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Topics/Questions/Exercises Of The Week—11 June, 2010


Y Chicks R Dumb: So more than one or two culture vultures, most of them female, have glommed on to the fact that a lot of the more vehement reactions to Sex and the City 2 are misogynist and represent a cultural double standard. To which one can only respond, "No duh," (or, more rudely, "No shit, Sherlock") and "What took you so long?" The wittiest and most piercing of these pieces was from The New York Times' Manohla Dargis (who gets exempted from reaction time criticism because the week-or-so-later thumbsucker in Arts & Leisure is just how things work, and are supposed to work, in a sane news-cycle world, the one that existed before you crazy internet kids came and mucked it up so you have no one to blame but yourselves) (also, full disclosure: Manohla's a friend) who also did some worthwhile heavy lifting on the film's larger and even more problematic cultural context. Less impressive were the musings of The Guardian's Bidisha (where'd she get that haircut?), who tsk-tsked: "Given the critical bile on offer, you would think that Sex and the City 2 had been made by a convicted rapist such as Roman Polanski, a famous misogynist such as Lars Von Trier (the plot of all his films: brutalised woman suffers), featured a convicted rapist such as Mike Tyson in The Hangover or depicted women being grateful for hate-filled violent sex before being murdered, such as Michael Winterbottom's acclaimed The Killer Inside Me." Wow, it's as if the woman had entered a "how many category errors can you make in one sentence?" contest. Has Roman Polanski ever actually made a film that condoned rape? What's the plot of The Boss of It All? A little further down, Bidisha lists Herzog's supremely ironic rethink of Bad Lieutenant as one of seven films currently topping the British box office which she characterizes as being "standard ignorant, cliched, macho, brutal, brainless, gung-ho, numb-knuckle, totally male-dominated, exhilarating toss." All right then. Let's hear it for Bidisha folks: what happens when identity politics meets brain damage. If I was Bob Hope, I'd add, "no wonder she can't find her last name!" Good thing I'm not Bob Hope.

In New York magazine, or at its blog, Emily Nussbaum posts a rambling, inane defense of SATC 2 in which she addresses specific objections to the film, bullet-point style; my favorite goes like this: "THE MOVIE IS OFFENSIVE TO ARABIC CULTURES" is the subhead, and the immediate "response" from Nussbaum is, "Okay, complicated issue." I love that. It's as if she's saying, "Hey, Arabic Cultures, hold on just a minute, because I, Emily Nussbaum, am going to clear this whole thing up right now." The more I think about it the more I laugh, and laugh, and laugh some more. And it just gets funnier. "You can't easily make a light Hope/Crosby sand-dune adventure movie in the middle of a depressing, intractable war in the region," Nussbaum notes, except, you know, they kinda did—Hope and Crosby's Road to Morocco was made in 1942. Year ring a bell? The trick here was to shoot the thing on the Paramount backlot, not in Morocco itself, which in case you haven't yet put it together was in fact, shall we say, caught up in a war...of course, that war wasn't "depressing" or "intractable," because it was the noble, anti-fascist World War II, which was fought by the Greatest Generation, and...oh my, I'm laughing some more. But yes, while she's making so much sense, Nussbaum also bemoans the film's "crowingly self-satisfied and gonzo misogynist" reviewers. And quite correctly.

This goes to prove that one can be right, and still be kind of stupid. And behind the laughter, it is all kind of sad; not so much the double standard that deems Hot Tub Time Machine and The Hangover raunchy fun and Sex and the City 2 worse than Hitler and Stalin combined, but the unthinking, complacent, pretty much reflexive acceptance of that double standard as normal. And for all that, I have to take issue with The Toronto Star's Peter Howell's defense of SATC's Carrie Bradshaw from her legions of detractors, which is definitely of the "it's an interesting theory, but" variety:"I can actually think of a rough male equivalent for SATC. It's a film franchise about a man with a huge ego and unfettered sense of entitlement, who cavorts with people who have spectacular budgets for clothes, cars and travel. Our hero consumes vast quantities of liquor and caviar and thinks nothing of trashing his high-priced toys.[...]His name is James Bond."

