Who knows whether Sex and the City 2: The New Batch is any good or not. Probably not, I dunno. The bigger question is whether it is offensive or not. And, if so, who is it most offensive to? Vapid cunts or lunatic muzzies?
All I know is that worlds collide this summer, when Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Maureen leave behind the familiar glamour of their single, tiny scrap of Manhattan, and head off to Abu Dhabi, all at the behest of some sheik, probably hoping to land the ladies for his harem on a free transfer. It’s classic fishwife-out-of-water stuff, a raucously silly, uproarious yarn of what could literally never happen.
Naturally, we are asking all the usual tedious questions about Sex and the City, as if it is actual feminist scholarship that should be taken seriously. Is Carrie Bradshaw a role model or an ironic satire? Do women really find independence through promiscuity and conspicuous consumption? Christ, can’t I just go and watch a Jason Statham DVD upstairs instead?
Now, though, we have an extra layer of serious inquiry to contemplate; namely, has writer Michael Patrick King added racism to chauvinism and misogyny to produce a delicate layer cake of reactionary stereotypes?
Almost immediately upon arriving in Abu Dhabi, the girls are horrified to learn about the Arabic custom of wiping one’s bottom with the left hand, sans Andrex. This forms the crux of a running joke among the ladies about their clagnut complaints. Samantha eventually becomes so distressed by the state of her ring that she has a minor freakout in a bazaar selling hookahs, rugs and giant baskets. Wild-eyed, she tears the hijab from a passing woman, and, hiking up her skirts, gives her encrusted anus a long, thorough, therapeutic scrub with the fine silk, as astonished mullahs look on, going all goggle-eyed behind their disgusting beards and babbling unintelligibly in aggressive tones.
Or there’s the scene where our heroines try to locate the United Arab Emirates branch of Bloomingdales, ending up hilariously lost in the backstreets of the Abu Dhabi slums. Underpinned by an excellent score of sinister ethnic music, we are given a visual treat as we occupy the empty heads of our protagonists, to take a point-of-view tour around the crooked, beggar-ridden narrows, skipping across the open sewers – so richly rendered that you can almost catch the stench – and through the fog-choked shisha bars. Best moment: Sarah Jessica Parker face to face with a camel. Which is which lol?!
Their quest for a shopping spree gains a boost, however, from an unlikely ally, after they are whisked away by a swarthy taxi driver with an eyepatch who chain-smokes black market Marlboros (played by Jean Reno). The world is set to rights, thankfully, after Reno’s adorable monkey sidekick manages to steal a pair of Christian Louboutins from the shopping bag of a wealthy heiress – although he does lose his precious little fez and waistcoat outfit in the robbery. Classic, timeless, heartwarming stuff.
The Abu Dhabi aesthetic contrasts sharply with the more familiar terrain of the Big Apple. Gloomily-lit, dusty huts thronged by snake-charmers and belly dancers are replaced with a concrete jungle of soaring, phallic high rises, crusted with glittering diamante lights and navigated with aplomb by our band of merry hedonists. The middle-aged girls’ eventual return to their home sweet home is as welcome to us as it is to them, and a lingering shot on a roll of toilet paper as the credits roll just knocks the point home: thank Jehovah (not Allah) that we are civilised.
Fundamentally, all of this film’s naysayers are missing the point. If you find any of the above offensive, then really, you just need to like, get an extra shot of chill in your skinny chai latté there, grandma. Maybe open a copy of fucking Vogue once in a while, and quit analysing everything, huh? Couldn’t hurt.