How to Escape Watching 'Sex and the City' Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass talks about his recent article on how to get out of watching the upcoming Sex and the City movie.
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How to Escape Watching 'Sex and the City'

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NEAL CONAN, host:

There are chick flicks - the rain-soaked "Notebook," the interminable "Gone with the Wind," and of course, "An Affair to Remember," both versions - and then there's "Sex and the City." Before the coming big-screen estrogen explosion, Chicago Tribune columnist, John Kass, has a declaration for men everywhere. You do not have to see this film.

If you've been invited, begged, ordered or tricked into seeing two and a half hours of "Sex and the City," call us and let us know what your excuse will be. Our number is 800-989-8255. Email talk@npr.org. And you can find a link to John Kass' free "Get out of Watching the 'Sex and the City' movie Card" on our blog. That's at npr.org/blogofthenation. John Kass joins us from his home in Chicago where he's having an allergic reaction in his eye, because of the movie, John?

Mr. JOHN KASS (Columnist, Chicago Tribune): I would hope not.

CONAN: Well, it's...

Mr. KASS: Either it's the movie or Chicago politics or Barack O - whatever it is, I don't know. I think of it as a day off.

CONAN: Anyway, the...

Mr. KASS: Neal, you've got me pumped up to write for tomorrow now.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: But your eye will make sure you don't have to go see this movie as long as it's playing.

Mr. KASS: I think I'll have my wife, who also detests "Sex and the City" but not as bad - not as much as I, I think I'll have her type it. Maybe I can dictate it while laying down on the couch in some luxurious lounge wear. I'll dictate the column.

CONAN: Some of our listeners, and of course, some of your readers, may remember you're the guy who said there are movies that men can cry at. Why are you so angry at this one?

Mr. KASS: The guy - NPR, your program put on the Guy Cry column issue and put that forward throughout the nation. And again, I am someone who supports not only "An Affair to Remember," the first one, the real one...

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. KASS: But also "Random Harvest," which is the classic tearjerker involving love and amnesia, which I recommend to everyone for Valentine's Day.

CONAN: Well, there's an important lesson for men in "An Affair to Remember." When crossing 34th Street, look both ways.

Mr. KASS: That's right. And in "Random Harvest," if you have amnesia, just remember, Greer Garson's the girl for you, because of what happens.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KASS: But this is a different movie altogether. This is not about love. This is not really about sex. Besides the fact that it's torture for guys, I think it demeans women. What's it really about? Shopping? I think it's like consumption, not the lung ailment, but the other thing where you buy stuff. And it involves, what? It involves acquiring and discussing the finest sex, the finest shoes, the finest coffees. It's really - it's, what? Is it a - before I slip completely out of my own stereotype in Chicago, is it not a metaphor for our time?

CONAN: Well, it could be, and therefore - well, even as a fieldwork, then, an instructive movie to go see.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KASS: I would stay - you know, I'd probably - I've been asked by my editors to go see it and to take a video crew and stay there and interview all the pathetic guys who had to go, but I just figured I don't want to humiliate men anymore. Men have been humiliated enough, you know, over the past several - since, I guess, Phil Donahue was hatched, and I don't think we really need more humiliation by showing men being dragged to this movie about shoe - what the - have you ever seen a pair of these 500-dollar shoes?

CONAN: I used to live in the neighborhood not too far from a Jimmy Choo store, so I moved out.

Mr. KASS: Jimmy Choo is the church, right? Isn't it the church of this...

CONAN: I believe it's the church of the stiletto yes.

Mr. KASS: Now, I don't know - see, at the same time, aren't we talking about - our economy's in peril. We're about to be in the depression, right? We have a lot of women maybe who can afford 700-dollar pair of shoes to - as a substitute for sex, but - or love, but what about all the women who can't? I mean, there's people who are working in K-Mart and stand on their feel all day for 12 hours. I don't think they have - they're standing in high heels, are they?

CONAN: Let's get a call in. This is Preston, Preston with us from Iron Range in Minnesota.

PRESTON (Caller): Hello.

CONAN: Hi.

Mr. KASS: Hey, Preston.

PRESTON: How are you? Howdy.

CONAN: Hi there.

PRESTON: I - wonderful show, love listening to it.

CONAN: Thanks.

PRESTON: You know, I was at home, and a preview started coming on TV. I just about got trapped into going and seeing it, and a week ago the company that I work for, I got an offer to take a temp job up on the Iron Range.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PRESTON: So I'm going to be here for three weeks, just long enough so she can see it plenty of times without me.

CONAN: That's an elegant excuse. There aren't any theatres up there in the Iron Range?

PRESTON: There is, but I'm not going to go to a theater by myself.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KASS: Well, not for - Preston, if you go to see a theater - to see this movie by yourself, I suggest either a priest or a psychiatrist after that, you know?

PRESTON: I'd have to agree.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PRESTON: Well, thank you very much.

CONAN: Thanks for the call, Preston. We're talking with John Kass of the Chicago Tribune about the "Sex and the City" movie. You're listening to...

Mr. KASS: Talking to me, what about you? Are you going?

CONAN: I'm not planning to go. I haven't seen "Iron Man" yet, so I've got some other things to do.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: You're listening to Talk of the Nation from NPR News. Let's see if we can get Greg on the line. Greg's with us from Miami in Florida.

