We live in the era of pop culture polytheism. This worship of all things pop culture has some freakish ramifications. For instance, there are candles dubbing the likes of Kim Kardashian patron saints, and there’s an entire religion dedicated to worshiping Beyonce. That’s the amusing end of the spectrum. The other end—the end at which people actually start blaming television shows for ruining their lives—can be seen as downright pathetic.
I just read the story of Julia Allison, a California-based dating columnist-cum-“change activist” who made it big during the Sex and the City era. According to her autobiographical piece at the New York Post, the HBO show starring Sarah Jessica Parker “ruined” her life. Her complaint isn’t totally illegitimate. Having come of age during the show’s meteoric rise, Allison modeled herself after Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw, right down to the fancy shoes and purses given to her by boyfriends akin to Carrie’s Mr. Big. She jumped on every trend, growing her career as a dating writer, editor and reality television star-wannabe.
In the process, Allison became Gawker’s favorite target for being a “fame whore.” Inevitably she did what most “fame whores” of the mid-2000s did. She took an Eat, Pray, Love-esque spiritual journey to Bali for 8 months (where, she notes, she “remained celibate”) and re-prioritized. When she returned, she quit the dating scene and now works as some kind of social justice warrior only the folks in California would employ. Which makes one wonder if, in another ten years, she will write another column about regretting her fascination with Liz Gilbert.
Her observations about the messaging in Sex and the City aren’t totally wrong. The show, for the most part, glorified all the superficiality most people grow out of. Unless, of course, they want to be a celebrity. Allison’s cautionary tale regarding her own bad experience with idol worship reads like a matron’s warning to her pubescent spawn. The age-old adage, “no one will buy the cow if you give the milk away for free,” would suffice. What’s interesting about her self-critique is what is lacking. She observes that Sex and the City, a show that glorified female friendship, actually set a bad example when it came to establishing lifelong quality relationships.
Didn’t Charlotte pursue such a thing? Twice? Once with Trey, then finally with the much less attractive yet totally reliable Harry Goldenblatt?
And didn’t those four female leads pursue such quality relationships with each other despite their many ups and downs?
The fault of Sex and the City isn’t in the failure to pursue quality relationships, as Allison asserts. Rather, it was Allison’s failure to see such obvious subtext beneath the glitz and glamour of boyfriends, fashion, sex and, well, the city. Her naivete is a testament to the fact that a successful high school graduate who is accepted into Georgetown University is, nevertheless, intensely immature when it comes to the realities of interpersonal relationships. Especially sexual ones. Allison’s warning may read like it’s for the latest batch of high school graduates. In reality, it is a red flag for their parents. Be warned: If you thought the last 18 years were tough, the most trying may be yet to come.