Like that Russian Blue in the first Cats and Dogs movie says, "I think not, baby puppy." Whatever the hell James Bond does, he doesn't cavort. Also, when have you ever seen him drunk? Also, he doesn't have a particular penchant for friggin' caviar. Also, he saved the world and Western Civilization and Fort Knox and so on and so forth from near-certain doom, and done so in the case of the world and/or Western Civilization practically dozens of times, so I'd say the guy is fully entitled to his pleasures. What the hell has Carrie Bradshaw ever done, except write a bunch of stupid columns (they're not even real, full columns, they're just voice-over fodder) that she then collects into a stupid book that she presumptuously files next to a critical classic by Susan Sontag? Huh? Huh?

And now I'm gonna have my name changed to Bidisha 2.

Must be wearying having so many of these wymmyn kinda agreeing when they’re clearly sorta more stupid than you, Glenn #GreatSmartassesofOurTime
Like the way you take a dig at Bidisha’s haircut. That really cuts her arguments off at the knees. Way to go, girlfriend!
Hey rambling man, you realize that “Wow, it’s as if the woman” is borderline sexist, or was that the point? The woman’s name is Bidisha.
Well… all I can say is, if I’d milk in my nose, this would have made it come out. By the way, I tried imagining Bidisha as a man, so I could run the sentence “Wow, it’s as if the man…” Didn’t seem sexist at all, not even borderline.
David, I wasn’t gonna say anything; after all, why not let Bidisha’s fans go off on me, I’ve earned it and I can take it…but still, now that you mention it, I think “you realize that ‘Wow, it’s as if the woman’ is borderline sexist, or was that the point?” is my favorite online comment of all time.
More to the point Bidisha, in what universe was there no “sizzling contempt” for Lars Von Trier and/or ANTICHRIST? More people liked ANTICHRIST than SATC2, rightly or wrongly. But those who didn’t like it HATED it and regularly denounced it in the harshest terms as misogynistic. Indeed the whole “Lars Von Trier gets off on suffering chicks” is now almost its own cliche and school of thought (again rightly or wrongly). In fact that precise quoted line about his work as a whole is one I first heard in 2000.
Ugh, thanks, Glenn, for introducing me to Bidisha. Like I needed more things to seethe over.
Well, Bidisha’s more recent pronouncements have been getting something like five or six comments, and this has got her a whopping 241. I predict her next column will be about Israel and mention Michael Bay in a disparaging manner.
To square the circle, is Michael Bay a Jew (or, like Marx and Lenin, can he be made to look like one by anti-Semites)?
Pretty funny stuff. While I haven’t seen SATC 2 and can’t comment on its ostensible sexism, I suggest that everyone complaining watch Julie Davis’ abysmally glass ceiling-reinforcing FINDING BLISS, and THEN make their case…
’So more than one or two culture vultures, most of them female, have glommed on to the fact that a lot of the more vehement reactions to Sex and the City 2 are misogynist and represent a cultural double standard. To which one can only respond, “No duh,” (or, more rudely, “No shit, Sherlock”) and “What took you so long?” ’ I didn’t think you could get more condescending and implicitly sexist than your earlier post on your blog refusing to review this hideous crime against cinema, but by golly, you’ve done it.
I’m still wondering to what extent, if at all, the attacks on SOTC2 were influenced by the SOUTH PARK episode that aired a few weeks before the release of the film, where Sarah Jessica Parker is referred to as a “donkey face trannie witch” or something to that effect and eventually gets murdered by a Mark David Chapman-style killer. Also wondering if there is something inherently sexist about snark. It certainly is a very reactionary form of humor. What made the attacks on SOTC2 particularly ugly is that they seemed written specifically to evoke the sort of female “hysterics” that would somehow “prove” everything the writers were saying about the movie and, by extension, its target audience. Ultimately, they seemed a form of social control posing as criticism.
D. Ash, I certainly don’t disagree with your description of snark as a reactionary form of humor. Particularly if you’re going by the old O.E.D. definition of the word, that is, “pertaining to, or characterized by, reaction.” That is, I don’t necessarily see “reactionary” as a pejorative, and I certainly don’t consider it as always having to do with conservative or neo-conservative politics, or what have you. Which doesn’t mean it CAN’T have anything to do with that. (And not to get all “you people don’t get me” here, I do nod to certain such tendencies in this post—I don’t choose my illustrations willy-nilly, you know.) Nevertheless, I think you’re overreaching in your speculation about there being something inherently sexist about snark. I mean, you HAVE read the website Jezebel, have you not?

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