Sunday, 28 September 2008

Sex And The City in Yerevan


It was good to see Sex And The City: The Movie showing at one of the main cinemas in Yerevan - Moscow Cinema. There is big BUT however. Unless you have seen TV series, it would be hard to appreciate the movie, especially considering its reservations.

Unfortunately, most Armenians have not seen TV version of it. Russian NTV channel was broadcasting it, and it was passed unnoticed in Armenia where TV is filled with countless of low quality soap operas (foreign and local).

In my previous post I mentioned that Sex and The City made quite an impact on Western audiences in terms of liberating sex talk and showing a women's side of the 'story'. And it's great entertainment.

There are so many sharp one-liners and catch phrases in TV series that it is impossible for me to choose a favourite one. Below is just one of the quotes chosen randomly:

Wake up! It's 2000. The new millenium will be about sexual expression. It won't matter if you sleep with men or women. It will be about sleeping with individuals. Soon everyone will be pansexual. It won't matter if you are gay or sraight.

*SATC

Here is hoping that after the movie Armenian audience would have an opportunity to enjoy the TV series as well and appreciate Sex And The City in full. It would be an eye opener for conservative traditional male-dominated mentality still prevalent (at least on surface) in Armenian society. The question is: Do we have brave enough TV channel to start the prime time 'revolution'?

P.S. What I am saying here may seem like a gross exaggeration, but it's with these steps, which at times are more effective than any legislation or training programme, we could facilitate changes in the mindset. Remember, TV is the most accessible media in Armenia, and Armenians love TV series.

13 comments:

Ani said...

Since you're (sort of) speaking of Hollywood:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28
/fashion/28gay.html

Out in Hollywood: Starring Roles Are Rare
[...]
Never before have gay story lines been so prominent. Nor have there ever been so many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters on television — 83 by a recent count from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, not counting reality shows, daytime dramas or gay-oriented cable networks.
[...]

grigor said...

I didn't know that it is possible to make a good case for that movie, but there you did. Of course, I think there are better ways to achieve what you suggested the movie will achieve in Armenia, but your case seems solid except that I completely disagree.

I hate the movie. I lived in NYC for a long time and I think the move isn't about anything you mentioned, though it might seem that is will achieve just that. It is about how people make money by saying things that people want to hear. There is no substance in it, just a show that is profitable to everyone, designers, corporations, restaurants and etc. The whole thing is just a huge TV ad. That is how NYC works.

It is also funny that you would suggest that the movie might achieve sexual revolution. It is aimed for the people who live the revolution not the people who need to be changed. Just look at America. It is one of the most sexually repressed societies in the world, probably even more than Armenia in many ways. The movie achieved absolutely nothing in places where sexual repression is a serious issue. It is cool only for those living in places like NYC.

Above all, if this is what will change the Armenian society then you should also ask the question whether it is worth changing that society with this kind of stuff. I mean, Beatles did achieve great deal and they were producing substance and it was worth while living the change but this is so low and silly, so much making money oriented that I don't know, I really wouldn't want to see people becoming sex and the city slaves. But maybe this is just me.

artmika said...

I understand your points completely but disagree re lack of substance. For me, it’s a perfect entertainment with sharp writing which is liberating (I am referring here to TV series).

To appreciate Sex And The City, you have to get over that shoe-obsession and designer label ad element of it and see beyond that. I know you might say there will be nothing left then. Well, you might be wrong... :)

Myrthe said...

I completely see what you are getting at, Artmika, and I definitely don't disagree with you. The only problem I see looming is that Armenians will think that everyone in "The West" is like the women in SATC. The large majority of Armenians get their information about and ideas of different countries, peoples and cultures from TV and don't always realize that they might get a distorted view. I don't know how many times I have had to explain that the way things are portrayed on TV does not always correspond to the reality of life in "The West".

artmika said...

Good point, Myrthe. I can hear possible conversations under the SATC’s influence :) And yes, SATC is full of clichés too, also related to the portrayal of gay men, which is a bit irritating but still... In a sense, I can’t recall any TV series without clichés.

Anyway, I believe it’s a quality stuff and would be an eye opener for Armenian audience. Do not forget, Armenians are curious people, and while they may tend to take TV portrayal as a reality, they may also wish to explore some of the things reflected there too. I reckon, at least some of them may start discussing sex (and act upon it) with their partners (which is not a common practice, as you know), the ways of giving/receiving mutual pleasures for example ;)

And it’s not just SATC. I brought this as an example of kind of approach that could be used to influence public opinion, say re minorities. For example, showing TV series (soap operas) with sympathetic/positive gay characters would certainly help.

On a related note, BBC reports today that SATC The Movie DVD release last week has been very successful. As you may imagine, I made my modest contribution to it too :):

“The movie version of Sex and the City has scored the fastest-selling DVD of 2008 in the UK, shifting more than 920,000 copies in its opening week.”

grigor said...

“The movie version of Sex and the City has scored the fastest-selling DVD of 2008 in the UK, shifting more than 920,000 copies in its opening week.”

Bad for humanity. Oh boy, and then I wounder why Bush is the president or why Palin is the vice presidential nominee. Sorry artmika, I have never disagreed with another person the way I disagree with you on this. "Its a quality stuff" and you like Lang Fritz. Your earlier claim that it is a good entertainment made more sense, but now I am wondering in the dark woods of mystery trying to understand what "quality" refers to in your claim. I wounder what will be next, "its better than Godard's weekend or Fellini's La dolce vita or Bergman's persona". Yeah, lets destroy the world's culture because Sex and the City is out.

