diaTribe: "Sex and the City II" is a Romp in the Desert

This is a Guest Post by Ilana Ostrin, a University of Minnesota Senior.
The first Sex and the City movie gave followers of the series exactly what they expected and desired. The romances and relationships they knew with the added touch of abundant scandal, heartbreak, and drama. Sex and the City 2 (now playing in movie theaters near you) had big shoes to fill, and fans didn’t know exactly what to expect.
In one interview, Kim Catrall (who stars as the racy Samantha, fan favorite in the series) was quoted as to say that the “film had to be a destination film.” She was probably alluding to the fact that this allowed for much more flexibility in the plot. With the ending of the first, if the sequel was to take place solely in New York, what else could happen?
The film’s “destination” allows for the movie to be purely over the top.
The movie’s beginning, set very briefly in New York City, starts out as ridiculous. The first big scene takes place at the wedding of Carrie and Charlotte’s best gay friends. Liza Minelli stars in her cameo, in which she plays both rabbi and perfomer, impressively mimicking Beyonce in her “Single Ladies” performance. Shortly after this big scene, the girls whisk off to the United Arab Emirates for an all expenses paid vacation courtesy of Samantha’s professional relations skills.
While the plot-line and scenes in the movie stayed true to the series, both have ignited anger because of what people think the film is saying about the Muslim Middle East.
The portion of the film in Abu Dhabi of course involved flare and fashion, old lovers, new lovers, alcohol, heart-to-hearts and adventures abound. While the United Arab Emirates have gained attention for being looser with their restrictions, policies, and beliefs than other countries in the Middle East, the movie portrayed the considerably liberal United Arab Emirates as old-fashioned.
In a scene taking place at the posh resort that hosts the famous Manhattan ladies, Carrie (in her typical caring feminist manner) implies that a Muslim woman wearing a niqrab does not have a voice. In another scene, Samantha gets hollered at by observant men for dressing indecently.
While these scenes could be realistic, the United Arab Emirates allows its woman to dress freely, in a manner they find fitting. While it is possible to have men holler anywhere at indecently dressed women, the United Arab Emirates is a country interested in growing and prospering. Its men are probably more interested in watching their businesses strengthen than wasting energy for an out-dated cause.
While the United Arab Emirates is upset about its representation in the film, they did not allow the movie to film on its actual soil. The majority of the filming took place in Morocco. There has also been rumor of the film being banned in the United Arab Emirates, due to its misrepresentation. In trying to make their points about the actuality of their land, the United Arab Emirates is coming across as how they feel the movie (mis)represented their country: closed off and traditional.
A scene that many Jews took note of involves Charlotte arriving at the hotel. Charlotte, who converted to Judaism in order to marry her second husband, gives the hotel her maiden (goyim) name, instead of her married Jewish last name. This scene showed how many Jews feel – that at anytime and anywhere in the Middle East, they could be within the realm of (an) anti-Semite(s). While this is in no doubt possible, the gulf states, the United Arab Emirates and Dubai in particular, are noted for being far more open-minded towards Jews.
Overall, the film is colorful and fun. Some scenes are excessively cheesy, others emotionally gratifying. Beware, the film is long, running about two and a half hours. Go with an open-mind, patience, and your best gal pals. Be sure to keep note of the fashion trends, as they are sure to be popping up in many designer collections.
The familiar ladies in a different city make for an interesting experience, but the sex scenes that Samantha expertly pulls off makes it feel just like home.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the Sex and the City II trailer:


(Photo: Ranoush, Sex and the City II from HBO)