Cultural Abstraction

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sex And The City 2: Breaking Through Consumer Culture

On May 27th 2010, it will be that time to again watch Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte on the BIG screen. In Sex and the City, life is big for these four women who have very little to worry about other than men and where to spend their money. Sex and the City is a great candidate for defining American culture. Although I have never followed the show, I can say that the film is an illustration of our consumer culture. It is a typical American film ending happily, but viewers are unaware of the gluttony that results in an empty life. Of course, nothing to imply misery would cause other cultures to love an American film where happy endings are both enjoyed and implied.
Cultures all around the world celebrated Sex and the City the movie, eager for its release. Women came in groups, all of their friends watching the film. While a comedy typically does not travel the world well, women all over fell in love with these women and what they represented—a life without hardships, one that offers all the material items you want without worry (even I found myself yearning for a pair of Manolo Blahnik heels). And who does not LOVE that idea? Why not live in a world where you can have all you desire without any serious consequences? People enjoy a film with elements of aspiration; the mere illusion it offers that they can be placed in that position.
Although the film is a representation of American culture, it displays many ideas that create resentment among other nations; ideas of mass consumption, extramarital affairs and sexual promiscuity are promoted and justified. A stereotype of a female American that is selfish and obsessed with sex is the product of this film. She divulges in her hungers and has no self-control, compulsively surrendering to her urges. These women, below the surface can be observed as weak. While these women appear to break out of traditional roles, they do not. Many times they are viewed as irrational, expected to handle it all, and rely on a man—only he will make her life complete. If she does fall outside of this traditional role, she is self-obsessed (think Samantha). So really, if one looks deeper, it is not the lives we aspire to have; only what they possess and this presents the problem. Consumerism will consume us. Films that contrive aspiration create unintended consequences for Americans and other nations. If consumer culture is showcased in this manner and becomes iconic or even a model for other cultures, it could result in a loss of cultural identity worldwide. Why should this need for emptiness be instilled in others?
In any event, I intend to watch and evaluate Sex and the City 2 when it is released. I anticipate product placement will be a major aspect with consumerism central to this film.

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