I have been racking my brain as to why they might have gone this route despite its inherent complications. And there are so many… The two worst parts of the movie wouldn’t have been an issue if the girls had just gone to Mexico. Instead they tackle a hotbed of intercultural misunderstanding and tension. I hear that the Middle East is the last holdout of the exotic in the American mind but what a can of worms gets opened… Sometimes it’s hard to watch.
In the first cringe inducing scene, they find themselves at a kareoke show in Abu Dhabi replete with bellydancing girls shimmying to the tunes. The girls themselves notice that the bellydancers are in contrast to the veiled women they see outside. It’s explained away as a patriarchial loophole- okay. SATC commenting on Arab social culture I can follow that (vaguely), but then they procede to take over the stage themselves and sing a rendition of a seventies pro-woman folk song! They warble ” I am woman… hear me roar” which outside of dating them terribly- especially for a younger audience that didn’t know the song themselves- is a weird choice to sing in Abu Dhabi, like why shove it in their faces how liberated you are- its was super strange song choice wise. Still can’t decipher what they were trying to say with that one. They make it past there, wear some rather hideous fashion and then gets stuck again in the same mire of western sexuality/feminism meets foreign culture= disaster.
The second disastrous moment occurs later in the movie when Samantha, in short shorts gets confronted by a male mob in the souk. First off, I don’t believe a woman, as smart as that character is supposed to be, would be dumb enough to make her feminist stand in that situation, with that behavior. She is world traveled, she should have some basic sense of cultural sensitivity and personal safety guidelines. I have traveled in muslim countries and would never have dressed that way- because it’s not safe or respectful to do so. She would know better. It only gets worse when they are rescued by local women and put in burkas to disguise themselves and sneak away. They pop out from their hiding places, one veiled head atop the other in a shot that could be out of a fifties movie in terms of ignorance- look at us wearing these silly outfits- it felt like Scooby Doo or The Three Muskateers do Arabia. It made me feel guilty just to have seen it.Complicit. Any thought that Abu Dhabi had sponsored this went out the window- if anything this movie would encourage terrorism… and I can’t support anything that makes America any less safe. I am a patriot afterall… The small saving graces came with the honesty of them getting unceremoniously kicked out of the country, which really would happen if those kind of ladies tried all that over there. That and the line “Lawrence of my labia”, which is pure genius.