So it started like this – a simple response, to a simple tweet. (I really should know better.)
And from there the descent began. Because apparently, stating what Bond is – to quote his boss, “a sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War,” and therefore making him unsuitable to be played by Idris Elba (or a woman for that matter) gets a lot of people’s backs up.
For me, that description by M pretty much defines our protagonist and his world view.
So. In sharing a personal opinion (and we all know how deep and meaningful those are), I opened myself to being labelled “racist” and “anti-black.”
A lot of people made a truly concerted effort to be offended.
And in doing so, missed my point completely, which I stated very early in the debate.
“Elba is so much more than “British, suave and intelligent.” So why shoe-horn him into a classic role, that of a misogynistic, murderous psychopathic asshole?”
There is a lot of space in our cultural landscape for iconic, black/non-white and female characters. Why bother appropriating white male ones? Carve out the new. Make that landscape your own by populating it with something unique. Do something different. It would be fantastic to see new characters make established tropes their own. Rather than rehashing and rebooting the same thing over and over.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Bond. It’s fantasy fun. Pure escapism. But the inspiration of the creator, the source material and the cultural backdrop from which he sprung are all important. Therefore, if Elba as Bond were to work, I can’t see it working any other way than a complete character reboot, but in the result of that happening, he loses the essence of Bond and he is no longer Fleming’s creation. The character now becomes “”Based on the original character – James Bond 007- created by Ian Fleming.”
Bond in his original incarnation is a symbolic and literary performance that embodies the British Empire – trip over the world and exercise control. So all I suggest is keeping him where he is and let him serve as a reminder of those cultural relics we love to look fondly back on but from which are happy to move on.
Honestly, I found it a bit depressing that for some the epitome of representation in a fictional role for an unrepresented sector of society is that said Cold War relic. So please don’t rail a fellow human being for having a different opinion (so much for tolerance and encouraging diversity) and being true to the source. Some creators build world and characters come and go. To me, Fleming made Bond his world and other characters revolve around him. He’s like a fundamental set piece and plot anchor.
If we’re going to reboot Bond (into a female/Asian/African-American; /-British/whatever), let’s do it properly. But don’t just drop a character completely removed from the source material and expect fans to lap it up. The Bondverse is diversifying all the time; supporting characters who aren’t as completely explored as is Bond with his entire backstory, are much more flexible – Felix, Moneypenny, M, Q, (Even the hint in Skyfall Bond was bisexual – Brave New World indeed!) Long may it continue.
In conclusion, stating that James Bond is a white guy, written by a white guy with British guy problems is just stating what he is (and boy, did it get me in trouble.)
Some people are absolutely determined to be offended by an opinion with which they disagreed.
So, to reiterate my stance, let’s move forward, not look back.