In the past few weeks there has been a tremendous amount of anger from many women (and some men) around the world. Apparently, the second Sex & The City film didn’t rock their boat; “It’s too materialistic”, “It’s unrealistic”. I have read countless reviews, including one by the respected Roger Ebert who gave the film two thumbs down. Many people who have watched the film are also preaching to the same choir. I agree — it’s hard not to — the film is exceptionally heavy on product integration and product placement. But, everyone seems to forget several key factors. First and foremost: Sex & The City wasn’t produced to solve the problems of the world. It’s about dating, sex, friendship, and the things you wear while you talk about those topics. Nevertheless, the most important factor that everyone is forgetting is advertising. When Sex & The City premiered in 1998, everyone watched TV programming as it was originally designed; commercials were inescapable. Now, anyone is able to watch anything they chose to commercial free through online streaming. Advertisers reacted, rightfully so. Product integration and placement are not new to the world of TV and film. But they are here to stay. Companies are using a more clever approach in advertising their products by writing them into the screenplays. It’s a win-win situation: advertisers get screen time and the film gets sponsorship.
The next time you go to watch a film, pay attention to what’s IN it. Product integration didn’t just emerge specifically for the Sex & The City (2) movie. Why is everyone attacking THIS specific film for its product integration? Could it be because it features four successful women.
Once upon a time, a theorist on consumer culture, John Friske, drew contrast between male’s views on shopping and that of a female’s:
“The deep structure of values that underlies patriarchal capitalism now need to be extended to induce earning as typically masculine, and therefore, spending as typically feminine. So it is not surprising that such a society addresses women as consumers and men as producers.”
Personally, I find this concept extremely prejudice and offensive. Although, I am aware that the idea of the female being a “consumer” and the male being a “producer” applies more towards post WWII society, I witness the belief in this concept on a daily basis in contemporary culture. By classifying females as consumers, ultimately classifies them as “passive”. However, women akin to males are also capable of “producing”. The women in Sex & The City are both producers and consumers. Similarly to women, men also consume fashion, technology, cars, real estate, and other lifestyle luxuries. So why, in the 21st century, are we still criticizing women for their choice to shop or not to shop?
Consumerism may not be good for our culture, but it is necessary for our economy. Sex & The City was one of the first films to turn itself into a franchise and reach out to a wide audience across the globe; for that, I applaud them. But please, let there not be a Sex & The City 3.
P.S. If you’re wondering why the film was set in Abu Dabi, think about it: What’s one place in the world where a modern woman could go and face direct oppression?