The writer of Sex And The City 2 has denied that the portrayal of Muslims in the film is racist after scenes show the women make jokes about Muslim women wearing the niqab, a face veil, and encountering misogynist views from Muslim men.
Sex And The City 2 is sure to provoke debate after some critics questioned whether certain scenes were racist towards Muslims.
In the movie the four women are invited to Abu Dhabi after Samantha is offered an opportunity to develop a PR campaign for an Arab Sheik’s business who flies all four women on an all-expense-paid luxury break.
Scenes portray the women encountering misogynist views from Muslim men in the country as well as the four women laughing at Muslim women wearing the niqab, a face veil.
There are also scenes of Samantha rebelling against conservative dress codes and wearing short dresses and skimpy outfits.
The obvious point that is first brought to mind is the inaccuracy and irresponsibility of the script. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities banned the filming of the movie in Dubai because they were opposed to its sexual references which was in contrast to the conservative codes of the region. Instead, filming took place in Morocco.
Another point to make is the fact that there are strict morality laws in the UAE regarding public displays of affection and dress, laws which have already resulted in British couples ending up in jail or in trouble.
While the writer of the film Michael Patrick King have defended the scenes which are perceived as racist towards Muslims it can be argued that the typically western culturally imperialist approach to other cultures has been employed. This approach gives the impression that while the West is enlightened on all issues other cultures are backwards and in need of liberation.
There are obviously many gender issues which needs to be addressed by both Muslim men and women in the Middle East but that is not to say that attitudes towards women in the West are more enlightened either. A glance at the domestic violence figures in the west shows a picture far from enlightening. In December 2008 Sarah Tofte, researcher for the US Program at Human Rights Watch cited “an alarmingly high rate of sexual violence…” within America in a report which showed soaring rates of violence and rape against women. (Human Rights Watch: December 2008)
In a Guardian report by Paul Nicolson on Wednesday, 9 August 2006, he cited that 1 in 4 women in the UK have experienced at least one physical assault in their adult life and one incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute.
While Sex And The City writer Michael Patrick King may believe that a few scenes have been blown way out of proportion how other cultures are portrayed in film is important, and this is not to say that film or writers should be censored or prevented from criticising other cultures; but it should be done so from a debatable perspective and not the culturally arrogant perspective often portrayed in western films towards other cultures.
Whether the four female characters in Sex And The City represent a liberated view of modern women is also debatable unless liberation for women entails numerous sexual encounters which is what the writer has often portrayed. Take away the sexual encounters, the lavish lifestyles, which is beyond the reach of many ordinary women and the designer clothes, and what you are left with are empty shells with no substance. Whatever happened to women being recognised for their intellectual capacity?
Whether it is funnier for a woman to wear a niqab or for a fifty-year old woman fighting the fact that she is rapidly approaching retirement age, which sums up the character of Samantha, depends on an individual’s sense of humour; but when you look at it from that angle there is nothing much to laugh about or liberating about a woman who cannot come to terms with growing old. There is nothing funny or liberating about a society which promotes beauty above substance to the point that it is how many women define themselves and carve their identities.
Do these characters really have anything liberating about them? This is what fans and critics alike should be asking themselves when they watch this film.
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