Of COURSE ‘Sex and the City’ is trashy; isn’t that the point?

Just for a moment, I stopped to glance over this piece in the WSJ today, headlined "The ‘Sex’ Effect: Empowering To Some, Trashy to Others."

I guess you’d have to put me in the "others" category. What I have to wonder about is how any rational adult with the slightest trace of maturity or propriety — or, to put it another way, anyone who has daughters — could see that program (now, I’m told, also a major motion picture) as anything but trashy. (Of course, I have trouble following the reasoning behind a lot of elements of feminism, and "Do-Me Feminism" makes the least sense of all.)

It’s hardly alone. On the rare occasions that I stumble across prime-time broadcast fare in recent years, I’ve run across programs — from "Friends" to the one with the two gay guys and the woman, the name of which escapes me at the moment — that seem to be largely devoted to sniggering about sex. (I once heard someone assert that Jennifer Aniston’s character, supposedly a girl-next-door sort, had 37 sexual partners during the course of the show. I took the speaker’s word for it, although perhaps he was wrong.)

But "Sex and the City" put the point right in the title. And nothing I have ever heard about the show has seemed to contradict the impression the title intentionally gives.

Mind you the point of the article that started me on this reflection was fashion, so it quickly lost me. But I got the gist — it was about whether or not trashy fashion was a good thing.

We live in a trash culture. We have for a long time. We live in a culture that fights against parents every moment in the never-ending battle to try to raise children who respect themselves and others.

That’s the way things are, and as near as I can tell, there are no compelling arguments for any alternative way of looking at it.

People don’t usually say this, because they’re afraid of being labeled prudes. To hell with that. The truth is staring us all in the face.

44 thoughts on “Of COURSE ‘Sex and the City’ is trashy; isn’t that the point?

  1. David

    This is a hellified old world we live in. Hellified indeed.
    But just wait. Within 24 hours or so you will have 2 or 3 blog entries from people who enjoy and defend this trash. David

  2. Doug Ross

    Is it a problem of supply or of demand?
    Stuff is out there. It’s up to parents to create the moral base that convinces kids to avoid that stuff. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

  3. David

    By the way Bard, I know that you have at least one daughter ~ I believe you’ve mentioned some of her events and family things on this blog in passing.
    I wanted to tell you that my hat is off to you and other parents who are raising daughters in this world. Even though you and I differ pretty much across the board politically, I have profound respect for what you do to ensure your daughter is brought up right.
    Raising kids, especially those of the female persuasion, is the most important job one can have. Good on you. David

  4. Brad Warthen

    Well, Doug, at least you didn’t make the usual empty libertarian argument that parents can CHOOSE whether their kids will be exposed to the trash or not — which anyone who lives in this world knows is laughably unrealistic. (And it’s bitter laughter at that.)
    So thanks for that.

  5. Brad Warthen

    Methinks thou dost sell me short, David.
    And I have three daughters. And two sons. And three granddaughters.
    I’ve been a parent since 1976. It’s who I am. I look at the world as a parent, which is why (among other things) I’m not a libertarian. Libertarians, to me, sound like kids — and vice versa. Many, many things I write and say can be better understood if you think, “He’s a father.”

  6. Lee Muller

    To libertarians and classical liberals, you socialists sound like cry babies who want Big Sister to take away the things we worked for and give to you, who wants more than he earned the right to own.
    On top of it, you want to tell us how to live the same humdrum lives which you dream of living on our money.
    It’s good to not watch all the trashy women on TV, but think about what a poor role model the irresponsible, dependent, whining, socialistic liberal is for children.

  7. Herb Brasher

    We agree on this one Brad. I also have three daughters, and they are all gems, which has to be their mother’s doing, and most of all, God’s grace. What a gift!–is all I can say.
    The fourth one was a boy who just turned 30. Wow, time flies when you’re having fun.

  8. bud

    What I have to wonder about is how any rational adult with the slightest trace of maturity or propriety — or, to put it another way, anyone who has daughters — could see that program (now, I’m told, also a major motion picture) as anything but trashy.
    Why single out daughters? That’s a pretty sexist thing to say. And please don’t start in on another lecture like the one you gave defending the indefensible proposal to have a military draft that excludes women. Wake up folks. This is the 21st century. Women actually run for president now.

  9. Capital A

    bud, you should know to expect the misogyni-lite peddled by Brad and his faithful flunkies. These fine fellows are the same Argo-nuts who, had they been part of brave Jason’s crew, would have tried to pat the Themiscyrians on the head, all while explaining to them that the theft of the fleece was “in their best interests.” After all, father knows best, right?
    Man the oars and hoist the sails, boys! Set course for the shores of Paternalism! What a fine society our traditionalist ways have wrought! Hail Zeus…er…Jesus!
    (Knave I know that you, least of all, know what allusions I’m employing. Basically, it was a story about some guys who got drunk and went on a panty raid…in a pre-Christian time. Pre-Christian? I know, Knave. Hard to believe, but have faith!)