GREG (Caller): Hey, how are you doing?

CONAN: Very well, thank you.

Mr. KASS: What's up, Greg?

GREG: Well, I've had to do some pretty heavy bartering not to go see this movie.

Mr. KASS: Bartering?

GREG: Bartering. I basically had to promise my girlfriend, you know, any restaurant of her choice, you know, going out to any club, anything that I can give her in payback to not see this movie, I'm willing to do.

Mr. KASS: Greg, man up, listen. Go to chicagotribune.com/nomovie or to the NPR website here. Print out my card, which begins, if not mistaken, "by the blood of William Wallace and the sweat of Rocky Balboa," and it continues, you know, you don't have to go see it, and this - and sign it, put your name there and I - just show it to your girlfriend. You don't have to see it.

GREG: OK. Well, you know, I had - I do have an ace up my sleeve because she won't go see "Iron Man," OK? So don't get me wrong, I really like Sarah Jessica Parker but I just cannot bring myself to go see this movie.

Mr. KASS: Four hour - two and a half hours of women of a certain age whining about why they're not in love while they're buying shoes at 700 dollars a pair, I find it to be...

GREG: It's like an old party line that they used to depict the movies when people would pick them up and hear the two men yakking on the party lines.

Mr. KASS: It's sad to - the sad thing is that if you understand it is satire, it's like making fun of all the people who are going to it and having their little parties, this movie - the filmmakers are actually ridiculing the fan base of the movie.

CONAN: Well, Greg, good luck and have a good time at "Iron Man."

GREG: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Let's see if we can get Jason on, Jason's with us from Philadelphia.

JASON (Caller): Hey, how's it going?

CONAN: Not too bad.

JASON: The guys I work with, we all decided we are absolutely going to everything we can to not to see this movie, and we all have Nextels with those annoying chirps on them. And the agreement is that if someone is going to end up being roped into having to see the movie, they're going to chirp one of us in the group and then we're going to chirp back with an emergency at work. So... Mr. KASS: Excellent.

JASON: So they can't go to the movie, they have to rush out the door and join us at the bar.

Mr. KASS: But why do we have to come - what happened to men, where we have to come up with the excuses now? Can't we just say, honey, I'm not going, go with your sister, bye?

CONAN: Have a good time?

Mr. KASS: Have a good time? Why do we have...

JASON: I wish it was that easy. I really do.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KASS: We're going to be - you know, the fall of the empire is at hand. That's what I see right now.

CONAN: Jason, thanks very much for the call. Good luck with that emergency contact routine.

JASON: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. And let's get Steve on the line, and Steve is calling us from South Bend in Indiana.

STEVE (Caller): Hi.

CONAN: Hi.

STEVE: Thank you for taking the call, Neal. I actually like "Sex and the City." I think the women are cute, I think the stories are pretty good, and I've already seen "Iron Man." So I'm making plans with a woman friend of mine to go see it.

Mr. KASS: Well, that's great. I think that's part of, you know, man can have everything - what is it? We - we can have everything, and some men want to have "Sex and the City" and watch it. Go ahead, buddy. Be my guest. Neal and I are going to be spending the weekend in different cities grilling meats over fires.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEVE: After all like I've said, I've seen "Iron Man" already and so...

Mr. KASS: Good you got your (unintelligible) there.

STEVE: I am - you know, I kind of have an eclectic point of view, I guess.

CONAN: Steve, let me put it this way. Is she going to see "The Dark Knight" with you when that comes out?

STEVE: No, she isn't, and frankly, she's not a girlfriend. She's just a woman friend of mine.

CONAN: Oh, I see. OK.

STEVE: But - no, I mean, I just go see what I want to see and I - and sometimes I have to see things with different friends and all that kind of stuff, but...

Mr. KASS: That's true. You wouldn't have (unintelligible)...

STEVE: And a wide variety of things.

Mr. KASS: You would have your wacky friends. You'd have your - you know, Woody Allen retrospective friends, right? It's a - you take people to different things. I understand that.

STEVE: It's pretty much that way, yeah. I'm interested in a lot of different things and I couldn't any of my friends to agree on anything, so I kind of have to be selective about who I go see what with.

Mr. KASS: Well, just do me a favor, man, and see, while you're grilling your next porterhouse steak there, and they have opened a nice bottle of cab, rent "Random Harvest," which is - it's got Greer Garson, and I forget the English actor that makes - that fellow who played Maxwell Smart used to (unintelligible) call that time on the Maxwell Smart show.

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. KASS: But it's a horrible movie.

CONAN: Steve, thanks very much. Good luck. Here's an email we got from Gia (ph). I'm not taking my boyfriend because I don't want to have to explain all the inside jokes. I can be distracted by questions, such as, who is that idiot stick figure with no soul? And how did Charlotte meet Harry again? In fact, I may go see it by myself so I don't have any distractions. There's a woman after your heart, John Kass.

(Soundbite of song "Get Smart Theme")

Mr. KASS: Well, I think you just pumped me and I'm probably going to have to write now since I've been talking to your listeners, and I think I'll just have to sit down and compose something. But thank you for focusing my mind again.

CONAN: You can find a free Get Out of Watching the "Sex and the City" Movie card at our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation. And this is NPR News.

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