Saturday, December 12, 2015

Camille Paglia Defends Charlie's Angels! + Guide to First Three Seasons (Links)

Camille Paglia was writing about Taylor Swift's "obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine" of "exhibitionistic overkill that Lara Marie Schoenhals brilliantly parodied in her scathing viral video "Please Welcome to the Stage."
" A warmer model of female friendship was embodied in Aaron Spelling's blockbuster Charlie's Angels TV show, which was denounced by feminists as a "tits-and-ass" parade but was in fact an effervescent action-adventure showing smart, bold women working side by side in fruitful collaboration." (Full)
I may have sold my Angels scrapbook when I was thirteen, but I still go back to them now that they're on DVD, whenever the real world gets too much and even the intensity of modern thrillers feels toxic.  Come with me now... to the past, episode by episode, merrily, slowly... even happily, with these smart, bold, fruitful women.

"There's rarely if ever any overt sexual violence. No matter how compromised our heroines become, they're free of all molestation, allowing for humanistic compassion and adaptability; if they talk a bad guy into dropping his gun or coming down from a ledge, for example, they don't run over and pin him to the ground, they help him up, give him a nurturing smile, and walk him down the hill, his hands in theirs (with another Angel bringing up the rear, with the gun, just in case, but unobtrusive)."

"Every so often Charlie (or Aaron) rewards the girls by bringing them outside the dingy studios of LA. Most of the time they don't end up using any of the footage they shot there, and just having half the scenes on the usual wood paneled sets but this time the Hawaiian stuff is all over the joint. You got Don Ho. You got a luau; a sassy massage parlor receptionist; our first introduction to Kris Munroe, Jill's sister, in her first episode/s--looking adorably like she's going to her first day at my elementary school in a 'windbreaker' (then a new term); and there's a big yacht raid finale in which, among other things, she storms the engine room in a hot brown two piece bathing suit. We watching were agog and thoroughly convinced, shortness be damned. If you see only one episode/s, make it these two, with some coco de oro in the air. You will be transported."

"Purists say that, like some crooked boxer, the series took a dive in the third, losing all interest in itself, falling back--after a strong opening salvo--into recycled storylines and hackneyed plots Spelling had been recycling since Honey West. The Angels had been around long enough now I guess they figured they could take it easy. EASY!? How else had they been taking it? 

Season IV and V: 

Kate Jackson left at the end of the season, replaced in a stunningly wrong move, by high end London model Shelly Hack, way too skinny and posh for the mellow LA vibe of the other two. Plus, she looked too much like Cheryl Ladd, she seemed like some stalker roommate ghost. By the end of season four she was gone, and in came the very cool and enchanting Tanya Roberts. Critics (and me) all say that if she came in on season four instead of Hack then it might have caught a second wind. But it was just too late. And even then, though they moved to Hawaii there was only a handful of early episodes that took advantage of it. Nary a palm tree or luau in sight by the time the Angels were being, yawn, hypnotized, or kidnapped by the father of a crook one of them shot years ago.zzzzz.

Nonetheless - the episode guides are coming soon!


"Kate's appeal is not sexual, it's deeper, it predates the orgasm, she is the figure of sisterly nurturing and hints of wickedness that comes between infancy and puberty. She and her friends on CHARLIE'S ANGELS never seemed to need, think about or otherwise want anything physical from anyone other than the occasional shoulder rub or make-out session (and if a guy got to make out with an angel, he usually wound up going to jail by the end of the show) and that's why we could all safely fall in love with them. Spelling's natural grasp of viewer psychology allowed us to fantasize ourselves into the show without the Oedipal frustrations of some new boyfriend, "Sorry Charlie, Sabrina's got a date with the Chad tonight" or some other toad-ish claim. "

"People love to pigeonhole and over the years the original Charlie's Angels has been maligned with accusations of it being mindless T&A, but if you watch these shows now, as an antidote to the super flashy crap of today, these angels are extraordinarily intelligent and skilled. Over their careers they pose as everything from professional ice skaters, race car drivers, circus folk (above), rich illegal baby adopters, poor bumpkins looking to buy bootleg motorcycle parts, and helicopter traffic ladies... of course they've also gone to the less athletic side, posing as masseuses, prostitutes, fashion models, strippers, belly-dancers, and Playboy-ish bunnies (cats instead), but through it all they're always sweet and kind to the nice guys. Figuring out which alleged playboys are all talk by coming onto them and watching them shrink away, they flirt with kindly old men and talk nice to troubled girls; they show you can be capable, badass, wear awesome flare slacks with turtlenecks, and still be warm."

"She was a genuinely mythic goddess, ruling in the final decade where goddesses still commanded archetypal mystique, before videotapes made the remoteness required for such ascendancy completely impossible, the 1970s. You might even say she was the 1970s."

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