It was a focal point of the Sex and the City 2 trailer and it opened the movie in style: As Charlotte pointed out, her best gay friend (Anthony) and Carrie’s best gay friend (Stanford) were getting married. (Best gay friends are apparently still the hottest accessory this season).
What may seem like a minor plot point to establish the tone of the movie and bring all of the important straight characters together, is actually a big deal — a really big deal. In the battle for LGBT civil rights, there is one irrefutable fact — people are more likely to support equality after they have been exposed to LGBT people. Of course it works best when a personal connection is made via friend or family, but for those who don’t have LGBT people in their lives, the media they consume will help to form many of their opinions. Which means that the Sex and the City gay wedding instantly became a monumental opportunity to show millions of voters why gay and lesbian couples deserve the freedom to marry.
I am devastated to report that they failed miserably.
Now before you all string me up with a vintage Dior noose, please let me clarify that I consider myself a devoted Sex and the City fan boy, which makes this all the more disappointing.
*** The following is one big pile of spoiler alerts ***
Although I was fairly nervous after seeing the stereotype-laden movie trailer, I still went into the movie with a very open mind. I ended up not minding the endless sea of gay wedding jokes and the “could this wedding be any more gay” statements. I ended up liking that Liza Minnelli officiated the wedding and that the gay men’s chorus sang. These are aspects of our culture that should be celebrated. As someone who walked down the aisle to a song from RENT and had a Broadway-themed reception, I don’t think I am in any position to comment on how stereotypical another wedding is.
A few minutes into the storyline, I was feeling pretty good about how they were handling everything and then it crashed into me like a freight train — when Anthony is asked why he didn’t plan the wedding (he is a highly sought after wedding planner), he replies that they made a deal: Stanford gets the wedding of his dreams and Anthony gets to “cheat.”
I thought, surely he is kidding. He wasn’t. Surely it is a misunderstanding and he will clarify. He didn’t. They try to lessen the shock with him making a joke that he isn’t going to cheat because he is gay, he is going to cheat because he is Italian. The joke doesn’t ease the shock. Carrie goes to Stanford to ask him about it and he confirms the deal’s accuracy, but he justifies it by saying that Anthony is only allowed to cheat in the 45 states where they aren’t legally married. Not funny.
I was heartbroken — I looked across the Orange County movie theater I was in and I looked at the sea of people who will probably be asked at least one more time to vote on whether or not gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry. They were just delivered a message that said one groom was so consumed with desire to throw an extravagant party that he didn’t mind that the other groom couldn’t wait to get the ceremony over with so he could go hook up with someone else. Suddenly the voice of every anti-gay activist was inside my head screaming “sanctity of marriage.”
I get it. I understand how the cheating deal was meant to help inform the larger movie theme of taking tradition, putting your own stamp on it and making your own rules. In true SATC style, everything is woven together nicely, but I think they could have achieved story cohesion without perpetuating stereotypes of gay promiscuity.
A significant part of my frustration is rooted in the fact that the two creative minds behind this movie are people I deeply respect and admire. Openly gay writer/director Michael Patrick King and super gay ally Sarah Jessica Parker both have gay IQs that are off the charts, so I have absolutely no idea what they were thinking here. Let me be clear that I am not questioning the commitment to equality for anyone in the SATC family, as the cast is fervent in their support in this Towleroad interview. I am simply saddened by the direction of the highly touted wedding.
To be fair, there are other aspects that were handled beautifully. Anthony gives a very nice speech, Stanford’s parents walk him down the aisle and his father refers to Anthony as his son’s husband. Other elements of the story are also very gay and very well done, but I can’t help but be left with the icky feeling that the most visible same-sex wedding ever left audiences thinking about Anthony’s desire to cheat instead of Anthony’s desire to love his husband.
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