A funny thing happened to me on the way to writing a blistering (no, not that) takedown of Sarah Jessica Parker—the veritable horse-faced killer: I did a little bit of research among my fellow Y-chromosomed brethren and, with the cloak of anonymity assured, I received some surprisingly warm answers from them about their feelings (yes, feelings) about Ms. Parker. And here I was already clucking with glee at the opportunity to title this column SJP(enisface).
Now to be clear, as Jennifer noted in her thoughtful piece on the topic, the name “Carrie Bradshaw” is poisonous to men. It’s synonymous with a vapid, grating archetype whom millions of girls spent a decade emulating to global detriment. Her Wahhabi-like devotion to fashion—sheen over substance—gave rise to things like the idea that women should dress their men (and, sure enough, women ultimately complained that their men weren’t manly enough anymore).
As a consequence, I am confident that if one were to mention either name (SJP or CB) among a pack of guys at a bar, each would step over another to peacock an irrational disdain for her. I should add that at that very same bar, if a man overheard a woman ordering a Cosmo, he would instinctively do two things: unzip his pants and expect a lecture from her the following morning.
But after the initial flurry of comments about her equine qualities, the enmity leveled out. Most of the respondents talked about how they liked SJP once, found her attractive once, even used bizarre words like “bubbly, spunky, vivacious.” They gave her dap for marrying Ferris Bueller because it represents some quondam fulfillment of a comprehensible dream (like marrying Sloane Peterson once certainly did for us).
Any of us who partook in reasonably long relationships back in “the aughts” probably sat through a few (dozen) reruns of the show and weren’t too horribly scarred by the experience. But then the over-saturation continued. The thinly-veiled knockoff books, sex columns, and shows. The failure of anything to launch but a half-assed third-wave feminism. The (frankly frightening) fever pitch behind the movie.
The line between fiction and reality blurred. We started speculating that SJP wasn’t just a crazy B on television, but in real life. All those cosmetics she hawked weren’t just powders, but powderkegs. Girls walked around in bejeweled shirts that read “I’m A Carrie.” Her acolytes started appropriating the names of Carrie’s love interests as descriptors for us (I’ve been called Berger countless times, and not just for being a handsome wordsmith; one of my friends is still called Aidan and doesn’t get the reference).
The SJP pushback became just as infectious as the infatuation and the hatred began piling up. We couldn’t attack her character on the show because it meant we watched it. So we men (and women) denigrated her looks. Family Guy: She looks like a foot. South Park: a transvestite donkey witch. One respondent sent me this amazing gem.
But it didn’t start this way with men. Apparently some of us liked her at first. Then she let herself get bigger than Big. Holy fuck, I can’t believe I just typed that. This isn’t my fault. Just don’t tell anyone. Okay?