It seemed like a good idea to take my daughter to see Sex and the City 2 for her birthday; it was a rainy Saturday and SATC2 was the only local movie playing that wasn't a cartoon. Besides, I'm no cinema snob. I snorted my way through The Hangover and howled during I Love You, Man. I cheered for Iron Man and cried when Jaden Smith was bullied in The Karate Kid. Hell, give me Austin Powers reruns and I'm happy. So I was totally ready to kick back and love this trashy movie.
What I didn't expect was the whining. Samantha whines about menopause. Charlotte whines about how dreadfully hard it is to have two kids and a nanny. Miranda whines about her job. Carrie whines about Big wanting to watch TV after he's had a long day at work, because she's been doing nothing but waiting for him to take her out.
I tried not to focus on the obvious social gaffes here, like the fact that Samantha thinks it's a good idea to wear short shorts in the Middle East because she's too hormonal to cover up, or that Carrie dresses like my daughter did when she was 3 years old and had a special tutu for every occasion. Instead, I pondered far more pressing questions:
Why can guys do dumb dickhead things in exotic settings, like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, but we women get are four harpies that look like they were created for The Muppet Movie, with those cute wrinkles and bright costumes?
Why did Big let Carrie buy a couch that looks like a coffin?
Why are the women of Abu Dhabi dressed like The Real Housewives of New Jersey beneath their burkhas?
Throughout this film, I kept glancing at my daughter, who slouched in her seat and hoped nobody in the cinema would think this movie was her idea. I wondered what we've taught young women about sexuality. I never wanted to raise my daughter the way I was raised - that is, to think that sex is all in the minds of men. I want my daughter to be sensual without being silly, to be playful and passionate without giving up her identity or intelligence.
But what does sexy really look like? Is it Lady Gaga singing "Alejandro" while being pawed by men in black girdles who look like they're having seizures? Miley Cyrus flapping her wings during her new orgy video Can't be Tamed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjSG6z? How about Helen Mirren brazenly showing off her very post-menopausal skin in upcoming Love Ranch http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/21/helen-mirren-topless-nude_n_620000.html?
None of the above. As my mom used to say, if you have to sell something that hard, it's not worth anything. As for Sex in the City 2, there is exactly one sexy moment. Because she has never seen a black-and-white movie, Big shows Carrie It Happened One Night, the classic Frank Capra movie. We watch with them as actress Claudette Colbert hikes up her skirt to hitchhike a ride. She has a shapely leg, and that's a shockingly unladylike exposure of skin for the time (1934).
However, what makes Colbert truly sexy isn't the amount of skin she's exposing - hardly any - or her outlandish outfit. Quite the contrary: Her sensuality lies in her grace, wit, confidence, intelligence and stubbornness. She's a woman with a mind of her own who's up for an adventure. Now that's sexy.