The name is Bond, Jane Bond?
There’s a particularly tense scene from the movie Goldfinger, in which James Bond is strapped to a table about to have his genitals (and various innards) removed by a giant laser beam.
“Do you expect me to talk?” Bond asks the title character.
“No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die,” Goldfinger replies.
As a boy of 10, I learned two things from that scary scene. First, I never wanted to have my genitals severed by a giant laser beam unless the situation was absolutely hopeless. And second, only a man can play the part of Agent 007, James Bond. At least that’s what I thought until recent reports surfaced regarding an impending gender switch of Her Majesty’s top agent.
Call me silly, but I tend to believe that a writer’s intentions and specifications should be honored when it comes to the big screen portrayal of his or her protagonist. Certainly, there’s such a thing as artistic or dramatic license when adapting a novel into a movie, but that should only apply to things like a condensation of plot points in order to accommodate time constraints. It does not, however, give a film producer the right to change things just for the sake of change. Can you imagine, for example, changing Moby Dick’s name to Moby Denise? Or casting Tom Cruise to portray Lara Croft?
For some time now, there’s been talk that the next James Bond will be played by a man of color. In fact, Idris Elba’s name has been mentioned in that regard, and that’s fine with my wife, Pam, who met with the actor in L.A. and thinks he’s hot. But rumor has it that in the upcoming Bond flick, No Time to Die, Daniel Craig is called out of retirement for one last job, and he is introduced to a woman who is identified as “007.” She is played by British actress Lashana Lynch, who also happens to be black. This begs the question, “Is Lynch going to be the next Bond, or just the next 007, or both?” I’m now officially both gender and racially confused. Author Ian Fleming, on the other hand, was never confused about who James Bond is.
The character Fleming created is a white male, born in Scotland, approximately 6-feet-tall, who achieved the rank of Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve. Despite the fact that six different actors have portrayed Bond on film, the producers have, thus far, selected “men” who generally fit the Fleming bill, but that may be about to change. The late Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli must be spinning in his grave at the thought of a female James Bond. That’s because, as the producer of the Bond series from its inception in 1962 until his death in 1996, Cubby had always been protective of the brand, and careful to nurture the Bond image. In later years, Broccoli began to give his daughter Barbara and stepson Michael Wilson more responsibility in the family business. That was OK so long as Cubby was alive, but after his death, the kids began to tinker with the brand, up to and including casting Craig, and turning him into Jason Bourne instead of a refined British spy. That was bad enough, but now, the Broccoli kids may be about to ruin the franchise if they cast a woman as the iconic secret agent.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m fine with a female spy in any other venue. Heck, I’m fine with just about everything having to do with the opposite sex. But if a woman is cast to play the next James Bond, then you might as well just strap me to a laser table and be done with it. I simply wouldn’t feel right about having a set of “gadgets” that are no longer available to 007.
Jim Longworth is the host of Triad Today, airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).