I didn’t make my October post yet, so I thought I’d leave this here for you all to enjoy, if you haven’t seen it yet!
This video is much needed relief to me as we find ourselves in the midst of Bond adoration as the new film comes out and I have to listen to my film guy friends explain to me how masterful the movies are. It says much more than I can ever express clearly during these conversations.
I was even recently told I couldn’t just say that I didn’t like Bond movies because they were sexist and just leave it at that, I had to explain myself. When one friend came to my defense and pointed out that in some of the movies the sexual escapades border on rape, that didn’t seem like a valid enough explanation. Most of the time I try to avoid having to explain myself because it’s never worth the time; rather I say that the films ‘aren’t made for me’ because they aren’t. But being told that it’s my responsibility to have to explain every. single. time to men what is sexist about a sexist piece of media, really irks me because even acquiescing to that demand seems like an extension of the very patriarchal system that I’m witnessing in the stupid Bond film I’m trying not to spend any more of my life on. Why can’t men take a moment and consider my claim and see if they can figure out why lots of women find the films offensive? I mean, I’m expected to spend hours listening to and considering men’s arguments about why the films are great!
I don’t feel like I am obligated to explain to people that using female characters primarily for eye candy and male wish-fulfillment is sexist because it is so obvious. People should understand this by now.
Another common defense of the Bond franchise is that, geez, you just have to understand that they were a product of their time. But then, I want to ask, why do we need them now? If they are antiquated, backwards historical artifacts, why are we reproducing them and extending them and make them literally ‘of our time’? I mean, Birth of a Nation was a “product of its time,” does that make it any less racist? Should we all be chill with making Birth of a Nation II? No that’s ridiculous. So is insisting the Bond franchise isn’t gross and unnecessary.
The films aren’t really being transformed, except maybe by delving further into the mental anguish of what it’s like to be a rich, British, smug, white man with endless guns. The center pieces of the films are still objectified, male-gaze-defined ‘Bond girl’ (it’s all in the name). If the films didn’t have them, would they even be Bond films anymore? I think most people would argue, no they really wouldn’t. So if you remove the misogyny there’s not much left except some masculine brawn. And so why do need to make more of these other than to make a cultural record of which female body shapes were idealized over the decades?
(I mean why is Berenice Marlohe even in Skyfall? Her character is so forgettable I can’t even remember why she is there other than to be unceremoniously shot by the baddie? Does she even have more than three lines?)
(Also please note, the author of this post never watched Quantum of Solace because she watched Casino Royale and then also Skyfall at some point and then thought, why are you doing this to yourself?)
In addition, during Bond discussions, I’m usually told to count my blessings because at least now Bond has been given the gift of introspection. We can witness him experiencing angst like a monosyllabic, sociopathic Harry Potter. He makes sure to spend some screen time wallowing in guilt and distress over whichever ladyfriend has recently bit the dust aka driving around on a yacht looking pensive and frowning. Am I a force for good or a force for evil, James wonders as goons majestically and cinematicly gun down beautiful women around him. Again. Performing violence and abuse against female characters for the sole purpose of instigating action and character development for a male protagonist is inherently mysoginistic— denying women of humanity, agency, or identity as anything other than vessels of moral conscious for men. Why do I need to explain this???
Yeah, the Bond franchise is all about male fantasy, and I’m not ok with what that fantasy is.
P.S. Ok and way, maybe Namoi Harris’ Moneypenny is a bit more progressive. And Judi Dench is M or whatever and this is a step in the right direction. But honestly is it really progressive? I’d have to actually spend more time evaluating the storylines and the objectification of Harris to see if this is really valid— and right now I’m not willing to spend more of time with Bond movies right now. And frankly, it’s not enough.