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Six Million Dollar Man / Bionic Woman openings

by Steve Anderson

I can think of no more stark contrast in the depiction of gender roles than in the opening title sequences of these two TV shows. The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman were among the most popular television shows of the late 1970s, playing on contemporary fascinations with the possibilities of cybernetics and emerging digital technologies in general. According to legend, the Bionic Woman was so-named because it was thought unseemly to apply a price tag to a female character. And while both shows relentlessly fetishize the technology of "bionics," the differences of ability conferred on the two characters bear mention within the context of media studies. First, Steve Austin's bionic eye allows him greatly increased control over the visual field, perceiving a broader spectrum of light and generally making him the ultimate voyeur. In contrast, Jamie Sommers received a bionic ear, thus rendering her a really good listener. Likewise, each show's opening sequence is highly gendered, with Steve participating in increasingly intense athletic activities, whereas Jamie (who leaves her occupation as a tennis pro to work with children) is framed by domestic elements, the home, family, children and garden foliage, all shot in slightly soft focus.

Six Million Dollar Man opening

The opening title sequence from the 1970s TV series The Six Million Dollar Man

from Six Million Dollar Man (1974-78)
Creator: Kenneth Johnson
Distributor: ABC
Posted by Steve Anderson
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