"Sex in the City" and Auntie Mame
We watched the movie “Sex in the City” last night, from Netflix.
My wife has followed the series throughout, and I’ve watched it from time to time with her to fill me in on the backstory.
I’m not outraged by it, as some conservatives are. But by and large, I just don’t feel any connection to these people and their problems, trials and tribulations. They just don’t seem like my kind of people, living the kind of life me and my friends live.
Of course, that’s precisely the attraction the series must have had for some folks. Those of us who don’t have the finances covered to the point they don’t have to worry about paying for those up-scale New York apartments and lunches in tony restaurants, can concentrate on relationship issues to the exclusion of all else, and drop everything to get together with their buds whenever.
Would be nice if we could all be secure enough to concentrate on the art of living.
So at the end, Carrie marries Mr. Big. She’s 40, and you don’t get the idea they’ll have children, and that’s probably a good thing. Carrie is a perfectly sweet honorary aunt to Charlotte’s lovely adopted Chinese daughter, which is a part-time job. “Parent” is not something you can switch on and off, and frankly, Carrie and Big stike me as being a bit too self-absorbed to make room in their life for kids.
Charlotte is happily married and finally gets pregnant after being an adoptive mother for five years.
I have got to mention that adoption as a “priming the pump” phenomenon is well-known, though little understood, but many adoption agencies specifically screen childless couples who they think are motivated by this.
Miranda and Steve have a bad patch when Steve, frustrated by lack of noogie, confesses to a one-night stand.
Even Dear Abbie used to say, if you slip, don’t make that mistake again, bury it quietly and don’t burden your partner with your guilt.
Miranda puts him through hell for six months before she takes him back. Serves him right perhaps – but there’s a kid involved who has to go through this too, and there is zero time in the movie devoted to his perspective.
Smoking Samantha finds that monogamy is not for her, and dumps the much younger hunk who stuck with her through her chemo.
“You just compared him to chemo!” Charlotte observes.
Samantha frankly confesses that she’s much more into “me”, than “us.”
Good for Samantha, at least she didn’t pretend. Some women should not try to settle down, and men should not try to domesticate such.
Of course, she’s 50, and though fabulous still, how long is that going to last? Samantha is going to grow old very lonely, one suspects. Though perhaps as another honorary aunt to Charlotte’s (now) two girls, she’ll be a super and much-adored source of worldly wisdom for them as they grow into young women.
How Charlotte is going to feel about this when they start to bloom…
At any rate, I rather enjoyed the movie as light entertainment. Something was nagging at my memory though, and I only realized what this morning.
It was Auntie Mame.
Auntie Mame was a 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis. It was fiction, though strongly based on his freewheeling aunt Marion Tanner.
It was made into a movie with Rosalind Russel in 1958, then into a Broadway musical with a fabulous score, and filmed with Lucille Ball in 1974.
Camille Paglia said of it, “Auntie Mame is the American Alice in Wonderland. It is also, incidentally, one of the most important books in my life. Its witty Wildean phrases ring in my mind, and its flamboyant characters still enamor me. Like Tennessee Williams, Patrick Dennis caught the boldness, vitality, and iridescent theatricality of modern American personality. In Mame’s mercurial metamorphoses we see American optimism and self-invention writ large.”
That indeed we do. Some years back I got the chance to read it, and it’s what she said alright. There is real affection in it for the unconventional auntie who eats life like there was no tomorrow.
What Camille doesn’t seem to see however, is there’s a real pissed-off kid in the story too.
Auntie Mame didn’t choose to have kids, but got two dumped on her by the death of her brother. And while she’s often a fun aunt, she’s also an irresponsible flibertygibbet who just can’t seem to freakin’ grow up when that awsome responsibility gets dumped in her lap.
And incidentally, I’ve read that the real Marion Tanner did not like her fictional counterpart one bit.
I wonder, is this America? Bold, optimistic, self-inventing – and not really very responsible about our children’s future?
I mean hey, what did future generations ever do for us?