It starts with the shoes. Carrie Bradshaw has such amazing shoes, and I look at my box set, in its humorous pink and black shoebox, and think of her shoes.
Last night, I sat down on my leather couch, lit a few candles, and watched, for probably the twentieth time, An American Girl in Paris Part Deux, the final episode of season six of Sex and the City. The romance. The heartbreak. That Versace dress. Oh, I know Sex and the City is fantasy, but what a world!
Humidifier on, cucumbers on eyes, TMJ bite guard in place and the gentle musings of Coldplay on my stereo, I felt an anxious twitch in the back of my head. To be sure it wasn’t my scalp—that thing has been moisturised five ways to Sunday.
No, it was anxiety about my obsession with Sex and the City, and all of Iceland’s obsession with Sex and the City, and I was suffering about what I see as our inevitable disappointment, the unavoidable dissolution of this ultimately superficial relationship the girls of SatC have formed with those people least familiar with the culture they’re trying to portray. Is Iceland headed for a Big Apple Hangover? This modern Viking had to ask himself.
Sex and the City, I realise after my twenty-third viewing, was purely a thing of the times—sadly, those times, the beginning of this millennium, were dumb and loaded not only with bad double entendres, but with George Orwell-style double speak and double think.
Hold it, Ketill the Angry, you say. This is a casual advice column, not some kind of literary survey. And you’re right. Casual advice columns these days are meant to require only the smallest amount of investment on the part of their readers. I am to assume you have read nothing and thought about nothing before you came upon this column. But who made it this way? When did literature and philosophy fade away, and when did it became all important to be “true to yourself, girl” or something like that? To me, thinking of the coy presentations of sex from four women who looked more like the wives that members of the Long Island Country Club might cheat on than Manhattan socialites, I think the stupid, casual culture came about when sex got reintroduced to the mainstream. When Monica Lewinsky made her first bow.
Monica and President Clinton’s childish scandal caught an international audience, but it was ahead of its time. And then HBO gave us four women with less lustiness than Monica, and less of that frightening intelligence of Bill Clinton, to talk about sex for us in a less threatening way, to make us feel better about ourselves for knowing a little about the Naked Ape.
My realization is, in 47 and a half hours of casual sex talk from supposedly forward thinking socialites during 94 and a half episodes of Sex and the City I learned nothing about New York, sex, women or even shoes.
Go back to the shoes, Carrie’s fundamental character trait. In those many episodes, while we saw some nice shoes, we never understood what makes shoes good—something any exposure to another fictional character’s interests should have allowed us. Look around: among all these fans of SatC, do you see anyone wearing decent shoes? Go to your bookstore: among all the books influenced by SatC, do you see any decent writing about sex? Go to the movies, turn on your TV, go to the museum: the age of Sex and the City was also the age of Dr. Phil, Oprah Winfrey, Internet porn and Hooters, an age of coy, casual talk about sex in which absolutely nothing was revealed, except that sex is controversial. We weren’t talking about sex with the girls of SatC, we were talking about them, just as kids who talk about porn more and more aren’t using porn terms to describe what they want, but what they don’t want and what is Other.
Carrie Bradshaw, like Monica Lewinsky, and their 19th Century counterparts in Victorian England, were entertaining Others that we watched to remind us why we stay repressed. The Metrosexual movement, with which this Modern Viking is so frequently associated, brought gay culture into the Other category. And now we have Desperate Housewives, putting the Other in Mother.
The whole movement made this Modern Viking so uptight, that I could not be settled until I stumbled upon my DVD of Michael Cunningham’s rapturous The Hours. But that is another story.
The Modern Viking is a syndicated columnist under the employ of the Reykjavík Grapevine. You can email him at Ketilltheangry@grapevine.is
THE MODERN VIKING FASHION TIP
Fashion is ideological, so if you ain’t Jackie-O, the fur’s gotta go
Sometimes conservatives and Right Wingers get the breaks—they can drive giant SUVs without feeling conflicted, they can wear bow ties and corduroy suits without feeling emasculated, as they can throw around the phrase “just nuke ‘em” to make up for looking weak, and they can wear fur. For this reason, Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson can wear seal skin—his political beliefs are in line with clubbing cute animals as long as they improve the economy. Social Democrat Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, however, looks silly in a neck-to-toe fur coat, as do the many left-leaning young women wearing fur at local events in Reykjavík these days. The only person on Earth who could convince people that she cared about the environment while wearing fur was Jackie O, and she’s dead. All you other fur people, either go regressive on your politics, or go progressive on your clothes.
THE MODERN VIKING RECIPE
Bludgeoning by Chocolate—When spring comes, many of us switch to lighter foods. For this reason, March is really the last month a chocolate indulgence can be considered to be in good form. Find your favourite chocolate cake recipe, cut the egg count down, and step up the amount of cocoa powder a notch or two. Cocoa powder and pure chocolate have a number of positive health effects, most relating to mood, which are especially helpful during the March cold snap that typically hits this island.