The formula: Shaken but not stirred
The formula for a James Bond film is a simple cocktail of action, explosions, globetrotting and beautiful women. Despite the age of the series it lacks any real maturity and like the MARVEL superhero films, it’s a series -despite the range of its fans -that is primarily aimed at impressionable young men. The franchise’s biggest problem is its regressive treatment of women, however, that problem isn’t just limited to the characters that inhabit these films. If art reflects reality, then the toxicity at the heart of the James Bond series is a reflection of the world in which these films are made.
The James Bond series is a formula obsessed by masculinity and patriarchy. Each film sees Bond’s authority as the world’s dominant spy thrown into question and each adventure sees him re-asserting his dominance, proving to the world once again, that he is in charge. That he is the man. They are films about testosterone, about masculinity, and masculinity in crisis. They are playground fights filmed on sets with replica AK47’s, controlled explosions and occasionally, decommissioned tanks. They’re fantasy, but like the vast majority of popular culture -it’s almost exclusively male orientated.
The name’s Bond…
The Bond series is based on a character created over 50 years ago and unsurprisingly the text with which the films are based on do not reflect the times we live in now -whether that’s in relation to world or gender politics.
The character of James Bond can remain a misogynist, Tory-voting, public school-boy twit but it needs to be clear that his views are in the minority. The world in which Bond lives must be an equal one, where the women around him are just as empowered. When M called Pierce Brosnan’s Bond a sexist, misogynist dinosaur and a relic of the Cold War, the series hit the nail on the head. But simply calling Bond on this isn’t good enough.
Daniel Craig: Caretaker of the Bond legacy
To the credit of Daniel Craig, his films have gone some way to addressing the blatant misogyny with the inclusion of strong female characters and have attempted to avoid the usual pitfalls, but it’s a battle he could never win.
Both M and Vesper may have suffered premature deaths, but importantly, not just because they were female â€“ and therefore expendable â€“ but because they got their hands just as dirty as 007. Quite simply, they were more than just “Bond girls” e.g. pretty young women in need of rescue.
However, based on the conclusion of Spectre and Craig’s recent comments about slashing his own wrists as opposed to playing Bond again, it seems highly unlikely that we’ll see him back as 007. Regardless of whether or not you like him, Craig has at least attempted to address the issue of misogyny (unlike his predecessors). In an amusing twist, it turns out Daniel Craig was the hero James Bond needed, but not the one the franchise deserved…
The formula = money
The fact that the series continues to fail (in this area) isn’t the fault of the actor playing Bond or the women supporting him. The fault lies with the producers, the production companies and the financiers -and to a degree the audience. The reason that misogyny is such a problem for the Bond series is because it is so interwoven into the franchises’ DNA.
Filmmaking then, like any other business, is motivated by profit. So it’s little wonder that we have not seen a more radical shake up. Studios care about their bottom line. They couldn’t give two hoots about the character, it’s the money generated using this formula that is important. If misogyny has a colour, then it’s undoubtedly green.
Spectre is open in cinemas nationwide now