Archive for December, 2008

17
Dec
08

Inessential Movie: Disclosure

disclosure1

Disclosure (1994) starts with an interesting premise: what if a man were being sexually harassed by a woman in the workplace? It’s happened and a subject worth exploring. Also intriguing is the fact that Michael Douglas of all people is the hero: against type, he is put in situations that cause him to be submissive, helpless, and feminized, while Demi Moore is his masculinized antithesis: the hard and cold single, childless career woman.

The movie is a response, a backlash to the growing awareness and intolerance in the 80’s of office sexual harassment (usually perpetuated against women), along with the shattering of the glass ceiling and resultant perceived threats to masculinity. Moore’s character swoops in and takes Douglas’ “rightful” promotion, and he’s now her subordinate. They had an affair several years back, and he has moved on with a wife and children, while she has remained focused solely on her career.

What ensues is a rather insulting portrayal of sexual harassment. First, it happens over one business week (from her entrance on Monday to his legal vindication on Friday) rather than gradually building over a longer period of time. It’s even framed in “Shining”-style days-of-the-week intertitles (“Monday,” “Tuesday,” “Wednesday,” etc.). Second, there’s no subtle buildup of the harassment. All of a sudden, she’s propositioning him, which leads soon after to action, although he later regrets it. Finally, Moore’s character turns the tables on him mid-week, and claims that she was the victim in their encounters.

The ending is unexpectedly fulfilling but only so much. We, as Douglas’ character does, expect he will be the rightful recipient of the promotion that was initially denied him. However, an older female colleague, who is a mother, gets it instead. The lesson learned: a woman must be maternal and defined by things other than her career in order to succeed. She cannot give up her womanly qualities, or she will be perceived as a threat.

 

 

 

03
Dec
08

Becoming Mrs. Big

carrie1Why did Carrie have to get married at the end of the “Sex and the City” movie? The audience understandably has rooted for her for over ten years, especially in her pursuit of Mr. Big. Doesn’t she deserve therefore to end up with Prince Charming?

If Big is the prince, then is Carrie really Cinderella? The movie indicates that she is: the blue heel Big slips on her foot, the fairy tale cartoon Carrie helps Charlotte’s daughter color. As little girls, we are in awe of princesses. Look no further that the Disney princess trend now so prevalent. Is Carrie just an older (and wiser?) manifestation, version, and/or continuation of Cinderella for older (and wiser?) women?

At first, I interpreted the marriage at the movie’s end as nothing but a Hollywood-ized compromise. Would Carrie actually do that, even if it was Big and even if there was no big white wedding? Is she merely a Charlotte in Christian Lacroix clothing? However, if Carrie’s story is truly our version of a fairy tale, it follows that a marriage must be the final act. And yet, that image as the moment of satisfied closure leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

 

 

 

03
Dec
08

Why Carrie and Company?

carrie-bradshaw-flower1I am that creature that most guys do not want to face: a fan of “Sex and the City.” I love the city, the actresses, the characters, the plots, and the fashion. It is therapy, and buying the complete series on DVD was nothing short of an emotional investment.

Why do its female fans love “Sex and the City”? Do fans look up to Carrie and the ladies as role models in their pursuits of careers, romance, independence, and Manolo’s? Maybe role models aren’t the right words. Maybe their lives are fantasies. They’re just TV characters after all. How can Carrie survive financially day-to-day when she buys Christian Dior instead of paying her credit card bill on time? The series is upfront about this though, but does it condone her behavior? Would we rather Carrie wear jeans and sweatshirts like everyone else, like us? Probably not. Her clothes and accessories are her armor as she goes out into the world.

Personally, I can’t over-analyze too much when watching “Sex and the City” (although that doesn’t stop a slew of media scholars from doing so), or the bubble will burst. We are allowed to fall head over heels for a city where singles dominate and it’s OK, where a martini solves all your problems, where “He’s just not that into you” is the key to enlightenment, and where Samantha lives out our mothers’ feminist principles, if not necessarily their hopes for their daughters.

And that’s why the movie version’s ending fell short for me…