Sunday, June 01, 2008
Sex and the City and the Teenaged Girl
I may be one of very few women in New York City who does not care about the Sex and the City movie opening. When pressed to rate my interest in seeing the movie on a scale of 1 to 100, I gave it a 13, meaning maybe I will watch it on cable when I'm home sick from work and everything else on tv requires concentration. Of course, I have watched the series on HBO, but without the intensity and interest that I have watched The Wire. If there were a movie about The Wire, I'd be there.
All of the media hype around the event just shows how very alone I am as women and girls across a spectrum of ages line up for tickets. Friday's Wall Street Journal article focused on the movie's appeal to teens who missed SATC on HBO, but have been watching a watered down version on TBS and want to go see the R rated movie, but are too young. Shelley Zalis CEO of a consumer research firm is quoted in the article "Sixteen is the new 20" despite the fact that the characters are now pushing 40 and even 50.
Teens in the article mention ordering the series up for marathons on HBO on Demand and debating which character they are most like. This makes a lot of sense to me-- given that most teens "aspire up," that is, they spend a lot of time thinking/fantasizing about what life will be as adults. With all the freedom and disposable income the women on SATC seem to have, they make easy fantasy figures. And with the emphasis on sex and relationships, the show can satisfy some natural teen curiosities.
Still though, I wonder, what it's like to be a 16 year old where the life you fantasize about is also the one that your 50 year old mother and neighbor dream about too, especially when most of the content is so materialistic. It's not SATC that is the problem, but the notion that both 16 and 50 can be the new 20 is permeating the rest of the culture. These are the trends that when multiplied across media and its sister marketing rob girls of their girlhood. Should 16 year olds and 50 year olds really aspire to the same things? And how does this play out in terms of each demographics expectations of what adulthood should look like? To me, this is what leads to women in their early 20's using anti wrinkling cream as a preventative tool, and women in their 50's using botox, so that the notion of what it means to look like a woman becomes more and more stereotypical.
And this doesn't event begin to touch that this is all based on white ideals of femininity or that the 20-something character added to the movie is black..another post perhaps?
Huff Post dialogue between a 50-something British Mom and her 20-something daughter on expectations for young women