Crank up the right wing outrage machine: The next James Bond is a black woman!


Daniel Craig is handing over the James Bond baton to Lashana Lynch.

In news that will surely come as a shock to James Bond fans and the film industry at large, it was revealed today that longtime 007 Daniel Craig will pass the Walther PPK to black British actress Lashana Lynch in the iconic role.

For years there has been intense speculation about who would take over the reins of one of the most durable and profitable film franchises in history once Craig stepped aside. Much of that speculation has revolved around whether the series might make a nod toward diversity and cast a person of color or a woman for the first time.

But if the report today from UK tabloid the Daily Mail is to be believed, the 007 producers are going for a radical twofer: casting a 31-year-old black female newcomer as Bond’s heir apparent.

…

Still, this news is guaranteed to cause controversy. For every fan who says “it’s about time,” there will be purists who whine about continuity—or worse, “political correctness” run amok.

In fact, it’s probably only a matter of time until President Donald Trump weighs in. After all, there’s no pop-culture squabble too petty for him to wade into.

Unfortunately the source for this story is the Daily Mail, a notoriously unreliable British tabloid. But this story seems to be legit.

I am waiting for the whining to begin that this is yet more evidence of the plot to eliminate all white men.

The article did not address what the new Bond’s first name is going to be, though there is no reason why she should not continue to be called James, since that is apparently the code name for Agent 007, not his real name. Why these agents need both a code name and code number is not clear. No doubt it is a regulation of the British civil service.

Comments

  1. sqlrob says

    I must admit, I’m a little disappointed. I was hoping for Idris Elba.

    Either way, watching the freakout is going to be glorious.

  2. Matt G says

    I love the James Bond films (except NSNA) despite their many flaws. I’ve seen each at least once, and some as many as 20-30 times -- probably around 200x in total. I can’t tell you how much…this doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Good grief do people need to get lives. All this identity politics nonsense comes from the right, with their allegiance to their notions of purity (Santa is white -- he just is!) and to straight, white, cis-, Christian male culture (and those who toe that line and benefit from it). Of course to them, this isn’t an identity at all -- it’s *other kinds of people* who have “identity”. Get out the popcorn and get ready to enjoy the meltdowns!

  3. Owlmirror says

    The TMZ page currently ends with:

    Lashana plays an agent named Nomi in the movie. We can hear that new tagline now … the name’s Nomi, just Nomi.

  4. John Morales says

    The source material is perfectly clear. Not a woman.

    Matt G, it’s not about ” identity politics”, it’s about a well-defined literary character who is most certainly and expressly male. And sexist as fuck.

    (Might as well make Horatio Hornblower a woman — but at least change the name, to something like Honor Harrington)

  5. John Morales says

    OP:

    The article did not address what the new Bond’s first name is going to be, though there is no reason why she should not continue to be called James, since that is apparently the code name for Agent 007, not his real name.

    But then it’s not Fleming’s James Bond, is it? It is another character in an entirely different setting with the same name. Fleming’s character is most unambiguously a bloke.

    (But hey, in the spirit of the thing, perhaps the next portrayal of Don Juan could be a woman. It would be no less faithful to the original, and make as much sense)

  6. says

    @John Morales:

    The source material is clear: James Bond is a single person. As soon as George Lazenby was introduced to the series, they left faithfulness to the source material behind.

    Can you honestly say that you’ve reviewed the source material to the extent where it’s possible for you to assess whether or not there are any deviations and that, after that review, you’ve found literally none?

    James Bond was also a creature of the early 50s to early/mid 60s. Placing him in a 2000s or 2010s setting is as gross a violation as changing the character’s skin tone or breast size. What, precisely, makes Bond’s status as a man more inviolate than his setting in the 50s-60s?

    The answer is identity politics. Those who insist that James Bond must be a white man but who fail to insist that James Bond’s adventures take place in the 50s and 60s are engaged in identity politics, asserting vigorously that whiteness and masculinity are more fundamental than, say, the lack of cell phones and computer hacking. And yet, technological constraints of that particular era dominate the entire conception of the character as someone who has to travel to distant locations personally rather than someone who sits in a basement and hacks distant systems to retrieve necessary information and lethally sabotage planes and other complex machinery in order to kill the enemies of the UK.

    Even should one prove that there is something necessitating faithfulness to the source material, we have arrived then at one of two points: either the movies are precisely faithful to everything in the books or a case has to be made why whiteness and masculinity are more fundamental to the source material than everything else that contributes to the setting, the plot, and the feel.

    If someone attempted to make that case, I would be willing to listen. I would probably laugh since the odds are they will being doing so incompetently, but I would be happy to listen and am entirely willing to concede reasonable points.

    Nonetheless, the assertion that whiteness and masculinity are necessary to an otherwise grossly flexible character is indeed identity politics, and regressive identity politics at that.

  7. Kreator says

    Any outrage is even more misplaced than you think, because the change isn’t as radical as it sounds from that article. According to the Daily Fail‘s original report (emphasis mine):

    However, traditionalists can relax: she’s not the new Bond, but a new character who takes over his secret agent number after he leaves MI6.

  8. Ridana says

    Rather than a female 007, what I’m still longing for is a really good adaptation of Modesty Blaise. She was surely inspired by Bond, but was a much more competent and fascinating character than he ever was, even in the source materials, where his greatest skill seemed to simply be surviving when they thought they’d killed him. Bond seemed to fuck up left and right, which was why he was always in so much peril.

    Sadly, all we’ve gotten so far is the 1966 campy spoof movie with Monica Vitti and Rip Torn, a 1982 failed pilot for an Americanized tv series, and a 2003 sort-of-Quentin-Tarantino-branded movie of her origin story, but without Willie Garvin! It wasn’t a terrible movie, but you can’t have a Modesty movie without Willie! No, no, no!!

    I hope I live to see one finally, and I hope Tarantino keeps his mitts off of it. But O’Donnell got so fed up with these cinematic assassinations of his beloved character he stopped permitting anyone to try. Maybe his heirs can be convinced, if the right people ask.

  9. says

    Meh, it’s fiction. The good thing about fiction is that it’s infinitely flexible, open to any change. So long as it makes money the story will be told. The bad thing is always the trouble some people have letting go of old versions of the story.

    I’ve watched a variety of classic plays where the casting was completely different to what came before, it still worked just fine. Oh and I haven’t watched any Bond films since the 70’s when my big brother dragged me along to the theatre. Too violent for me. Later on just too corny as well.

  10. benedic says

    Curious that James Bond as a much admired character is spoken of as a spy but is in fact a secret policeman with a ‘licence to kill’. In general a tribe much despised but as he does it for “us” he gets a pass.

  11. says

    @CDRRFFToD&HH No. 6…

    Well said.

    My father was a fan of both Flemming’s books and the Broccoli’s movies—although he thought that Len Deighton’s Harry Palmer (played by Michael Caine in the movies) was better—but we always quick to say that the movies had very little to do with the books beyond titles and the names of the principle characters.

    Cheers

  12. John Morales says

    Crip Dyke:

    The source material is clear: James Bond is a single person. As soon as George Lazenby was introduced to the series, they left faithfulness to the source material behind.

    The source material is the literary character; the movie adaptations are just that (at best).

    (Or: the movies are derivative, not source)

    Can you honestly say that you’ve reviewed the source material to the extent where it’s possible for you to assess whether or not there are any deviations and that, after that review, you’ve found literally none?

    I can honestly say I have read every one of Fleming’s James Bond books. But no, I am not so erudite in the canon that I would pass a tricky trivia quiz. OTOH, I know the literary character “James Bond”, and he for fucking sure ain’t a woman in any way, shape or form. Womaniser, yes — woman, no.

    James Bond was also a creature of the early 50s to early/mid 60s. Placing him in a 2000s or 2010s setting is as gross a violation as changing the character’s skin tone or breast size. What, precisely, makes Bond’s status as a man more inviolate than his setting in the 50s-60s?

    Again — the movies aren’t the source material. But sure, his context is the Cold War of mid C20, and so the movies put him in the wrong context. But changing the context is not changing the character, which is what this is.

    The answer is identity politics. Those who insist that James Bond must be a white man but who fail to insist that James Bond’s adventures take place in the 50s and 60s are engaged in identity politics, asserting vigorously that whiteness and masculinity are more fundamental than, say, the lack of cell phones and computer hacking.

    The setting ain’t the character, either. And chronology ain’t identity, either.
    Again: changing the context is not changing the character, which is what this would be.

    Even should one prove that there is something necessitating faithfulness to the source material, we have arrived then at one of two points: either the movies are precisely faithful to everything in the books or a case has to be made why whiteness and masculinity are more fundamental to the source material than everything else that contributes to the setting, the plot, and the feel.

    Look, setting and character are two different things. Four combos, only one is legit.

    (Perhaps remember your own argument here if you are ever tempted to complain about a character being whitewashed)

  13. John Morales says

    [shorter]

    That others have previously fucked it up does not mean this idea wouldn’t be a fuckup, and furthermore, I think it even more egregious.

  14. file thirteen says

    @Lofty #9

    The bad thing is always the trouble some people have letting go of old versions of the story.

