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Ed Driscoll

Sex, Information Ricochet, And The City

June 1st, 2008 - 11:51 am

Kyle Smith has a great piece at the New York Post on the obsessed nature of Sex And The City’s most die-hard fans, which would would be instantly recognizable if the genders were reversed and the costumes changed:

Suppose there were thousands of men who, every Thursday night, dressed up as Chewbacca or Boba Fett and headed en masse to an inviting “Star Wars”-themed neighborhood where they could discuss their strange obsessions at bars like Cloud City or Jar Jar’s Joint while guzzling specialty cocktails (the TatooTini, the Hothmopolitan).

That would be strange, but not quite as strange as what happens at the “Sex and the City” theme park in the Meatpacking District, which is about two years away from installing its first TGIFridays and already is to hip what Mark Hamill is to acting. Unlike the “Star Wars” nerds, who are under no illusions that they will ever actually take the Millennium Falcon out for a chance to complete the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, the “Sex and the City” fangirls think that they can live the life they see on TV.

So they swarm the night, staggering packs of “Sex” geeks – the hungry streets beneath them cackling, “Say hello to my leetle cobblestones, Manolo mamas!” – heedless to the fact that the ratio of them to their male equivalents is already the inverse of ComicCon and getting worse. The cougars of the movie, reviving their Jurassic snark for one more pun-dump, have digital airbrushing on their side, but in reality, bitchy 43-year-old women are not the center of attention at the clubs. Sexist? Not I. God.

Even 33-year-old women are not living in reality in this town. The multiplexes and networks and bookstores can barely accommodate all the movies and TV series and books (almost all written by men; one, I recall vaguely, written by me) about comical manboys coming to terms with the need to grow up. There is no equivalent message getting through to women.

Smith sounds like he’s describing a textbook example of what Tom Wolfe once called “Information Ricochet.” As Wolfe noted, there were no Hell’s Angels (or if there were, they were in a pretty nascent form) before The Wild One, but once young motorcycle aficionados saw Marlon Brando projected on a fifty-foot high screen on his bike, they instantly, maybe even subconsciously assumed, “This is how we act! This is what we wear!” (The “Mutt” character in the New Indiana Jones movie is a sort of cartoon illustration of that exact phenomenon in action.) And then, when Hollywood went back to make more biker movies in the 1960s, they could then crib from the real Angels, who in turn stole ideas from those movies as Information Ricochet feeds on itself.

Of course, there were millions of single professional women living in New York prior to Sex And The City, but seeing the rules codified on TV makes for a powerful subconscious incentive to more carefully hone one’s own lifestyle to the examples played out weekly on TV, and now movie screen. Or as Newsweek’s Julia Baird wrote, “It revealed what they were already doing – and emboldened them to do more.”

On the plus side, at least the average Sex And The City-obsessed woman is light years more aesthetically pleasing than the sort of fellow who fancies himself living in Mos Eisley.

Related: This is a riot:

Come on, I’ve been to a sci-fi convention. And once you’ve stood in the dealer room and pondered dropping $45 on the Battlestar Galactica Boardgame you had when you were five years old, you can’t really fault a woman for getting excited about a $600 pair of purple fuzzy pumps that look like they should come with their own stripper pole. I mean, who the f*** am I to judge? But Ch***t in a bucket people, did we need so many montages of them doing it?

Hey, the series didn’t earn the sobriquet of “Shoes And The City” for nothing.