It began like a fairy tale, but turned out like aural foreplay. So is CHARLIE'S ANGELS a classic of erotic literature or a smutty fantasy for grown-up geeks? Words: Hannah McGill
ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WERE three little girls. who . . . yeah. yeah. liven if we‘re too young. too old or too intellectually discriminating to recall the days when liarrah liawcett's frosted flick harboured more erotic power than Samson dared to dream of. tnost of us have heard the cheesy little formula that opened each episode of ('liurlie's
.Ilngels. Indeed. to the pimpled ranks of
lonely. net-fixated fanboy geeks. it‘s a timeless classic of erotic literature. In the geek love-gallery. portraits of the various TV incarnations of (‘liurlie's Angels occupy pride of place right next to L’hura. Xena. and that busty Borg woman from Star Trek: Voyager. Thus. the tale of the three police academy graduettes hand-picked by Charlie to form an elite crime-lighting force is not just an artefact from the cobwebbed museum of TV kitsch. it‘s tantamount to aural foreplay.
So. let‘s update that famous intro just a touch. Once upon a time. there were three little girls whose time had
come. Popular culture. bankrupt of
ideas. had begun greedily to
cannibalise its own recent past. Flash
remakes of kitsch TV shows were all the rage. An expensive little flop called The Avengers had not deterred a sinister international
conglomerate named Sony from milking the spin-off idea for all it was worth.
Leading lady law enforcers . Some of America's other popular female ' ghters ’
Sgt. Pepper Anderson (Angle Dickinson) Police Woman was a trend-setting mid-70$ cop show showcasing a blonde law enforcer working undercover for the vice squad, posing as everything‘from a hooker to a gangster's— moll. And wearing short Skirts.
Det. Sgt. Christine Cagney (Sharon Gless) and bet. Mary Beth lacey (‘Iyne Daly) Long- awaited female buddy cop duo, Cagney And Lacey featured a partnership not of bimbos, but women with a strong bond, flat shoes, sensible hairdos and no bullshit attitude.
Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) About to be reinvented as Julianne Moore in the forthcoming Silence Of The Lambs sequel, Hannibal, Foster's rookie FBI agent held her own against two notorious serial killers with a combination of innocence and guts.
Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) Heavily pregnant, but more than able to
'handle duplicitous husbands and kidnappers
in the snowy mid-west America climes of Fargo, this small town police officer took arresting a felon in the midst of stuffing a leg into a-woodchipper in her stride. The kind of cop you’d want for your mum.
Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie) Donaghy takes a leaf out of Starling's book, teaming her youthful vigour with an old man's experience (here Denzel Washington's quadriplegic detective), to catch a twisted
’ serial killer known as The Bone Collector. Barbara Kopetslti aka Barb Wire (Pamela
Anderson) In a near future America torn apart by a second civil war, Anderson's
' nightclub owner moonlights as a bounty
hunter toting a big gun, bigger breasts and a catchphrase: 'Don't call me babe' - yeah, right. A laughable attempt to return to the days of Police Woman's fishnet stockings approach to law enforcement.
liurthermore. a smug little Canadian comic in fake eyebrows hadjust scored a massive hit with a spoofy. goofy comedy spy franchise called Austin Powers. This helped to conlirm that lonely. net-fixated fanboy geeks had grown up to become the crown princes of cinema — and that leering over girls' breasts could now be positively encouraged.
()nce. such a development would have been frowned upon by nasty no— fun feminist types. But a rather delightful brand of cultural synchronicity was at work. A new generation of feisty. intelligent young actresses had deduced (after some ten minutes of very hard thinking. curtailed due to the risk of a crease forming between the eyebrows) that the best way to display their feistiness and intelligence was to high-kick in partially unzipped leather catsuits. While making dirty jokes.
lley presto: ('liurlie's Angels. class of 2()()(). We have (‘ameron Dial. Drew Barrymore. Lucy Lin and (exempted from catsuit duties. it's safe to assume) Bill Murray. We have tantalising rumours of casting headaches. on-set wrangles and a script bearing the blood. sweat and coffee-stains of some fourteen writers. We have the obligatory l'unked-up tacksploitation soundtrack. We have an arsenal (with the emphasis on ‘arse') of Austin l’owers/Tliere's Something About Marv/Amerit'un l’ie locker room jokes. In short. we have a film as shiny. as cheaply titillating and as thinly stretched as a layer of latex.
Still. let's find a bright side to look on. We also have three high-profile newcomers to the Ladysleuths' Hall Of Fame (president Jane Marple. secretary Nancy Drew). The aforementioned sexual potency of the original Angels —
16—30 Nov 2000 THE llST13