    Ugh, like when I walked out halfway through Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, leaving my friend to watch it alone. It’s the only movie I’ve ever walked out of.

  15. Curt Sampson says

    John Morales @12, etc.

    The source material is the literary character; the movie adaptations are just that (at best).

    I’m glad you figured this out; it should help your understanding of Cryp Dyke’s post, which you should reread with the above in mind.

    Your complaint seems to be that the new adaptation is changing something from the source material that hadn’t previously been changed (the gender of the protagonist). Yet you seem fine with other fairly massive changes (different time periods, large changes to the stories, stories and characters that don’t even exist in the source material, and so on). So why is the gender of the protagonist so much more special than all the rest of this?

    Was your statement, “Look, setting and character are two different things,” an attempt to explain this? Let’s assume we all fully agree with that (I certainly do); how is this inconsistent with “when you’re doing an adaptation you’re allowed to change the setting or the character or both”? Clearly the makers of all the previous Bond films felt that this was the case since they changed major characteristics of both the settings and the Bond character.

  16. cartomancer says

    It doesn’t bother me that they’re doing a film like this, with a young black woman in the James Bond role. But it does seem a peculiar and not especially clever choice to still call it James Bond. I mean, sure, we know the classic Bond is about as establishment, straight, cis, hetero, white, middle-aged and privileged as they come. That’s screamingly obvious. Do we gain anything by going out of our way to deliberately change all the things we associate with the character but still calling the end result James Bond? Why not just do a film about a young, black, female secret agent that isn’t trying to support all the dated, Cold War baggage and heterosexual power fantasy nonsense of the classic James Bond?

    To put it another way, what exactly is left of James Bond -- as opposed to just a generic British spy thriller -- when everything classically Bond is taken away? Just a name? Is the name enough to conjure with? What does the name and the name alone add to the film to make it worthwhile? I can see changing a detail here, a detail there. Keeping some or most of the character intact while taking it in new directions. But changing all or almost all of who the character is seems counter-productive.

    But, actually, as Kreator points out in #7 above, this isn’t a film where James Bond is reimagined without any of the features that make him James Bond, it’s a film about someone else taking over from the actual James Bond, who is still very much James Bond. Which seems a very good way to do it. In this set-up the name actually does add something, because it is deliberately contrasting the new character with the old-fashioned persona of the classic James Bond. It’s not trying to make a character with some very strong associations into someone without those associations, it’s playing off that traditional character to make statements about how the world has changed and how there are other ways of doing things now.

  17. says

    (Perhaps remember your own argument here if you are ever tempted to complain about a character being whitewashed)

    I am actually quite consistent. If, say, James Bond were infiltrating a group of sexist white supremacists, I’d have no trouble at all conceding that Bond’s whiteness and masculinity were mandatory to tell the story without other wholesale changes. For instance, I’d be perfectly happy changing the Bond in that scenario to a Japanese man if the background setting were changed so that his job was infiltrating a network of racist, sexist Japanese men bent on screwing over the Chinese or the Ainu or some other ethnic/racial group that is socially conceived as separate from Japanese racial/ethnic categorization. Absent that, Bond should remain a white man in that situation.

    I’m also happy to assert that so long as leads for people of color are lacking in Hollywood, taking Black-specific works and adapting them so that no Black actors are required for their realization is bad … but not because all trans-racial adaptations are bad. I’ve often thought about what it would be like to adapt Othello so that Othello was played by a white man and the entire rest of the cast were portrayed by actors of color, mainly but not exclusively Black. I think there’s quite a lot of interesting stuff that could be communicated artistically in such a setting, and I would not complain about the Othello character being whitewashed.

    In the particular story we’re discussing, the character to be portrayed by Lashana Lynch wouldn’t “blackwash” James Bond in any way. It’s been established that people rotate in and out of the 00x positions and that such numbers are reused. Lashana Lynch’s character would not retroactively redefine all past white, masculine 007s out of existence. Nor does this adaptation appear to threaten the ability of white men to get acting jobs in blockbuster movies. If you permit Her Majesty’s Secret Service to be portrayed as acting within a decade in which Fleming didn’t set any Bond stories, there are going to be a number of differences in that organization that reflect the difference in decade. One difference might be that a woman plays M (and plays the character really, really fucking well), another difference might be that Bond hacks M’s laptop, which would evidence a skill that Fleming’s Bond couldn’t possibly have learned, much less mastered. Yet another difference might be that the organization isn’t quite racist and sexist enough to preclude all possibility of a woman and/or a person of color being promoted to 00x status.

    It’s entirely possible that Fleming’s organization is just that racist. But if the organization were to remain precisely as racist and sexist as Fleming’s original conception, the movies would make dramatically less money.

    But of course, that’s a practical argument. What I originally challenged you to articulate was that if the source material is not absolute, how do you determine which aspects of the source material are inviolate and which are not? And if you can gender-swap M and create the whole idea that the James Bond alias belongs not to one person but to an endless series of next-one-up agents promoted as needed, exactly what makes the gender and race of the current occupant of the 007 code-space inviolate when literally everything else is malleable?

    You have made no argument for why the source material’s statements on race and gender of 007 are inviolate when the source material’s statements on any number of other things are clearly mutable.

    Were you planning to present one?

  18. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    “Why these agents need both a code name and code number is not clear.”
    Because 00James Bond would have raised some eyebrows.

  19. Holms says

    #1
    Either way, watching the freakout is going to be glorious.

    The fact that the incoming actor is also female is guaranteed to double, or square (or whatever) the shrieking. Bonus!

    #6
    The source material is clear: James Bond is a single person. As soon as George Lazenby David Niven was introduced to the series, they left faithfulness to the source material behind.

    Yes, a single person played by multiple different people over the years. That’s the accepted conceit of long-running or rebooted movie and theatre productions: new actors take over old roles. Or are you going to pretend that all of the different actors for say, Peter Parker / Spiderman signify bad faith to the source material?

    Not that it really matters, since this one is explicitly a new character.

    The answer is identity politics. Those who insist that James Bond must be a white man but who fail to insist that James Bond’s adventures take place in the 50s and 60s

    No, that’s not the objection Morales is making. Think of Baz Lurhmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It carried the setting forward in time by a few centuries and swapped continents, but kept the characters as unchanged as possible. Setting changed, characters unchanged, or barely changed. Morales is saying that if Bond were to be cast as a woman, that be a fairly obvious change to the charater (as opposed to setting).

  20. John Morales says

    Well, Holms gets me.

    CD: “You have made no argument for why the source material’s statements on race and gender of 007 are inviolate when the source material’s statements on any number of other things are clearly mutable.”

    Holms: “Morales is saying that if Bond were to be cast as a woman, that be a fairly obvious change to the charater (as opposed to setting).”

    I have no probs with any of it other than it is not Fleming’s James Bond.

    (And there’s no dearth of women kick-ass super-spies in cinema already. Seriously)

  21. Reginald Selkirk says

    But if the report today from UK tabloid the Daily Mail is to be believed…

    Ha ha ha ha ha! Get back to me when you have something from a respectable source, and I will be happy to cheer.

  22. sqlrob says

    The source material is perfectly clear. Not a woman.

    The source material is perfectly clear, Nick Fury is white.
    The source material is perfectly clear, Heimdall is white.
    History is perfectly clear, Alexander Hamilton is white.
    History is perfectly clear Cleopatra is not white.
    The source material is perfectly clear, James Bond drinks martinis, not heinekein.

    I have no probs with any of it other than it is not Fleming’s James Bond.

    Aren’t we into Gardener and more now?

    Let’s make a deal. If Fleming complains, we can change it back.

  23. sqlrob says

    (And there’s no dearth of women kick-ass super-spies in cinema already. Seriously)

    Care to enumerate all of them (both male and female)? Is the proportion 50%?

  24. Mano Singham says

    The switching of gender in the iconic lead character does not seem to cause much outrage when it comes to Shakespeare. Glenda Jackson played King Lear and Helen Mirren played Prospero in The Tempest to great acclaim.

    Is it because, unlike those two characters, Bond is an adolescent male fantasy which many men vicariously live through and a female lead just kills that dream?

  25. says

    This reminds me of the kerfluffle over the latest Dr. Who.

    I think, in both cases, what Mano said in #26 is probably at the core of it.

    To me, there are characters that you can swap around easily. The Doctor, 007, any Harry Potter character, Gandalf, almost any super hero.

    But others not so much. Such as Frodo Baggins (Bilbo? Sure, but not Frodo or Samwise), Wonder Woman, Sailor Moon.

  26. deepak shetty says

    Look, setting and character are two different things. Four combos, only one is legit

    So a story , perhaps written by an Indian , that transfers James Bond to the 40’s where he is now to foil an assassination attempt by Indian freedom fighters terrorists is illegitimate ?
    For whats its worth , I find the setting to be more important than the characters physical attributes, in determining the character. Adam west’s Batman is vastly different from Grim Dark Miller Batman but both are the same *character* I guess , per your logic. Batman is probably a good example of why people should just give up trying to define “The” definitive version of some character because Batman has been written to portray every variation that exists -- i suppose the most important things have been that he has retained his skin color and penis.

