petervas

Secret Agent, Sexist Pig – Celebrating 50 years of James Bond

In Movie Reviews on October 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm

James Bond celebrates 50 years of being a successful franchise dispite having a flippant attitude towards the stronger sex.

Bond, according to some, including the fabulous Daniel Craig who plays the character very well, is a sexist pig. Founded on the acceptable norms of sexism of 50 years ago, Bond continues with his templated boorish attitudes towards woman. We love him for it. Why is that the case?



What is love?

Love needs no explanation when experienced, but poses a fine challenge to a scriptwriter who wants to express it in dialog and writing.  Let me try explaining love, not for your sake, but for a writers sake.  The pedantic is very important to a writer and if he does not assimilate it, it’s going to be bad romance for all of us viewers!

Love, then, is the attempt to achieve a state of emotional well being through acts of personal sacrifices, (also known as ‘compromises’ during the selfish stage in a couple’s relationship) that are found worthy of the larger goal of being together for a longer duration of time in a selfless state.  The end goal of love is the achievement of such an equilibrium as defined by the couple by moving from a selfish to a selfless state.  This is the gold standard and reference point for all drama, but other exciting possibilities have been explored successfully too.

Sounds dull and boring, does it not?  You now have a very valid reason to escape from it’s dreary clutches and jump into Bond’s escape vehicle.  He has just revved up the engines and is waiting for you.

Seriously, unless the writer knows the logic and mechanics that make love tick, his romantic script will end up being an act of immature flirtations that can at worst gracefully be pulled off by extremely beautiful actors.

Continuing on the path of what love is, the man has to give up something to be with his woman and the woman has to give up something to be with her man. The act of giving up this something has to be expressed in dialogue and it has to be painful for one who is voicing it. Until this happens, they are simply flirting around with cupid’s blunt and harmless, velvety magenta arrows piercing each others mushy hearts.

Thus love, in script as in real-life, is a mixed bag of emotions and rarely comes without other spoil-sport emotions. Unless of course you are Bond.  James Bond.  For who, love and danger go hand in hand, so I think he meets the requirement somewhat.  This only debases love to it’s simplistic gyrations, as there is nothing to lose but one’s life in the next scene.  What a cop-out!

The script then compresses the real-life act of achieving such equilibrium in ones life-span, to less than two hours of movie magic.

How is Bond different?

Bond is an action hero. His life is in danger. Our hero could catch a bullet in his chest in the very next scene. Danger is lurking around everywhere, including the bedrooms. Love for him is icy erotic mechanics on the side. I have read reviews that talk about his ‘inner tortured self’ but think it baloney with a side order of sauerkraut.  They only show me his external tortured self that is more grotesque in physicality than exquisite in emotion.

It is in the context of danger and physical torture that bond achieves a rather gravitational equilibrium of the horizontal kind, than the emotional kind that love truly demands. We simply brush this off as incidental to the story and not fundamental to it.  Herein lies, not sexism but it’s apology.

Action heros by definition are usually single.  Bond is the high priest of calisthenics and also an advanced form of celibacy, in which he is hooked to nobody in particular and everybody in general.  He has been following this character scope for the past 50 years at least.  Suits him perfectly well and how!

He does not reveal his character through emotional flaws, and love indeed demands emotional flaws. Love demands a public airing of imperfections and a machine by contrast has absolutely no flaws, emotional or otherwise.  In fact a machine does not have emotions. This lack of emotion is necessary for an action hero. Thus love has to be reduced to it’s calisthenic movements so that it flows with the rest of the action premise of the Bond franchise. You are right. Herein lies, not sexism but it’s apology.

The thawing of Bond, maybe?

“…you may have my number, you can take my name, but you’ll never have my heart”

– Skyfall

 
 

 
 
There is an attempt to thaw Bond’s persona a bit, beginning with Casino Royale, where he actually feels the loss, hence confirming his love, for Vesper Lynd. This is truly path-breaking for Bond, because he has never been emotionally hitched to anybody before.

It should be noted that in a detective story, the audience does not want to know whodunit, as much as it wants to know – who *is* the detective.  What this means is that the revelation of the detective’s character is ultimately what we are here to watch unfurl.

Our interest in storytelling and all of drama rests on a single important lynchpin – wanting to see the character grow.  

How does a character grow?  A character has to be ground in the crucible of change and should move from a lousy state he is in to an ideal state he should be in.  Before we spell out these two states of being, we need to add two terms to our vocabulary.  The character should possess both a psychological need and a moral desire to begin with and should undergo a change in both for the drama to progress.  It makes sense for the protagonist to attempt and somehow fail in both these needs and desires at the beginning and then somehow learn to succeed at both in the end.  This then will be perceived as growth.

The psychological need is how the protagonist treats himself.  This is internal to him and only he is involved.  It could be both physiological and emotional in demand and need.  It’s what he does to himself to go through the motions of life.  It’s fulfilling his immediate needs to be considered successful in life.  Bond is an accomplished action hero.  He succeeds in overcoming immediate challenges and looks at love in a similar fashion.  He is not fulfilling a moral desire, he is fulfilling a psychological need.  Did I lose you?  I know, we need to define what the hell is a moral desire.

His moral desire, and he does not have one yet since the last 50 years, can only be satisfied if he gets to know the following:  what is the right way to behave with the person/world he wants to be in love with. This is external to Bond and includes the woman he loves. How he treats this other person, will determine success or failure of not only his relationship, but will dramatize his growth as a person for the audience.

He needs to *grow* as a character, this is what makes a drama tick, he needs to fail in his moral vision early in the story and should not only be hurting himself but hurting the woman he loves early on in his life and eventually learn not to at the end of the story.   The character’s psychological need and moral desire need to be put through this crucible of change for the drama to progress.  Both are essential to the development of a character arc of a hero.  Bond has the psychological need down pat, to an art form, but has suffered immensely without the moral desire for about 50 years now and is only beginning to explore it now.

It’s funny how this scriptwriting is bordering on a philosophy of life. It better be, or the script is DOA – Dead on Arrival. The mechanics of the romantic script is very different from that of the action script.  When you focus on one, you tend to lose focus on the other and that’s due to the unique underlying design of each that *appear* to be mutually exclusive but are probably not in the hands of a deft scriptwriter.  The way things are going, we have come quite a distance from giving Bond women outrageous names.  This progress can only move further and make Bond less of a sexist pig.

To summarize: Bond *may* soon learn how to treat his woman right. 

 
 
 
 

of Men
da pope nemo hijra
We have Pope Francis! Captain Nemo The Hijras of India

 
 
 
 
 

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