When last we heard from choad-about-town Anthony Lane, he was writing badly about Tina Fey’s supposed chunkitude. Now, he hacks up his latest furball on the subject of Sex and the City: The Movie in the current New Yorker. Let’s not even mention the hideous caricature of the movie’s main characters (see right. That’s right, ladies! If you’re over 40, sign up for Night of the Living Dead! Anthony Lane can’t believe you were permitted to play anything but the crazy cat-lady who lives downstairs from some fat guy in a Judd Apatow movie!) This review is fairly dripping with condescension and misogynist bile. (Hint: count how many times the word “superannuated” comes up in this review. He thinks the characters in this movie are disgusting and ridiculous because they’re too old!)
Now, I’m not complaining that Lane didn’t like the movie. I certainly took issue with the movie’s main plot and resolution, and he’s right about the materialism on display (but that’s hardly a novel observation.) I’m complaining about the following displays of contempt for women, like for example:
- The review is headlined simply “Carrie,” as in Stephen King’s Carrie. Oh, ha-ha. You think you’re the first ones to think of that one? Terribly clever.
- Language like this: “there are four of them—banded together, like hormonal hobbits, and all obsessed with a ring.”
- Or like this: “I was never sure how funny the TV series was meant to be. It kept lapsing into a straight face, even a weepy one, as the characters’ contentment came under serious threat.” Yeah, and you feminists need to decide what it is you want. And, try to get a sense of humor, too! Imagine that–a TV show (and perhaps one movie, too) that shows women experiencing more than one emotion! I guess that’s pretty confusing, when women in the movies these days usually have just one of two emotions: “wife” or “girlfriend.”
- Or like this: “The women in “Sex and the City,” by that standard, are little better than also-rans,” compared to Audrey Hepburn, who was always teeny-tiny, non-threatening, and didn’t do many movies beyond age 40.
- Reductive and incorrect assertions like this: “In short, to anyone facing the quandaries of being a working mother, the movie sends a vicious memo: Don’t be a mother. And don’t work. Is this really where we have ended up—with this superannuated fantasy posing as a slice of modern life?” Um, well, no. First of all, the preschoolers in this movie are about as absurdly well-behaved as any fantasy children ever are in the movies. And secondly–don’t work? No one quits her job in this movie–I don’t get where that one is coming from. Finally: whose fantasy was it in all those movies last year (Juno and Knocked Up) in which a pregnant girl or woman gave birth to children fathered by totally inappropriate losers? D’you really think that’s every girl’s dream, Anthony?
- Insulting and demeaning “quips” like this: “All the film lacks is a subtitle: ‘The Lying, the Bitch, and the Wardrobe.'”
This from a man who regularly reviews movies that feature–shall we say?–highly idealized masculine fantasies (because that’s all Hollywood has to offer us these days.) When do we hear about how unrealistic, shallow, or violent characters like James Bond, Indiana Jones, or the Ocean’s Whatever gang are? Of course they are–but it’s too much to ask any man to watch a movie that might speak to some women’s fantasies and conflicting desires.
Gee, I wonder: if Hollywood let women actors work in more than just the “wife” or “girlfriend” mode, and allowed them to play major roles in movies about women’s lives, do you think that we might get a more textured and realistic diversity of women’s lives on the screen? Just a thought, Anthony. Haven’t you noticed that no one makes movies any more like the ones you reminisce about in your review–Anna Karenina, All About Eve, and Funny Face–and that it’s hardly all Sarah Jessica Parker’s fault that they don’t. Those kinds of movies don’t appeal to the 14-24 year old male demographic, maybe because there aren’t enough breast implants and explosions. Wev. Back to your regularly scheduled summer movie extravaganza. (I hear that Speed Racer Kung Fu Panda is so gripping and filled with pathos that it makes Truffaut’s Les Quatres Cent Coups look like Porky’s II!)
Edited 6/5/08 to include a link to Lane’s review–apologies for the omission!