So here's the thing - I'm one of those people who will watch Resident Evil: Extinction all the way through (and then tear my way through it afterwards). I tend to get caught up in a movie, watch the whole thing, and then come back to it later and I'm able to articulate things that made me... uneasy, uncomfortable, or happy. So my first impression was actually that... SitC was exactly what it purported to be. It was a chick-flick. It was much like a long episode of the series. It was... possibly more entertaining watching the women in the audience, but on the whole it could have been worse.
Now, though, it's several days later and I'm able to actually articulate some of my unease.
- Biggest thing (and yes, I'm entirely biased about this, I acknowledge it up front) - Carrie and Big didn't need to get married. When they're laying in the closet, after everything, they suggest that they were both getting married because they felt they'd miss out on something if they didnt - and in the same breath they acknowledge that they didn't want something *else* but just each other. It seemed completely jarring to me that Big then got on one knee and proposed. What's wrong with being together without marriage??
- The horrified GASP from all three (Carrie, Miranda & Charlotte) when Samantha shows up at the baby shower with the teeny-tiniest extra amount of skin and body weight.
- Along with that - the line that came after, when all four women are sitting around having cake, and Carrie pays lip service to an idea that women come in all different shapes and sizes, and then yanks it RIGHT back... her comment went something like this: "not that you wouldn't look beautiful no matter what shape you are, but... what happened??" It was the worst kind of throwaway line
- The moment when Carrie gets her laugh back, in Mexico, I'll be honest - in the theatre, I laughed. Part of it was that the whole place was laughing around me. Upon reflection, it was a horribly cruel moment. If one of my friends crapped their pants (which, i know, comic hyperbole, but still), the least I'd do was HELP THEM while I was laughing. The camera just goes into glossy slow-mo on Carrie's rejuvenated face and ... it's pretty sick.
- Carrie's reaction to Miranda telling her the comments she'd made to Big on Valentine's day. It goes from Carrie being honest about making the wedding about "me" and then turns into, "You ruined my wedding!" complete with supposed-hilarous stalk off through the balloon streamers. What was it? Reactionary, and frankly fake. Oh, sure, give Carrie a week of stewing on it and i can see her flinging that comment at Miranda, but two moments after Miranda makes her big revelation? Fake drama for the sake of it.
- In that same vein, Miranda's total and utter cutting off of Steve rang weird to me, just weird. I keep trying to tell myself it's the way they've made her character, but I still think it rang false.
- the coffee shop scene that almost ends the movie - it smacked to me of a weird kind of narrative where, once you're married and you have kids, what you're happy with is a greasy spoon dinner, not any of the upscale party things that you used to do with your single gal friends - and that the family space is ONLY a middle-class or lower-class space. It's not a trendy diner, it's a greasy spoon. And it's filled with families. I still haven't figured out quite what it's trying to say about that but it left me uneasy.
- the Charlotte storyline was utterly devoid of conflict - why was that? I still don't get it. did they (the writers, the producers, the focus groups) decide no one cared about her enough?
So I was reading the blog sphere last night to see what other people said about this. There were a number of reviews about the reviews that claimed that I shouldn't be holding SitC to some high standard... because it didn't represent all women or even any women in the world. Also that it was based on a fairy tale lifestyle anyway. And that the issues they did manage to work into the series were pretty wide-ranging.
I've gotta rebut this a little. For a show that's not supposed to be "representative" we're given 4 types of women. Miranda - the cold, calculating career woman, Samantha - the unrepentant sexual woman, Charlotte - the woman who wants the fairy tale of marriage & family, and Carrie, the supposed amalgam of the other three. You telling me they're not trying to be all things to all women? Oh, and sure, they're all white - cuz there are still some fairly nasty stereotypes about just who's worth paying attention to in television, and just who represents who, and seriously, these women are meant to represent everything today's woman (whatever that means) wants.
And ok, maybe my rant here is losing coherency, but still - this movie (and that series) was/is trying to be all things to all women in terms of romance. You get your ostensibly purely sexual relationship (that turned, supposedly, into something else), you get your "fall back guy" who then does something to actually suggest he might not be waiting quietly in the wings (Steve), you get Charlotte's poor husband that basically has 5 minutes screen time at most, and he's the great supportive hubby, and you get Big, who is supposed to be a commitment-phobe who can't express his emotions. And you get your two different types of gay boys (who end up with each other at the end?). I don't know how people can ignore the fact that the women who watch this (all women who watch this) are supposed to be identifying with one or the other women (or one or the other relationships). It is trying to be all things to all women.
Not so much for the men, though, and I can completely understand why men wouldn't be interested in this movie - because as much as the women are nasty and reactionary to each other, they're even worse to the men. And as much as the women are paper-doll fantasies of actual female stereotypes, the men are tissue paper representations of male stereotypes. And that's a little creepy to - is there an implication that to have women central to a show/movie men must then become paper thin characters? (reversing the criticisms I've leveled at other films where the men are the well rounded characters and the women are little wispy things with less substance than the scenery).
Ok, this is long and I still feel as if I haven't finished or addressed everything I wanted to. But I think I worked through the big issues, and the rest of it I'm prepared to let go under the umbrella of "uck" and leave it at that.