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Rather than Charlie’s Angels – Watch Jackie Brown

JANUARY 8, 2001 – Journalists seem to love Charlie’s Angels. Toronto’s Eye magazine calls the film “100 per cent boredom free.”

Now magazine admits that the film is a little exploitative of women. But not to worry – it’s very fun exploitation. “More fun than any other movie this year.”


Force of circumstances took me to a screening of the film.

There is no question – it really does exploit women. And fun? – only if you like unrealistic fight scenes, impossible exploits and can see past the layers and layers of stereotyping.

Perhaps we should swallow hard and see past the sexism because it portrays women in “strong” roles, roles usually restricted to male actors.

And I suppose there is a type of equality when we can have the banal, idiotic stunts of a James Bond being performed by female equivalents.

But the images portrayed in this film really do nothing to challenge sexist images of women in our society.

The three “angels” are all stereotypically Hollywood bombshells.

When not flying through the air to capture villains, they revert to barely tolerable caricatures of women, so common on the Hollywood screen.

And a benevolent millionaire, Charlie, who of course the angels all love desperately, manipulates their every move.

By chance, a really good film was showing on television the next night. Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown documents the struggle of an airline attendant (played by Pam Grier) to survive in a difficult world of working class poverty, drugs and crime.

If you want a portrayal of a really strong woman character, and see a movie with plot and character development, Jackie Brown is a good place to start.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see what Now had to say about this flick.

It’s rated as a lesser film than Charlie’s Angels (getting four “N’s” as against five for the angels) because it is a “blaxploitation film”. It would have been rated lower had it been made in the 1970s because it “probably would have had more overtly political posturing.”

Fortunately, one of the main internet movie sites, which allows online votes on the quality of movies, does a somewhat better job of judging these movies. Charlie’s Angels gets a too-high 7.2 out of 10. Jackie Brown gets a too low 7.4 out of 10. But at least these several thousand viewers give Pam Grier’s film the higher rating.

I think they’re right.

© 2001 Paul Kellogg. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.


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