6/10/08: AWJ Update

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Here’s a message I just posted on the AWJ Listserv in response to a challenge about my earlier posting:

     Someone I respect just challenged me offline (“as a feminist”) about all of this, so here’s my reply: look at the options! In the past 3 years, I have spoken to over 50 audiences filled with women & every time I say: “If I never saw another fist fight, knife fight, sword fight, explosion, or car chase again in my life, that would be fine!” everyone cheers.  It’s the big “applause line” in my stump speech.

     I was never a huge fan of SEX AND THE CITY on TV (altho I watched it pretty regularly because my best buddy wanted to), but I did watch it enough to know that the overriding concerns were NOT “consumerism and sex” (as my challenger just asserted).  As a feminist, I liked it because I thought the main questions addressed by all four lead characters were: (1) in a world filled with choices, how do I chose what’s best for ME, & (2) how do I recover my sense of self when my choices have negative consequences for me &/or those I love?

     What was that LOVE STORY garbage from the ’70s: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  Well on SATC, like in real life, love means having to say you’re sorry all the time!

     I found the film surprisingly satisfying precisely because its creators used the long form to dig deeper into the 2 questions above.  As a film critic, seeing as many movies as I do, I have learned to trust my body to tell me if I’m “engaged.”

     When I start to fidget, fantasize about coffee & chocolate, mentally count the inches between me & the closest bathroom, &/or tacitly allow myself to fall asleep just to escape what’s on screen, then most of the time I’m learning something true about my reaction to the film I’m watching.

     But if I get chills up & down my spine when someone starts to sing, if I go all melty when two people kiss, if I can feel my heart pounding when a character is in danger, or if I start to cry, then those are all good signs that I’m “hooked,” & I am not ashamed to say I cried not once, not twice, but three times before the final SATC credits rolled.

*****

     So I will never tell you that you “should like” SATC; all I can say is that I liked it & lots of other women (& men) did too.  There are the only two points in this debate that really matter to me: (1) If you haven’t seen it, then you’re not entitled to a qualitative opinion.  (2) If you don’t see it, then you’re not making a quantitative contribution.  Maybe box office stats don’t matter in the ideal world, but down here in the real world purchasing power is the best weapon we have if we want to create positive change in our cultural environment.

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