The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sex And The City (2008)

Sex And The City (2008)

Look, I have quibbles, but the major thing you need to know is that I loved it. Hell, I teared up more than once. The fact is that these three friends--and to a degree the actresses themselves--seem more like sisters than friends, and the stories of squabbling didn't detract from my enjoyment at all. This is about as good as an adaptation of a television show using the original cast can get (Star Trek:The Wrath of Khan may be the all-time champ). As someone else said, it's like an entire season of the groundbreaking HBO show rolled into two hours and fifteen minutes. If you love Carrie Bradshaw, sweet.

You know, I think I understood something about this show that I hadn't before: that it isn't an accident that these women aren't uniformly "Hollywood Beautiful." Carrie is living in a world in which if you have enough fashion sense, can aerobicize yourself to perfection and find the perfect are beautiful enough to marry a prince. That an effort of will can turn a girl into a princess. And the show rides on that dream, and the concept that friendship can be more healing, more eternal, than the flower of love.

Watching these women helping each other through traumas large and small was a warm comfort I'd almost forgotten. The plot involves Carrie's romance--and impending marriage to-- the elusive Mr. Big. The way it all plays out makes sense to me, and I won't go into it. Let's just say that I walked out of the theater about as satisfied as I've been by a movie in a long time. It was what I came to see--the continuing adventures of Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte--wonderful fictional creations living in a romanticized 90's New York. If you loved the series, you'll love this. For fans, an "A". For others, maybe a "B."
Warning: Sambo Alert

HBO pisses me off. In the six years that "Oz" runs, there wasn't a single black man with a sexual relationship, despite the fact that SOMEBODY got laid almost every week, and almost half the show was black. Despicable. "Sex And the City" wasn't much better--the four girls lived in a melanine-free cocoon. Eventually voracious Samantha did have a black lover, described as a "big black pussy" for being whipped by his racist family. And then of course there was Blair Underwood as a sports doctor infatuated with the prickly Miranda, who dumped him for barkeep Steve. At least Steve was the father of her child. And I definitely noticed that they gave him the least attractive of the a scenario terribly similar to "Something New" where an upper-class gorgeous black man loses out to a lower-class white male. An image system whites are very very comfortable with, and something not entirely without a touch of reality. Skin color IS a giant advantage. I don't have to enjoy watching it, however.
On to the movie. There is one black character, played by Jennifer Hudson, playing Carrie's new assistant. Luckily, she has lost some weight since "Dream Girls" so the contrast isn't QUITE as stark as it could be. I mean, one plot point turns on Samantha putting on a few ounces of weight, and everyone gasps. The message is clear: beautiful is white, rich, and skinny. Casting Jennifer Hudson, who is none of these three, is an obvious stratification. This is class-consciousness in a way that makes me very uncomfortable. There are other black women shown, member's of Jennifer's family. All are hefty. And there are two black men. Both are large, one seems gay. Well, fine. And even at a New Years scene where Hudson is standing beside her date at midnight, not even a single kiss.

Fine. I understand. The unconscious dismissal and presumption is infuriating, but people have the right to create whatever fantasies help them through the night. But I've watched white men and women create these Mammy and Sambo caricatures since the beginning of film, and even with the annoyance, I can celebrate their beauty, power, and intelligence. But never forget the power Sarah Jessica Parker had on that film. I sure as hell don't.


suzanne said...

well, Steve brothers get laid
by white and black women
in The Wire
and not only that, but many of them don't die!

though many folk do die in The wire
(it's the nature of the Game)

and the cast is about
(at least)
70% black

Brian Dunbar said...

And I definitely noticed that they gave him the least attractive of the four..

Not to detract from your point .. maybe this is a preference thing.

Cynthia Nixon is far more attractive than Ms. Parker and Ms. Davis (or, really, their characters).

Kim Cattrall is all that and a bag of chips - but I've had a movie crush on her since 'Big Trouble in Little China'.

AF1 said...

I don't know. Cynthia Nixon is rather homely compared to the other 3.

