Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Man in the Box: Negotiating Ideologies

“Good Morning, Angles.” The masculine voice emanating from the speaker box at the Townsend agency assigns the detectives their next case. The female triumvirate gather around and stare at the object directing them to execute an investigation or solve a crime at the expense of their security. Women assuming important leadership roles and expressing their feminist ideologies in the late 1970s prompted television (and other popular cultural production) to react to this cultural dialogue by providing a forum for cultural critique where clashes among polar ideological blocs evinced tensions. Charlie’s Angels arrives at an important historical point in time where studies and representations about women are critically examined, thus revealing the complex nature of embracing womanhood and negotiating ideologies in a male-dominated society. Sarah Fawcett, one of the most popular Angels of the many to work for Charlie, in the public mainstream, was revered as a prototype of beauty and “power.” What power is precisely being interpreted? While this is my reading, I do not believe women were complacent with the idea that Fawcett was taking orders from a man in a box. Rather, it is possible that this intangible “power” the actress possessed was the one enacted in the television series by defying stereotypes. Her role in challenging women’s containment to secretarial work by inserting herself in a phallocentric profession enables lengthy conversations impossible to develop here. This power Fawcett radiated was one where she (along with the other Angels) paved the way for women to enter a masculine investigative field, and for television to create content around women assuming non-limited careers. Listening to a box is problematic, but negotiating and transforming a conservative ideology is the power of the expression. 

Images courtesy of Google. 

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