herald

Tuesday 26 September 2017

The gay man: All style and no substance

"When you get this many gays in a room together, Liza Minnelli automatically appears," says Miranda about 10 minutes into Sex and the City 2, just before Liza launches into a version of Beyonce's Put A Ring On It that's supposed to be high camp, but ends up being just plain embarrassing. And that's the trouble with the whole film, indeed the whole film franchise.

There's a moment in it when Carrie, having returned to stay in her old apartment, gets a call from Mr Big, who, as in days of yore, is waiting in his car downstairs. If that apartment and Aidan -- who pops up half way through the proceedings (thinner, but still devoid of lips) -- are reminders to Carrie of the glamorous life she used to have before settling down in a marriage of takeaways in front of the TV, Mr Big waiting in his car is a reminder to us of what SATC lost in translation to the big screen -- its heart.

This two-hour-plus 'episode' is supposed to be about marriage and how women negotiate what Carrie refers to as the mid-wife crisis -- the post-honeymoon period two years in.

To open the show we get a gay wedding (inexplicably between the TV version's sworn enemies, Stanford and Anthony), during which our girls discuss the tradition of heterosexual marriage and a hot middle-aged guy hits on an uncomfortable Mr Big.

While wanting to make some salient point about marriage in all its diverse yet equally loving glory, the sequence only points out the fact that gays don't 'do' recession.

From its all-male chorus line in white top hats to Stanford's ridiculously overblown bow-tie, this big fat 'gay wedding' (as we're reminded about 15 times by various characters in case we miss the fact) actually manages to signal the film's true message, which is -- while it's not acceptable for heterosexuals to do everything to materialist excess in post-financial crisis New York, Abu Dhabi is the perfect spot for blowing bales of cash -- as long as there's no female flesh on display.

Cue wardrobe changes for the entire cast every 30 seconds and Samantha ruminating on the proto-feminist ideal of being able to have bare-naked sex with random men in public.

Gay men loved Sex and the City, the TV show. We loved it because, for us, Carrie and her friends were gay men represented by single women out on the town.

They explored the boundaries of their sexuality without shame and grappled with the imprint placed on all straights about marriage and happily ever afters, and they did it with real heart (plus a little bit of shopping).

If the girls in the Sex and The City 2 are gay men, they're trapped in the bodies of huge, limp-wristed stereotypes who are only interested in looking good at any cost.

Carrie and co's thin dilemmas fade into the background with all the preening on display and we're left with a vacuous piece of fluff that becomes tedious the minute Liza stops making a fool of herself at the beginning.

Come to think of it, she's the best thing in it. And I'm not just saying that 'cause I is gay.

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