7 Jul 2008

In the world of Sex and the City

I always like Sex and the City. Though I firmly believe the movie is truly lacking taste, in whatever sense, I still like it. I guess this is because I am so intoxicated by the current social fashion that leads us to go after brand names and pursue a fantasy life only aiming at fulfilling all our material desires; in other words, I am such an obedient citizen in this world of consumerism.

A movie that gives us a fairy tale trying to evoke romanticism can never be a wrongdoing. Sex and the City satisfies us by confirming a happy ending between Carrie and Mr. Big. All obstacles they met intensifies the bond between these two single New Yorkers and makes their marriage at the end highly sacred. Marriage is sacred, as I believe those who approach it through a religious and moral perspective would say so, but the one we saw here is sacred with a different sense. It is sacred because it is a marriage, it is sacred because this marriage compensates them for all difficulties they had encountered, and it is sacred because we have had this idea of marriage being sacred since religion interfered in our way of life. If Carrie really thinks that their decision to be together is based on two adults agreeing to live together, why bother to conduct such an action of 'getting married'? In real life, this question would not sound weird, but in a movie that is expected by people of whatever kind this question should not exist but be replaced by a happy marriage. They must be married! The form is not important as long as their marriage is witnessed by a legitimate power. Therefore, this marriage responds to Snow White and Cinderella preaching the idea of fantasy life that is in essence hollow and meaningless. In order not to provide the audience a meaningless world but to satisfy their taste for romanticism, the movie must present a wedding that could bring the audience to tears which can reinforce the sense of sacredness in this wedding ceremony.

A world of illusion was created and the audience all indulged themselves in this false reality. Indeed, there is nothing wrong for a movie to create such atmosphere that fulfills audience's dreams and unsatisfied desires. This movie is centred on Carrie and its only theme is to tell its audience that Carrie and Big are finally married. All other characters are obviously decorations lacking their flesh and blood. Unlike the TV series, which is more about real life and gives other characters their personality and emotions, the movie has gone into the direction of presenting a total meaningless fantasy life. Its storyline is a pure melodrama that is so irrelevant to our real life. The idea of 'everything will be as perfect as we hope' is such a cliche that sounds naive to the modern audience. The spirit of praising the right of being a single woman has been diminished to the great in the movie. Only at the end we see Samantha finally expressed this idea. The weak storyline turns Sex and the City into a cheap melodrama that kills the original spirit of the TV series.

Due to the lack of a strong storyline and the creation of a fantasy life unreal to our modern audience, the movie seems quite distant to our real life. As a consequence, this movie didn't give us anything but a vague and hollow emotional experience. However, the power of consumerism functions very well in this movie. It is amazing to see how this movie advertises fashion brands and other commercial activities. The most interesting one is on Carrie holding a new Chanel bag shopping for a dress in Diane Von Furstenberg store. In this scene, Carrie tried her best to show the Chanel logo on her bag, and the camera accidentally panned to the window on which the name of the store is printed. The other scene would be Samantha, due to her frustration with Smiths, shopping overly in Gucci and then having the concierge carry all bags to her car. And of course the scene of the New York fashion week is another example. I guess the advertisements of these commercial brands and activities are the most 'realistic' part of the movie, which is also the only part that matches the original spirit of Sex and the City and draws the attention of modern audiences. This presentation of commercial activities is a reflexion of our modern consumer culture. It vividly shows that these refined clothes, shoes or bags symbolize a person's taste and social status. When a person is rich enough to purchase these items, they should because they make a person happy and beautiful. In the other way, if a person's financial condition is not that good, then there is another way to enjoy these objects, that is, to rent them from the internet. Carrie's personal assistant is such a type of person. She thinks that using these bags are necessary and she should rent one when she is unable to afford one. She was so happy to receive her first LV bag from Carrie. All these indicates that the satisfaction of material desires is the source for happiness and we, being sensuous beings, construct the meanings of our life through such an action. In other words, the movie presents us who we really are and how we live our material life. Again, this should be considered as the most and the only realistic element in the movie. The value of the movie lie in this approach. It is not to comment whether this life-style is good or bad. It is simply presenting it because it is truly how we live, especially for those who live in big cities who has the information for material life which is considered by them as a way of life-style that provides them a status and taste in life. Besides this element, there is nothing in this movie that can be taken as real and related to our daily life.

In fact, when the storyline of a movie cannot construct meanings for its audience, it turns into a melodrama in which a fantasy life that is both meaningless and detached from reality is created. This type of drama can only be taken as a pure entertainment without any taste and artistic value. It is nothing special, and you can laugh or cry over it without worrying you may need to use your brain and gain further feelings. However, presenting something real and close to our life would definitely lead a movie to another direction, which would bring certain emotions or ideas to its audience and make them think after they go out of the theatre. Most movies fall into both categories meaning they acquire both quality. When a movie has more realistic element than the fantasy one, it probably would be considered as more artistic and meaningful than those whose fantasy element outweighs the realistic one. As for Sex and the City, it is obvious that its fantasy world is very well constructed. Though there's a message about consumerism, it is hidden under the hollow and meaningless storyline and would easily be overlooked. Besides, it is not the intention of the movie to criticize consumerism. It presents it because it is what happened amongst us in our modern everyday life. Hence, this movie is still only a fantasy that aims to give its audience a definite answer to the unsolved problem between Carrie and Big.

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