  10. Brad Warthen

    … and what IS the name of that show with the two gay guys and the woman? I can’t believe I can’t remember the name. I keep starting to say “Three’s Company,” but that was about a guy who PRETENDED to be gay to get away with living with two chicks (back in those days, they were called “chicks”)…

  11. odds-maker

    ….two gay guys…And I have three daughters. And two sons. And three granddaughters……….
    Ever been to Vegas?

  12. Harvey Fierstein

    ! and what IS the name of that show with the
    ! two gay guys and the woman?
    “Lindsey, Barney, and Hilary”?
    Will and Grace

  13. Brad Warthen

    Yes, that’s the one. I don’t know why I couldn’t think of it.
    Speaking of television, my wife’s watching that “So you think you can dance” thing in the other room. She really loves dance; I guess I’m not going to get to watch any “Sopranos” tonight, even though the next DVD came in from Netflix today…
    Not that I’m not in charge of my family. And ignore those rumors that I’m seeing a shrink…

  14. slugger

    The people that watch all this trash on TV want to live in somebody else’s life. They feel some need to escape their own life and if they watch this trash enough they feel part of the picture. They even call the characters by their first name and if they know them personally.
    If they had a life of their own, it would not be necessary to try to place themselves into one of the characters.

  15. Doug Ross

    Slugger says:
    “The people that watch all this trash on TV want to live in somebody else’s life. They feel some need to escape their own life and if they watch this trash enough they feel part of the picture. They even call the characters by their first name and if they know them personally.”
    The same would apply to sports fans, science fiction enthusiasts, talk radio listeners, and many more. How many people in Columbia have their weekend ruined by a Gamecock football loss? Is that any less useless? And how many people who worship at the altar of Rush, Sean, and Bill get perverse pleasure out of listening to them rail against Obama or Hilary? Is that any more meaningful than watching a reality TV show?

  16. slugger

    Ball games are not scripted (as far as I know). Talks radio is just what the word impies.
    This soap opera stuff that all these people watch every day makes them feel that it is OK to do all the dirty deeds because it makes them acceptable. I am afraid that it is immitating what you see on the TV and in the movies that is part of why we have an immoral bunch of people.

  17. Doug Ross

    What was the cause of immorality prior to TV?
    Illicit smoke signals? Dirty scrolls? Lewd cave paintings?
    Making the leap from observing a behavior and actually doing the same thing is a personal choice… take drugs, for example… after decades of “Just Say No” and “This is Your Brain On Drugs”, we still probably have the same number of teenagers who are using them. Why? Because they want to.
    I’ve seen and heard all sorts of things in my lifetime on TV, radio, movies, books. I once found Howard Stern amusing. But now that you have to pay to listen to him and his show has no limits whatsoever, it has become boring. I wouldn’t pay to listen to that junk. Some people will.

  18. slugger

    If you think that immorality is the same now as it was prior to TV (and all those years passing) and women thinking nothing of having a baby out of wedlock, you need to turn off your TV and catch up with the real world.

  19. bud

    Actually in many ways we are for more moral than we were before TV. Lynchings are now, thankfully, a very rare occurance. We don’t segregate lunch counters or discriminate against a particular race (at least not legally) because of skin color.
    The immorality of unfettered smoking has largely been removed from public places. That is certainly an improvement in morality.
    Children were once required to work in dangerous occupations. Seems like we’ve improved morally in that area.
    Out-of-wedlock pregnancies may be up but teen pregnancy is way down. Is it less immoral for a 15 year old girl to wed in order to give birth as a married “woman” vs a 15 year old pregnant girl remaining single? Seems like forcing two very young people to marry because of a pregnancy just compounds the level of immorality.
    I suggest that TV has had little to do with morality standards in today’s world. Perhaps there has been a shift in what we perceive as moral. But mostly we are more moral today than ever before.

  20. slugger

    I have tried to analyze your post. I have come to the conclusion that it is not possible. Your reasoning approximates the acceptance that our society is much better off today with acceptance of all the vice, drugs and crime.
    Do you wear a red cape?

  21. Lee Muller

    bud, the last few lynchings in SC were committed by blacks, some as recently as 3 years ago. Deal with the real world, now, and stop using liberal myths as an excuse.
    Isn’t it funny how the same crowd who thinks smoking on screen should warrant an ‘R’ rating, also thinks senseless violence and routine degrading of women as entertainment has no effect on children’s morals.

  22. bud

    Slugger, what did I state that is incorrect? Did we not have segregated lunch counters, or, do you believe segregated lunch counters are morally ok?
    Do you not believe that teen pregnancy is way down from generations past, or, do you think teen pregnancy is ok as long as the girl is married?
    Finally, do you believe people smoke less in public, or, do you find it ok that second hand, unwanted smoke is morally defensible?
    To me the answer is clear: Life in America is clearly on a higher moral plain than it was 50 years ago.

