Monday, February 27, 2012

Beauty as a an Advantage

I was watching Charlie’s Angels this weekend, and it reminded me of the concepts we have been talking about in class. Drew Barrymore’s, Cameron Diaz’s, and Lucy Lu’s characters don’t have magical superpowers, but I still consider martial arts trained female super-spies as superheroines.

The Opening monologue by Charlie says how these three very different and beautiful women work for him. We talked about what we would want to look like as superheroines, and beautiful is in everyone’s minds. There is a general consensus of the world that these actresses are all beautiful, so obviously they would be top choices for superheroines. The three are always in heels, I even noticed Lucy Lu wearing them as she was scaling up the side of a cliff, wear awesome outfits (usually with cleavage), have perfect hair and makeup, and even do this ridiculously dramatic hair flip each time they take a wig/hat off.

There is, however, an important distinction between the Angels and the other characters we have talked about in class. Their beauty is a major plot point. We either mentioned in class or in another post that these skimpy outfits could be used as distractions. But in the comics we’ve read so far, this has never been shown. The Angels on the other hand, use it all the time. Their plans would not have been able to succeed as well without the use of their ability to distract the men. And when I say do this all the time, I mean almost every stage of every plan involves at least one of them in a skimpy outfit dancing or flirting while another bugs the car or steals a bottle with some fingerprints.

Then on the idea of villains, I think there is a balance. In this movie, there is a girl fight with Cameron Diaz and the second in command of evil, but otherwise the Angels fight guys. There may be a weird message in still the male the dominant villain, but I don't think it is a huge deal. (plus, that is fixed when Demi Moore is the main bad guy in the second movie) There is girls fighting guys and fighting girls in an almost balanced way, which is pretty cool. 

So with that, I pose a question. Is it wrong for them to take advantage of their beauty to make them even more kickass? Is it bad for society to assume a “look” of superheroines, when, at least in this case, it helps make them be superheroines? I don't think it was necessary for them to be naked/almost naked in some scenes, but I think that if their looks make them more suitable for the job of spy, then they should use it. It may not be great for society to impose a standard of beauty on superheroines. But really, can anyone picture ugly Charlie’s Angels?


  1. To put your last question to the test, I just googled "ugly charlie's angels." Shocked by what I found, I then googled "manly charlie's angels." Then I gave up trying to find images of either of these things, because all that those search criteria brought up were a bunch of hot cleavagey pictures. Turns out, no, one can NOT imagine ugly angels.

    To address your second to last question, no, I don't think it's wrong for them to utilize their God-given talents. If they failed to flirt when it could make or break a mission (due to what, selfish morals? Pride? Not very good attributes of a role model), that'd be the equivalent of Superman refusing to use his strength when it could save innocent civilians. In other words, that'd just be stoopid.

    My point is, we should all utilize our talents, regardless of what they are, to their full potential. After all, "if you don't use it, you'll lose it." Superman has alien powers, Charlie's Angels have martial arts & sex appeal, and we have intelligence & determination (and arguably sex appeal as well). Be it saving the world , the universe, or their grades, all of these superheros are simply doing what they do best.

  2. I do agree with you in seeing that the Charlie's Angels have always been deemed as beautiful, but this is not a recent occurance that they simply use their beautiful looks to seduce men into getting what they want or flirting to trick a bad guy into spilling secrets of an evil plot. In the original Charlie's Angels created in 1976 featured beautiful woman as well.

    It is actually stated that the original Charlie's Angels graduated from the police academy only to be given duties as handling switchboards and directing traffic. They quit and began working for Charlie. I feel that because of this reason the Angels should use their good looks if it means putting an end to the bad guys, they were classified and disregarded because of their gender and I suppose this can be seen as a backhanded response to the male gender from them.

  3. On the topic of using good looks and sex appeal to one's advantage, I was reminded of James Bond. In almost every single James Bond movie, he uses his supreme skills of attracting females to get what he wants. However, this attractiveness attribute is different in men than it is in women. In an article I found on what makes James Bond so attractive, they say that a man who is "bad-ass" and "predatory" often gets women. So women just have to be sexy and scantily clad, whereas men have to be alluring, perhaps in a dangerous way, to get female attention. I find this distinction interesting. It's almost as if personality matters more in men, because females look at that as an indicator of attractiveness, where men seem to just need some nice boobs to be hooked.

  4. In response to Emily's comment, this reminds me of the genetics seminar I'm in, where we've been discussing the differences between male and female brains and how they choose their "mate." It's been discovered that females do indeed look for a man's personality more because they want to find someone who will stay with them to raise a child, whereas men look for the best attributes to create a child with good genes. So yes, on a basic level men look for the attractive women, and women look for the successful and decent man.

  5. I agree that Charlie's Angel use beauty and sex appeal in order to fight off the bad guys or use seduction to get more information from men. However, their sex appeal is definitely a factor that the movie producers wanted to portray in order to increase their audience. Their sex appeal and their ability to fight off the bad guys target the male audiences while just the concept of three attractive women fighting crime makes the movie kind of a chick flick.
    Although I agree that women value personality in their potential partners, I think that both genders place appearances to be the most important. It is true that men want women with good looks to create children just as beautiful, but so do women. It is in our subconscious and we may not even realize it.

  6. I find it interesting that Charlie’s Angels use male attention and flirting to defeat villains while superheroines in comic books do not make use of this. Nevertheless, I do not think it is necessarily wrong for the Angels to act this way. In reality, they do have training that makes them able to fight the villains, but they also try to be more cunning by taking advantage of the opposite sex whenever possible. In my opinion, it is okay for them to act they way they do, as their goal is to defeat evil in the end. It seems that they should take advantage of whatever they have available to them to accomplish this goal.

  7. As I was reading this blog, I was thinking of what Emily Lutz also mentioned (when I later read the comments): the Bond. James Bond equally uses his "sex appeal" to get what he wants as a spy. I think that this technique of distraction is common among almost every "spy scenario." It is an effective technique, why would they not use it? People do not use their brains when dealing with people they find attractive; they are far too trusting and will give up information/act in reckless ways. Perfect strategy.

    I don't think the fact that the Angels are women should separate them from being able to use this technique. It may be looked at as using them as "sex objects" for male pleasure in the film industry, but it's also strategy. Why not use what you've got?

  8. I would agree with the last comment that a main part they are attractive is to sell the movie. An ugly spy might have an easier slipping through places unnoticed. But assuming everything works out the way it does in Charlie's Angel and James Bond, obviously it is a great thing for a spy to be beautiful. They do get a lot more done, and their end goals are worth the objectification. The idea, however, is on a slippery slope. If spies can use it, can "normal" people. Can an attractive man or woman use their looks to accomplish goals. There can be a distinction between selfish and unselfish motives. But if it's okay for spies is it okay for everyone?


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