I Don’t Know Why They Did It: A Blind Critique Of The Message Behind ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’

Friday, September 16 by
Future generations will regard SJP's character as the first woman to ever maintain steady employment while raising children.  

Judging by today’s reviews and scathing articles about the new Sarah Jessica Parker film I Don’t Know How She Does It, I’m not the only one who hates the concept of this film and its marketing plan. I haven’t seen the film (though I plan to this weekend), but I don’t wish to really discuss the film itself. Rather, I would like to spend a minute talking about the marketing campaign, the trailer, and the image the film has put forward, which I feel is far more reckless and ignorant than anything contained in the film.

Living in Los Angeles, I have been bombarded with this image and commercials on bus stops, buses, and countless other non-bus related avenues:

I find this offensive. Not offensive to men, though it probably is, and not offensive to women, though it probably is offensive to them as well. I find it offensive to people who go through their day-to-day lives without having to congratulate themselves on completing the ordinary tasks that life (business, family, and social) requires.

A few of the things that we’re not expected to know how she does them:

“Make coffee”
“Organize files” (whatever the fuck that means)
“Schedule meeting”

Also, at the top of the poster “pick up dinner” is listed while the fourth item from the bottom appears to be “make dinner.” And, directly in front of her navel, she needs to “make dinner reservations.” I’m not going to feel sorry for someone who consumes three dinners per day. I’m sorry, I’m just not.

If the movie is to have us believe that she’s so high-powered, the script writers should have educated themselves on an economic concept called opportunity cost. The third item on the list is “fix the leak.” Why is this high-powered businesswoman doing her own plumbing? Either she is really poor, or she is an idiot. Either way, the producers are selling us on a paradox. Gordon Gekko doesn’t mow his lawn because the value of his time is somewhere north of $10,000 per hour. She can outsource some of these tasks. That’s the very reason a lot of people work so hard – so they don’t have to fix leaks.

Going through the balance of the list, you’ll see that SJP’s tasks constitute the most mundane to-do list in history. She’s not special. She’s just like everyone else. Sadly, the producers (or marketing team or whoever) can’t even create this list without redundancies such as “check email,” then a little lower on the list, the hopelessly vague “email.”

To anyone with any semblance of a life, this list isn’t all that daunting or even unfamiliar. So why is she so great, and, more importantly, why can’t we understand how she does it? I would think that if she works hard at the office, then works hard raising her kids, that would suffice in “doing it.”

People who have kids aren’t oblivious to the notion of raising them. SJP didn’t become the court-ordered guardian of two orphans after losing a wager. She had unprotected sex (presumably) on two separate occasions, became aware of her pregnancy at some point thereafter, gestated and birthed them. Which is great. Miracle of life and whatnot.

What is not great is acting like you’re climbing a mountain every day of your life because now you have these children. If I go to the housewares sections of a department store with a baseball bat and destroy all their nice flatware and vases, I forfeit the right to complain about how I don’t have any money because I have to pay for all the stuff I broke. It’s the same principal as the act the producers are pulling in regards to SJP’s character.

Tons of people get through the day without complaining about having to make coffee or check their email. You know what’s hard? Raising kids without a white-collar job. If you can afford a nanny and don’t hire one, but still bitch about how busy you are, you’re not brave. You’re an asshole.

I’ve gone and upset myself with this piece, so there are just a few other items I would like to bring up before I eat my first dinner of the evening.

Look at the other poster:

Love that tagline, “If it were easy, men would do it too.” First of all, it’s implying that men don’t do hard things, like fight in wars or see films like this to please their retarded significant others, which is totally untrue.

Secondly, I’m having a hard time pegging what “it” is, but that’s probably the crux of the film. That oh-so-elusive tightrope walk between parenting, career, and love? I know many successful businessmen who are excellent parents, excellent husbands, AND have mistresses. That’s one more element to juggle and they don’t complain about it. You know what they do? They talk about how great their lives are.

If we are supposed to pity Sarah Jessica Parker’s great career, burgeoning love, and beautiful, healthy children, the filmmakers are aggressively barking up the wrong tree. Her life is great, and pretending it’s not, or that it’s harder than ours, is just stupid and condescending.

Here’s the theatrical trailer. See if you can figure out how the shit she does it.

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