Sex and the City: Women v. Girls

Sex and the City
Image by Lots Of Sprinkles
I usually enjoy picking up the New York Times arts section, but this article struck me as odd, right from the title. Michael Cieply, who writes about the entertainment industry, tries to make a twisted little connection between the new Kit Kittredge film, a G-rated American Girl Doll spin-off, and the blockbuster Sex and the City movie. Cieply crows:

But this G-rated movie adventure is shaping up as Hollywood’s next serious bid for female viewers, some of whom showed their power by pushing the R-rated comedy “Sex and the City” to surprisingly strong first-weekend ticket sales of more than $57 million two weeks ago.

Unless the depression-era Kit Kittredge starts making bathtub cosmopolitans, I sincerely doubt this film has anything to do with the highly commercialized, Prada-encrusted Manhattanites that populate the SATC universe. Except of course, gender.

Why would anyone be surprised that women want to watch movies about women? Courting a female audience is hardly newsworthy, and reducing a kids’ picture to Sex and the City minus the sex seems tawdry and arbitrary. “Women’s pictures” have been around since Kit Kittredge was in diapers. In fact, Ann Hornaday wrote a great article for the Washington Post that looks at the girls-in-the-city formula at the heart of the Sex and the City brand.

Sex in the City, however fabulous it may be, still relies on materialism, stereotypes about women’s bodies and relationships, and an often celebrated ignorance of life outside of wealthy Manhattan neighborhoods. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show, but if I had a daughter old enough to understand the phrase “bikini wax” I wouldn’t let her anywhere near it.

Of course, most of the offerings for young girls aren’t much better. There are the films marketed to girls under the guise of the “Princess” and “Bratz” brands. Then there’s Gossip Girl, which is akin to Sex and the City with more sporadic female camaraderie. What would be newsworthy is a film that wasn’t based on a doll, or an established brand, but on actual girls doing actual girl-like things.

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