Jiggle TV (a real term) consisted of tamely titillating shows from the 70s like Charlie’s Angels which, as the Encyclopedia Brittanica explains, “inherited a television culture that was more open, and tolerant than ever before… [and] tended to feature young, attractive, often scantily clad women (and later men as well).” In other words, the writing played second fiddle to the wardrobe (or lack thereof). In terms of ratings, it was a massively successful formula. In terms of quality… well…
Angels’ Brigade appears to have been a feeble attempt to duplicate the success of Jiggle TV on the big screen, but one has to wonder why as movie-going audiences in 1979 were already lining up to see much more explicit stuff like Blake Edward’s “10”. Obviously one reason was that Charlie’s Angels alone was still pulling in about 18 million viewers a week. But the other reason was probably because you couldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) take the kids to go watch Bo Derek drop her drawers. Jiggle, relatively speaking, was more kid friendly.
And make no mistake, Angels’ Brigade is a kid’s movie. None of the ladies are ever in any real danger (there’s one easily shrugged off flesh wound), the deaths are violent yet bloodless, and the villains are cartoonish. (Gilligan’s Mr. Howell as a racist right-wing militia commander?) Most telling is the fact that the Brigade itself is presented more like G.I.Joe action figures rather than as a collection of real individuals. I can’t remember their names, but I CAN remember there’s an kitana-wielding Asian lady who knows kung-fu, a street tough black chick who rides a motorcycle, and even a fashion model whose specialty is (honest to God) jiggling.
On this last point, the movie basically dips into G.I.Joe PSA territory as one character lets us know (and knowing is half the battle) that while individual talents are important, they reach their highest fruition when combined with the talents of others and put to use for the greater good. Oddly, it’s rather reminiscent of this week’s second reading from 1 Corinthians in which St. Paul goes over the various spiritual charisms, those graces such as prophecy and discernment which the Holy Spirit distributes “individually to each person as he wishes”.
As Pope Benedict XVI notes, while the gifts are individual, “what is important… is that all the charisms cooperate together for the building up of the community and that they not become instead a motive of laceration... Obviously, to underline the need for unity does not mean to hold that one must make ecclesial life uniform and flat according to one way of operating… [but] everything should concur to build the ecclesial fabric in an orderly way, not only without deadlocks, but also without flights or tears.” Basically, it’s the same call the ladies of the Angels’ Brigade heeded, only we Christians are expected not to jiggle as much while doing the same.