Lonely? You're not alone
(Editors note: VO is excited to introduce a new weekly blog featuring the best of The Tyee. A daily online magazine, The Tyee is BC's home for news, culture, and solutions. The Tyee has earned an international reputation for its award-winning reporting and its many creative initiatives for reinvigorating journalism.)
Every time I see a Sex and the City 2 poster, I feel like throwing up. It's not just the aging Barbies' dress-up routine, nor the gross, grasping, naked greed of the thing. More gewgaws, more men, more babies, more stupid shoes, more everything! The fact that the film has been almost universally condemned is actually rather heartening. I did actually try to watch it and gave up midway through in nauseated horror.
In Sex and the City 2, Mr. Big has morphed from a rather caddish predator into something approaching a defanged, declawed lion. It is a sad sight to behold. In his original depiction, he was actually something of an asshole, creepy, self-justifying, more like a real person. But then again, Carrie Bradshaw was also a bit of a jerk, not a treacle-sweet stick figure in a turban.
It's worth reading the original columns that feature Big and Carrie's romance because it's not really all that romantic. Mostly it just sounds awful. To wit: "She hadn't expected to break up that weekend. She was expecting to remain in a holding pattern. Hating him, loathing herself. Going through the routine motions of the relationship."
I don't like the whole SATC phenomena, not just because they are terrible movies, but because they make me feel alone. Everything seems so easy in this movie -- family, friends, fashion and especially love.
But the original intent of Candace Bushnell's column was to parse out a particular flavour of loneliness in the city: that love often fails, disappointment is to be expected, and it's best to take it with a good dose of irony, and a lot of alcohol. The original material was, whatever its limitations, adult, and not just in the sexy sense of the word.
Bushnell introduced her column with the following paragraph: "Sex in New York is about as much like sex in America as other things in New York are. It can be annoying; it can be unsatisfying; most important, sex in New York is only rarely about sex. Most of the time it's about spectacle, Todd Oldham dresses, Knicks tickets, the Knicks themselves, or the pure terror of Not Being Alone in New York."
You will notice that final sentence is in capitals, like a true title.
Loneliness is almost a taboo subject. Little discussed, hidden, shameful almost. But if you are single in the city, it is a common currency, shared equally by men and women.
Madly off by yourself
Emily White's recent essay in The Guardian was revelatory simply because she admitted what so many people feel.
White's book is about what happens when loneliness takes on a life of its own, becoming almost a form of madness. I can attest to the fact that loneliness can make you do crazy things, but I am not alone in this. I know many women, a few men as well, in almost exactly the same position -- self-contained, independent and managing just fine by themselves. Apparently. But unlike the paper dolls that only exist in the movies, they are dying of loneliness.