Leave Bond alone
While Daniel Craig has recently garnered headlines for his latest performance as James Bond, it is a previous bond, Roger Moore (the one with the flares), who has been provoking fury online. If you missed it, Moore dared to suggest that 007 should not be gay, black or played by a woman. ‘It is not about being homophobic or, for that matter, racist’, he told the Daily Mail. ‘It is simply about being true to the character.’
The suggestion that a pop-culture icon should not be changed beyond recognition simply to fit a political agenda predictably whipped up a maelstrom of indignation and accusations. A horde of outraged tweeters turned into seething Oddjobs, with sneering articles popping up declaring Moore’s opinions wrong and his acting skills rubbish.
The outcry implied that art should always be conscious of contemporary social concerns – and that audiences are so thick they need to be fed the ‘right’ message at all times. Are we so weak as a society that we cannot even tolerate sticking to what Ian Fleming intended, lest we upset minority groups and run the risk of turning the masses into raving bigots? Maybe we should bring back the film censors, to maintain standards.
Artists, authors and blockbuster directors must be free to create as they see fit. Art and entertainment are often challenging, and grapple with the darker sides of life. At the same time, they do not have to challenge anything. Yes, Bond is a white, womanising throwback. But he does not exist to promote the ethics of the age.
The Bond franchise is male fantasy for some, a bit of patriotic fun for others and high-tempo escapism for all. Western civilisation will not crumble if we keep it that way.
Edward Carden is a writer and journalist.
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