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REVIEW: SEX AND THE CITY

By Steven Barnes

 

Friday, July 04, 2008.

 

Yes, I have quibbles with this film, but the major thing you need to know is that I loved it. Hell, I cried 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 ground-breaking 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 apartment, you can be 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 1990'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 the bar-keep Steve. At least Steve was the father of her child.

 

And I definitely noticed that they gave him the least attractive of the four - in 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, as Carrie's new assistant. Luckily, she has lost some weight since her Oscar winning role in "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, members 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 Year 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 dawn of the cinema age. 

 

 

Steven Barnes is a best-selling novelist, television writer and art critic. His latest book, Great Sky Woman, is now on sale at AmazonHe blogs as Darkush.

 

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