Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sex and the City as Open Cultural Product

Small detour from talking about Denmark and Europe...

Every review of the second Sex and the City movie has been excoriating. Many of them took issue with the inevitable march toward conventionalism -- finding Mr. Right/Big, getting married, having kids, settling down.

So it was refreshing to hear this video of a Emory University sociologist explaining the impact and contradictions of SATC in a more nuanced way.

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Excerpts from the video:  
It's a very ambiguous show. It's got some notions of liberated women but it also has these traditional notions of women focusing on romance and finding the right partner, which is the flip side of being independent and self sufficient. 

Because you can interpret it in different ways, it's what we call an open cultural product, meaning that many people can look at it and enjoy it for different reasons. Those are usually the cultural products that are most successful,ones that aren't trying to impose some meaning on the audience but lets the audience take the meaning that they want. 

I've only seen scattered episodes of SATC so I can't comment on the development of the show's themes and throughout the seasons and the movies from what I've watched but from these reviews, everyone thinks there is a noticeable shift in the characters' preoccupations. What do you think? Have the girls become frumpy old women? Is it inevitable that we all settle down? And will we be happy when or if we do?


Katherine said...

I don't think that these women have become frumpy old women. Granted, I haven't seen the full length, but from what I have seen I think the show offers an excellent and different perspective on "aging women". I think that before sex and the city there was no popular show or book or anything in pop culture really that defined older women as "sexy, and still desirable".
The goals of these women are also all different ranging from "love" to pure lust-which is not a traditional stereotype of older women.
Kudos to the show for raising these issues, and in my opinion, helping altar societies views of women after initial deflower-ment and menopause.

melonontwotendrils said...

I haven't see the latest movie, as it looks pretty bad, but I have watched I think all the episodes of the TV series. Between the 4 women I think the show did a good job of showing the struggle many face in careers, romantic relationships and being independent, self-sufficient women. Each woman had a particular way of figuring in children, spouses, and a career into their lives. I know the show faced criticism because it depicted only a small subset of American, namely upper-class, East coast-educated and I think that's a valid point. Poorer women would have different experiences, but I think the show could only grapple with so much in one series.
It's funny because I actually watched the Golden Girls today for the first time in awhile, and I remembered how I really liked that show. It was a show about women who were at an age that usually places women in the shadows and here were these 4 golden gals who were having these interesting, great lives without husbands and whose roles as mothers weren't as emphasized as is normally seen. The show also brought up issues that were taboo in the 80s such as AIDS, artificial insemination, euthanasia, homosexuality, and alternative families. So all in all it's interesting to think about the two shows and their respective cultural impacts. lol
wow sorry for the lonnnngggg rant!

Anonymous said...

This article is pretty good: