Spending And The City

by | Jun 2, 2008

We went to see Sex and the City yesterday afternoon. It sucked. Royally.

The film was poorly acted, the writing was shoddy and it was much too long. But the thing that bothered me most was the glorification of excessive consumption. Calling this film a “film” is a stretch. It’s really an ad for luxury products that 99% of viewers will never be able to afford. I’m sorry but $525 shoes aren’t aspirational. They’re a waste of money (and I say this as a fan of shoes and the TV series).

Today I stumbled upon criticism that helps me feel justified in my opinions.

Anthony Lane writing in The New Yorker:

Mr. Big not only buys her a penthouse apartment (“I got it”), he offers to customize the space for her shoes and other fetishes. “I can build you a better closet,” he says, as if that were a binding condition of their sexual harmony: if he builds it, she will come. The creepiest aspect of this sequence was the sound that rose from the audience as he displayed the finished closet: gasps, fluttering moans, and, beside me, two women applauding. The tactic here is basically pornographic—arouse the viewer with image upon image of what lies just beyond her reach—and the film makes feeble attempts to rein it in.

Better yet, Jezebel’s Maureen Tkacik reprints an email from her Marxist sister.

The characters are slaves to their own fetishization of commodities. This fetishization is responsible for the failure of Carrie’s wedding to Big. Dressed in their billowing designer costumes like unwitting circus clowns, she and her friends fuss around the limousine to carry Carrie to her wedding. “It’s like trying to push a cream-puff through a keyhole,” comments the token homosexual figure (who serves as the Jester) regarding the difficulty of fitting Carrie’s extravagant Vivienne Westwood gown within the limousine. Here, Carrie is quite literally overwhelmed by her own materialism.

A lot of this reaction might have to do with timing. Americans can’t afford gasoline, or food, and we can’t sell our homes in this climate. There are only dark clouds on the economic horizon; yet, we are confronted with Big and Carrie’s 5th Avenue penthouse, Carrie’s haute couture wardrobe, Samantha’s beach front Mailbu digs, first class airline travel and a five star Mexican resort, all of which serve to remind the viewer how far out this fantasy is.

Here’s another, funnier, critique:

[via Katie Spence]

[UPDATE] For the inverse of the argument above, see Marketing Daily.

Faith Popcorn, a trend spotter and founder of marketing consultancy BrainReserve, believes the “Sex and the City” movie comes at the perfect time for a nation exhausted politically, emotionally and financially. Marketers can use the good feeling gained from the movie to their advantage, she says, helping consumers temporarily escape tough times. The movie joins “My Man Godfrey,” “The Women” and other Depression Era classics that provided weary audiences with high-style fantasy relief.