I object to neither sex, nor the city…

Sex & the City 2… what can I say about this movie?  I object to neither sex, nor cities, though I will admit that New York City is by far not my favorite.  All the cities I’ve ever lived and worked in come before NYC, and a great number I’d like to rule out before I make my final call, to boot.  Still, I don’t think that fact skews my bias too much.  I think the movie repluses me because it’s so bloody shallow.  There are aspects I could appreciate, however…

Four interesting women coming into their own and getting what the want out of this world – great!  Four wealthy women living within their means and having fun – fabulous!  Beautiful people dressed beautifully, working in beautiful jobs, hooking up with beautiful people and living in beautiful homes – aesthetically pleasing in every way!  Dealing with sex, sexuality, and sexual issues openly and honesty – it’s about time!  Lionizing the acquisition of shoes and men as the self-evident key to happiness – um, not so much.  I’ll take whatever is behind door number two, thank you.

A friend treated me to a night out, took me to see this movie, and then we went and had Cosmopolitans and chili cheese fries afterwards.  The movie was instructive, the cosmos went down like Kool-Aid, and the chili cheese fries were not to be missed, but the best part was processing the movie – really, my favorite thing to do after a movie anyway.  When you can do it with a friend, a cosmo and some chili cheese fries, all the better.  The place we ended up going was this: the self-evident key to happiness doesn’t actually lie with shoes.  The movie built up a great sense of restlessness with the main character who had finally gotten everything she’d ever wanted in the world – she had the man of her dreams, she had success in her career, she had wonderful friends.  She had built the perfect life with the perfect husband and the perfect home.  She even had the perfect sofa.  (And she had a pretty perfect closet, if I do say so myself.)  And yet she wasn’t happy.  For this reason I loved the beginning of the movie, because what the main character was feeling was what every one of us feels when we’ve got all the measures of society’s success, and yet we’re still mysteriously not quite as happy as we really thought we’d be at this point.

Now in reality, a couple of different things can happen.  We can pretend we’re happy and that everything is fine and instead mask our discontent in our roles – in being the perfect mother or husband or employee or employer.  We can self-medicate our unhappiness with alcohol, nicotine, sex, overachieving, martyrdom, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, consumer goods and more.  But in the end what it leads to – what it all leads to – is an endless quest with always the promise of fulfillment, but never actually experiencing it in any lasting fashion.  Lasting is the key word.  There is no role we can assume that can bring us lasting peace.  There is no sofa we can buy that can make our marriage perfect.

So, what I was naively hoping for was that the movie would illustrate this point.  Enlightenment – or whatever you’d like to call it today – can only be found within.  It already exists within us.  The capacity is already there, but another pair of shoes is unlikely to water the seed of enlightenment and let it grow.  Time has shown that it’s actually the getting rid of the pair of shoes that is the action more likely to do that.  It’s not required, but if we’re looking at statistical likelihood, then put down the credit card and donate the shoes.  Why?  After all, it isn’t required for enlightenment, why bother?  Why put yourself out like that?  Well, because when we put down the credit card and donate a pair of shoes instead of buying another one, we learn something about ourselves.  How hard was it to do?  How familiar or unfamiliar?  Where are you going to donate the shoes?  How long are they going to sit in your front foyer before you get around to doing it?  Who is likely to be receiving your shoes from the place you’ve donated them?  If you don’t know, educate yourself.  Find out who in the city would need to wear your shoes and why they couldn’t afford to buy their own.  Can you learn this information without judging anyone – yourself, the agency to which you’ve donated your shoes, and the person who will receive them?  If you can’t, think about why that might be.  And then sit back and consider the answers to these questions – your answers paint a picture of yourself in this moment.  What does it look like?

But alas, such introspection was entirely too much to ask for from this movie.  Clearly, the few times I’d been exposed to the HBO TV show Sex & the City in the past, I’d not been paying the strictest of attention.  The one character who has some depth (the lawyer) is not the character we’re supposed to be rooting for.  They are all intelligent women, but their ego drives their inner lives to such an extent that they are about as shallow as a puddle on the side of the road.  They do not know themselves, and so they cannot love themselves.  It then should be no surprise that they cannot love others.

I don’t mean their friendship – which is fraught with all the things they’re not saying to one another – or their spouses and bed partners who are about as shallow as they are.  I mean the rest of the world.  They are so self-absorbed (while failing to be introspective) that they cannot see past themselves.  I was touched by the main character’s awareness of her butler, but that glimpse into the deepening of her character was brief at best.

And so it was an unsatisfactory ending that occurred.  A shallow group of people are all experiencing the same dissatisfaction with their lives which seem, on the surface, perfect, and the happy ending for the slightly deep one (the lawyer) was the only one that rang true in any way.  The rest were all Hollywood facades that seem pretty but have no substance, and certainly have no taste of truth to them.

Final Review: Meh. If you’re a big fan of the actors, or the TV show, then of course you would want to see this movie.  Also, if you’re a fan of sociological spectacles, practical theology, enlightenment or pop culture, this movie may interest you.  Otherwise, hang tight for The Karate Kid doing some serious Kung Fu, or at the least Shyamalan’s take on Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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