Friday, 7 March 2014

The things Carrie left behind

Hey Guys!

As this week hosts International Women's Day I thought I'd talk about something women's TV and films ; The other day I finished watching the entire box set of Sex and the City. I've always enjoyed this show, but at the same time it's recently begun to make me feel frustrated! This is something I've only come to notice as I've got older.

Now, just like Carrie, looking thoughtfully into the distance I poise above my keyboard and ask, 'Why do women like Sex and the City?'

Lets forget the film and the dreadful sequel for a moment and focus on the TV show.

Sex and the City's huge selling point when it burst onto the scene was that it gave women the platform to talk about sex freely. It became a landmark in the evolution of female representation in the western world. It focused on the lives of successful fashionable exciting women and taught more about shoes than any other show I can think of!

The show was new and fresh and told us it was ok to be single, and having a career, or a family or both was fine. It celebrated self expression and took pride in looking good for yourself.

The show still has an appealing sophisticated clever and polished feel to it even 10 years after the last episode was aired. I for one love the quirky fashions, and the funny one liners (Samantha being my personal favourite character).
There are also undeniable touching moments amongst the female characters which get to me every time and I find myself getting a bit glassy eyed.

But there's something else that's been getting to me too, and recently ran parallel with all of the above. A little feeling of unease.

Why had I never noticed before that these fabulous independent women were utterly fixated with men? Almost every conversation was about them. I know there's a clue in the title of the show but somehow that doesn't excuse it for me.

Is this really how women speak to one another? Do we not have ambitions or interests outside of our relationships? I certainly would get tired pretty quickly of a highly neurotic friend who over analysed her every fling. (I know there are some women out there like this, but mercifully I don't know them).  
Maybe the biggest bugbear I have is that this show about women, for women was written by a man, yet women craved every word he wrote. With not much else on offer aimed solely at females, were we being spoon fed a male ideal of what modern women were supposed to be like?

Now in an age where feminism is gaining strength and exposure once again, and we are encouraged not to marginalize our outlook, why does entertainment tailored to women still mainly talk about romance and relationships? Sex and the City was at the beginning of this revolution, but did it backfire?

There seems to be a duel thing going on here; Whilst on one hand women do enjoy fashion, love and friendship, which is absolutely fine, there should be more than that on offer to us in the media, because according to one of the most powerful sources of influence in the modern world, that is all we want.

Recent 'chick flicks' (a term I detest, almost as much as the genre itself) have tried to redefine women's as 'just as funny as men', which in itself is patronising. 'Bridesmaids' for instance brought forth gross out humour proving women can be 'just as disgusting as men', but the core of its story was ultimately about a women finding a man and having a relationship. It just did nothing for me.

It seems most female roles in films are marginalised to fit a pattern. She's either after a man, in need of saving by a man, or has her character reduced as the male lead takes the reins. 

There is a real lack of female driven stories out there that talk about adventure, discovery or achievements, when half the planet is populated women, many of whom are outstanding, clever and inspiring.

So whilst I still appreciate Sex and the City as an important and fun step for women, championing successful career females and empowering us to talk about sex and experience sex in new ways, it's legacy hasn't opened up any new doors for general female entertainment. The opportunities it pointed to haven't really lead our films and TV shows anywhere beyond the shoe shop or the home.

Ok so on the back of this post I have thought of a couple of recent films and TV shows that do represent women a bit more favourably. Although not aimed solely at women these examples do at least expand our horizons a bit, see what you think:

Sandra Bullock as the female lead in non rom com Gravity
The female directors of The Walking Dead TV show
Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady
 Jane Goldman's screenplay for Kick Ass

If you can think of anymore examples I'd love to know!

Happy International Women's Day


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