Friday, June 06, 2008

Labels and Love? Comsumption Overload

The Long Island Bat Mitzvah blogging has been interrupted by all SATC all the time. Yes, I saw the SATC movie yesterday. My friend Kara works at HBO where they offer free screenings of their movies and premiers of their shows in the company theater. Since I make my own schedule now, watching a movie at 12:30 in the afternoon seemed perfectly appropriate.

Think I have opinions? You bet I do.

Underneath the manipulative (and uber-predictable) story-lines and swelling musical scores, there were moments when I felt genuine emotion. Charlotte's Mama-bear face and guttural "No!" while protecting Carrie from Big, moments after Carrie pelted him with flowers? Heartbreaking! Steve and Miranda's reconciliation on the Brooklyn bridge? Heartwarming! Carrie going to meet Miranda on New Year's Eve? Heart wrenching!

But underneath these glimpses of characters we've bonded with and want to love is the ugly message of the movie: consumption. Nearly every scene is about and only made possible by consuming--whether it's sex, food, shoes, dresses, closets, apartments, or vacations--nearly every problem in this movie is solved with money.

When Carrie tells Miranda and Samantha that the two of them could "rule the world" after they buy back her apartment and hire a team of laborers to pick up her boxers, what she really means is that money rules the world. Money allows three women to buy tickets to Mexico on a day's notice. Money allows them to join their friend at a five star resort. Money allows Charlotte and Miranda to have nannies who watch their children while they attend their friend's honeymoon.

And that's just one plot point.

Money allows Miranda to move out when she's having marital problems, meaning that she can spend thousands of extra dollars each month on her new apartment and her new life instead of exploring other options. No, I'm not suggesting that she should have stayed if she was miserable, but having the luxury to set up an entirely new house is one that many women don't have when they hit bumps in their relationships.

Money allows Samantha to fill a void that is left when sex is no longer her outlet. What does she do? She consumes. She goes shopping for labels and more labels. She needs a labeled car to carry home her ladens of labels. She buys a sex-starved dog as a replacement for own libido. She can watch as another animal acts out in the way she wants to. And, she literally consumes, gaining so much weight that her friends have an intervention at Charlotte's baby shower.

And Carrie? She goes apartment hunting with a man whose finances she apparently knows nothing about. She doesn't know what their budget is for an apartment. She doesn't know what he can and can't afford. And she claims to not understand what could break up a couple who have such a fabulous apartment.

What goes wrong for the co-owner of said fabulous apartment? Carrie plans a million dollar wedding in order to showcase a dress instead of a relationship. Big is not blameless (and they way he sat there calling her repeatedly and never calling her friends is just stupid), but the structure of the movie is about how Carrie went overboard with consumption. It's the only time someone in the movie is punished for excess. And what does she do to fix the situation? She spends. She hires someone to get her life back together. Who among us could hire someone to go through their mail, respond to their emails and unpack their boxes? Who could reward that person with an UGLY $5,000 purse?

For a movie all about money, there are very few times an actual figure is ever mentioned. One is when Samantha's dog humps Carrie's new $300 pillow. Another is when Carrie corrects Louise from St. Louis (UGH) about the real price of her shoes ($525, not $400). I know that the absence of figures is a way to maintain the fantasy, but it reasserts that if you have to ask what the price is, you can't afford it.

And Louise? She moved from St. Louis to New York to find love? No. She moved to New York for the fantasy. She moved to New York to prance around with rented purses, trying on someone else's goods and someone else's life. Barf.

I moved from Kansas City to New York because it was New fucking York. Because it offered every exciting possibility imaginable. Because I wanted to begin my career. Because I wanted to go dancing until 6 in the morning. Because it was the manifestation of everything grand and fun and fast-paced that I had seen and loved in movies.

If I was a young girl, this movie would make me want to stay as far away from New York as possible. And that might be why I'm most disappointed.


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