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Sexist Bond? (Skyfall spoilers within)

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
I was trawling around the interweb as you do, and saw that someone had tweeted a blog post about how the latest Bond film literally had some woman frothing at the mouth with anger about it all. What is interesting about the piece is that whilst it made me very angry in parts, I also agreed with half of it as well. I might leave a little bit of discussion to happen before I post, its just that I wrote a lot of words with the intent of leaving a comment on the blog, but couldn't!

Here is the post
http://vagendamag.blogspot.co.uk/#!/2012/11/dead-sexist-how-bond-still-has-long-way.html
SPOILER ALERT:

THERE IS JUST NOTHING I DON’T GIVE AWAY. EVEN COSTUME DETAILS. THERE WILL BE NO POINT YOU SEEING THE FILM IF YOU READ THIS.

I'm starting to think that Barbara Broccoli hates all the women. It is possible that this is part of a revenge scheme for the time she declared Bond girls from the sixties to be feminist icons and we all laughed at her. Whatever her motive, she has convinced a large percentage of the viewing public that her franchise has burst into a glorious swan of pro-feminism. The Guardian has even become convinced by this, which is a feat for a paper that doesn't believe 'Women's Interest' to be Katie Price's pubic hair. As a result of these claims, I wandered like a lamb to the slaughter into a screening of the new Bond movie, expecting a romp straight out of the 21st century. A progression along from the lovely Casino Royale thread of ideas. Instead, what I actually experienced was the relic of the Cold War resurrected for a new generation. Basically, NOTHING HAD CHANGED.

For starters, there was no variation to the delightful trope that at least one Bond 'conquest' had to die. I wasn't hoping for the earth. I did realise with there still being two Bond girls, one of them probably wasn't going to make it to see blood drip down the gun barrel at the credits. However, aware that one of the women was a field operative, I hoped that maybe this apparent necessity could be fulfilled with her dying in a blaze of glory. Some nice deadly gender equality there. Sadly, it turns out I am deluded. Bond once again gets a shag and the woman in question is rewarded by dying hideously and hopelessly in the next 24 hours.

But they didn't seem content this time with just killing a random besotted broad, oh no. They made her the victim of child sex trafficking, which was brought up, waved around like a flag and then forgotten two seconds later. If we all accept Bond’s emotional range is so stunted that he literally cannot feel, the franchise has no scope to deal with such issues. This was demonstrated when he got into the shower with this abuse victim without so much as a by-your-leave, as though promising to top a man she was the prisoner of gave him the right to creep up on her naked. Unlike an actual woman who would have told him what he could do with his 9mm, she seemed overjoyed at the prospect of sex with this raddled old bloke she had just met. I found this particularly surprising considering she had apparently been the victim of rape since she was 12 years old. The one-dimensional macho-fantasy world isn't equipped for the task of handling these topics, especially considering what happened next. Which was that she got put into a push-up dress (not by the sadistic maniac, by the costume department), tied to a rock and then shot at as target practice, which seemed a whole different kind of fantasy to me.

The Bond of the good old days was back on cracking form with his glib one-liners, announcing that as her body crumpled it was ‘a waste of good whiskey’ and then proceeded to beat everyone up. Why he couldn’t have done this before a woman got shot in the face was a mystery, but I assumed it was connected to fear of child maintenance payments (which the man must be suffocating under by now). Why else would he still be hobbling around after 50 years when he could have retired to a beach in Acapulco and be drinking Pina Colada from a coconut through a curly straw while wearing a loud shirt? As I have cheerfully outlined, the aforementioned death scene represented the tired trope that prevails in all Bond films, namely: THIS MAN DESTROYS EVERYTHING HE TOUCHES.

After the Midas-plot in Casino Royale, the film was partially saved by the hard-hearted Vesper and her ability to have outside interests other than getting under Bond. This was not a luxury we were afforded in Skyfall. My dream of the blaze of glory field agent became a soggy muppet of a fantasy. It was an embarrassment really. Had no one noticed she was pretty and had tits? How did they expect her to drive and shoot things? Wouldn’t her squirrel brain short circuit? It turned out, yes it would. She retired from being an agent on the gentle reminder of James that ‘field work isn’t for everyone,’ to fulfil her girlhood ambition of becoming a secretary. Fantasy overload. Bond has already bedded her by this point after she turned up for no reason declaring she is there to ‘help in any way I can.’ I’m guessing our hero remembered the Durex for this one, as she didn’t have to die in cold blood. Though one could argue with some conviction that becoming desperate sad-act Miss Moneypenny is a fate worse than death. We can only assume her traditional traits will be resurrected considering she seemed really flattered at the end of the film when Bond asked her name, about 2 weeks after they’ve shagged for the first time. Not only is Dopey Desk Eyes back in attendance, everything else is back to ‘normal’ in Bond Towers, where the matriarchy has also been wiped clean. Dame Judy Dench’s ‘M,’ the aspect of the film that The Guardian lauded as so progressive has also been dispatched. There’s a man back behind the leather-clad traditional door as The Boss with his pretty secretary outside. Judy Dench didn’t even get a secretary! Is there no humanity?!

I will desist now, as I am becoming repetitive in my old age. There is nothing like the overwhelming sense of there being no point to anything to age you horribly. But there are some things to take from the experience. I am obviously too giddy and hopeful for my own good. Barbara Broccoli missed a few memos from the sisterhood. And when the sequel appears in my local cinema in a couple of years I’ll have a spare few quid to treat myself to a new pair of tights.

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I thought that was the point?

