With the release of Spectre, Shaun Ponsonby outlines his utter hatred for a beloved British institution.
Originally published on Getintothis
My name is Shaun and I hate James Bond.
Oh, yeah, that’s right! I went there! This beloved British institution bugs the hell out of me.
Spectre’s release has done what the new Bond flick always does; enraged my sense of decency.
And, frankly, I am tired of having this conversation with people individually, trying to explain my disdain for 007. So I’m going to write this down here and simply refer people to it when I wish to explain the walking fictional knob head that is James Bond.
I always hear people complaining that a lot of American TV shows and movie franchises go on for much longer than they should. This may be true, but to my knowledge there hasn’t been an American movie franchise that spans over 50 years and 24 movies. Personally, I don’t know how they’ve managed to get away with it, seeing as each movie has roughly the same plotline and outcome. It genuinely is that formulaic; he beats the bad guy, gets the girl and nothing remotely unexpected happens in between. Between James Bond and Last of the Summer Wine we are definitely not in a position to make an assessment about overwrought American franchises.
In the movies at least, James Bond is exactly the kind of smarmy git that an advertising agency would use to sell you aftershave. If you actually knew this guy, you would despise him. No matter how much you might love James Bond, it’s nothing compared to how much James Bond loves James Bond.
It’s all so bloody “aspirational”, and amounts to possibly the ultimate pathetic adolescent male fantasy, which is probably the source of the baffling continued popularity of this wholly unlikable oaf. James Bond is suave, he’s got the cool car, all the best gadgets and he always gets the girl. Sometimes three or four of them. Though, to my knowledge, rarely all at once, which is surprising. Surely group sex is something that James Bond would be all over?
Plus…pretty much everything works for him. That is so boring. In fifty years, how often has James Bond failed? Even on the little things. I would argue Indiana Jones as a more interesting, compelling and relatable character because he is so human. He is always getting things wrong – and I’m not just talking about that Shia LaBeouff tragedy. When Indy nicks a Nazi uniform to infiltrate in Raiders of the Lost Ark, he nicks one that doesn’t fit. During what looks like the token sex scene for the movie, Indy falls asleep. Hell, his entire presence in Raiders… is largely futile, as very little of what he does matters to the outcome of events. In a lot of ways, Indiana Jones subverts much of the James Bond clichés in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I find it much more enjoyable as a result.
Then there’s Bond’s attitudes. In fairness, they’ve toned down a lot of the racism, homophobia and dominant sexism that the character originally displayed in recent years, but it is nevertheless built into his character, and a massive part of his DNA. Ian Fleming often used Bond in his novels to voice his own prejudices (hence the seemingly endless parade of foreign bad guys). So, for example, here’s a direct quote from Goldfinger that manages to be both insultingly sexist and insultingly homophobic;
“Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterton was one of those girls whose hormones had got mixed up. He knew the type well and thought they and their male counterparts were a direct consequence of giving votes to women and ‘sex equality.’ As a result of fifty years of emancipation, feminine qualities were dying out or being transferred to the males. Pansies of both sexes were everywhere, not yet completely homosexual, but confused, not knowing what they were. The result was a herd of unhappy sexual misfits–barren and full of frustrations, the women wanting to dominate and the men to be nannied. He was sorry for them, but he had no time for them.”
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, Goldfinger was published a good seven years before homosexuality was even legal in the UK. However, if we’re going to sit around and (rightfully) call out the Bernard Mannings and Jim Davidsons of the world, surely we should do the same for James Bond too? Or does the franchise make too much money for us to question it so much?
As for the rampant sexism, I for one would like to see a movie where the token girl totally rejects the chauvinist twat because she finds him physically and emotionally repulsive. He then has to go and see a prostitute, and there is an extended b-plot about him finding his lifestyle empty and tiresome.
I’d also like to see a movie where he contracts a severe case of Gonorrhoea because he arrogantly assumes he doesn’t need to use protection because he’s James fucking Bond and everything goes right for him anyway. He then goes after the (probably foreign) bad guy because he stole his antibiotics. There would actually be something at stake there for Bond personally.
This is why I would argue that the first Austin Powers movie is a much smarter one than people give it credit for. Aside from the silly gags, by literally transporting Austin Powers from the 60s to the 90s they showed how out of date James Bond is as a character, and nearly twenty years ago at that.
This is Alan Partridge’s favourite film series, after all. If they made his favourite newspaper the Daily Mail as a joke to show how outdated he was, the decision to make him a Bond fanatic probably was too.
So, there you have it. Shaun Ponsonby: Bond hater. I look forward to all of your hate mail.