In Defense of Sex and the City

Sex and the City wasn’t a feminist show. It wasn’t as progressive as it could have been. It skirted around issues it could have raised. The two films that followed the TV show, almost made it a punchline. Almost. But not quite (here’s to hoping there won’t be a movie no. 3).

It’s STILL a groundbreaking piece of TV. Women won’t stop playing the “Which SATC girl are you?” game any time soon. It has tapped into the collective psyche in a way that’s hard to duplicate. And I don’t think Girls any new female-centric show is doing a good job of replicating the genuine camaraderie and affection between Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.

I was 14, when I first started watching SATC. It’s not that my parents weren’t supervising my TV-watching, it’s just that I was a willful child, who sneaked out of her bed to watch Russian-dubbed SATC episodes at 2 a.m. every Thursday and Friday. I can’t say that SATC wasn’t mildly titillating for a 14 year old, but I can definitely say I wasn’t tuning in for all the softcore shenanigans. My Mom was always very open about sex and sexuality, and I read a LOT of Men’s Health magazines (don’t ask…), so Samantha’s escapades were not teaching me anything I didn’t already know. I also wasn’t watching SATC because of Manolo Blahnik’s and Cosmopolitans (at 14, my greatest ambition was to own the next Harry Potter book).

I was sneak-watching Sex and the City, because it was an exhilarating experience. Here were these four single women in their thirties, who were living a far more exciting life than any married woman I knew. There was an alternate lifestyle out there. Not having a husband and children didn’t make them pariahs. It actually made them cool.  They were still very much obsessed with men and relationships, but at least they weren’t sad virginal spinsters.

Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty, sexy, and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with. – Carrie Bradshaw

SATC gave me options. It gave me food for thought. It made me realize, that the life choices I’ve been taught to make, were not the only ones available to me. It exposed me to four distinct female characters with different personality traits and different wants and needs. It didn’t vilify the many sexual encounters these women were having. It showed me that sex is not a dirty, disgusting choice for a woman. It told me that female friendship is as genuine as male friendship. Even if this sounds corny and naive, it taught me that women are just as important as men.

And ain’t that the abso-fuckin’-lute truth?

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A pledge to myself

I love my country. I wouldn’t want to be born anywhere else. But it’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to be a woman with liberal and feminist values in Armenia. Not that I’m disparaging the experiences of women in developed countries, but trust me, our kind of patriarchy is hardcore. I live in a society with strict gender roles, with conservative views on every aspect of human life, a society, where traditionalism is celebrated and equated with patriotism.

It’s hard, no, it’s TIRING to live surrounded by people, who don’t share the same values as you. Why? Because at some point you realize that you can’t beat them. You can’t even start a dialogue with them, because they simply don’t want to understand a different point of view.

What do you do when you get too tired of speaking out? What do you do when you’re not sure speaking out will help? When you think that vocalizing your values and principles will get you ostracized from your friends and family?

I wish I could say that there’s a clear-cut answer to these questions. Lately I have noticed that I’ve been taking the cowardly (and easy) way out of this situation. I’ve been turning a blind eye and a deaf ear. I’ve been pretending I don’t hear the homophobic comments, sexist jokes, or racist assumptions.

It turns out it’s goddamn easy to ignore bigotry, misogyny and social injustice. It saves you a lot of time, effort and red-faced yelling. Of course, it adds a ton of HEAVY bricks to your conscious and makes you feel like you’re the worst person that ever lived.

Oh, you try and make excuses for yourself. You tell yourself that Armenians don’t self-censor as much as people in Europe or the US. Political correctness is not even a blimp on Armenia’s radar! Phooey! We were trapped under the Soviet rule for years! Come on, conscious!

Even though these excuses sound very good (and are partially true), after a very short while, that pesky ton of bricks topples all of them. And you’re left with a nasty feeling. A feeling that you’re a failure and a fraud. A person, who knows better and betrays that knowledge every fucking day.

So, here goes…I’m not saying I’m going to join an NGO or become an activist. But this is a pledge to myself, that I’m going to try and be more outspoken about the issues that matter to me. I’m going to try and educate people around me. I’m gonna stop making excuses.

Pushing Daisies

This past summer I’ve been mostly watching TV. It so happened that I was back from Belgium, where I was studying for my grad degree, and I was bored and unemployed. To get my mind off of all of the things I was missing (living alone, my friends, cold Belgian weather, beer), I started marathoning a lot of shows I had missed out on. My binge-fest 2012 ended with the meager 22 episodes of Pushing Daisies.Which leads me to the question…

WHY DID THIS MARVELOUS SHOW GET CANCELLED, UNIVERSE?

WHY? Who am I kidding, I know why. It was too quirky for the mainstream. I’m not usually one to love whimsical and precious material (sorry, Amelie, but YUCK), but this damn show was so much better than anything like it. Pushing Daisies is what Tim Burton once was (Edward Scissorhands) coupled with what Wes Anderson sometimes achieves (The Royal Tenenbaums).

I mean, Universe…Kristin Chenoweth was in it. Kristin Chenoweth played the part of the most adorable waitress on the planet Earth with the worst case of unrequited love. Oh, and she also burst into a song at random times throughout the show.

WHAT can be more precious than Cheno as Olive, Universe? How did you allow for Pushing Daisies to be cancelled and for Kristin to not be playing Olive Snook anymore? I bet your decision led to Kristin starring on Glee. GLEE!

Yeah, I’m not content to be living in a world, where Glee is still on the air, while Pushing Daisies is not. I WEEP for the world, where Lee Pace is not the Piemaker, but a background character in freaking Breaking Dawn Part II…I do wish there was a .gif to express my hatred of the Twilight franchise, but I’m afraid modern .gif-making technology has not reached that peak of development yet.

What I want to say, I guess, is that in 2 seasons of 9 and 13 episodes each, this show managed to establish a mythology, a complex backstory and rich characterizations. It was smart, witty and unusual. It went before its time. RIP Pushing Daisies. Maybe someday the Piemaker will wake you up with the touch of his finger.

Blogging

I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of things. I feel strongly about pop culture (American, most of it), about Indian films (in Hindi, most of them) and about different aspects of my life as a young woman in an Armenian reality.

For the past three months, I’ve been feeling that I need an outlet to lay these thoughts to rest. I’m not an eloquent writer, and not all of my opinions are really all that groundbreaking, but I feel the urge to do this blogging thing. And, hey, sometimes the wisest thing is to act on an urge.