  23. slugger

    I really have nothing to say to your comments except that you are not in touch with what you think is reality concerning the present day promiscuity.
    We will pray for you and your family and hope that they will read and understand what maybe you are not teaching them at home.
    The only thing that will save our country are people that learn from history.

  24. Doug Ross

    I would suggest that there are other possible factors than just television that have caused the rise is promiscuity you suggest.
    How about the breakdown of the family structure and the rise in divorce and unmarried couples ? Was that caused by television? How about the trend that began in the 60’s where more and more mothers decided to work and pass their kids over to daycare providers? Do you think that may have impacted the value system of our children? How about the change in parenting styles that has caused parents to permit little Johnny to behave like a brat in school and blame the teacher for any and all issues?
    The “my kid is the most special thing in the world” attitude that is pervasive today has parents involved in every aspect of their kids’ lives — shuttling little Johnny to and from school so he doesn’t have to ride the scary bus. Or getting kids into organized soccer games at age 4 so they can watch little Janey stand in a circle of equally extra special kids, kicking the ball randomly for a half hour and waiting for Mom to yell out “You’re doing GREAT!!! FANTASTIC!! YOU’RE AMAZING!!!”… Is that a symptom of television?
    In my view, television reflects society, not the other way around.

  25. bud

    The problem is that we perceive the moment we’re living in from a different perspective compared to times long ago. Statistically, we’re not less moral today than we were in times past. Take one important measure of morality – murder. Recent murder rates are fairly typical for the past 100 years. The rate was far higher during the 1930s and 1980s. It was a tad lower in the late 1990s. It was lowest in the mid 1950s to early 1960s.
    To me violence is a far more worrisome concern than sex. Yet Brad and apparently others seem to be ok with the violent Sapranos yet regard Sex and the City as trash. What a wacky set of values we have.

  26. Phillip

    One of the points that I think gets lost in all this debate about all the junk that exists on TV, in movies, etc. is this: it’s like food. If you fill yourself up on healthy stuff, you won’t crave junk food as much. Same with what you might call “cultural diversions.”
    Sure, there’s an unbelievable amount of crappy TV, films, music, etc., but there is also a lot of wonderful work being done in the same media. It’s just not the stuff you hear the most about, because it’s often not promoted by the mass-media-marketing machine. But you can find out about these shows, movies, art, music, etc., it just takes a little bit more effort.
    Therein lies the problem. We all tend to be so busy that we can only absorb the idea of which movies to attend by paying attention to the top layer of “buzz,” what we see on the cover of Entertainment Weekly at the dentist’s office, the gossip columns of the paper, etc.
    But if you dig a little deeper, there is a lot worth watching, listening to, etc. More fun to turn friends onto a show that few have ever seen, or a band that few have heard of, or a movie that not every single person has seen.

  27. Doug Ross

    >To me violence is a far more worrisome
    >concern than sex. Yet Brad and apparently
    >others seem to be ok with the violent
    >Sapranos yet regard Sex and the City as
    >trash. What a wacky set of values we have.
    Exactly, Bud. I couldn’t agree more. It is amazing that the war mongers of the world think nothing of innocent lives lost as collateral damage in The WAR ON TERROR but get all worked up if Janet Jackson shows half a nipple on TV.

  28. just saying

    Factual interlude on the race of those lynching people in SC:
    Here’s a 2006 SC lynching, and the perpetrators weren’t black…
    of course, the lynching there isn’t the stereotypical strung up from a tree kind of lynching where whites killed over 3,400 blacks in the U.S. from the 1880s to the 1960s.
    According to current SC law, lynching is “a mob attack against an individual where the victim survives.” The reason more minorities are “lynching” people today because it is being used by prosecutors to crack down on gangs, (and simplified a great deal) the urban poor are more likely to be in gangs, and African Americans are more likely to be urban poor than whites.

  29. Lee Muller

    If the black gangs are lynching, the solution is for them to stop, or for us to lock them up, not for you to make up excuses for their crimes.

  30. Lee Muller

    A lot of the “sex” on TV and cinema is about violence against women. Don’t tell me that the continuous dose of it spewing from television has no ill effects on the attitudes of boys towards women.

  31. just saying

    Lee, I agree with both of your last two posts. Is that a sign of the apocolypse?

  32. slugger

    We seem to have people that only watch TV for the sex and violence. What they see on TV today is so outrageously bad, bloody, language use and nudity that it has to have a lasting effect on people that watch it day in and day out. Even the video games get more violent and they are bought for that exact reason. “Sick and getting sicker”.

  33. Laurin Manning

    With the possible (but unlikely) exception of a couple of anonymous commenters, it appears that until this comment the only participants in this thread are men. Noteworthy. And funny.

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