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A black James Bond?

Apparently, some white folk are discomforted by the idea of a black James Bond as you can see below the line here.

It’s hilarious, and very very sad.

James Bond was invented by Ian Fleming as an artefact of his own world, and the world he vicariously knew through his acquaintances. It is quite exquisitely ironic that Wikipedia says ‘Fleming’s wartime service and his career as a journalist provided much of the background, detail and depth of the James Bond novels.’ In fact the Bond novels are little better than superficial trash, written by a privileged, talented but lazy man who relied on his contacts and breeding to get by. The following sentence from Wikipedia is almost exquisite satire – Sir Hugo Drax, the antagonist of Moonraker, was named after Fleming’s acquaintance Admiral Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax

So why does it matter if Bond is played by Idris Elba or Idris the dragon?The answer lies not in the accuracy and veracity of the Bond novels, or their superb veneer of superficial consumerism and shallow sexual references, but in the way in which the Bond franchise has turned a character based, allegedly, on a ragbag of Fleming’s friends into an archetype, a character who transcends plot and ideas. There is no back story that says Bond has to be white in the same way that Chris Brookmyre’s Angel X is black (she has a chip on her shoulder as a result of growing up as a Ugandan Asian in Scotland in the 70s). Bond is only white if you assume heroes are white, and black people invisible. In case you still do assume all your heroes should be white, here’s Flight Sergeant James Hyde with his Spitfire, during World War Two. 

Bond has had more re-generations than Doctor Who, with no plotline that can explain why Commander Bond is still alive and working fifty years after his first appearance but looking very different.  Where the Doctor can move through time and space because that’s what he does there’s no excuse for Bond’s longevity and changing looks except the avarice of the franchise’s owners.

It actually doesn’t matter what Bond looks like; he’s ceased to be anything like the character conceived by Fleming, described as an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened. He has become nothing more than a device to enable a series of more and more improbable plots to move through their narrative arc. Actually, suggesting there is a narrative arc to a Bond movie is stretching the point; the later movies are little better than all action pop videos, little able to carry the weight of all that the franchise has been before.

To suggest that there is a good narrative reason why Bond shouldn’t be black is a nonsense, an attempt to claim a heritage that has been fractured beyond repair, not least because the original novels were so poor.  Every actor deserves a chance to play Bond, and that includes Idris Elba, if he should wish to stoop so low in pursuit of a pay cheque.

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This entry was posted on September 1, 2015 by in Uncategorized.

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