A “Horseface” Is Not A Horse: Sarah Jessica Parker (Of Course) and the Sex and the City Movie


Remember when the Super Bowl was imminent, and the Daily News kept telling you it was “X Days to Go!”? Apparently the Sex and the City movie is the “Super Bowl for chicks,” since right on page 2 there’s a “17 Days to Go!” burst next to an Annie Leibovitz photo of Chris Noth and Sarah Jessica Parker from the June issue of Vogue. The News promises that the new issue of the fashion magazine features “Carrie and Big like you’ve never seen them before.” How is that: sucking face and wearing outrageous outfits? Yawn. If you want more Sex in the news section check out today’s Post, which places Sarah Jessica Parker on the front page. (The movie, which has been dubbed a “love letter to New York,” premiered in London last night.)

The photo of Parker on the front is wholly unflattering, as the star has her mouth wide open and a maniacal look in her eyes. The headline—”Mad Hatter of ‘Sex and the City'”—doesn’t help much either. And let’s not even get into that aforementioned hideous hat perched atop her head. Yes, it is an acorn with a giant rose bloom and butterflies. In lime green. And it probably cost more than what most New Yorkers make in a month.

Inside the pages of the Post, however, is where the true ass-kissing of Parker and Co. begins. There’s an article about how Fashionable (yes, you need the capital “F”) Parker is with her acorn hat and Alexander McQueen strapless gown that looks more suited to a prom than a movie premiere. As stylist Robert Verdi puts it:

“This is the fashion equivalent of getting a master’s at Harvard. Seriously. There is no awkwardness, no discomfort. It’s costume-y, but it’s costume-y in the most fabulous way…Sarah is one of the only people that can make sense of fashion when it’s elevated to art.”

As someone who possesses a master’s degree (albeit one from someplace that is not in Cambridge), I can assure you that there is plenty of awkwardness and discomfort in that process. This quote is precisely what bothers me about all the Sex and the City coverage: it really is the “Super Bowl for chicks.” It’s all so patronizing and “gal-pally” and “cosmos” and “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere”–as long as you have money and a stick figure. And it allows people like Daily News reader Salvatore Gandolfo to come out of the woodwork with Letters to the Editor like this one which ran yesterday, entitled “Cleaning out the stables”:

“Enough is enough. I’m tired of all the coverage of Eight Belles in your newspaper. It has been more than a month now, and every day there are—oh, wait. That’s Sarah Jessica Parker. My mistake.”

First of all, the “SJP as horse” comment is thoroughly unoriginal, but it’s indicative of the superficiality of the SATC media blitz. (To be fair, the News did run two letters today by readers outraged by the comment, one of which noted Parker’s accomplishments as an actor, producer and fashion designer.) When coverage emphasizes so much of the surface and not any of the depth, then derisive comments about one’s looks are bound to appear.

The NOW section of the News has a piece on the global appeal of the show and movie, tying in to the London premiere. The gist of the piece? That foreign tourists are pumping money into our economy by shopping at SATC landmarks like the Magnolia Bakery, Patricia Field and O’Nieal’s Bar. It’s conspicuous consumption as a supposedly empowering go-ladies statement.

We’ve got at least another two-plus weeks of this media blitz, and it’s going to be more about the clothes and stores than about the “strong friendships” the PR mavens for the flick keep touting. After all, wouldn’t a real friend tell you take off that damn acorn before a squirrel tries to nest in your hair?

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 13, 2008


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