  27. says

    I want some outrage over “yet another franchise movie.”

    Last year’s Atomic Blonde was excellent and way better than the bond flicks, in my opinion. Why make a bond movie, and have all that baggage, when you can more easily just try to write a good movie? John Wick is another example of an action-fest thriller that satisfies its particular market without having to rely on weird cultural remnants of American love for imperialism.

  28. says

    Is it because, unlike those two characters, Bond is an adolescent male fantasy which many men vicariously live through and a female lead just kills that dream?

    We have a winner!

    I propose we refer to these as “Walter Mitties” because “Mary Sue” is female. But “Wish fulfilment fantasy cardboard cutout” is good, too. Bond has almost no personality at all, to make him easier for the viewer to inhabit, even in Fleming’s version. Fleming, BTW, was the wanna-be spy type himself; the character of Bond (I think he lifted heavily from Richard Sorge) was a nihilistic macho version of what Fleming wished he was.

  29. gshelley says

    More recent reports explain better. James Bond has retired and someone else has been given the 007 designation.
    Of course, people are still outraged, both those who read these additional details and those who think the new character is going to be called “James Bond”

  30. mnb0 says

    “an adolescent male fantasy which many men vicariously live through”
    As I’m not one of those men I’ll definitely watch a Jamie Bond movie, preferably with a female director and of course a Bond Boy. Will Mrs. Moneypenny become bisexual?
    It has huge potential.

  31. says

    Why make a bond movie, and have all that baggage, when you can more easily just try to write a good movie?

    In a nutshell, for the attention. Would we be talking about it if it was just another spy movie with a talented actress?

  32. Curt Sampson says

    But it does seem a peculiar and not especially clever choice to still call it James Bond. I mean, sure, we know the classic Bond is about as establishment, straight, cis, hetero, white, middle-aged and privileged as they come…. Do we gain anything by going out of our way to deliberately change all the things we associate with the character but still calling the end result James Bond? Why not just do a film about a young, black, female secret agent that isn’t trying to support all the dated, Cold War baggage and heterosexual power fantasy nonsense of the classic James Bond?

    To put it another way, what exactly is left of James Bond — as opposed to just a generic British spy thriller — when everything classically Bond is taken away? Just a name?

    You’ve got “James Bond” wrong, at least as far as the film version goes. A “James Bond” film has an ultra-sophisticated, ultra-cool protagonist that’s nearly a superhero, a single villan with witless henchmen, nifty gadgets, and large setpiece action scenes, all with a certain flavour. Those four elements (at least three of which are not part of the books, by the way) and a bunch of minor ones are what’s essential; you can otherwise vary the characters and setting pretty much however you like.

    This is a long way way from a “generic British spy thriller,” if there is such a thing; James Bond is about as far as you can get from Richard Hannay, Holly Martins, George Smiley or Harry Palmer. Or even Harry Pendel.

  33. sonofrojblake says

    I hate this. It just makes us on the Left look stupid. “Ooh, the right are going to HATE that James Bond is a black woman!”

    I don’t credit the Right with much, but I’d trust most of them to at least pay the minimal amount of attention required to realise that no, James Bond is not a black woman. James Bond is what James Bond has always been -- a white man. In this movie, a white man who has had his code number reassigned to a black woman. So “007 is a black woman” is accurate, but doesn’t allow lefties to rub their hands at the prospect of outrage quite so much.

    If you care -- and if you’ve read or commented on this thread then by definition you care enough -- here’s what writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge said:

    “[The franchise] has just got to grow. It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to his character.”

    So… with a noted loud proud successful feminist and actual writer on the franchise saying that, I’m going to stick my neck out and say we won’t see a female Bond in my lifetime. Because we don’t NEED to, and because there are more interesting ways to screw around without potentially stopping people paying money for tickets.

    And absolutely yes, Bond is juvenile male fantasy wish fulfillment. What, pray, is wrong with that? 50 Shades of Grey was (so I’m told) juvenile female fantasy wish fulfillment, and the writer of that made ALL the money. Argue with the quality, by all means, but don’t tell me people don’t want that stuff or that the desire for it shouldn’t be catered for.

  34. says

    YOB@#37:
    Would we be talking about it if it was just another spy movie with a talented actress?

    We wouldn’t be talking about it in this context. We might, however, talk about it like we did Atomic Blonde -- how great the fight choreography was, how cool the script was, the 80s music, and how Charlize Theron absolutely nailed the role. We certainly won’t talk about a Bond movie and say it was “a thriller with a brain.” It’s like eating McDonalds: you know what you’re going to get; enjoy the product placements.

  35. file thirteen says

    Ok, here goes for my 2c.

    -- The title of this post is inaccurate and annoying to sticklers of truth, irrespective of their political position. It should have said “The next 007 is a black woman”, not the next James Bond is. If we concede that the next 007 won’t be called James Bond, which she won’t, then much of the unnecessary arguing above can be dispensed with.

    -- What did people actually like about James Bond?

    For me, it was the verbal sparring, James’s ascerbic wit, and his enviable composure under pressure. The rest -- the fast cars, the sexual conquests, the freakish villains, the global plots, the OTT action sequences, the brutality, shaken not stirred -- never engaged me. So if its intention was to be juvenile male fantasy wish fulfilment, it missed the brief with me.

    “Do you expect me to talk?”
    “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!”

    And yet he remains calm and composed enough to talk his way out. I forget the discussion, but I’ll always remember:

    “Can you really afford to take that chance?”

    -- Now the James Bond brand has been flogged about as far as it can go, I think a fundamental change like replacing his character with a completely different one is revitalising. Of course he hasn’t actually become a black woman -- well he couldn’t… could he?

    Actually, having James Bond become a transsexual might be interesting, and would certainly fire up the outrage machine, but boy would that story have to be well-written to convince you to suspend disbelief without it being insulting, descending into farce, or both. Such a change is probably just too hard to be believable. (This is what the gist of some of the arguing here has been about, I think)

    And having people switching race, that’s currently a societal no-no isn’t it? I’d go on, but that subject deserves a dedicated post all of its own.

  36. says

    The recognition factor is a consideration but it can also be a drag because it demands fan service which guarantees the movie will he a steaming pile of fewmets. See: Star Wars series. If you have a good idea and a hot plot for a short series you can make a ton of money without leaning on name recognition. See: John Wick. I don’t expect to see John Wick XI and if they make another the franchise will start to smell.

    I don’t think I am the only franchise-phobe out there. Look at how badly Solo flopped: people are getting sick of Hollywood crank-turning rote color by number franchise flicks. I’ll also cite Deadpool’s success as an anti-franchise flick.

    Eventually one of these Bond junk flicks will bomb hard and that will be the end of them. It will be a shame if it happens with a female lead as 007 because it’ll play into the hands of those who would blame it on casting a woman.

  37. says

    BTW: anyone arguing about REALISM in a Bond flick needs to take a deep breath and step back from the keyboard. Bond flicks are as realistic as Transformers.

  38. says

    @filethirteen:

    The title of this post is inaccurate and annoying to sticklers of truth, irrespective of their political position. It should have said “The next 007 is a black woman”, not the next James Bond is.

    Fair point.

    If we concede that the next 007 won’t be called James Bond, which she won’t, then much of the unnecessary arguing above can be dispensed with.

    Can’t we always dispense with the UNnecessary arguing? :-p

    @Marcus Ranum:

    Eventually one of these Bond junk flicks will bomb hard

    I see what you did theres.

  39. John Morales says

    sqlrob @24:

    Care to enumerate all of them (both male and female)? Is the proportion 50%?

    No. Why would I? And why would the proportion matter?

    All I claimed is that there is no dearth (i.e. an acute insufficiency) of them, not that there was parity.

    But, just for you. <clickety-click>
    https://watchmojo.com/video/id/17002 (watchmojo: “Top 10 Fictional Female Spies in Movies”)

  40. sonofrojblake says

    @filethirteen:

    What did people actually like about James Bond?
    […] the fast cars, the sexual conquests, the freakish villains, the global plots, the OTT action sequences, the brutality, shaken not stirred — never engaged me.

    The gadgets, the improbable escapes, Bond’s relationship with his co-workers (M, Q and Moneypenny), British imperial exceptionalism. There’s a lot going on in Bond movies that don’t do anything for you. Good job the audience is so huge.

    @Marcus Ranum: it’s not often I disagree with you, but goodness me are you wrong here.

    See: John Wick. I don’t expect to see John Wick XI

    With any other star and any other director/writer I wouldn’t have expected to see John Wick 2. I certainly wouldn’t have expected it to deepen and widen the worldbuilding and improve on the first. And yet…
    So I wouldn’t bet against those guys. The only problem they have is that Keanu Reeves isn’t getting any younger. (He isn’t getting any older either, it seems, but you take my point.)

    I don’t think I am the only franchise-phobe out there. […] people are getting sick of Hollywood crank-turning rote color by number franchise flicks

    Wow. I appreciate these things are not to your taste, but that is some serious ignoring of the evidence in your face and cherry picking in desperation to prove your point. And I can make that point look silly in just three letters: MCU.

