Last week, when I turned on the TV to put on a DVD, with my kids surrounding me, “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” blared into our den.
We had caught the movie in the middle of an action scene featuring all three Angels. My daughters’s mouths dropped open. They were so transfixed that I paused to let them watch, but then the hours of ads started, and I popped on Miyazaki.
But after that, I couldn’t get “Charlie’s Angels” out of my head. With the exception of “The Powerpuff Girls,” I don’t think my daughters had ever witnessed three females working together to save the world. I thought about the looks of delight, excitement, and awe on their faces and wondered if I should let them watch the movie.
Not only did I love the first Charlie’s Angels movie (the second one, “Full Throttle,” dragged) but when I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the TV show. I was eight years old when I started watching, and I loved that it was all about girls. I didn’t have to wait around, bored, to finally see a female saunter in to wander around the margins of the TV show. I also liked that the show was about three girls (I know “women” is correct here, but from my eight year old self point of view, I distinctly remember thinking: it’s all about girls doing stuff.)
Another reason I was a fan of the show was that the Angels were in different disguises every week. I couldn’t wait to see what roles they were all going to play. I think that watching them be different people gave me the idea that multiple identities were possible.
I was inspired by “Charlie’s Angels.” When I was nine years old, I began a novel that when completed was 120 pages, typed, about Kris Monroe (Cheryl Ladd’s character) and her adventures as a girl. My book was called “Look Out! Here Comes Kris” and besides “Charlie’s Angels,” my protagonist was influenced by Ramona, of “Ramona the Pest” fame and, also, my little sister. When I showed my book to my teacher, she asked me to read a chapter a day to my fifth grade class in homeroom. That whole experience helped to solidify my identity as a writer.
So did it matter that “Charlie’s Angels” was “jiggle TV?” Like I said, I was excited to see females get to be the stars of the show. But that is not to say the flowing hair, cleavage, and skinny bodies were lost on me. Early on, I got the importance of “beauty” in a woman’s life, in no small part, from my experience as fan of this show. To me, it seemed like “beauty” was a means to an end. If you wanted to have an exciting life, if you wanted to have adventure, if you wanted things to happen to you, if you were a girl, then first, before any of that, you had to be “beautiful.” I put “beauty” in quotes because I’m referring to the cultural definition of beauty.
One thing I love about Drew Barrymore’s movie is that she mocks that stereotype with the slow-mo flowing hair and exaggerated sexual innuendos. But back to considering the movie for my kids, as I posted just a couple days ago, kids don’t get irony. So would the movie, with all the Cameron Diaz’s butt shaking, be bad for my kids?
Here is what sucks: in 2012, there are still no action-adventure movies where three females work together to save the world. Even in adventure-fantasy books, from classics like Alice of Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz, and Lucy of Chronicles of Narnia to the contemporary ones like Lyra of The Golden Compass– the female protag is surrounded by a constellation of mostly male characters. When do you get to see females bonding not over men or make-up, but skill?
So the bottom line is I got the movie for kids. Right when I opened the DVD, one of my daughters picked up the box, turned to her sister and said: “Who do you think is the prettiest?”
I stopped and wondered: is this a bad idea? “Which one is smart? Which one is brave? Which one is fast?” I asked them. But that thought process is hard to generate when the picture shows them all just standing there, skinny, hip-cocked, not doing anything they are in the movie, not driving a race car, breaking into a safe, or making a bomb.
I went ahead and pushed play.
My kids loved the movie. I did, too. But my daughters and I, we’re all waiting for more action-adventure movies starring women, as in plural.
Reel Girl rates “Charlie’s Angels” ***HH***