Sex And The City: A Portland View

By Sunday, June 1, 2008 1 0

Sex and the City

I saw this movie yesterday, intrigued by the series’ popularity among women and how it all relates to what I call the diamond-cut life.

Fact one: I love fun as much as anyone (ask my many girlfriends). Fact two: Consumption drives global warming. Science has made this clear. While we have to consume in order to live, it’s possible to consume modestly, in a way that manages global warming.

Sex And The City (SATC) felt more desperate to me than fun. The hyperconsumption of the SATC lifestyle is a cousin-once-removed from practices like colonialism and smoking in public rooms. All three yield short-term fun for the people choosing to do them, the only problem being the negative, long-term and deathly impacts on others.

I can feel the spirits of SATC fans and rising up, wanting to kill me for that statement. But it gets worse.

Willfully insisting on the right to one’s short-term fun despite its negative impacts on others is what children do. The women in SATC mostly behave like children, bent on fun at any financial and earthly cost. Children rebel against limits, while adults have learned to work and play within limits. I had a sense of watching children in adult bodies playing dress-up in hundreds of costumes, refusing to grow up. Likable children, sweetly bonded to each other, you bet. But no grown-up women in sight.

“It’s just entertainment, a movie, a fantasy! This is a harmless escape!”

Point taken. But fantasies are aspirational. And what are we needing so badly to escape from? We have more luxuries than any nation in the world. Why all the desperation to escape? Our national lifestyle, which SATC in effect satirizes, is the most materially abundant one in the history of the planet. And it’s not sustainable, not going to last. Global warming will destroy civilization as we know it if we don’t do rapid course-correction. A local thought-leader, a Republican, recently said in a public forum, “We’re in a dying empire.”

Is it that very fact that we know in our bones, and are trying to escape from with movies like Sex And The City?

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1 Comment
  • Colleen
    June 1, 2008

    Though the movie did touch on the importance of real, honest relationships, felt the movie had a major over-arching emphasis on expensive clothes, purses and jewelry (read: consumption). Like Alison, I like fun (and clothes) as much as anyone. And of course we all know the SATC lifetstyle is a fairy tale.

    But how and when did this kind of “we-too-can-live-in-a-fairy-tale” attitude seep into America’s collective subconscious? Sadly, I think it happened long before SATC came on the airwaves as a TV show and now a movie. Only now are people starting to re-set their attitudes to more moderate and sustainable goals.

    If America is a dying empire, than the indulgent, over-consumptive SATC lifetyle is perhaps its swan song. Isn’t it time the empire stopped dressing up all the time in new clothes?