Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash, Vol. XV: Sex and the City, reader incest, and vandalizing for Jesus

Matt Labash Columnist
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a burning sensation? Consult your doctor. Have a burning question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

Interoffice question: Matt, were you able to get tickets for Sex and the City 2? Can you pick up an extra one for Treacher? We’re meeting for cosmos before and dressing up: Tucker’s going as Carrie, I’m Samantha, Neil is Charlotte, Treacher is Mr. Big, which means you get to be Miranda. — Your loving editrix, Moira

First, wait, why does Treacher get to be Mr. Big and I have to be Homely Spice?

Second, Moira, you know I’ve grudgingly participated when you plan corporate funtivities. I went along with Physically-Challenged Polynesian Awareness Week, wearing the leg braces with the lei, as instructed by our funcilitator. I dragged along to the dude ranch for Daily Caller team-building exercises, where star reporter Mike Riggs stepped up and volunteered to let each of us singe him with a branding iron, the smell of his charred flesh serving as a valuable management parable that when something hurts one of us, it hurts all of us.

But every man has his line, Moira, and you just crossed mine. I will not be accompanying you to the cinema. Because the most joyous day of my life – happier than the birth of my children, happier than when Mo’Nique won a Golden Globe for her inspiring turn in Precious – was the day that that witless, charmless yenta-laden exercise known as Sex and the City went off the air. Each character is more insufferable than the next. Yeast infection prevention videos are more pleasurable to watch. Not that I watched it. I glanced it a few times. Maybe I played the drinking game at home just to make myself numb: Drink every time the girls say something pun-ny. Drink every time they mention whose shoes they’re wearing. Drink every time Samantha contracts gonorrhea.

I’ve written this before elsewhere, but I’ll paraphrase myself now. Sex and the City was never a show about how straight women talk. It was a show about how gay male writers fantasize about straight women talking. If straight women actually talked that way, I’d gladly become gay, too.

Now, it seems, in Sex and the City 2, our favorite bleating harridans take a road trip to Abu Dhabi (razor sharp repartee from film trailer: “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”) I wonder what these repositories of originality will do next? Maybe they’ll crash through the back of a wardrobe into a magical land called Narnia, enabling Samantha to utter yet another of her groaner double entendres: “It’s not the first time I’ve found magic through the back door.” After the TV series ended, I sincerely hoped we’d be rid of them forever. But now it seems, they’re going to keep making these crappy movies in perpetuity, until they become the botoxed Golden Girls. Well I remember the original Golden Girls. And given the choice between watching the sexual exploits of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda vs. Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia – I’ll take the old dolls any day. Even if two of them are dead. RIP, Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty. I would tip my 40 to you, though I’m sure Betty White has beat me to it, now that she’s making appearances with Jay-Z. Here’s hoping her backlash starts soon. Though not sooner than it does for the Manolo-wearing sows from Sex and the City.

Dearest Labash, are you single? I sure hope so. With dearest regard — Phyllis

Phyllis, I’m flattered you’d ask. And believe me when I say there’s nothing I’d like more than to make forceful, Vesuvial love to my readers. To me, your very name is like a song. Specifically, “Phyllis,” the theme song of the 1970’s television show, Phyllis, starring Cloris Leachman. (I’m a literalist.) But I am not single. I am indeed married – to this column. And my children are the advisees whose broken lives I attempt to mend herein. You don’t make love to your own children, Phyllis, not unless you’re Papa John Phillips. In a world of grays, that’s a black-and-white. It’s called incest. And it’s wrong. I’m not happy about the laws. I just observe them. So Phyllis, if you care about me like I care about you, then be strong enough for both of us.

Why is it that a Jesus fish on a car in a public school car line doesn’t seem offensive, but a Darwin fish with its dangling legs seem so aggressive in a Christian school car line? – Eden M.

Well Eden, I’m really not permitted to frequent school car lines. Not since my name was mistakenly published on that defamatory registry (a clerical error I suspect – State of Maryland, my attorney will be in touch). But I know what you mean. You are referring of course to the Christian fish symbol called the Icthys, a Greek word that means “Jesus-wheezers on board.”

First, a bit of context: fish play a recurring role in the New Testament, and consequently, I, as both a Christian and an avid fly fisherman, use this biblical precedent to justify my own senseless torturing of fish by hooking them in the mouths with sharp steel for no other reason than my own recreational enjoyment. As the late Norman Maclean wrote of his minister father and his earliest religious instruction, “He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen of the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.” So to me, fish symbols are sacred. They are not to be messed with. Like Texas, or Mitt Romney’s hair.

But I think you’re selling your own side short, Eden. The Jesus fish is plenty offensive to some in the public school car line, especially to the godless teachers’ unions and other Stalinists who litter our public school system. (My wife is a former public school teacher – so I can joke like that, even if I’m completely serious.) Still, your symbol doesn’t seem as offensive because it is an un-cynical profession of faith. The Darwin fish, on the other hand, with its little legs of mockery, is what some have called “scientific blackface,” not just a send-up of those who might call themselves Creationists, but a not-so-subtle dig at all Christians, implying they are mouth-breathing rubes.

Of course, that assumes that all Christians necessarily reject the theory of evolution. I have no problem believing we hail from monkeys. Not because of the “science,” per se. The scientific theories of any given moment often end up being wrong when more evidence comes in, as geeky fans of Lost will attest. Still, it’s hard to dismiss this photographic evidence of the missing link, Ben Stiller:

The correct question to ask yourself, however, Eden, is not what you should do about this Christian school car-line lout, who is clearly trying to give offense. But What Would Jesus Do? After spending some time examining the gospels, I think it’s clear: Jesus would key his car. It doesn’t say it outright. But just read between the lines in the latter half of the book of Mark. It’s in there. Will the lout be taken aback, will he be hurt, will he be angry that a follower of Christ would deliberately scratch up his paintjob? Yes, he will be all of these things. But if he takes his Darwin fish as seriously as you take yours, then his feelings will evolve.
Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is just published from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.