    But did I miss the bit where he has sex with Eve? I thought the entire point of that relationship in all of the films was that it's a lot of outrageous flirting that never actually goes anywhere. I remember the shaving scene. Did they have sex after that? I forget.

    But yeah, I was a bit disappointed with the other Bond girl in Skyfall and thought her character was a bit two-dimensional. But on the other hand, Judi Dench was pretty much a second lead in the film, so it could hardly be accused of sidelining women.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think people forget that what bond goes through in the film happens all within 3 hours to us. However, its days and weeks to bond. I do agree that it all happens rather quickly on film [Bond bedding the girl], but it wasn’t a case of him just turning up on a whim. She did have a glib of disappointment on her face, when along with the TWO empty champagne glasses on the table, Bond hadn’t turned up by the time the order to cast off was given. As for the comments about the dress, I agree that it was a bit crassly done, but of course it was the costume department that put her in it. Much like they put bond in a suit, or even chose the cars, but that is how films are made. The point is that if this had been real life (as far-fetched as it may be) then it would have been Silva who had her dressed up in such a garb, though as she was getting dressed, would she have known the manner in which she was going to die?

    You could equally argue that if police had stopped a certain Brazillian on the tube and asked him nicely if he was a terrorist or not, then he might not have died? I too did wonder why he [Bond] didn’t take all the bad guys on, how do we not know that he didn’t miss deliberately when shooting at the lady, and ended up getting really fucked off that she got shot? The only reason she didn’t get shot during bonds scuffle with the bad guys was because she was already dead, and may well have been shot by Silva in the scuffle anyway? Yes I’m getting hypothetical here, but so was the original post. Perhaps looking over things the phrase “THIS MAN DESTROYS EVERYTHING HE TOUCHES” could be subtlety changed to “EVERTHING THIS MAN TOUCHES IS DESTROYED” as whilst its often because of Bond, it’s not always destruction at the hands of bond. As for the glib one liners, as offensive as some of them have been in the past, the girl dies, bond could be next, what do you do when the one liner is all you have left. I’ve sat in 50c heat wearing body armour and sweating myself to near death, all whilst catching a repeat of reality TV and laughing with the guys and girls “at least we’

    Not everyone is cut out for fieldwork; I’m saying that from a sex neutral point of view. Much like you wouldn’t expect the Q character to be running around doing the things bond does, you wouldn’t expect Simon Pegg to be running around in mission impossible 4 as a field agent either, but stranger things have happened at sea. I spent not all, but the majority of my time in the desert firmly stuck behind a desk in what passed for an office. Does being a glorified office worker on an operational deployment make me womanly? No it doesn’t, much like a field agent who shot and thought she had killed bond, and wasn’t happy with the field work, decided not to do it. Much like I made a choice to do something similar. As for the whole man behind a desk thing, yes I guess it’s a throwback to yesteryear, but where does feminism stand after this? When I say the following it’s not aimed at your blog post, but at the wider view of women having a go at men, and I hope to not come across as too nasty. I’m always the kind of person who thinks that the best person should get the job, be it man or woman, regardless of what people think. The man currently in the job has on the ground field work experience something akin to what bond does (if you follow the script), which shocks people at first as we did originally think that [Female] “M” is the experienced and [Male] “M” is the bureaucrat, actually it turns out to be that they both seem to be equally qualified. Just because we don’t see Dame Dench’s secretary, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have one, infact I would be highly shocked if she didn’t to be honest.

    What we see in Money Penny is a reintroduction of a previously well-known character, except unlike in previous bond films we know she has an operational background, as opposed to the purely “oh its just a secretary” and we also don't actually see him doing anything but flirting with bond. If it comes to it and the next film turns out to be rather good, I would happily contribute the cost of a pair of tights to anyone who would rather buy a pair then see a bond film, just so at least they could see it as I would hate for anyone to miss out. Just remember that if feminists replaced all positions of authority with women, then that's not equality, that's just a role reversal. I accept things are far from perfect and need to be better, but I like to work with people to solve things, rather than be barked at.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think that there's an element of truth but a whole load of shite in that blog. Interestingly it not a million miles from something which Giles Coren wrote about the film.

    Firstly, I have to agree that I wasn't impressed with Bond screwing the victim of child trafficking. That was crass IMHO. The death that followed was pretty much formulaic for a Bond film. Which really brings me to the next point...

    Don't go an watch a film if you don't like the franchise. If you don't like seeing people tortured and killed, then don't see the Saw franchise. If you don't like a misogynistic film, then why the hell are you watching Bond? Actually, scrub that. Watch Dr No, Thunderball and Gold finger, then tell me that this film only has weak female characters etc.

    However, perhaps the person writing this just doesn't understand the character of Bond and the underlying theme, there comment that "this man destroys everything" actually demonstrates that they don't. The point is that Bond cannot form emotional attachments to anything precisely because it is then taken away from him - parents, every girl he's loved, his wife and now M - perhaps it would be better to look at him as a victim as much as the cause. There was a telling line about the boy who hid for two days when his parents died and who emerged "no longer a boy"... Or the fact that he couldn't talk about Skyfall to the psyche assessment.

    Problem is that the blog (and Giles Coren) have only really looked at the surface of the character and not what sits behind it. Ignorance is bliss and leads of prejudice maybe but I think they have the wrong target.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The point is that Bond cannot form emotional attachments to anything precisely because it is then taken away from him - parents, every girl he's loved, his wife and now M - perhaps it would be better to look at him as a victim as much as the cause. There was a telling line about the boy who hid for two days when his parents died and who emerged "no longer a boy"... Or the fact that he couldn't talk about Skyfall to the psyche assessment.

    This!
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