Sorry artmika, I am shocked.

artmika said...

Come on, Grigor, do not get shocked so easily. People's taste differ. And I would never compare SATC with Fellini or Godard, these are on very different, incomparable levels, and one does not exclude others.

In general, if you want to know what types of films/directors I like, click on the "View my profile", and you will see a selection of some of my favourite films. As Armenians would say, "chashakin enker chka".

Ani said...

If you can, take a look at "Mad Men" when it comes to your side of the pond; 1960s American attitudes are maybe more relevant to Armenia than "Sex and the City"...

grigor said...

Artmika, this is not a question of taste anymore. Look, I don't like Woody Allen when he plays in his own movies and that is a question of taste because a lot of people like it. But I will never claim that the movies that Woody Allen plays are silly or have no content and etc. I just don't like them.

The question you put forward is whether the movie, Sex and the City, will achieve sexual revolution. This is beyond just a matter of taste. Then you claimed rather mildly that it is a good eneteratinment and then you claimed what I think is the wrongest claim among all the claims in the world, that the movie is a quality stuff. It is not about taste but it is this last claim that shocked me.

I watched sex and the city, don't get me wrong. But never watched it because it has a quality stuff but because when I am tired and want to waste some time watching nonsense I watch the movie. Its better than most TV shows, and I agree in some sense it is a good entertainment, but where is the quality in it?

Also, your suggestion that sex and the city might revolutionize Armenia also sounds strange to me. I went school there and the the things I have seen in Armenian schools you will never see in America. The problem in Armenia isn't that people fear sex or don't discuss it but that many guys and the society think that women, when they get married, need to be virgin. This is it. It doesn't matter what women do other times, but just when they get married they need to be virgin. The kind of things I talked about with my friends while growing in Armenia is far beyond what kids do in America, but when it comes to marriage somehow it all breaks down. I have had numerous arguments with friends and the funny thing is that they don't have an argument for this phenomenon just that it is the way it should be.

Gay issue is not just Armenia. The roots of it is again not sexual repression as many people argue but the inability of embracing freedom without boundaries. It has to do with what we do and what we don't do rather than the fact that people don't talk about sex (which I think Armenians do at least in my neighborhood and school guys talked about it all day long and stalked every girl they saw, quro jan vonces, ara etanq axchik xosnenq, ape esor mi hat axchikem tese..., you are telling me you never had such conversations. My wife tells me that it was hell to walk on the streets because guys kept throwing complements and trying to talk to her all the time.)

artmika said...

Grigor, I am afraid, you are interpreting what I write in my post and comments too directly, without looking beyond the SATC itself. I explained already my reasoning in previous comments. If you disagree, it’s fine, more opinions we have, the better.

As to the SATC, yes, in my opinion, it is good entertainment, it is quality stuff (not the Fellini type, but in its own genre), and by quality stuff I mean quality entertainment and quality writing. In fact, in my opinion, it’s one of the best TV series (again, within its own genre) to come out from the US in recent years. I wish my claims remain “the wrongest claim among all the claims in the world”, as you put it. :)

The examples from Yerevan teenagers and schoolchildren you brought are simply an examples of teenage sexual curiosity and them making pass on girls/women. You can’t be serious suggesting that these are examples of openness re sex in Armenia. In fact, their curiosity in many cases remains unfulfilled or filled with misconceptions and wrong knowledge which along with other factors transform later into the ‘wife the virgin’ and other very typical examples. My personal, albeit non-scientific, observations of many Armenian couples after they get married, and before, clearly indicates that they overwhelmingly shy away of discussing sexual life and fear experimentation due to various prejudices and lack of knowledge. To simplify the matter only to the issue of virginity would be wrong. Also, just because these problems exist elsewhere too, does not mean that we should not be concerned about it in Armenia and find and propose ways of tackling them. And no, I do not expect them disappear by showing SATC. It would be ridiculous from me to suggest so, or to imply that this will lead to a sexual revolution per se. This could come only via very direct interpretation of my words. Please, re-read my post.

One of the potentially workable approaches to tackle serious social matters is via employing the most accessible channels for doing so. In this case, TV and TV series, or soap operas, which are filled the programmes of Armenian local channels to the ridiculous extent and deplorable quality, and believe me, SATC would be a masterpiece in their comparison and truly an eye-opener.

Btw, I never said that the roots of “gay issue” is sexual repression. This could arguably be only a part of the story. And I agree with you completely that there is big issue in our society (and not only) of “inability of embracing freedom without boundaries”. That’s essentially what my post is all about.

grigor said...

>>> SATC would be a masterpiece in their comparison and truly an eye-opener.

Look, this will get more technical if I go on and I didn't mean to start a back and forth. Let me just say that it is a bad strategy to praise in any way a TV series like SATC. When something has that many bad components embedded into it, and as we all know SATC is just a big money making machine, then it is just not right to desperately try to find one thing that might be good in it and try to elevate its intellectual status. Again good entertainment is different from suggesting that SATC might achieve sexual revolution. I am sure you know that reviews are what make these movies successful and I for one would never want to encourage another movie like that. I don't think there is anything wrong with saying "they make millions but they also know how to put a show", but there is a line which I would never cross, which is giving any kind of intellectual credit or describing a greater good that a movie of that kind might achieve. You have to demand substance for the people not some silly billy movie that the actresses themselves claim that it is a silly movie, completely against their views, and they do it only for money.

Sorry, artmika, I guess we just completely disagree on this.

artmika said...

It's "official": Sex and The City sequel

cath said...

I guess Sex and the city was a big hit in your place. The film and the TV series was both a phenomenal.