Bond Should Not Be A Woman: Take Me On – Giles Lennox
Welcome to Take Me On! This is a Bubble regular in which all pupils are encouraged to write a piece on a controversial topic in which they argue for their point of view. The idea is a person with the opposite view responds to the piece. I hope that this will encourage more debate in the school and a greater awareness not only on wider issues in our society but that people -shockingly- may have different view to you and the best way to respond is to engage in a discussion.
This week, a headline that caught my eye was that Pierce Brosnan making a statement about how he thought that the new James Bond should be a woman after Daniel Craig steps down from the role after the next movie. His views are supported by others like Idris Elba (who was rumoured to be the next Bond) and Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy. I, however, disagree. Firstly though, I would like to make something very clear. I am absolutely and obviously NOT saying that women should not play the lead role in a movie. There is a plethora of sensational female actors, but it is my strongly held belief that James Bond should be a bloke.
I would like to dispel the myth that those who are against this idea are all men, perpetuating the patriarchy and trying to limit the opportunities for women in this profession. Anyone who is making this claim is just outright wrong. Previous Bond Girls like Eva Green and Lea Seydoux has spoken against it – as has feminist comedian, Susan Calman – and a poll taken recently by GMB found that 82% of the people who had voted believed James Bond should remain a man. Whilst it is unclear the gender of those that voted I am sure a significant proportion of them were women. Regardless, to reduce the issue to “men don’t want women to play spies” is degrading and negatively generalises a variety of views.
My main issue here is the idea of the ‘Bond identity’. Ian Fleming crafted a character in his works that was not only cool and dangerous but represented the ‘stereotypical’ fantasy of a male spy. When we all walk into the cinema to watch the new Bond film, we know what we are going to get: an extremely convoluted but fun plot to save the world, with some action, corny lines and Bond’s endless quest to seduce the infamous Bond girl. Regardless your views on the morality of ‘the Bond Girl’, if we took that away and then replaced Bond with a female, these films would be no different than any other spy movie because you have taken away the essence of James Bond. Call me shallow all you like but that is exactly what these films are; shallow. They aren’t going to win awards, they’re just fun.
Bond’s masculinity (and the shortcomings that accompany it) is his defining quality and if you take away that, you might as well cancel the franchise. His identity and gender are intertwined, they are one in the same, like a symbiotic relationship. In much the same way, Jane Eyre is a commentary on the role of a 19th century woman. If you suddenly changed her to ‘James Eyre’, the potency of the character is gone because so much of her identity as a character is her femininity. If I asked any of you to picture James Bond, most of you would imagine a suave male sipping on a martini (shaken, not stirred). Once you remove Bond being a man, you lose the essence of James Bond. That character is no longer the iconic character but another genic spy. I also heard the argument that James Bond is the ‘007’ which doesn’t specify his gender, it leaves it open to change. My argument is the same though. James Bond is 007 and 007 is James Bond, removing one would reduce the identity of the other.
To me, it is slight patronizing to women to make Bond a female. Essentially, a move like this is saying “We think women can play these roles, but to do so, we need to appropriate a male character like Bond to ensure a safety net!” I am totally against this idea. There are so many powerful female characters in pop culture like Wonder Woman etc and spy movies where the lead is a female, like in Red Sparrow. Rather than use the safety net of Bond, my argument is pave a new course. Make a whole new franchise where the lead role is a spy, that saves the world, and most importantly, is a celebration of female identity. Make something that rivals Bond, maybe even becomes more successful because that is a far better way in countering the problem this move is trying to solve. Some may call it a rip off or just a cop out from making Bond a female, but if you make the films good, fun and engaging, people will watch them because it still holds that aspect of novelty. The primary reason behind this movement is to create a powerful female figure in pop culture as role model and symbol of our changing society. This is an important view to hold but by reassembling the character of James Bond, you don’t fix the issue because, as I mentioned earlier, that female Bond will always be in the shadow of her male predecessor.
To conclude, I don’t think James Bond should be a woman. By doing so, you take away his essence to the point where he completely loses his identity. You also loose a fantastic opportunity to create a franchise that solves the issue in a far more powerful way, that leaves the shadow of Bond and makes a name in its own respect. If this was done, it would preserve the integrity of a British icon whilst celebrating a woman in the role of a powerful and dangerous spy.