    If I’d said to you 11 years ago that in that space of time Marvel would churn out more than 20 films, that even the worst of them would be passable and the best would be fist-pumping-in-the-air brilliant and that the 22nd (23rd? I have literally lost count) would make more money than Avatar (eventually, after a sneaky re-release), you’d be justified in being skeptical. But those things happened in the past.

    People are demonstrably NOT getting sick of franchise flicks, they fucking LOVE franchise flicks… done well. It’s easy to turn your nose up at them, but saying things like

    Eventually one of these Bond junk flicks will bomb hard and that will be the end of them.

    REALLY sounds like whistling in the dark.

    Here’s the thing: eventually, they’ll make a really shitty Bond film. You know what will happen then? There’ll be a hiatus, they’ll recast it, and the whole thing will start again. It’s already happened. Multiple times. Are memories so short we can’t recall the travesty that was “Die Another Day”? And yet they came back with the triumph of “Casino Royale”.

    It will be a shame if it happens with a female lead as 007 because it’ll play into the hands of those who would blame it on casting a woman.

    That will only happen if they do what they did with Doctor Who -- recast it as a woman at the same time as putting the franchise in the hands of a team who have no idea how to handle the material, and turn out something absolutely shit that betrays the character regardless of their gender. I was totally on board for a woman Doctor Who (although Whitaker was not my choice, I’d have prefered the aforementioned Phoebe Waller-Bridge), but fuck me that last season was the WORST, and it had nothing to do with the gender of the wielder of the sonic.

  41. lanir says

    I’m pretty sure the Daniel Craig’s introduction as James Bond had him going through the process of taking over the 007 moniker from someone else. That someone else was simply offscreen but obviously meant to include the previous Bond(s). I do not recall whether the name was given the same treatment as the code number or not.

    Daniel Craig’s whole run as Bond had some people upset to start with. I believe he’s the first Bond to actually suffer wounds during fighting. See the references to adolescent male power fantasies and you’ll understand why that’s a big deal. He also arguably isn’t as much of a pretty boy as the other Bonds that preceeded him.

  42. lanir says

    I think the idea that characters are the same irrespective of their settings is wrong.

    Characters change based on their setting. If you have a character that is not affected in any way by the setting they’re in then you don’t have a setting, you have a backdrop. Settings have had a great effect on who a character is since at least A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court if not before. We have whole subgenres of fiction about this. Post-apocalypse, “another world” or isekai stories from Japan, and to varying degrees science fiction or fantasy in general can alter what sort of character you get. Transplant the Fellowship of the Ring to the world of a modern police procedural and you end up with very different characters even if they’re formed from a similar base.

  43. consciousness razor says

    I agree with cartomancer and Marcus Ranum. I want original material.
    This is just more expensive junk food on the McDonald’s menu. If it were about something more than making tons of money, I would be more sympathetic. This won’t be like an adaptation (maybe modernized) of one of Shakespeare’s plays, because it’s like another play that Shakespeare never wrote, with his name slapped on it for marketing purposes.
    If somebody supposedly wrote an “arrangement” of some music I made, but what actually happened is that they put my name on something I had nothing to do with, I would be upset about that. If it were actually my estate or the rights-owner, because this happens when I’m long dead, then of course I wouldn’t be upset. At any rate somebody might make some money. It would just be nice if they did it honestly, which wouldn’t be hard considering that they did have to come up with their material somehow (just not by adapting my work).
    It’s sort of like forging a painting, except that you’re not really trying to trick anybody into thinking it’s a real Vermeer — or not most people, although some won’t know better — you just get the right people to agree that it’s okay to call it a Vermeer for marketing purposes. There’s presumably a real painter who should get some credit for their work, if it’s any good; it just happens not to be that particular painter. It’s funny how far people will go sometimes, only to lie to themselves. I guess it shouldn’t be so surprising, when one is already familiar with religious fundamentalists, sports fans, etc., but somehow the joke is still funny every time I hear it.

  44. John Morales says

    CR:

    I want original material.

    Then you don’t want redone characters, you want the original characters.
    And you don’t want new stories or settings, you want the original stories and settings.

    (Unless you want to get to the degenerate case where anything new is perforce original, which means that no matter how derivative something is, it’s nonetheless original by virtue of being new)

    But sure, one could write a Tarzan story where she grows up to be a nun and converts the heathen savages of Chile with her pious civil disobedience. Or one where Jesus Christ conquers Australia with her cadre of eunuch scientist-priests who provide industrial-age tech for her eunuch-warriors.

    (After all, it’s only changing the character and the setting whilst leaving the name. What’s the prob? Still Tarzan, still JC)

  45. file thirteen says

    @Crip Dyke

    If we concede that the next 007 won’t be called James Bond, which she won’t, then much of the unnecessary arguing above can be dispensed with.

    Can’t we always dispense with the UNnecessary arguing? :-p

    …then much of arguing that I thought unnecessary… oh fuck it. Just so long as we never dispense with the unnecessary pedantry

    @sonofrojblake

    The gadgets

    Not really

    the improbable escapes

    Nah

    Bond’s relationship with his co-workers (M, Q and Moneypenny)

    No, but see “ascerbic wit”

    British imperial exceptionalism

    Oh, go on then

  46. John Morales says

    Since it’s quiet and I’m bored, sqlrob @23:

    The source material is perfectly clear. Not a woman.

    The source material is perfectly clear, Nick Fury is white.
    The source material is perfectly clear, Heimdall is white.
    History is perfectly clear, Alexander Hamilton is white.
    History is perfectly clear Cleopatra is not white.

    Heh. Parallel form would have been thus:
    The source material is perfectly clear. Not a white.
    The source material is perfectly clear, Not a white.
    History is perfectly clear, Not a white.
    History is perfectly clearm Not a white.

    The source material is perfectly clear, James Bond drinks martinis, not heinekein.

    Again, to be properly analogious, the phrasing should be something like:
    “The source material is perfectly clear, not heinekein.”

    Which are all perfectly true statements.

  47. John Morales says

    sqlrob, so, because you think there is a systemic tendency to overcount women in a population, I must perforce enumerate every single instance before I can claim there is no dearth?

    Fine. First hit on the search (“top 10”) is insufficient for you to accept there is no such dearth.
    (I get the feeling that for you, a dearth is anything less than parity, idiosyncratic as that may be)

    But fine: let’s say there is indeed a dearth (a dire dearth?) of women kick-ass movie spies.

    How does that justify gender-swapping an existing character, rather than creating a new one?

  48. says

    @John Morales:

    How does that justify gender-swapping an existing character, rather than creating a new one?

    Are you thinking about what you’re saying at all? Someone owns the intellectual property rights to the Bond franchise and the character. If they want to create a CGI porn movie where James Bond is a body-swapping alien in search of the perfect tentacle-sucking experience, why would they have to justify it to you?

    If they retconned James Bond into a cross-dressing bull-dagger who convinced the world around her that she was a man in order to escape her juvenile convictions for drug running, why would they have to justify it to you?

    This is the problem I have in this discussion. you can prefer one character to another or one version of a character to another all you like. But this sense of entitlement that leads you (and Ben Shapiro and many, many others) to believe any gender swap must somehow be justified is toxic, and the particular expression of it in relation to Lynch’s character being granted the same code number as the James Bond character was previously granted is both sexist and racist.

    Nothing needs to be justified. Not moving the movies to a contemporary political and social and technological setting, not the decision to have Judy Dench play M, not Bond occasionally driving a car that isn’t an Aston Martin.

    Nothing.

    Some artist created an artistic depiction of a character because they wanted to. Your feelings don’t matter dick.

  49. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @53: A qualified woman replaced a man. Happens in the real world (much less than it should), why not in fictionland? I really don’t see your problem.

  50. John Morales says

    Crip Dyke,

    Are you thinking about what you’re saying at all? Someone owns the intellectual property rights to the Bond franchise and the character. If they want to create a CGI porn movie where James Bond is a body-swapping alien in search of the perfect tentacle-sucking experience, why would they have to justify it to you?

    Yup. And what I think is that whether or not they own the intellectual property is not in question. Whether they are in any way faithful to the actual literary character is not, either.

    Nor is whether they have to justify it to me — obs, they don’t.

    Just saying their “James Bond” is not the literary character Fleming wrote, black woman or alien.

    (Even the 007 is more than dodgy; 007 is James Bond, in the canon)

    If they retconned James Bond into a cross-dressing bull-dagger who convinced the world around her that she was a man in order to escape her juvenile convictions for drug running, why would they have to justify it to you?

    This hangup you have with justification eludes me. James Bond has a canonical background, so if that background changes, the character changes.
    (cf. https://jamesbond.fandom.com/wiki/James_Bond_(Literary))

    This is the problem I have in this discussion. you can prefer one character to another or one version of a character to another all you like.

    Whatever made you imagine I was objecting on the basis of personal preference?

    (I’m objecting because it is contrary to the canonical character)

    But this sense of entitlement that leads you (and Ben Shapiro and many, many others) to believe any gender swap must somehow be justified is toxic, and the particular expression of it in relation to Lynch’s character being granted the same code number as the James Bond character was previously granted is both sexist and racist.

    Wow, you sure are keen on this purported entitlement.