L. R. Giles said...

Cynthia Nixon is far more attractive than Ms. Parker and Ms. Davis (or, really, their characters).

Great point. I guess it is a matter of preference. I happen to think Kristin Davis is the most attractive of the four, but I know friends who'd take Kim Cattrall over the rest of them any day of the week as well.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

I'd take Kim Cattrall over the rest of them. But Miranda's the obvious candidate for winding up with a barkeep, because, as the most successful and career-oriented of the lot, A) she can afford to marry someone who makes less money, but, B) she can get really frustrated with him for not sharing her ambition, making for tension. So, if the Blair Underwood character's lot in life is to be thrown over for someone poorer, he has to go with Miranda.

Although, I suppose Samantha could have thrown him over out of sheer desire for novelty.

Brian Wood said...

Personally, I don't get it. I saw one episode of sex and the city and two of Friends. HATED THEM BOTH.

Anyone who finds J Hudson less than fine, something is wrong with them. I found all of the women in Sex and the City less than attractive and too stickish. No wonder they had man problems. Men, REAL men, love meat on their women's bones. Note to women: if you hear men talking about how "overweight" women are (ie, not playboy centerfold material), I say, consider the source. Many of the men I have been around (white), complaining about women being overweight, have never been GQ, ripped, and stacked themselves. I was always given the eye because they knew my preference: thick as a brick.

If I want a broomstick, I'll head to the local hardware store.

Brian Dunbar said...

Anyone who finds J Hudson less than fine, something is wrong with them.

Ms. Hudson is a fine looking woman, no doubt. And much more my type, really.

But the context that started this - hey we'll be scratching and belching next - wasn't the entire cast, just the four lead characters.

Steven Barnes said...


Lots of people love the Wire, but I lost patience with it...not entirely certain why.

suzanne said...


durring which season did you lose patience?

the last DVD season - 4
is actually the best of them all
lots about education
and the young

did you get far enough into it
to see the brothers get some?


Josh Jasper said...

I mean, one plot point turns on Samantha putting on a few ounces of weight, and everyone gasps.

I know people who've suffered from bulimia, in part because of social messages like this. Anyhow who's not think as a Hollywood starlet is portrayed as deficient in morals, self control, and usually in intelligence.

Steven Barnes said...


Sure, I saw brothers getting some. My primary comments concern theatrical films. HBO's OZ really bothers me for stated reasons, and I get really really tired of the percentage of time that blacks are represented primarily as criminals or cops. So the Wire got my admiration for quality, but I couldn't get past the sense that HBO has a very, very narrow range of acceptable roles for black actors, and it wears on me. Showtime seems much more open.

suzanne said...


In the Wire
there were black dock workers
and black politicians too

and I expect in the season not yet out on DVD
in the media

it's not just cops and criminals

and really the kids in Season 4
were terrific

Steve Perry said...

The problem with The Wire is not that the brothers don't get laid, or that they aren't represented across the board -- gangsters, cops, politicians, teachers.

Rather, it's that the show is so downbeat, verging on nihilism. Nobody wins, everybody loses, and that's a hard message. I enjoyed watching the show for the performances, but "Life is hard and then you die." isn't the kind of thing that is apt to appeal to a wide audience.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Is it? I haven't watched it yet (no cable, wait to rent DVDs, watch stuff way behind everyone else). Interesting that a show so downbeat would be the favorite of the presidential candidate who's best at doing upbeat in his speeches. But I suppose we all have both our upbeat and our downbeat sides.

Pagan Topologist said...

It has been twenty five years, at least since I had seen two movies in one day, but today I saw Ironman and Sex and the City. Both were wonderful. Thanks for the heads up on the surprise in Ironman after the credits, Steve, or I might not have been able to convince my fiancee to stay for them.

Steve Perry said...

Always stay for the credits. Always. Lot of time, I'm the last guy sitting in the theater. It ain't over until it's over.

Anonymous said...

Any idea how credit crunch affected porn?


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