A Shriek of Woe


I took the day off from work today, so I’m at home in the suburbs where, ironically, it’s easier to get a "genuine" Chicago hot dog than it is in downtown Chicago. I walked to Irving’s, a masculine space with the aura of a baseball dugout. The lunchtime crowd is mostly construction workers taking a break from building McMansions. ESPN was on the television–Irving’s seems to have a cable package that includes only ESPN–and a SportsCenter-like show was concluding with an announcer giving a quick rundown of the weekend’s sporting events. He worked his way down the list to until he reached the American Hockey League finals. He then drew a deep breath and added, darkly, "This is the opening weekend of the Sex and the City movie."

The movie dominates the arts pages across the United States today. Many articles center around someone trying to get their mind around the fashion displays the film promises to deliver. There’s also, predictably, a counter-reaction of male writers who regard the movie as a filmic Abu Ghraib. Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass recently published what he called a "shriek of woe" entitled "Because no man should feel the agony of this film," that begins, "I can still hear the terrified cries of men from across the sea, from
England, men scared stiff by the new ‘Sex and the City’ movie premiere,
and such cries are cries of warning to men in America, where this evil
film will debut in a few weeks."

I haven’t heard any terrified cries, although the guy making my hot dog at Irving’s was so distracted by the mention of Sex and the City that he added hot peppers when I specifically asked him not to.  I’ve seen several episodes of the series–it’s hard to avoid–and I’ve always been of two minds about it. It’s always been my impression that the show’s signature fashion ensembles weren’t the real point of the series. I saw it as the story of four women from the provinces trying to make their way in the city–a distinctly nineteenth-century story. I suspect that that’s level at which the series really connected with its female audience. It’s also why the SportsCenter crowd’s horror is so misplaced and hysterical.

Just once, though, I wish there were a character who looked the four women straight in the eyes and said, "Come the revolution, you’re going to be the first to be shot." The real shriek of woe is that we’ve passed the historical moment when someone could say something like that.


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