Posted in entertainment, movies
May 28, 2010

Defending a movie I’m not keen on seeing…

I admit it. I’m not going to see “Sex and the City 2.” What I’ve gleaned of the plot seems interesting, the problems real enough- but I was happy with the way the first movie ended.

That said, it surprises me how venomous the reviews for SATC2 have become. Not surprisingly, male reviewers don’t get the movie and find it to be tiresome and not interesting. Female reviewers tend to be a bit kinder. Most seem to say it isn’t as interesting as the series or the movie, and those who weren’t fans of the series tend to say so. (Rotten Tomatoes has it ranked rather low, but part of me wonders how many of its reviewers are men and women)

There are very few movies that are written and made for women. It used to be that you could see a sweeping romance, period movie or musical. But these days, studios have decided that the main audience to appeal to is the young man, then kids, and after that more men. No matter how you look at it, women fall to the bottom of the heap. (There are a few chick flicks put out each year, but only a few when you break down how many movies are released)

Critics were surprised by the success of the first Sex and the City movie, as well as the successes of Mamma Mia! and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. All movies which heavily appealed to women. And any time they find that women flocked to a specific movie, even if it wasn’t one that was thought to be geared towards women, critics and entertainment gurus are shocked. As though women haven’t been seeing movies from the beginning.

In the early days of films, women were the main audience being marketed to. Handsome men were cast to play the dashing and swashbuckling leads that would swoop in to save the lovely woman from danger. Women swooned over Douglas Fairbanks and bought fan magazines by the bushel to learn more about the glamorous starlets and handsome leading men. So why is it surprising that movies geared towards women do well?

It used to be that a romantic comedy (aka chick flick) was unbeatable at the box office, but that has since proven to be that a horror movie will always be tops. There are plenty of action movies, that while they feature handsome leading men, are seldom engaging to women beyond that point. There’s a reason that men are drawn to porn, but women want erotica. Men like the imagery, but women want to be emotionally engaged. This is why Johnny Depp films tend to do well. He’s attractive and usually does movies that have an emotional resonance. It’s not just because he’s pretty, people.

Hilariously, male reporters have claimed that SATC2 might have a hard time because of the economy. Not that people aren’t going to see movies- in fact, movie sales have been pretty static since the start of this recession. No, they thought that Carrie and Friends in their designer clothes might be a turn off. This is why during the Great Depression, Hollywood toned down its glitzy image and went for realism, right? Wrong. Hollywood performed quite well during the Great Depression and churned out musical after musical, packed with Busby Berkley numbers filled with glittery showgirls or stars dressed in the latest fashions.

Sex and the City was popular because Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte were just like any woman’s circle of friends. They had problems with jobs, relationships and talked about sex just like most of us do. Only, they did it all while dressed to the nines. They became our fantasy friends- just as neurotic as the real deal, but moved in stylish circles and let us pretend for a little while that we could afford Manolos or Louboutins and wear the latest Prada to a coffee date or to the park with the kids.

The first movie only raised the level of glitz and glamour. It’s no wonder it was a must-see for women, again and again.

Being a woman is tough. Most of us are working women, who know we’re undervalued by our bosses. Most of us are in relationships, whether dating or married. Some of us are mothers, and try to juggle it all. Stretched to our limits, it’s sometimes comforting to step away from the problems in our lives and watch fantasy women juggle those problems at well. It reminds us that we aren’t alone in our struggles. And best of all, we know that by the end of the movie, most of these problems will be solved for the women and they’ll get their happy ever after.

While I have an eclectic taste in movies, I know plenty of women who’ve been dragged to action movies they were bored by, comedies they didn’t find funny- all because they were with the men they loved. Time and time again, female film critics are asked to review these movies that are clearly geared towards men and are labeled as being feminazis if they complain about the treatment of women. I actually saw a few reviews for Transformers 2 that gave it decent reviews, with the caveat that this was clearly a popcorn flick. Nevermind the fact that any children’s movie that isn’t made by Pixar tends to bore adults to tears, but always mentions that it will probably appeal to children. Why is it that a female geared popcorn flick doesn’t get the same concessions?

So lighten up, reviewers. Not everything is meant to be great art. At least the studio didn’t try to make a special 3D edition of the movie so that the Manolos seem just that more realistic.

(As an aside, I do have a few worries about the movie- Do they really expect us to believe that no matter how settled she and Big are, that Carrie would consider cheating on him? That seems completely against Carrie’s personality, since she’d finally decided. Why Abu Dhabi? I know, some sort of exotic getaway. But why not choose somewhere that wasn’t set in a country where public displays of affection are considered immoral?)

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