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Guilty Pleasure: The Post-Modern (Sexist) Feminism of Charlie’s Angels

Written by: Paula Haifley, CC2K Horror Chick


ImageYou know you’re getting into something amazing in the first 5 minutes of the film version of Charlie’s Angels. Once LL Cool J takes off his face and reveals himself to be Drew Barrymore in a disguise, the most ludicrous part of the movie has already happened. The rest is all slow-mo hair tossing, high-heeled kung fu fighting, post-feminist sexpot-quasi-girl-power gravy.

The movie pretty much picks up where the ’70s show leaves off, with all of the jiggle, silly plots, and amazing hairdos of the old days. Our modern female leads have become super human know-it-alls, literally. They know all about birds, acrobatics, sushi, electronics, racecars, boats, and can create spy gear in their own fancy science lab. They can jump out of the paths of bullets, speak multiple languages, and single-handedly beat up a bunch of big dudes. They’re like spy superheroes. They put a retinal scanner in a tuba. Who thinks of putting a retinal scanner in a tuba?

The Angels’ world is a bright, fun one. Black leather corsets are daywear, it’s perfectly acceptable to arrive braless for a battle, and everyone drives a cool car. It’s a weird, alternate universe where empowered women still go to kung fu battles in stilettos, don’t use guns but do use their sexuality to get ahead. Cameron Diaz is the gawky, geeky one who can’t get a date. Drew Barrymore is the wild girl who always falls for the bad boys… okay, that’s not too far off.

Lucy Liu’s secret identity is as a bikini waxer, not an aesthetician (which is the real-world name for the person who waxes anything).I blame The Matrix for the odd, physics-defying wire work fight sequences, made better and yet sillier by the actors doing a lot of their own fight work.

The true stars of the film are the silent Crispin Glover as the Creepy Thin Man, who pulls out women’s hair and sniffs it, and the nerdy villain in hiding Sam Rockwell as kidnapped software developer Eric Knox. Knox is boyishly charming, until he goes bad guy, when he starts wearing all black clothing. The villain actually wears black clothing! This movie is amazing.

It’s always fun to live in the Angels’ simple, colorful world for 90 minutes. Would I like to know everything about science and fighting techniques like the Angels? Yes. Would I want to do it all in a leather catsuit and six in heels? No thanks.

 

Author: Paula Haifley, CC2K Horror Chick

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