JAN 10, 2004
Goodbye to good Sex
By Ong Soh Chin
UNLIKE most of the world, I have no time for reality TV.
Maybe I’m missing a gene or something, but shows like Survivor, Temptation Island and The Bachelor would appall me with their venality if they didn’t bore me to tears first.
But I do not begrudge the fact that other people enjoy watching them. I also understand that I am painfully in the minority, if the shows’ ratings are any indication. And I’m certainly not here to ask that they be banned.
But I do want to know why many of these tawdry programmes have pride of place on Singapore TV when a programme like HBO’s Sex And The City is still nowhere to be found.
While the recent Censorship Review Committee has lifted the ban on it, there is still no word as to when the series will actually be shown here, and whether it will start from Season One or the current Season Six.
Life! understands that HBO is currently waiting for the Media Development Authority to get back to it with screening guidelines for the series.
Fans know that Season Six, which is ongoing now in the United States, is the last one. The final episode is expected to air on Feb 22.
So, ironically, by the time we finally get to have Sex here – if we ever do – the moment would probably have long passed, the lifting of the ban rendered meaningless and the victory hopelessly pyrrhic.
Those of us who wanted it bad would have found ways of getting it over the last six years of its existence.
After all, we may not be able to have Sex here, but we can in nearby countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand where the series is shown on HBO, albeit censored.
And you can be sure that we will be watching the final episode, all misty-eyed, smoking our post-coital cigarettes in a dark place off the beaten track; while those who never cared for Sex will still remain shiny happy virgins, beaming under the bright lights of this city.
But after all the sturm und drang, after all the reams of editorials that have been written here about the series – quite a lot considering it’s not even shown here – one question remains largely unanswered.
What is so awful about Sex And The City, really?
Nobody in it takes drugs, kills people or beats up small children.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say its ban was an entirely misogynistic decision. Its four lead characters are attractive single women, all gainfully employed, who meet and date many men.
Their biggest crimes? Being picky about the men they date (Carrie), realising that happiness does not necessarily come with a wedding ring (Charlotte), being a single mother (Miranda) and enjoying guilt-free sex like a man (Samantha).
The series also boasts some of the best TV writing in recent years – honest, sexy, witty and insightful. It makes you laugh but also think, which is more than can be said for some of the duds on TV which make you do neither.
The four women all try to do the right thing and they are always there for each other. That’s much more than can be said for a lot of the people on Survivor.
I sometimes wonder, if Sex And The City had been a comedy series about four single men who date and have sex with women, would there have been an issue?
Maybe not. Maybe not even if it was about four married men who date and have sex with women.
As Sex And The City approaches its inevitable conclusion, I am left feeling the same way I do when saying goodbye to old friends at the airport, or when a relationship ends amicably.
There is a sadness, born of the realisation that all good things must come to an end, but tinged with the knowledge that one will always have fond memories.
As with the best relationships and friendships, one also becomes better and wiser as a result.
For me and the many others who love it, Sex And The City has been groundbreaking in many ways. While some grinches – women included – may decry its heroines as shallow girlies who are concerned only with shopping and finding the perfect man, I think otherwise.
For me, the series is important because it blows the traditional female stereotypes out of the water – stereotypes which have long depicted single women as neurotic old maids, whores or nuns.
At the same time, it also allows that single women can be funny, silly, buy lots of shoes and make mistakes when it comes to relationships. In other words, it shows that single women are not perfect. Just single.
But the biggest lesson I have learnt has been gleaned, not from the series, but from Singapore’s banning of it.
While Sex And The City’s worldwide popularity has been nothing short of a phenomenon, the powers-that-be in this town, which wants to be a Renaissance City and an information hub, have remained coldly resistant, until its bittersweet end.
If our TV programming is any indication, these are the messages we may be sending out to our young minds:a) Real single women (not spies, witches or vampire slayers) are personae non grata b) Unless they end up married or want to be married.c) But watching real people at their worst – cheating, lying and backstabbing just to win a contest/husband/millionaire/hot babe – is okay.
Is it any wonder these days that I don’t watch TV? There’s too much reality, not enough creativity, too much that is mundane, not enough that is aspirational.
As far as local programming goes, I am invisible. As far as local morals go, single women can’t have Sex.< I don't know about you, but I think it's time we all learned to think outside the (goggle) box.