Oh, the Persistence of Early Sexual Imagery: The Power of Charlie’s Angels

When the schlocky ‘70s action series Charlie’s Angels debuted in 1976, I was a tender and impressionable boy of five.  I responded immediately to the show’s good-gals-always-win plots, whereby the three foxy angels (magnificently played originally by Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson, though Diane Ladd would replace Fawcett by season two), tackled crime with the force of specially trained super-agents and the style and panache of the most refined debutantes.  These hard-working ladies of law and order did triple duty: protecting Southern Californians from the dregs of society, providing incredible eye candy, and breaking down conventional gender stereotypes for one of the first times in television history.  Young as I was I had no conscious awareness of any larger societal theme, but as it turns out, those darned Angels have persevered in me while other wonder women have come and gone.  

During the show’s five year run, my interest grew larger and larger.  I was intrigued by the mysterious “Charlie,” the never-seen but richly-voiced proprietor of the Charles Townsend Agency, for whom the angels went to work after growing frustrated by their drab police desk jobs.  There was also Bosley, the angels’ liaison to Charlie, who didn’t often get into the thick of the action, but was always available to have a good chuckle after another plot was busted by the buxom threesome.  But mostly I was fascinated with those angels…how they managed to keep such perfect hair regardless of the situation, how they were able to perform incredible martial arts moves in high heels, and the way their derrieres looked in their tight-around-the-butt but flared at the ankle synthetic slacks. Continue reading


Useless Little Sayings

Have you ever noticed some of the oddball little connector phrases we use in the English lexicon to preface, qualify, or begin a response?  Well I have.  Below, the Top Ten Useless Little Sayings you hear all the time. 

10) “Needless to Say.”  First off, if it’s truly needless to say what you’re about to, then why do you intend to do so?  Second, it truly is needless to say “needless to say” before saying the very thing that’s supposedly needless to say.

9) “Let’s face it.”  How about you face it, and I’ll decide for myself.

8 ) “I was just going to say…”  A timeless classroom classic.  Picture a young impressionable student with a hand up.  Upon being called, she says “I was just going to say…” Honey, you can skip the intro, you’re in the midst of saying it!

7) “I’m not racist, but…”  This intro virtually guarantees you’re about to make, at minimum, a borderline racist statement.  There are a host of variants for this one, such as  “I’m not homophobic, but…” or “I don’t mean to argue, but…” or “I’m not into saying needless to say, but needless to say…”

6) “I think we can all agree…” Also see #9: “Let’s Face It.”  Something tells me you’re about to tell me how you think it is, setting the stage where only the boldest of challengers will dare risk defying the group to disagree. 

5) “Something tells me…” What’s with the mystery, chief? It’s called your “brain thinking.”

4) “I was literally…” Good lord, do we live in such a place of useless little sayings we have to clarify when we’re not speaking in metaphors?

3) “I was just thinking…” Proud of ya, but get to the point. 

2) “I respectfully disagree” or “I have to disagree.”  The first is unlikely, at least in regard to anything meaningful in life, and the second implies an almost out-of-my-own-control certainty.  Unless you mean “I literally have no choice whatsoever but to disagree” you are always welcome back on my side where the waters are calm (trust me, it’s easier this way). 

1) “It is what it is.”  This little gem is hurled about with great vigor and conviction, a testament to pocketbook philosophy.  Taken literally, though, this is only as meaningful as stating A=A.  That may be comforting for some, but of course it is what it is—there is nothing possible in the universe that isn’t what it is.  We can of course talk about what “seems” or “what is probably,” but left to its own devices this is little more than a silly circular statement.