I’ve talked to my friend Liz recently about Sex and the City (SATC) and how it it I think it acknowledges its own unrealism while not addressing it. People love that show because they wish their lives would be like that, but the show seems to take pains to remind people that what they see is not real or necessarily feasible. So do we call that kind of art subversive or not? Does it secretly change cultural norms and reshape people’s views of society despite avoiding directly addressing those issues? Or is it merely pap for the masses to keep the subservient to some dominant state interests (to borrow a little radicalization from Boal).
Liz mentioned an interesting theory to me, which I shall call the safety valve theory. She says SATC “provides the public with enough edge and ‘scandal’ to keep them believing that they are still a part of a free society.” It acts a safety valve for society by using humor to defuse tension and dissatisfaction. So they will show women blowing thousands of dollars on shoes in order for her to live her own independent lifestyle. In the world of SATC, merchantile excess is the key to personal independence
I am not a regular watcher of the show, but I have seen a few episodes. I think that although it proposes a liberated sexual identity for women, at the same time it denies its own reality. That, coupled with the money leading to personal independence noted above presents a dangerous message I think. I disagree very much that in order for women to be independent they must be able to buy expensive shoes, and yet that is what SATC would have us believe.
Perhaps I am reaching too far to find a reason for not liking the show. But watching it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m trying to figure out why.