Here are the photos from last night’s big Sex and the City 2 premiere in New York. Just a couple of fashion/style/observational notes: Kim Cattrall looks very pretty, but she’s started wearing too much makeup in general; Kristen Davis was styled to look like Elizabeth Taylor, as she was often enough in the television series; I think Liza Minnelli was wearing a foil suit(?); and Cynthia Nixon looks a little boring, but pretty. But of course the “star” came, with her husband. I have to say, Matthew Broderick put on his best “I f-cking hate every minute of this” grumpy face and somehow forced himself to walk the red carpet with a neon-clad Sarah Jessica Parker. SJP’s dress isn’t terrible, I just don’t think the color is appropriate. Meaning it hurts my eyes.
In other SATC news, I just want to say, for the record, that I saw this “controversy” coming a mile away. I even talked about it in April, when a longer trailer for Sex and the City 2 came out and I was put-off by the sight of four horny cougars sitting around guzzling liquor in the middle of the Middle East. Well, now that reviewers have gotten a glimpse of the full movie, some are making even more specific comments about how this film could offend many Muslims, mainly because these are “emancipated” Western women in the heart of the Middle East (Morocco, standing in for Abu Dhabi), interacting cartoonishly with Muslim men and women. Here’s The Daily Mail’s take:
The premiere is still days away, but Carrie Bradshaw and the ladies of Sex and the City are already causing a controversy – after being accused of being ‘anti-Muslim’. Sex And The City 2 will find the four friends travelling from their beloved New York to the far-flung sand dunes of Abu Dhabi on an all-expenses paid jolly, thanks to the irrepressible maneater Samantha Jones.
However, the first review of the long-awaited film, which opens in the UK on Friday, has revealed how the Manolo-wearing, Chanel-loving fashionistas get caught up in some outrageous moments while in the Middle East.
One scene even features Carrie, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte York Goldenblatt (Kristin Scott) and Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) , being rescued by Muslim women who strip off their burqas to reveal the stylish Western outfits they are concealing beneath their black robes.
While in another moment, the ladies perform a karaoke version of Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman in an Abu Dhabi nightclub, as Samantha shocks the locals with her sexual escapades.
Officials in the United Arab Emirates had already denied the production team permission to film within the city – as did Dubai – and instead the Abu Dhabi scenes were recreated in Morocco. Writer and director Michael Patrick King admitted: ‘Abu Dhabi was like: ‘You know, the UAE is not really ready to have four sexually liberated American girls filmed here’.’
The review, by industry bible, the Hollywood Reporter, reveals that Carrie and her friends ‘run up against the puritanical and misogynistic culture of the Middle East.’
It says: ‘The rather scathing portrayal of Muslim society no doubt will stir controversy, especially in a frothy summer entertainment, but there’s something bracing about the film’s saucy political incorrectness. Or is it politically correct? SATC 2 is at once proudly feminist and blatantly anti-Muslim, which means that it might confound liberal viewers. These endearingly loopy scenes exhibit the tasteless humour that enlivened the TV series on its best nights.’
Speaking about the storyline, Miss Cattrall, 53, insisted: ‘To transport these emancipated new-millennium women to a world that has not changed, in a lot of ways, since Biblical times was a fascinating idea. You’d think a Muslim country would not embrace a show like this, but they loved Samantha, they loved the show, they understood what we were doing.’
Despite her comments, however, Abu Dhabi is currently considering whether to ban the film. In 2008 the UAE, where kissing, nudity and expletives are routinely weeded out, refused to show the first film. So far, a decision has not been reached as to whether the movie will hit UAE screens, but with Abu Dhabi currently marketing itself as an emerging force where film production is concerned, its sensitivity is unlikely to encourage the big names of Hollywood.
Mr King said: ‘We didn’t kid around. We really went there and made a big old-fashioned Hollywood movie, but hopefully with a current sensibility involved.’
[From The Daily Mail]
Now, is much of Muslim culture “puritanical and misogynistic”? In my opinion, yes. But if I was in Abu Dhabi, I would respect their culture because I would be a guest, and, you know, I wouldn’t feel like getting stoned (literally, beaten with stones, not “high”). My fear is that Sex and the City 2 is less a triumph of “liberated American women” showing Muslim women how to be emancipated, and more of “ugly Americans” who just go to other countries to order hamburgers and scream at people who don’t speak English. My other fear? That this “liberation” that the SATC ladies offer Muslim women is a consumer-driven emancipation. As in, “We all have the right to wear Monolos! Yay sisterhood!” rather than “We have the right to vote, drive, work, and use birth control, and none of these things is a punishable offense.”
And can I just say something else… if these ladies had said or done something that reviewers considered offensive to Muslims while they were in New York City, I don’t think it would be a big deal. They are New York girls, and there would be American standards of “women’s liberation” at play. I think the criticism mainly stems from the fact that they are American women in the Middle East. I still don’t know why the f-ck the writers decided to set a large chunk of the movie in Abu Dhabi. It just seems so random.
SATC premiere in NYC on May 24, 2010. Credit: WENN.