ranters and ravers

Is Anthony Lane’s ‘SATC’ Review Really Sexist?

It is according to Jezebel, and to a whole lot of the site’s commenters. The site takes the New Yorker critic to task for his thoroughly vicious review of Sex and the City. Jessica Grose writes, “What galled me was Lane’s description of Kim Cattrall’s body,” and excerpts:

Samantha’s efforts to signal her appeal, which might have seemed languorous on the small screen, are blown up here into an embarrassing semaphore: thudding closeups of her slurping through a cocktail straw or swallowing a mouthful of guacamole. No self-respecting maker of soft erotica would countenance such shots, and, as for the matching dialogue (“Something just came up,” Samantha murmurs over the phone, as her boyfriend stands beside her in bulging briefs), it’s a straight lift from flaccid, mid-period James Bond.

Now it’s possible that we’re as unqualified to judge the sexism of this passage as many male critics claimed to be to review Sex and the City, but this doesn’t seem … sexist to us.

First of all, it isn’t really about Kim Cattrall’s body — well, we guess her lips. But also, isn’t this passage all about Lane’s pointing out a problem with the movie’s direction? That the choice to punctuate those moments with “thudding closeups” does nothing to point out Samantha’s appeal, unlike on television?

We’re not arguing that Anthony Lane has never been sexist — although the quote from Lane’s Baby Mama review also struck us as a fair comment to make about any comedian, male or female — and we’re not defending the illustration accompanying the New Yorker review, which is over-the-top mean, as if Ralph Steadman drew it first and then handed it to Christopher Hitchens to recopy. But Anthony Lane didn’t draw that picture (although we bet he laughed at it!).

Plenty of people have expressed problems with Anthony Lane before — famously, newly hired New York Times critic Nathan Lee pointed out, “Anthony Lane is a very witty, very funny writer — and he doesn’t know shit about movies. No one who takes movies seriously takes him remotely seriously.” But we think that pointing to this passage of this review of Sex and the City doesn’t really make a case for him joining the He-Man Women-Haters’ Club.

New Yorker Film Critic Anthony Lane Has Female Trouble [Jezebel]
Carrie [NYer]

Is Anthony Lane’s ‘SATC’ Review Really Sexist?