    I could hardly care less either way, nor do I seek justification in any case. I merely note that if one changes a literary character, then that character is not the canonical character.

    Nothing needs to be justified.

    Exactly my stance. But you might as well call a pet rat “Hercules” and make a movie about their adventures in their cage. No justification needed there, either, but it would not be the canonical Hercules.

    Some artist created an artistic depiction of a character because they wanted to. Your feelings don’t matter dick.

    Heh. It’s not about feelings, it’s about accuracy and truthfulness.

    Basically, they can call whomever (or whatever) 007 or James Bond, but if it isn’t the original creation, then it’s (at best!) derivative, and at worst a misnomer.

  51. John Morales says

    Rob @55:

    John @53: A qualified woman replaced a man.

    In which case the woman is not the man. Which is precisely my point.

    (She is a different character, hopefully to ride on the coat-tails of the reputation of whatever man she replaced)

  52. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @56: Pointing out the non-canonicity of characters in movie adaptations could be a 24/7 job. What’s so special about Bond?

  53. says

    @John Morales, and, well, anyone who might be entertained by bizarre self-contradictions…

    #56, written by John Morales:

    Wow, you sure are keen on this purported entitlement.
    I could hardly care less either way, nor do I seek justification in any case. I merely note that if one changes a literary character, then that character is not the canonical character.

    #53, written by none other than John Morales and seeking a response from sqlrob:

    But fine: let’s say there is indeed a dearth (a dire dearth?) of women kick-ass movie spies.
    How does that justify gender-swapping an existing character, rather than creating a new one?

    You literally, explicitly, sought justification 3 comments earlier than your denial that you seek justification.

    Again I am forced to ask,

    Are you thinking about what you’re saying at all?

  54. John Morales says

    CD @60,

    You literally, explicitly, sought justification 3 comments earlier than your denial that you seek justification.

    In your estimation, perhaps. In reality, no.

    Point being that it was presented as a justification, not that I sought one. (It wasn’t)

    Again I am forced to ask,

    Are you thinking about what you’re saying at all?

    Heh. Who or what is forcing you? I’m certainly not.

    But, FWIW, not much. I read your comments, I respond. I have a solid stance, have had from the beginning, so no effort required.

    (Perhaps address my points rather than speculate about whether they are being given due consideration)

    Rob @60:
    Yeah, I got over 110 wpm last time I was tested with high accuracy.

    (Also, as noted above, I hardly have to labour to sustain my point, which is that a changed character or a new character are changed or new characters, not the source character)

  55. John Morales says

    Very quiet, so, I elaborate even further: Fear not the right-wing outrage, but rather the literati’s disdain.

    (Mayhap I will get a response to which to respond)

  56. sqlrob says

    Fine. First hit on the search (“top 10”) is insufficient for you to accept there is no such dearth.

    Yeah there is. Google search got a list of the top female spy movies. Every one on the list had female spies. Only about half had them headlining, and that’s a handpicked list highlighting them.

  57. file thirteen says

    @John Morales

    Basically, they can call whomever (or whatever) 007 or James Bond, but if it isn’t the original creation, then it’s (at best!) derivative, and at worst a misnomer.

    It’s neither derivative nor a misnomer because 007 is a title. Derivative is all the movies which portray “James Bond” as if he’s the literary character while straying from the original source material.

  58. John Morales says

    sqlrob @66, did you peruse my link @63?

    It’s not a title, it’s a designation. He is the 7th agent to reach 00 status.

    (Why recycle numbers? Nothing in the canon suggests that this is the practice, and it would be rather confusing for the records)

  59. John Morales says

    Um, file thirteen not sqlrob above. I was gonna address both, but too much short shrift, for which I now make penance.

    So, sqlrob, you think picking through a list to select only 10 indicates a dearth, and that this justifies gender-swapping male characters to progress towards parity. Obs, I disagree.

    (Let’s say there were 10 restaurants easily accessible for you. Would you call that a dearth of restaurants?)

  60. John Morales says

    Hm. Perhaps the story should be not the right wing outrage, but the left wing glee.

  61. says

    (Why recycle numbers? Nothing in the canon suggests that this is the practice, and it would be rather confusing for the records)

    because once Lazenby had the same code name and number as Connery, the recycling of the same number to different agents became fixed in the popular mind. While you may consider only the books “canon”, it seems quite odd that you would find anything objectionable at this point when code number recycling has been around for 50 years. This is what I find objectionable about your argument. You say that it’s about phenomenon X, but then ignore that the movies have been engaging in X for years. The only thing you won’t say is that you’re making this deviation from canon a special and noteworthy case out of all the many, many deviations from canon for no other reasons than Lynch’s gender and/or sex.

    Something either is or isn’t faithful to the source material. The movies have deviated from the source material for 50 years. Singling out Lynch’s character is sexist and racist in effect, irrespective of intent because no argument is made for why the inclusion of Lynch’s character as a 00 or as 007 in particular other than that she’s a black woman. Dalton was different from Connery was different from Moore was different from Connery was different from Lazenby was different from Niven was different from Connery (if I’ve got that timeline right). All went by 007. Lynch is different from Craig, and both of these actors’ characters went by 007.

    Why protest now after failing to protest all the previous transitions? Because of race and sex. That’s it.

    Perhaps the story should be not the right wing outrage, but the left wing glee.

    Yes, I can see the news now:

    Movie makers make a movie that a large number of people want to see? That unexpected story follows Jennifer reporting on location from near Broadway and 14th where earlier today witnesses were astounded to see a dog biting a man. All that and the weather after these messages.

  62. file thirteen says

    @Crip Dyke #71

    Something either is or isn’t faithful to the source material. The movies have deviated from the source material for 50 years. Singling out Lynch’s character is sexist and racist in effect, irrespective of intent because no argument is made for why the inclusion of Lynch’s character as a 00 or as 007 in particular other than that she’s a black woman.

    Exactly.

  63. John Morales says

    CD,

    … because once Lazenby had the same code name and number as Connery, the recycling of the same number to different agents became fixed in the popular mind.

    I don’t think so. That’s different actors playing the same character, not a new character per author. Might as well call Robin Hood a title, since many different actors have played the same character.

    While you may consider only the books “canon”, it seems quite odd that you would find anything objectionable at this point when code number recycling has been around for 50 years.

    The character was created by Fleming, so yeah, his writings are the canonical Bond.

    But fine; care to provide one single canonical example of HMSS recycling 00 code numbers?

    This is what I find objectionable about your argument. You say that it’s about phenomenon X, but then ignore that the movies have been engaging in X for years.

    No, they haven’t. The issue at hand is changing an explicitly male character to a female character, not using different male actors to play a male character.

    (Sherlock Holmes ain’t a title)

    The only thing you won’t say is that you’re making this deviation from canon a special and noteworthy case out of all the many, many deviations from canon for no other reasons than Lynch’s gender and/or sex.

    If a character is most explicitly written as male, then any depiction of them as other than male is indeed a grave deviation from canon.

    Something either is or isn’t faithful to the source material. The movies have deviated from the source material for 50 years.

    So, which movies have hitherto gender-swapped James Bond?

    Singling out Lynch’s character is sexist and racist in effect,

    Tell that to Mano, it’s his blog post, and his subject of choice. I’m just commenting on it.

    I assure you that, had it been Sherlock Holmes or Conan the Barbarian or Don Juan or another archetypically male character, I would have the same feeling and therefore similarly respond in this manner.

    irrespective of intent because no argument is made for why the inclusion of Lynch’s character as a 00 or as 007 in particular [contravenes canon] other than that she’s a black woman.

    007 is James Bond, and he ain’t a woman. Well, not so far.

    (If it were a dog, I would also object on similar grounds, and those are not that dogs in particular offend me)

    Why protest now after failing to protest all the previous transitions? Because of race and sex.

    Because this post is now. Duh.

  64. John Morales says

    FWIW, I think it could work if it were explicitly a parody, then my objections would be moot.

  65. says

    Something either is or isn’t faithful to the source material. The movies have deviated from the source material for 50 years.

    So, which movies have hitherto gender-swapped James Bond?

    This is my point. Deviations, generally, have been going on since Dr. No. Yet it is only this one specific deviation that seems to draw contesting voices.

    Either the argument is that you can’t violate canon (the books, as written by Fleming) in which case you have to be equally upset at every single movie, or the argument is that deviations from canon don’t really matter … except in this one particular case. And what is this one particular case? Using a black woman to play a 007.

    That’s it. Clearly deviations from canon don’t matter in a general way. Only when a black woman plays 007 does it become a problem. Why not just own it: you don’t give a fuck about strictly interpreting the books in most cases. You don’t care about computer hacking (which wasn’t a thing in the 50s and 60s, since you needed physical access to a machine to interact with it). You don’t care about this gadget or that gadget that wasn’t in the books. You just don’t want 007 played by a black actor, a woman actor, or a black woman actor (hard to tell from the evidence we’ve got).

    I wouldn’t mind so much if you didn’t try to pass this off as a general objection to deviations from canon.

    no argument is made for why the inclusion of Lynch’s character as a 00 or as 007 in particular [contravenes canon] other than that she’s a black woman.

