!”



Know what I tell ‘em? Drop some of your needs!

—George Carlin

When the first Sex and the City movie debuted in 2008—celebrating as it did the excesses and cluelessness of four shallow, wealthy women—I gave it a pass because the studio and the creators had no way of knowing that their couture fantasy would land at the beginning of an economic downturn. Besides, there were plenty of other reasons to hate the movie and its “characters”.

Somehow, the film made $145 million dollars.

Now we have Sex and the City 2 to contend with, and since America is in the toilet financially, the titular city has been changed from New York to Abu Dhabi, where everything is extravagant and wonderful—unless you’re a Jew or a woman, apparently.

Sex and the City is based on an HBO science fiction series from the late 90s, wherein the personality of a successful woman in her mid-30s is mysteriously split into four equal parts. They spring from her body and parade around NYC, masquerading as actual people. There’s Miranda, The Serious One (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte, The Innocent One (Kristin Davis), Samantha, The Hyper-Sexual One (Kim Cattrall), and Carrie, The, um, Neurotic Writer (Sarah Jessica Parker). Their sinister goal is to brainwash an entire generation of women into believing that relating to one of them means something (“I’m such a Miranda sometimes!”), and therefore stunt and distort the sexual revolution. The creatures’ expensive tastes and fourth-grade understanding of how men work only accelerates the decline of modern feminism—which, I believe, series creator Michael Patrick King once cited as a bonus.

I’m being facetious, of course, but no less honest. The big-screen sequel finds Miranda, Charlotte, and Carrie married and miserable. Miranda has a new pig of a boss at her law firm (played, bizarrely, by Blue Collar comedian Ron White), and her packed schedule leaves little time for family. Charlotte has constant freak-outs because she feels she’s not around enough for her kids—which is weird, because she apparently doesn’t work and yet she and her husband have hired a full-time nanny.

Carrie has it worst of all. Her rich, mysterious day-trader husband, John (Chris Noth), comes home from work late and just wants to eat takeout while watching old movies. He has no patience for late-night parties and movie premieres (though he goes anyway), and doesn’t even have the decency to buy Carrie really expensive jewelry on their anniversary. The guy’s a total scumbag. I mean, he doesn’t beat Carrie or anything, but in some ways, it’s worse. Seriously, you guys.

Swinging, single Samantha is free to do whatever she wants, and when offered the chance to fly to Abu Dhabi and stay at a luxury hotel—on the condition that she use her power as a PR genius to boost its profile—she ropes the girls into coming along. As happens all the time, three moms and a whore drop everything and fly, responsibility-free, to the Middle East for a week of pampered bliss.

It takes almost half of the film’s two-and-a-half-hour run-time for them to get to Abu Dhabi, and until this point, I was bored by Sex and the City 2—but not offended by it. I guess because I’d only seen the girls in their own habitat I didn’t realize how utterly disgusting they are; when transplanted to a culture where money can buy anything except social change, their flaws as characters seep through the gloss and Botox. Sadly, the screenplay uses this locale shift to ridicule the wrong target.

I’m sorry, but I simply can’t accept that a group of four women—now in their mid- to late-40s—can be so culturally insensitive and unaware of the world that they would land in the Middle East and still think they are on the East Coast. Only Miranda attempts to blend in, learning phrases and customs from a tourist book and reminding her compatriots to not show to much skin. The others giggle at Abu Dhabi women as they eat food by slipping it under their veils; they say inappropriate things and make inappropriate gestures in public; they sing “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” in a nightclub. It’s one thing to disagree with the religious restrictions placed on a culture from afar; it’s quite another to go to the heart of that culture and mock its customs, lazily promoting change.

But that’s the problem with the Sex and the City movies. On one hand, we’re meant to appreciate Carrie and her friends as light, quirky cartoon characters who love Love, and who get into wacky misadventures; on the other, we’re meant to draw real world parallels to our own lives (okay, maybe the men aren’t). I’m willing to bet that most of the audience has spent some time developing self-awareness, common sense, and something resembling decency—at least, I’d like to believe that. The alternative is that the audience is full of teenage Miley Cyrus fans (is it a coincidence that she has a cameo in this film?).

If you have any knowledge of the real world or any actual relationship experience, you’ll likely find this movie appalling, and not hysterically funny. To put that to the test, please answer the multiple choice question below:

A smart, middle-aged American woman traveling abroad would:

A) Stop to buy souvenir t-shirts in a market while being chased out of said market by a gang of angry religious men.

B) Attempt to have intercourse on a public beach and then scream indignantly when arrested and expelled from a luxury hotel for having broken several laws.

C) Go on a date with her ex-boyfriend, who she randomly encounters in an Abu Dhabi market, and expect nothing intimate to occur—even though she’s having relationship troubles with her husband back in the States.

D) None of the Above.

Depending on how you answered the above question, you may or may not need a lifestyle intervention.

Don’t worry: the girls manage to escape back to America at the end of the movie. They all salvage their relationships and move on to bigger issues—like what to wear to Fashion Week. For them, Abu Dhabi will become a quirky anecdote they tell at cocktail parties, a modern Arabian Nights bedtime story. I guess they realized that they couldn’t change the culture by waiving condoms around and screaming about sexual liberation, and decided to leave it up to the people who handle that kind of thing; you know, the help.

Of course, I’m a guy, so I can’t possibly understand the appeal of Sex and the City. I just don’t know how women work and how they relate to each other. Besides, this is just escapist, popcorn fun, and I shouldn’t take it so seriously.

Maybe there’s something to that. But I would caution this movie’s target audience to keep the same perspective on this movie and its influence on popular cuture—lest they wake up one morning and find themselves not taken seriously in real life.

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