Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Lana Del Rey try to put a feminist spin on the upcoming Charlie’s Angel’s reboot in their video for the soundtrack song “Don’t Call Me Angel.” But as a cultural touchstone it kinda fails.
The original television production of “Charlie’s Angels” in 1976 coined the term “Jiggle TV,” for obvious reasons. It’s hard to see how it can ever overcome that, even in its current incarnation.
The show portrayed three women working tough jobs in a private detective agency, which was groundbreaking back then.
Women were just entering the workforce in droves in the ’70s, and liberation from the “Leave It to Beaver” stay-at-home-mom stereotype was very much in vogue.
But it was hard to reconcile this feminist coming of age with three over-sexed, drop-dead gorgeous characters, no matter how derring-do they were.
Aaron Spelling, the show’s producer, made a fortune following the same formula for such fluff as “The Mod Squad,” “The Rookies,” “Fantasy Island,” “The Love Boat,” “Dynasty” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.”
The television show eventually ran its course after 110 episodes. But it developed a cult, pop culture following through re-runs that led to three feature film adaptations. The latest 2019 version stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska.
The stunts are more fantastic and the characters are harder edged. A woman, Elizabeth Banks, who also directs, even plays Bosley, a traditional male role.
But the film and the video can’t escape the obvious… they still jiggle.
Ariana is the seductress in thigh-high boots who bumps and grinds her way through the clip; Miley, stripped down to a bra and low-riding leather pants, is the fist-pumping ball buster, while Lana.. it’s hard to say what she represents.
She’s conservatively dressed in a black mini-dress and boots and spends most of the clip wandering through scenes. She’s probably wondering what she’s doing on the same set as these two vamps.
Of course, the video and song–and movie, for that matter– are all about female empowerment, without giving up the jiggle.
They’re definitely not good girls. “Ain’t from no heaven/ Yeah, you heard me right/ Even though you know we fly,” Grande sings, before Miley starts wrecking balls. She sings:
“Don’t call me angel when I’m a mess
Don’t call me angel when i get undressed
You know I, I don’t like that boy
I make my money and I write the checks
So say my name with a little respect.”
Ouch! By now, that boy is probably laid out on the floor.
Similar feminist tropes will infuse the movie. It’s a safe bet that Stewart’s character will be a lesbian, since that’s all she cares about playing, lately.
But in the end, it’s still all about the jiggle.
Check out the video below and a clip from the movie, which opens Nov. 15.