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Claws Out for Sex and the City? The Irish Times Has Just the Ticket…

Sex and the City 2 came out last week. Not that it really affects or bothers me one way or the other. I just find it fascinating that The Ticket, the normally rather wonderful entertainment supplement which comes with The Irish Times, chose to offer its front page to the girls, while containing nothing but vitriol within. It seems a little contrary to have your reviewer and your features writer going at the film with the critical equivalent of baseball bats and then give them prime of place in your lineup and publicity, no? Especially given that the front page didn’t read “Sex and the City 2: It’s Quite Crap, Actually”.

Just the ticket?

Let’s take the opening like of the review from Donald Clarke:

The second Sex and the City film is, of course, atrocious. Vulgar, reactionary, lazy, puerile, racist, smutty, sluggish: it seems intent on exhausting the viewer’s lexicon of pejorative adjectives.

Or a paragraph from the feature that the Ticket ran on the film:

In Sex and the City 2 , however, the clothes and surroundings are status symbols, shilling a lifestyle that we could enjoy if only we used our Visa cards a bit more often. It feels like a (very, very) long and boring ad – the grown-up equivalent of kids’ cartoons that purely exist to sell toys. Unlike the original TV series, which had heart, wit and quirky style, the characters’ acquisitiveness is now the whole point of huge chunks of the film, from the constant costume changes (including at least six garments by Halston, the label for which Sarah Jessica Parker is a chief executive designer) to the full Louboutin shopping bags presented to our heroines in the middle of the desert. This isn’t escapism. This is having our recession-hit noses rubbed in it.

It seems odd to slap the four girls on the cover of you magazine (and also, by extension, the front page of your newspaper) if you are just going to trash them. It seems particularly disingenuous to do it in such an ambiguous manner. “Hollywood has always reacted to recession, but not like this” reads the text on the front page, above a slightly more generic “Donald Clarke reviews Sex and the City 2”. Hell, if you stuck that “… but not like this” line in a trailer, it would look almost like a compliment – as in, “Those girls and their new angles on offering insightful commentary on the global economy, gosh-damn it!”

Surely if the film were so terrible, it would actually be a better idea not to give it the front page of your feature section, which is advertised in the main paper days before publication? Surely the focus of the nation’s premier entertainment section would be best focused promoting something they deem worth the audience’s time (particularly, say, an unknown act or foreign film which would benefit from the exposure)? Let’s not kid ourselves, that picture is there to cynically sell papers to fans of the show and movie, and then trash the same franchise inside. The reason that they didn’t put something unambiguous like Mister Clarke’s observation “vulgar, reactionary, lazy, puerile, racist, smutty, sluggish” is because they didn’t want to scare off any of the franchise’s fans, waiting until they had bought and opened the paper to trash-talk it.

I’m no Sex and the City fan. I could care less about the release. You can probably tell that because I haven’t posted about it, even amidst the hype. I don’t hate it, I don’t love it. I share the similar relationship with the franchise I have with Twilight: live and let live. I like cheesy action movies, eighties retro experiences, comic books and puns by the bucketful. I love Demolition Man. Who the hell am I to rain steaming vitriol down on a property? If I see it, I’ll review it, and I may be mean. If I see a newspaper story which either intrigues me or rubs me the wrong way, I’ll cover it. It just seems counter-intuitive to get swept up in the promotion and publicity of a film like this, capitalising off it to slam it. I know, for example, movie news websites which run incredibly bitter Twilight stories slamming it repeatedly just because it draws traffic. What’s the point?

One of these I like... the other not so much... you guess which is which...

That said, I do have an angry Twilight post somewhere in me. I am more than uncomfortable with the Bella-Edward dynamic. And, if I ever have occasion to review the film (if I can stomach watching it again), I imagine I will discuss it. Probably at length. Sometimes I’ll rant about stupid or offensive things (like Lars Von Trier, who just irritates me), but I like to think that I don’t overly dwell on the negatives. I post rarely and infrequently on these particularly grating (for me) subjects. Live and let live, after all.

It just seems cynical to exploit somebody else’s love of something in order to benefit you commercially while affording you the chance to slam it. If you are going to take cheap shots (and even heavily justified ones, as I would dare say some of these observations may be), at least have the decency to be upfront about it. Life is too short to dwell on negativity. I really wish I could claim that I live by those words, but I do try (and often fail). I just found that front page fascinating.

11 Responses

  1. Wholeheartedly agree with you Darren, the negativity for the sake of negativity makes me sick. What does that say about the thousands (or millions) of people who actually enjoyed the movie? There is never any need to excessively bash something people have worked on, and if you do, you better be able to back it up with lots of suggestions for improvement!

    • Yep. Of course, I don’t pretend I’m perfect – occasionally my urge to criticise just gets the better of me – but I think it’s a good philosophy to live (or write) by.

  2. I don’t write on Twilight, or Transformers for the same reason. Excessive vitriol may make for more hits/publicity but it plain just isn’t worth the time spent.

    • Yep. It doesn’t help anyone, just adds to the slew of people discussing stuff that isn’t really worth discussing.

  3. Well said. I wouldn’t give a shit about either of these, except my mother is batshit for the SatC movies (curiously, not the series), and my sister, while not a rabid Twilight fan, often insists on seeing the movies. Naturally, I’m rather keen on trashing of either just to sooth my own angry soul.


  4. Sex & the City was a terrible movie because they changed everything you liked about the series, even characters.

    As for Twilight, I have ranted on this many times before on my blog only because I’m also disgusted by the Bella/Edward relationship.

    “I want my boyfriend to kill me and take me away from my friends and family because he’s just so damn pretty and I can’t stand another minute being away from that jawline…”

    “Oh no my boyfriend dumped me. I’m going to have to throw myself off a cliff because THAT’S HOW MUCH I LOVE HIM.”

    “It’s ok for him to be cold and dismissive to me and shout at me for seeing my friends. He’s only like this because he LOVES ME. My Boyfriend is more beautiful than sunsets…SUNSETS”


    • Yep, there are some really serious problems with that relationship, not least of which is the fact that it’s painted as true love tru luv. Not to mention the fact that the act of him making love to her knocks her unconscious and batters and bruises her. Ugh. and there are people who actually believe that’s what love is supposed to be.

      I don’t think we should avoid talking about stuff like that (I’d argue it merits a great deal of legitimate discussion), I just think it’s hugely disingenuous to give something the front page of a feature within your paper and an ambiguously positive tagline when you are just relishing the opportunity to trash it inside. At least put that on the cover, rather than an observation that “You’ve never seen the recession like this before!”

  5. I agree with Castor; there’s no point in the paper being negative for the sake of being negative.
    It sounds like The Irish Times are going out of their way to say how much they hate the movie, just in case we don’t believe them.

    • Yep. The fact that Donald Clark had been running posts in his blog about how much he was dreading the approaching release of SATC 2 leads me to believe he was relishing the chance to shred it in his review – which is fine, we all have preconceptions about films whether we like them or not. I’m just surprised that it became such a big thing. It’s a crap film, there are crap films every week. Why give this crap film the front page when you could be using to to promote something worthwhile?

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