    007 is James Bond, and he ain’t a woman. Well, not so far.

    Precisely. I’m glad that you agree with me that you’re making no argument other than that you won’t accept a (black) woman as 007. Your argument is entirely and only about gender and/or race.

    You say that it’s about phenomenon X, but then ignore that the movies have been engaging in X for years.

    No, they haven’t. The issue at hand is changing an explicitly male character to a female character, not using different male actors to play a male character.

    First, then why bring in faithfulness to canon as if it’s some general principle to which you adhere? it’s not. This is the switching I’m criticizing, from pretensions to a general rejection of deviation from canon to the specific rejection of gender swapping, and, finally, to the even narrower rejection of gender swapping James Bond (which isn’t happening) and/or 007 (which is).

    Secondly, the point with the different male actors is that 007 is described in a particular way in the books. I don’t know what way that is since I haven’t read them, but I’m assuming that there’s actual description of James Bond in them. If not, there’s at the very least characterization in them that a reader receives from how Bond is portrayed -- when he uses humor and how much, etc. Since all the actors are different in appearance, it is not possible that all could be true to canon. It might be that none of them are, but it’s certainly true that no more than one is. Therefore once you’ve got 2 or more actors playing Bond, it’s impossible that the movies have been consistently true to Fleming’s Bond.

    At this point then, we’re not talking about whether or not film makers will remain true to the original 007 character, but rather how much we will deviate and which deviations are acceptable.

    Thirdly, the character isn’t James Bond. It’s a wonder I’ve even allowed myself to get this far sidetracked since the only issue is, as you put it, “recycling 00 code numbers”. Gender and race shouldn’t even be an issue for you, since Lynch isn’t going to be James Bond. You should be arguing that the bureaucratic nomenclature of HMSS has changed between the 1950s setting of the first books and the 2010s settings of the current movies. And a database identifier is a more horrible violation of canon than the inclusion of computer hacking and cell phones why?

    Fourth and finally, M was explicitly changed from an explicitly male character to a character played by Judi Dench and referred to as “Mum” -- I take it that’s “explicitly female” enough for you?

  66. John Morales says

    CD:

    This is my point. Deviations, generally, have been going on since Dr. No. Yet it is only this one specific deviation that seems to draw contesting voices.

    The gender-swapping, yeah.

    Either the argument is that you can’t violate canon (the books, as written by Fleming) in which case you have to be equally upset at every single movie, or the argument is that deviations from canon don’t really matter … except in this one particular case.

    This one particular case? Heh.

    (Did you fail to note my other numerous mentions of characters who are intrinsically male, which I would equally object to their being gender-swapped as vitiating the canonical character?)

    I don’t know what way that is since I haven’t read them, but I’m assuming that there’s actual description of James Bond in them.

    I helpfully provided a link @56. No need to assume.

    Therefore once you’ve got 2 or more actors playing Bond, it’s impossible that the movies have been consistently true to Fleming’s Bond.

    At least they got the gender right. So far.

    At this point then, we’re not talking about whether or not film makers will remain true to the original 007 character, but rather how much we will deviate and which deviations are acceptable.

    Sure. Let’s see the pot-plant 007. A lethal lithop.

    (007, the cunning crayon drawing!)

    Thirdly, the character isn’t James Bond.

    Duh. That’s been my point all along.

    Fourth and finally, M was explicitly changed from an explicitly male character to a character played by Judi Dench and referred to as “Mum” — I take it that’s “explicitly female” enough for you?

    Yes. But that M is not the M in the canon. And not the subject of this post, either.

  67. file thirteen says

    @John Morales #77

    Either the argument is that you can’t violate canon (the books, as written by Fleming) in which case you have to be equally upset at every single movie, or the argument is that deviations from canon don’t really matter … except in this one particular case.

    This one particular case? Heh.
    (Did you fail to note my other numerous mentions of characters who are intrinsically male, which I would equally object to their being gender-swapped as vitiating the canonical character?)

    Pardon me for butting in again, but I feel driven to clarify that the phrase “one particular case” that you quoted clearly does not refer to not the particular case of 007, but to the particular case of gender-swapping. That’s all, as you were…

  68. John Morales says

    file thirteen, I also mentioned canines, pot plants and crayon drawings.

    Intrinsically human, intrinsically animalia, intrinsically living. All variations to which I would have the same response: that is not the canonical character.

  69. John Morales says

    PS

    … the particular case of gender-swapping

    But hey, at least you acknowledge this is a case of gender-swapping. Kudos.

  70. gshelley says

    The argument that if you accept a change to the source material when a book is adapted, you are then obligated to accept all changes is bizarre to say the least.
    But that is what happens when your opinions are based on your sense of entitlement rather than any rational analysis.

  71. says

    @gshelley:

    Great Gods of Silver Sled Blades, you are thick.

    The argument isn’t that someone must accept all deviations from source material if they accept one change.

    The argument is that one cannot credibly claim to be taking a principled stand against all deviations from the source material if they clearly accept a huge number of deviations from the source material.

    The argument is about whether or not John Morales’ portrayal of his objection as a principled stand against deviation from the source material is a reasonable depiction of his actual objections.

    You can accept or reject anything you want -- they’re your feelings. However I would prefer that you don’t lie about your reasons so transparently that you implicitly insult the intelligence of all your readers.

    As for this:

    that is what happens when your opinions are based on your sense of entitlement rather than any rational analysis.

    This is a perfect description of Morales’ objections. In Morales’ #4, he states:

    The source material is perfectly clear. Not a woman.
    —
    Matt G, it’s not about ” identity politics”, it’s about a well-defined literary character who is most certainly and expressly male. And sexist as fuck.

    Here he portrays his objection as a perceived obligation, or a personal desire, to have the movies match the source material (the Fleming books). Yet Morales’ doesn’t actually object to source material violations for anything other than race and/or gender. And even then, not for race and/or gender swaps other than Bond’s race & gender. Felix Leiter’s character’s race swap is unobjectionable to Morales. Likewise M’s gender swap.

    And so we know that Morales doesn’t give a rat’s ass about general faithfulness to the source material. This one particular change from the books -- assigning the 007 code number to someone not James Bond who also happens to be a Black woman -- is the only deviation from canon that appears to matter at all.

    I really, really want to believe that this isn’t unthinking entitlement, but Morales has made no argument other than, “She’s a woman! (and possibly also, though i don’t remember for sure, ‘She’s Black!’) That’s wrong!”

    Morales’ argument that his objections can be explained as an outgrowth as a principled adherence to canon do not make sense, because there is no principled adherence to canon. there may be some reason other than personal entitlement, but Morales has not yet presented any, and seems ill inclined to do so or a person with his intelligence and skill at argumentation would have made it already.

    All this should have been readily apparent had you been reading the thread, and your comment is clearly in response to some things that are in the thread rather than the OP, and it thus strikes me as deeply odd that you haven’t grasped even the basics of the conversation.

    Perhaps try reading for content and commenting again?

  72. Holms says

    #71 Crip
    because once Lazenby Niven had the same code name and number as Connery, the recycling of the same number to different agents became fixed in the popular mind.

    This was answered all the way back in #20 by yours truly…

    Yes, a single person played by multiple different people over the years. That’s the accepted conceit of long-running or rebooted movie and theatre productions: new actors take over old roles.

    There can of course be criticisms about whether some actors matched the literary description better or worse than others -- in this regard, Daniel Craig stands out as the only blonde Bond iirc -- and now Lashana Lynch stands out as a new character occupying the same 00 designation as James Bond for some reason. Maybe there’ll be an explanation for such in the movie, for now though it is an oddity.

  73. Holms says

    Fourth and finally, M was explicitly changed from an explicitly male character to a character played by Judi Dench and referred to as “Mum” — I take it that’s “explicitly female” enough for you?

    Ah, I remember encountering this when watching The Bill as a child. When the setting is British, and a senior female officer is referred to as what sounds like ‘mum’, they are actually addressing her as ‘ma’am’. That’s just how many Brits pronounce it.

  74. Holms says

    The source material is perfectly clear. Not a woman.
    —
    Matt G, it’s not about ” identity politics”, it’s about a well-defined literary character who is most certainly and expressly male. And sexist as fuck.

    Here he portrays his objection as a perceived obligation, or a personal desire, to have the movies match the source material (the Fleming books).

    He actually said no such thing. The fact that you read “The source material is perfectly clear. Not a woman. […] it’s about a well-defined literary character who is most certainly and expressly male.” as an expression of personal desire or perceived obligation is revelatory. You are pretty much just seeing what you want to see, and criticising that phantasm. A summary:

    John Morales: The James Bond character is male.
    Crip Dyke: The James Bond character has had many different [male] actors. Why do you insist that the character must remain male when other things have changed?
    [Kreator points out that this is not actually James Bond but a new character]
    JM: I don’t, I’m just pointing out that it is well established in the literary canon that the character is male, and thus it would be a deviation from canon if James Bond became female.
    CD: Why do you approve of all the other deviations but not this one?
    JM: Who says I do? But it’s not a matter of personal approval or disapproval, I’m just pointing out that this is a deviation from the literature. And those other deviations are also deviations from canon, but Mano’s post is about this particular one.
    CD: But why do you approve of all of those other ones? Why must this one be uniquely justified to your satisfaction?
    JM: It doesn’t, all I said was the character is well established as male.
    CD: But it isn’t even the character of James Bond that is changing to female, she’s an entirely new character!
    JM: I know… All I said was that James Bond is well established as male.
    CD: Why do you insist that every change needs to be ran by you for your personal stamp of approval??

