Made giddy by the recent deluge of SATC-spanking media coverage (see end of story for links), and in the interest of further dragging out the saga of how SATC killed NYC, let's trace it back--not as far back this time as Bushnell and Star's fateful meeting at Bowery Bar, we've already covered that. No, let's go back to a seemingly more harmless moment in the year 2000, to a few seconds frosted in pink.
The Villager points the way, reflecting, "After Sarah Jessica Parker ate a creamy retro cupcake on Sex and the City at a beloved local landmark, The Magnolia Bakery, the tour buses began circling. The lines outside the tiny bakery swelled into queues stretching around the corner. Soon, upscale clothing retailer Marc Jacobs, salivating over the youthful crowds, rented a shop right across the street."
don't do it! stop!
And here's our smoking gun: “Our goal was to take advantage of the huge concentration of young people who flooded into the area, especially with the ‘Sex and the City’ show,” said Debbie Lee, a Marc Jacobs assistant manager.
oh no, you didn't! watch the cataclysmic catalyst here
The way a butterfly's wings can theoretically whip up a tornado, Carrie Bradshaw's bite of a cupcake set an avalanche in motion. That mouthful of buttery sweetness begat tour buses, which begat trendy lines, which begat Marc Jacobs. And what did Marc Jacobs beget?
Wrote the Observer, "Marc Jacobs didn’t invent the West Village, but his five stores there have made it into a precious, pricey, overpopulated, well-corduroyed, bubble-skirted dreamland." Time Out says this SATC effect created the "douchification of the Meatpacking District and the West Village," with "Lower East-Packing and Chinatown... neck-and-neck for the next douchey makeover," thanks to inclusion in the SATC movie.
the only bakery where cupcakes require bouncers for protection
From here, we can follow the cupcake crumb trail west, where toxic Bleecker connects to Hudson, which becomes 9th and leads straight into the luxury Meatpacking Mall. To the east, Bleecker infects Bowery and gives birth to the Cooper Sq Hotel, Varvatos, etc., which will in turn beget more of the same. These Bleecker offshoots stretch ever north and south, and even cross the rivers. You can see how quickly the light breeze from those butterfly's wings has built into a devastating storm--one that the media and the city has begun to turn against.
Just for fun, imagine an alternate universe in which Carrie Bradshaw opted not to swallow that cupcake. What if, instead, she spat it onto the sidewalk and said, "These cupcakes are horrible"? On the filmreel of your mind, watch the city rewind back to its old self--glass towers fall and fallen brick lowrises rise again, the sidewalks clear of heartless crowds, lost New Yorkers return to homes and shops they were evicted from...oh, what a fantasy that would be.
She's an easy target, but for the record, I don't think it's all Sarah Jessica Parker's fault. She has her part, but an actor plays a character co-created by writers, producers, directors. Let's not forget the others who brought SATC to power, including Darren Star and Candace Bushnell. And, clearly, the yunnies were already in the audience, primed and hungry to receive SATC's messages. In a time and place where image is king (or queen), television dictates behavior. It won't make us into murderers, but it can boost existing cultural trends that balloon into major changes.
In an essay on television and gentrification, one writer takes it to the next level, writing, "urban leaders have internalized these televisual images of the urban good life. When they think of 'urban vitality,' they envision the city as a playground of upscale consumption and leisure. And, in doing so, they have increasingly committed themselves to policies of gentrification and displacement."
And so the cupcake trail leads straight to Bloomberg and Burden. Wipe those crumbs from your lips, Carrie and the gang, you've got a lot of cleaning up to do.
A chain of blame:
- The Post rolls out a list of crimes, saying, "Carrie Bradshaw, we're holding you responsible for the following developments, which you and your cohorts unleashed upon an unsuspecting city."
- Time Out features an anti-SATC cover and a "haters package" for a "Carrie-free" New York.
- The Daily Mail (and last night's CBS News 2) declares the Big Apple backlash begun.
- AMNY wonders, "is it the show's fault that your corner diner was knocked down for a condo and places like Third Avenue in Murray Hill are overrun with Samantha clones?"
- A former Villager details the ruination of her neighborhood, complete with: bitchy cupcake ladies! rats! desperate singles!