(WOMENSENEWS)–I had a really great week watching women in action.
On Saturday there was the heavily female rules committee of the Democratic National Committee hashing out the mess over counting delegates in Michigan and Florida, which ran unsanctioned primaries and which the Hillary camp thought would save her day.
On Sunday I saw the movie “Sex and the City.”
Then on Tuesday night I watched Hillary Clinton defy any conventional expectations of a concession speech.
Women, women everywhere . . . and not a clue about which to talk about first.
Oh, OK, I guess I’ll mainly focus on the one with Sex in the title; the one spectacle that I found most surprising if only because I had no idea I’d be watching it.
Watching Democrats is a natural weakness for me, but paying $10 to watch four shop-a-holic women from Manhattan who seem to inhabit a world completely devoid of politics is not how I usually spend my sunny California Sundays.
But my 19-year-old daughter, 84-year-old mother and 50-year-old best friend all told me to go. I went.
And what did I find? A vast world of female fans who apparently like their blockbuster fantasies to be about fantastic clothes, men as a second thought, shoe shopping and friendship, not gunfire or death.
The movie drew women by the droves, with many theaters across the country enjoying sell-out crowds three days in a row.
As part of the general rampage I found myself among hundreds of women of all ages who broke into applause right away, when hints of the theme music played in the huge theater of my local massive multiplex. I laughed as the bulk of the audience playfully ooh’d and ahh’d when a massive closet (larger than most Manhattan apartments) was built for the main character. The impromptu applause and cheers for certain outfits and the characters’ frank lustiness also cracked me up.
But the thing I most enjoyed was the sheer fact that we were all there to watch a quartet of 40-plus characters with no major personality disorders and all capable of strong friendship.
So often women who are over 40 are portrayed as she-devils. Just think Meryl Streep and her parts as the evil boss in “The Devil Wore Prada” in 2006 and the maniacal mother in “The Manchurian Candidate” in 2004.
In “Sex and the City” each character has a distinct personality, be it sweet, sassy or overtly sexual. But not one is mean, conniving or dishonest. No one’s fighting over a man, backstabbing at a job, scheming or competing with each other. Instead they support each other through good and bad times, something that’s normal in real life but rarely shown on the big screen.
“Sex and the City,” which cost $65 million to make, was produced by and stars Sarah Jessica Parker. It had the biggest weekend box office of any romantic comedy ever, grossing $57 million in the first three days, making it the fifth-highest opening of any type of R-rated movie. It bumped the male-oriented action film “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” out of the No. 1 spot.
“Sex and the City” can be fairly criticized for glorifying materialism and presenting women in a political vacuum, unhinged from real-world dollars and sense. The main character is a freelance writer who regularly buys $500 shoes and can afford to buy her own apartment in Manhattan. Talk about fantasy. We who write for a living all know that’s impossible.
I laughed a bit guiltily at the consumerist foibles of the four friends in “Sex and the City,” yet I still found myself liking the women. It was also a bonus that no one got killed, that men were secondary and the women’s relationships were what mattered most.
I only hope that Hollywood–which is so driven by box office grosses–will start making more pictures about women, and go beyond the parameters of white affluence in doing so. Certainly the other two events I watched–the DNC meeting and Hillary’s big speech–offer great real-world material.
Now that Hillary’s talking about endorsing her intense rival, maybe I need to write a screenplay on how women can cooperate politically as well as be great shoppers and friends. I have some casting ideas, too.
Much is now being made of Barack Obama’s historic effect on this country’s attitude toward race.
I agree, but my female-focused movie would open with the women of color I watched run the DNC meeting: co-chair Alexis Herman, Alice Huffman, Hartina Flournay, Yvonne Atkinson Gates and Mona Pasquil, a Filipina from California.
All had differing opinions on how to deal with Michigan and Florida. Some supported Obama and others Hillary. But they all emphasized unity. They crossed racial lines and worked hand in hand with the likes of Alice Germond, a white woman from West Virginia, trying to find a compromise to seat the errant delegates from Michigan and Florida who held primaries that defied party rules.
‘You Can Leave With Unity’
Huffman, a Clinton superdelegate proposed the first–and losing–motion to seat all the errant delegates. When she lost she quickly reached out for a new deal. “So I would ask my friends out there that just saw us go through the first vote, that the world’s not perfect, but it’s good. And when you can come here and you can leave with unity, that’s what this party needs, is unity.”
As far as casting her, I’m thinking Angela Basset, maybe Alfre Woodard.
As for casting Hillary, maybe Laura Dern? That would be a nice promotion from her current role as Katherine Harris, the villainous secretary of state from Florida in “Recount,” which is about the Bush-Gore election in 2000. Or maybe Susan Sarandon, if she could play someone who initially voted for the war in Iraq.
Whatever is made of the fact that Hillary couldn’t quite bring herself to concede defeat on Tuesday night, I have to hand it to her for staking out her historic territory.
It will be hard for anyone to forget that 18 million Democratic primary voters pulled the lever for a woman this year. And like the stars of “Sex and the City,” she helped pull women out of the political woodwork, boosting female turnout like crazy through the country.
“I want people to believe that there are female audiences,” Sarah Jessica Parker told Entertainment Weekly.
Believe in female audiences? Yes we’re out here, we just need women in starring roles–both in the political and movie theaters–to bring us out.
Sandra Kobrin is a Los Angeles writer and columnist.
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