Is Sex And The City 2 Racist?

The film's Dubai setting brings out controversy

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The new Sex And The City sequel film, which is so unpopular with critics that it has been compared to a horror film, is partly set in the United Arab Emirates city of Abu Dhabi. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the film's portrayal of Arab Muslims is not quite as nuanced as its commentary on shoe brands. Does the movie go too far? Some critics say yes.

  • 'Cartoonishly Offensive'  Movie reviewer Richard Roeper says that, upon the characters' Middle East trip, "This is where the movie goes from boring to lame and cartoonishly offensive and just ridiculous."
  • 'More Condescending Than Stirring'  Variety's Brian Lowry laments the "not-very-convincing rumination on the treatment of Muslim women -- even in what's supposed to be a relatively progressive Arab country -- that seems more condescending than stirring."
  • Ham-Fisted 'Commentary' Makes It Worse  USA Today's Claudie Puig fumes, "With his Cosmopolitan-style approach to all things feminine, director Michael Patrick King is out of his league attempting to comment on the inequitable treatment of Muslim women. He ends up mocking religious beliefs and making Carrie and her friends appear insensitive."
  • 'Blatantly Anti-Muslim'  The Hollywood Reporter's Stephen Farber recounts how the characters "run up against the puritanical and misogynistic culture of the Middle East. The rather scathing portrayal of Muslim society no doubt will stir controversy, especially in a frothy summer entertainment, but there's something bracing about the film's saucy political incorrectness. Or is it politically correct? SATC 2 is at once proudly feminist and blatantly anti-Muslim, which means that it might confound liberal viewers."
  • 'Imperialistic Barbies'  Salon's Wajahat Ali dismantles the "imperialistic Barbies" of the film. "Michael Patrick King's exquisitely tone-deaf movie is cinematic Viagra for Western cultural imperialists who still ignorantly and inaccurately paint the entire Middle East (and Iran) as a Shangri La in desperate need of liberation from ignorant, backward natives. ... It's hard to overstate the offensiveness of the fabulous four's exquisitely tone-deaf trip to Abu Dhabi."
  • What The Movie Doesn't Tell You  Feminist blogger Megan Carpentier explains "5 things you won't learn about the UAE" from the film. Here are the middle three, click through for all five and for the details on each: (2) Women use birth control; (3) Teenage Americans are more likely to get pregnant than teenage Emiratis; (4) Emirati women don’t all wear the niqab.
  • Dissent: Pakistanis Would Have Beheaded Them  Bill O'Reilly shoots down the criticism, in the process apparently confusing Pakistan with the UAE and also completely making up a practice of beheading, which does not exist. "If these four women were in Pakistan, they would be beheaded. So I guess it is anti-Muslim. The way they behave, these women, they'd last like 35 seconds in a Muslim country. Their heads -- complete with lipstick, pierced ears and eyeshadow -- would be on stakes. That's not to say they were doing anything wrong. It's just a very big culture difference between Sex and the City and the fundamental Muslim world."
  • Dissent: It's Too Sympathetic to Muslims  Blogger Debbie Schlussel, who previously claimed that the Lebanese-American Miss USA winner was a secret agent of Hizbollah, says the film is actually too sympathetic to Arab Muslims. "You can’t say 'Jesus' or 'Christ' or 'G-d' in Abu Dhabi, but, hey, it’s a 'liberal, Western playground' for these [characters] from HBO, right? ... It’s a good thing they don’t know that Parker’s father was a Jew and that she doesn’t have an Israeli stamp in her passport, or filming there would never have begun in the first place.  The whole movie is propaganda."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.