Spectre - Daniel Craig

Bond and Current Events

James Bond will continue to be a sensitive guy who accumulates guilt and pain like a sponge absorbs water. In an era where we have seen too many soldiers come home broken from wars, we cannot accept a James Bond who’s totally okay doing the things that he has to do. The internet and mass media have pulled the curtain off of war. Any lingering fantasy is gone. The romance has been splintered. However, our admiration for the men and women who put their lives on the line has only grown, so James Bond will live on in a similar vein as the guy who suffers for us.

It’s no accident that Spectre not-so-quietly touches on concepts like mass surveillance and drone warfare. When people-at-computers seem to be running the world, we’ll always trust the guy who actually has his feet on the ground. As conflict continues to be defined by drones flown from stateside military bases, expect to see Bond treated as the voice of reason, the guy who does what a satellite or a computer or a remote-controlled missile cannot.

Lea Seydoux in Spectre

Bond and Gender

Speaking of sensitivity, expect to see Bond’s relationship with women continue to evolve. In the old days, Bond was a regular sex machine, screwing everything that moved without thinking twice (and hardly blinking when the women he bedded met unfortunate ends). However, Bond’s dinosaur ways are, ahem, problematic by modern standards. In 2015, you cannot fuck a lesbian straight, as Bond does in Goldfinger. Some of the sexuality in older Bond movies is downright uncomfortable by modern standards. It’s ugly stuff made uglier when viewed through a modern lens. In an age where online threats against women are a daily issue, Bond treating his “Bond girls” like disposable garbage no longer feels like something the ideal hero of our age should do.

And that’s why Bond’s genuine romance with Vesper feels so vital. That’s why Lea Seydoux’s Spectre heroine has so much control of her own life and sexuality. It’s why Moneypenny is now a capable agent and ally, not just the secretary Bond flirts with on the way to see M. There is still a long way to go to fully retool Bond’s sexist ways (Daniel Craig himself has not been above labeling the character a misogynist), but the past four films have seen the female characters of this series take a massive leap in importance and depth. The last time we’ve seen such empowered and well-drawn female characters was in 1969, when Diana Rigg’s Tracy Draco won Bond’s heart before shattering it. Even if Bond always remains slightly sexist (and that may be a trait that never gets scrubbed away), the movies will continue to present him with capable female allies and enemies to throw his nonsense back in his face.

So let’s use that as a cue to jump to another talking point that has been making the rounds recently: could James Bond be a woman? As someone who prides himself on being an open-minded 007 fan who takes everything this series does in stride, I’m going to say no. It won’t happen. I’ll even go further and say that it shouldn’t happen. Through all of the years and all of the changes, one thing has remained consistent about James Bond – he’s a portrait of idealized modern masculinity. In the ’60s, that meant cool suits and a cooler attitude. In 2015, it’s trickier than that. The ideal modern man is more in touch with his feelings, less afraid to let women take charge, and more aware of the consequences of his actions. What a man should be, or rather, what society thinks a man should be, is always reflected in Bond. As a document tracking the progress (and occasional non-progress) of the human male, these movies have been invaluable. Change his gender and you may have a cool spy… you just wouldn’t have James Bond.

Idris Elba

Bond and Race

However, you could change Bond’s skin color and nothing would change at all. We will likely see a black James Bond within our lifetimes. It probably won’t be the next Bond (and sorry, it certainly won’t be Idris Elba), but the Bond after that probably won’t be a white guy. Bond’s imperial wish-fulfillment days are 50 years dead. Fleming’s Bond, the Bond who had to be a white guy, is gone. There are two groups of people who would be opposed to a black Bond: obsessive weirdos who are convinced that all Bond movies are one continuity (and a black actor would shatter that delusion), and racists. As he is presented now, by Craig, there is nothing about Bond’s character that is defined by his skin color. As long as he’s British, Bond can be any race.

A certain segment of Bond fandom will complain loudly about this when it inevitably happens, but they will be drowned out by the rest of the world. You know, the people who are too busy going to see movies with multi-racial casts like Furious 7 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The world owns James Bond and the world isn’t white. It’s time.

Bond and Sexuality

As Bond continues to reflect that changing tastes and feelings of the world, his sexuality may get an adjustment or two. LGBT rights remain a hot topic all over the world, but the needle is shifting, slowly but surely. As the younger generations take control and the old bigotry crumbles away, the Bond producers of the future will simply realize that it’s time for Bond, a character who has always been linked to sex, to take things to the next step. If Bond continues to reflect the changing real world (and you should know this by now – he always does), he’ll eventually have to exist in a world that is mostly cool with gay, lesbian, and transgender people. We’ll probably never see a gay Bond, as some have suggested. The character is too defined by his relationship with women for that to happen. However, the only spy more effective than one willing to sleep around to get the job done is a spy willing to sleep with anyone to get the job done. A bisexual James Bond would literally be twice as good at his job as a straight James Bond.

If you scoff at this, just remember the scene in Skyfall where James Bond plays gay chicken with Silva and wins. Hell, you can cut the sexual tension between Craig and Ben Whishaw‘s Q with a knife. Like it or not, Bond’s sexual horizons are opening up. The secret agent famous for sleeping with any woman that moves will, eventually, sleep with anyone that movies. it may take a few more Bond actors and a few more decades, but it feels inevitable.

James-bond-skyfall-bond-24

So where does Bond go from here? A bisexual, black Bond who feels bad about his job. That’s where we’re heading, if current trends converge. And it wont be a big deal because Bond has never stopped changing and will never stop changing. He will outlive us all, assuming new identities and reflecting new qualities until the sun burns out and human civilization crumbles into dust. That’s always been the appeal of James Bond, 007.

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