The White Lily Blog

In the End, That’s All It Was: Just Sex in the City

To the scandal of my wiser friends, I looked forward to the movie version of Sex and the City. The television series had been truly surprising. For one thing, Miranda chose life over abortion, chose Steve over promiscuity, chose marriage, and in one of the most touching episodes, showed real love for her extremely difficult mother-in-law. She actually turned and left the abortion mill. You don’t see that often in today’s market.

Samantha chose love, too, holding hands with her younger man, pledging monogamy. Charlotte found love. Carrie Bradshaw found love, when Mr. Big found rescued her in Paris, and admitted his love for her and took her home to New York. In spite of the characters’ promiscuity and shopping addictiosn, the scripts seemed aware of the possibility of love. In our world, where precisely that, love itself, is on the slave auction block, that’s a lot.

So I was justified in my hope for a good movie. Unfortunately, the hopeful premises with which the series ended were reversed one by one. Miranda and Steve’s sex life is lacking, not comfortable, and Steve is transformed before our eyes from the easy-going and faithful guy we knew in the series to a dark-faced, horny guy who pants a lot and goes crazy and has a one night stand. Miranda leaves him. It is true that they get back together in the end, but their relationship is not the sweet, married, flannel nightgown relationship of the television series. Instead, we get the scene of Miranda’s full frontal nudity that looks almost like a crucifixion and is not pretty. Nor sustainable, in real marriage. That kind of sex, required of the wife, pornographic sex escalating to ever-uglier scenarios, is where most marriages start to end.

Samantha’s character also underwent a significant change in the television series. She morphed from a woman who wins her sex war by joining the other side and exploiting people the way, say, Hugh Hefner does, to a woman who learns how to have a full human relationship of which sex is only one of the parts. Because her boy toy had shown himself to be a real man, staying with her, loving her throughout her struggle against cancer, she was transformed. She was able to believe in love. It was really a beautiful, and moral, plot line, for my money.

Suffice to say in the heart-breaking movie version, that’s all off. Samantha is reduced to one of those aging, paunchy, dog-toting bitches seeking a peep at the biggest dingle on the block. (They make us peep at one in the movie.) One of those women. You know them, and they’re boring.

Charlotte is the only character that retains some measure of her dignity, and I won’t be giving away anything to tell you that the writers make sure that we get how they feel about Charlotte by having her, as the movie puts it “poo in her pants.” It’s that stupid, yes.

But what happens to Carrie is the saddest plot line and the most dramatic reversal of character in the series. I don’t even like to talk about it. Carrie becomes a Third Wife. Big refuses to marry her — he literally leaves her at the altar, but ends up ‘marrying’ her anyway some time later, before a justice of the peace, unremarked by the world and uncelebrated by her excluded friends. Oh, right, he invited her friends to meet them outside just to show what a great guy he is. We’re supposed to buy that, the way Carrie does.

Not that we’re allowed to believe in the banished formal wedding, either. The writers and producers try to present a church wedding (okay, a library wedding, that’s the closest they can come) as nothing more than a merchandising extravaganza. No, a merchandising orgy. There was no counter-weight given, no possibility of a sincere, real-true-love wedding.

No, the counter weight in the movie to that Visa-card version of marriage was not real love, but so-called civil marriage, where the only witness is a guy wearing a badge and a gun, standing way over in the corner. Most sadly, no vows, nothing of the terrible and final solemnity of the marriage vows that promise forever which you speak before your friends and family precisely so they can help hold you to them when times get hard. (The ones Mr. Big wouldn’t write, remember?)

The great Catholic writer of medieval romances, Sigrid Undset, wrote inStages of the Road that modern life, in which the majority of citizens have lost all security and own nothing but their capacity to work, letting it out for daily, weekly, monthly or yearly wages, and as part of that, is reintroducing slavery and slave marriage, the commonest form of sexual intercourse, a weak bond soluble by just about anybody for just about any reason whatsoever. The woman is little more than a concubine, kept for the man as long as he cares to demand her for himself. Paternity can be vague as long as the owning classes ultimately get the offspring. There is no real property to pass on, used shoes not counting for much as capital, and there is no love to protect.

So in the end, turns out that’s all Sex and the City was about: sex, not love, not what Carrie wanted, and not what we want. It was all about what Mr. Big wanted. Mr. Big ‘wants Carrie’ but, like all his kind for whom this movie speaks, he don’t want no stinkin’ religious vows.

And Carrie settled for slave marriage, like the saddest girls of all, the serial wives who marry the divorced players when the guyz realize they’re getting plenty of nookie on the free market but there’s no one to wash their shorts.

Carrie got her legal rights, sure–those that remain after the national victory of no-fault divorce. But she got the gay version of marriage, the version where benefits are the point, and where, when the sex begins to get comfortable, you move on to the next hot thing and register again. That’s all Carrie got.

For the record, benefits and property rights are not the point of marriage to real women. Like Carrie used to, we want real, true, crazy, faithful love that lasts a lifetime. ( And the legal benefits, too.) Now that we lost the Sex/City narrative that seemed to offer us love — and by the way, offered it to the whole love-thirsty world — it looks dark ahead. The way looks dark and scary. There is still a little way to fall. There is still sex with children to be completely legitimized, although they have begun with works like that precious, wonderful, quirky, fabulous Little Miss Sunshine and too many others to name. There is still sex with animals and robots and blow-up dolls to be legitimized, but don’t worry, those plots are in the works. When love is truly dead and Satan finally rules the world. You know, that plot.

I’d like my money back, please

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