    AND SO ON AD NAUSEUM

  75. Rob Grigjanis says

    Holms @85:

    Here he portrays his objection as a perceived obligation, or a personal desire, to have the movies match the source material (the Fleming books).

    He actually said no such thing

    So you missed #13? John wrote:

    That others have previously fucked it up does not mean this idea wouldn’t be a fuckup, and furthermore, I think it even more egregious.

    That certainly implies something in the region of perceived obligation, or personal desire.

  76. Holms says

    It doesn’t to me, my read of that was that he notes previous deviations from canon were indeed deviations from canon, while opining that this is a larger one.

  77. Rob Grigjanis says

    Holms @87: Ah yes, “fuckup” and “egregious” are merely descriptive of degree of deviation, and not at all indicative of personal taste. Are you serious?

  78. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Ridana @8, you might enjoy Charlie Stross’ character ‘Persephone Hazard’ in The Apocalypse Codex (Laundry Files #4). Very much a homage.

  79. John Morales says

    Rob, CD: you really don’t get it. If Modesty Blaise were gender-swapped, my objection would be identical, and it would not be because I have a problem with men protagonists, but because it’s far too large a deviation from the established, canonical character.

    Do I have a problem with a new 00 agent who happens to be a black woman? No.

    But don’t pretend it’s in any way Fleming’s character, James Bond codename 007. It’s a new character, not the same character.

    You can do a homage, you can do a parody, you can do a pastiche. Just don’t pretend it’s the canonical character and expect acceptance — and, if you’re not doing that, whence the same name or code?

    (Incidentally, Persephone’s code name is ‘Bashful Incendiary’ — heh)

  80. Holms says

    #88 Rob
    You asked me whether the quoted sentence (“That others have previously fucked it up does not mean this idea wouldn’t be a fuckup, and furthermore, I think it even more egregious.”) struck me as an expression of “perceived obligation, or personal desire.” I gave my reply: it was clearly an expression of opinion. Look at my reply, you’ll see the word opining in there. And now you are changing the parameters: “Ah yes, “fuckup” and “egregious” are merely descriptive of degree of deviation, and not at all indicative of personal taste.

    Which is odd, given that as noted just then, I openly agreed that Morales was expressing his opinion.

  81. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @90: Oh, I certainly do get it. You consider the new character to be “far too large a deviation” from “canon”. That’s your (weird, IMO) personal opinion. Unless you have some justifiable quantitative measure of “unacceptable deviation”, that is. Do you?

    When I’ve moaned about Peter Jackson’s LotR, the knee-jerk response from many people has been something like “Oh, you think it differs from the book too much”. Not at all. His choices of departure were simply horrible. Nothing to do with “canon”. Just crappy story-telling. He could’ve made Arwen a member of the Company. Not remotely “canon”, but an interesting departure. The only rule: Tell a good story. Fuck “canon”. And when you kvetch at length about “canon”, one can’t help wondering what you’re really complaining about.

    I wonder what the audience to the first spoken version of the Iliad would think of the version we have now. “Fuckinell, you got Achilles completely wrong!”?

    Also. Using the word “canon” about anything Fleming wrote just seems wrong to me. Maybe I’m a snob.

  82. John Morales says

    Rob:

    Unless you have some justifiable quantitative measure of “unacceptable deviation”, that is. Do you?

    cf. Sorites Paradox. I can tell a heap from a non-heap, but where the transition occurs is problematic.

    Using the word “canon” about anything Fleming wrote just seems wrong to me. Maybe I’m a snob.

    Nothing wrong with snobbishness, but that’s not it. I took the liberty of marking up your term to show to what I refer.

  83. John Morales says

    PS “Nothing to do with “canon”.”

    Um. For me, Glorfindel being replaced by Arwen broke canon big-time.

    (A pointless retcon, that)

  84. John Morales says

    PPS (sorry, should have consolidated it into one comment)

    I wonder what the audience to the first spoken version of the Iliad would think of the version we have now. “Fuckinell, you got Achilles completely wrong!”?

    Thing is, we have the first written version of 007 available to us, unlike the first spoken version of the Iliad.

  85. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @94:

    For me, Glorfindel being replaced by Arwen broke canon big-time.

    Now, to me, that is a tell. In the book, Glorfindel is nothing, really. Just a Rivendell rep, replaceable by any old noble Elf, or half-Elf, or whatever, including Arwen. Yet you consider that an important change. Why?

    To me, leaving Bombadil out was much bigger, but acceptable given time constraints.

  86. John Morales says

    Yet you consider that an important change. Why?

    Because, leaving aside its non-canonicity, Glorfindel is an elf-lord. Pretty fucking powerful, and Arwen is a beautiful maiden who gets married to a human and renounces her immortality, but not particularly buff. So you have a maiden who marries a human undertaking the activity of a powerful elf-lord.

    Here: https://lotr.fandom.com/wiki/Glorfindel ; https://lotr.fandom.com/wiki/Arwen

    Different characters, but in his work, Jackson swapped one for the other. And suddenly, even an elf-maid is as powerful as an elf-lord.

    (In chess terms, Glorfindel is a Rook, and Arwen is a pawn)

  87. John Morales says

    PS

    To me, leaving Bombadil out was much bigger, but acceptable given time constraints.

    Heh. I literally skimmed those sections, I’m not much for poetry and singing and hippyness.

    For me, leaving out the Scouring of the Shire was egregious, too. It mattered to the story.

  88. John Morales says

    PPS “Bored of the Rings”. A most excellent parody, which I immensely enjoyed.

  89. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @97:

    not particularly buff

    I must have missed that description in the book. Was Galadriel also un-buff? Jackson’s The Hobbit must have bothered you immensely, what with elf maidens kicking ass all over the place and falling in love with dwarves. I thought it fairly good compared to LotR, except for the ridiculously extended fight/escape scenes.

    I read Bored of the Rings before LotR (about 45 years ago, IIRC). Yes, it was funny. “But pity stayed his hand”. “Pity I’ve run out of bullets”, thought Frito.

  90. John Morales says

    Rob, 🙂

    I must have missed that description in the book.

    Books, not book. Fans didn’t. Nor did I. Point being, there is a corpus (e.g. The Silmarillion) which elucidates matters.

    Do you seriously dispute that in the canon (cf. my link above) that it was Glofindel that rescued Frodo from the Nine?

    Jackson’s The Hobbit must have bothered you immensely

    Well, at least in that movie Frodo was not a black woman. That would have bothered me even more than the silly padding and forced love interests. And not because I have an aversion to black women, but because Frodo is a hobbit, and a male one at that.

  91. John Morales says

    Was Galadriel also un-buff?

    Heh. Obviously not, she was an elf-Queen, though she was too modest to take the title.

    But, even in the films, she was most puissant; only her virtue stopped her from conquering the world by succumbing to her Ring’s temptation. And there’s a beautiful and powerful scene in the Jackson film where this is shown.

  92. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @102: “Books, not book”. Sometimes your silliness is almost charming. Yes, I noticed there were three books the several times I bought them when the earlier ones wore out. I even bought one book that had all three books in it!

    And I’ve read The Silmarillion too. Can’t remember anything about Arwen being un-buff.

    Do you seriously dispute that in the canon (cf. my link above) that it was Glofindel that rescued Frodo from the Nine?

    It was Glorfindel, Aragorn, the other hobbits, and the Bruinen flood summoned by Elrond.

    Well, at least in that movie [movies, not movie!] Frodo [OK, just saw your correction] was not a black woman

    So, hobbits can’t be black (?), and Bilbo being a male is crucial to the story(?). I’d love to hear the explanation, but I know there isn’t a coherent one.

    she [Galadriel] was an elf-Queen

    Who possessed one of the Elven rings. So what? Was Arwen’s lineage less noble, if that matters? Had Galadriel spent more time in the gym?

    That’s enough of this nonsense for me. Bedtime.

  93. John Morales says

    Rob,

    And I’ve read The Silmarillion too. Can’t remember anything about Arwen being un-buff.

    She wasn’t, that’s my point.
    What part of “she was most puissant” is confusing to you?

    (Yes, she was uber-buff)

    Who possessed one of the Elven rings. So what? Was Arwen’s lineage less noble, if that matters?

    She was not Glorfindel, and that is what matters. I mean, sure, it might have been Sam Gangee who did the deed, but that would be no more canonical than Arwen doing it.

    (If something directly contradicts canon, it ain’t canonical. And if it ain’t canonical, it’s at best derivative)

    So, hobbits can’t be black (?) […]

    I dunno, I’m not the originator of that concept. Perhaps he is, and Tolkien merely failed to make that clear. But neither Bilbo or Frodo are women, in the canon.

    It was Glorfindel, Aragorn, the other hobbits, and the Bruinen flood summoned by Elrond.

    Indeed. So, where was Glorfindel in the movie, and why was he replaced by Arwen?

    That’s enough of this nonsense for me. Bedtime.

    Those grapes were sour, anyway, right?

    (Relax, you can continue after your rest. See ya next time)

    … and Bilbo being a male is crucial to the story(?)

    It might not be crucial, but it is canonical. Explicitly so.

  94. Holms says

    Okay, first you guys trigger my SIWOTI alarm, now you trigger my Discussions Of LOTR alarm. You guys are practically demanding my involvement in this thread.

    #94 John
    A break from canon certainly, but actually a reasonably well-justified one. For all his power -- and he was truly beefy -- Glorfindel had only a short involvement in the story. Arwen had even less, but the two were consolidated into Arwen (plus some additional stuff) specifically to have an additional female character in a story with extremely few of note. Not pointless at all.

    #96 Rob
    In-universe, he was actually a hugely powerful character, dating all the way back to the first age. Did you know he killed a balrog?

    #101 Rob
    Jackson’s The Hobbit was indeed atrocious. Not specifically because it had female characters as competent warriors, but because it pretty much abandoned the premise of the original book. Bear in mind that the original was a book of about 250-300 pages iirc and had a completely different tone to LOTR (a linear and somewhat light-hearted adventure romp), yet it was given the same ‘epic’ treatment as LOTR, which has over a thousand. Right away I knew that spelled doom for the movie; I watched the first one to give it a chance to dissuade me, but it only confirmed my expectations.

    #103 John
    Funny, I hated that scene. Far too heavily reliant on silly effects and shouting to be true to the book.

  95. Holms says

    #105 Rob

    So, hobbits can’t be black (?), and Bilbo being a male is crucial to the story(?). I’d love to hear the explanation, but I know there isn’t a coherent one.

    Correct, hobbits in the original source are not black… at least, there is never mentioned that a single one is black. And, John did not say that Bilbo’s maleness was “crucial to the story”. He simply said Bilbo was neither female nor black.

    That has been the point all along: Morales has been saying “the characters must remain faithful to the source to be considered canon” and you have been, ahem, creatively interpreting that as “the characters must remain faithful to the source or else it is bad” or something similar.

  96. John Morales says

    Holms,
    Glorfindel had only a short involvement in the story. Arwen had even less, but the two were consolidated into Arwen (plus some additional stuff) specifically to have an additional female character in a story with extremely few of note. Not pointless at all.

    I must concede; it was not pointless, but rather an appeasement to current cultural norms, though contradicting extant canon.

    (But it was not faithful to the source material, was it?)

  97. Rob Grigjanis says

    Never mind sleep, I suspect you may need it more than I.

    @106:

    And I’ve read The Silmarillion too. Can’t remember anything about Arwen being un-buff.

    She wasn’t, that’s my point.
    What part of “she was most puissant” is confusing to you?

    Now you’re confusing Arwen with Galadriel.

    It might not be crucial, but it is canonical. Explicitly so.

    Right, but would you consider Bilbo as a woman egregiously non-canonical? You’ve got canonical on the brain, mate. At least, it seems, when it comes to gender.

  98. Rob Grigjanis says

    Holms @108:

    Morales has been saying “the characters must remain faithful to the source to be considered canon” and you have been, ahem, creatively interpreting that as “the characters must remain faithful to the source or else it is bad” or something similar.

    Oh for Pete’s sake, John used the word “egregious” for the 007 replacement. What do you think that word means (hint: it rhymes with “berry vad”)? It most certainly does not mean “deviating from canon”.

  99. John Morales says

    Rob:

    Now you’re confusing Arwen with Galadriel.

    Indeed. Good point. One is the Virtuous Virgin, the other is the Queen.

    Right, but would you consider Bilbo as a woman egregiously non-canonical?

    I just told you I did. Yes. Every bit as much as Conan, Tarzan, Don Juan, Remo, Sherlock Holmes et alii.

    At least, it seems, when it comes to gender.

    So my references to pooches, to plants and to crayon drawings eluded you? My reference to my stance were Modesty Blaise gender-swapped?

    (It ain’t just gender, it’s the contradiction of source material [you sure are exercised by the concept of ‘canon’])

  100. John Morales says

    Rob @112: egregious.

    Oh for Pete’s sake, John used the word “egregious” for the 007 replacement. What do you think that word means …

    It’s an intensifier. Not just slightly, but vastly. (Flagrant)

  101. Rob Grigjanis says

    John:

    So my references to pooches, to plants and to crayon drawings eluded you? My reference to my stance were Modesty Blaise gender-swapped?

    No, they didn’t elude me. They struck me as lame arse-covering.

  102. Rob Grigjanis says

    Blokes going on about the awesomeness of canons…it’s been a blast? Now it really is perchance to dream time.

  103. John Morales says

    Rob, Blokes going on about the awesomeness of canons

    Originality, not awesomeness. And canon, not “canons”.

    I mean, I get your problem. Faithfulness to the source material, or to a particular character’s depiction in the canon matters not a whit to you, so if it matters to me that something derivative and contrary to the source is presented as the source, you imagine I think the source must be awesome. I merely imagine it’s not source and that it’s derivative. (Or, as in this case, that it’s trying to get a new more fashionable character to replace an older, less fashionable character, whilst attempting to suggest it’s the same character)

    Remember the OP title? No?

    Here: “The next James Bond is a black woman!”

    Heh.

  104. John Morales says

    Rob.

    They struck me as lame arse-covering.

    Huh, you wanna go there? Sure.

    I get that supposed arse-covering clearly offends you, whether or not it’s factual.

    But it’s lame, right? That’s worse than not lame.

    (disabled, crippled, maimed — clearly inferior to ordinary “arse-covering”)

  105. John Morales says

    I mean, seriously. Were the OP to have been “The next James Bond is a pot plant!” and I objected in exactly the same manner, and then noted that if it had been a woman instead (whether black or white), would you imagine my singular objection was to pot plants, and mentioning the case where it was a woman was “lame” arse-covering?.

    I think not.

  106. John Morales says

    (I suppose you could imagine it was the potted part which was of signicance, rather than it being a plant. Whenceupon you would cavil against my perceived problem with potted plants, as opposed to other plants)

  107. Holms says

    #109 John

    (But it was not faithful to the source material, was it?)

    I know it was a deviation from source, I said so at the start of my reply to you in #107: “A break from canon certainly,…”

    #112 Rob

    Oh for Pete’s sake, John used the word “egregious” for the 007 replacement. What do you think that word means (hint: it rhymes with “berry vad”)? It most certainly does not mean “deviating from canon”.

    John already covered this, but for my part the meaning I took from his use of egregious was ‘a [blatant / particularly notable] example of…’

  108. John Morales says

    Holms, relax. You conceded it was a deviation from the source material, and I conceded it was not pointless for Peter Jackson, even though it entirely changed the actual original narrative Jackson was supposedly presented. It was based upon the actual story, but it was not the actual story.

    But that’s within acceptable bounds. Now, if Faramir had become a black woman, then perhaps not so much.

    (Don’t get me going on how Jackson did a job on Faramir. I literally did not recognise the character’s portrayal, and I said so in the cinema at the time. But it was within those heapish bounds, apparently)

  109. John Morales says

    (PS did you know ‘Strider’ was originally to be called ‘Trotter’? Good choice!)

  110. John Morales says

    Bottom line: I’m more than happy with kick-ass (heh. Remember the movie?) female heroes, hell, River Tam was my most favourite character in Serenity, I just object to the (apparently only purported) gender-swapping of an established male protagonist in an existing franchise.

    FFS, make new franchises! I’m all for it. Just give them their own identities, or choose established ones (there are many, I’ve mentioned at least one).

    So. I henceforth desist from commenting on this thread, dominating as I have been.

    (Screeds are satisfying!)

  111. Holms says

    (Don’t get me going on how Jackson did a job on Faramir. I literally did not recognise the character’s portrayal, and I said so in the cinema at the time. But it was within those heapish bounds, apparently)

    Nope, I thought the characterisations were awful. Everyone except Frodo, Aragorn, Legolas and Gandalf were made to be more selfish and/or less intelligent, all to add additional confrontation for ‘drama’ purposes, and to make those named above more virtuous or clever by comparison to them. Deviation from the source, and lousy ones at that.

  112. Holms says

    Another example would be Treebeard/Fangorn -- changed to be a timid mouse, purely to give Pippin and Merry an opportunity to be clever.

  113. Rob Grigjanis says

    Holms @126: Spot on.

    I’d say the films got Gandalf, Sam, Boromir and Éowyn right. Or close enough. But far, far more egregious (and I mean badly deviating, not just deviating) than the trivial replacement of Glorfindel with Arwen, were Frodo and Aragorn. Two central characters. Frodo was 50 when he set out (human equivalent mid-30s). Elijah Wood looked and acted like an adolescent. And I thought it pretty crucial to the story that Aragorn look weather-beaten and a bit sinister at first sight, not like a leading man.

  114. file thirteen says

    Popped back to this thread to say that Atomic Blonde was on the box last night, but I didn’t like it enough to watch more than half. Hopefully the new 007 film will be better.

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