Idris Elba, best known for his role as Luther, the impulsive detective, who remains tormented by the dark underbelly of humanity, spurred new
Elba knows how to play a character with skeletons in their cupboard. As a broken detective with a lot of complexity he is at his best in Luther.
Promoting diversity in movies is important, but that should not mean we change every white male character simply because he is white. This seems excessive. And yes, you can be racist toward white people.
We would be better served to give Idris his own spy movie, franchise it and make minority populations feel included with role models to look up to that a white Caucasian male fails to offer.
A Bond-esque character with a fresh 21st century revamp could be better – if done right.
More concerningly is Barbara Broccoli, the director of the Bond franchise, when asked whether the next Bond could be a woman, replied ‘Who knows what the future brings.’
What is she going to be called? Jessica Bondage? Sounds more like a tacky third-rate porno, but at least she’ll be popular with the opposite sex – a key factor for the ‘sexist’ franchise continuation.
The disjunct between the new proposals and the Daniel Craig films would be problematic at best. The background of the character would have to shift, essentially making a new splinter tale.
This is a form of cultural revisionism designed by pseudo-intellectuals to paint over a character whose essential political incorrectness was something the franchise was built upon.
Character or Codename?
A woman would defy credibility from a consistency perspective. The only way to explain away this disparity is to state ‘Bond’ was a codename and not a recurring character.
However, Bond is a recurring character, and 007 is the codename. They could well have Elba as another agent like Felix Leiter, the CIA operative as played by Jeffrey Wright in the recent films.
Relic of British Imperialism
The fact remains that Bond is a relic of British imperialism, something akin to manifest destiny in America. He needs to represent pax Britannica, portraying the outdated ‘00 license to kill’ that the washed-up superpower likes to call upon to take out their dirty laundry. A feature well captured in Skyfall by Judi Dench’s speech on accountability of MI6 as ‘M’ reciting Tennyson’s Ulysses, and to a lesser extent in Spectre.
Bond needs to be Oxford educated, Saville Row tailored suit, Jermyn Street shirts, white Scot grafted into a gentleman by his time at Eton and later Fettes College in Edinburgh. That’s how the Bond world works. It is meant to be a white bastion, showcasing the ‘white man’s privilege’.
Imagine Idris Elba in Casino Royale entering an African Embassy, ‘shooting up the place to kill one lone bombmaker’ as M lambasts him for. It wouldn’t be the same. The connotations and imagery of a worldly British gentleman educated at one of the most reputable institutions on earth, yet tough enough to survive on the streets of Africa. Bond needs to be a Scotsman because it helps the viewer comprehend his path, and the journey of many who went before him from Scotland. In particular, to colonise and take over the world in search of a better life than a rainy, short, miserable one in Glasgow or Aberdeen slums or the bleak Scottish Highlands despised for bitter winters.
There are four things that Bond can never be: homosexual, not from anywhere who doesn’t recognise Queen and country as his raison-d’etre, and he cannot be any other race than white, or a female.
There is nothing I have against any of these identifying factors. It is purely who and what the franchise is: an insolent British public schoolboy who struggles to find his place in a world of more affluent peers as an orphan, who needs to grow up; but 00 status enables this extended void of responsibility.
If he were any of those four, he would cease to be Bond, because Bond is a ‘sexist, misogynistic dinosaur relic of the Cold War’.
Qualities Specific to the Role
Few actors have the necessary qualities to pull off a successful Bond transition. The appeal isn’t just the blunt instrument he is taken for, but a charismatic capacity to melt butter with one-liners, keep villains into explaining away their schemes to innocuously bumbling through high society where he has no right to be.
Idris, for all his physical presence that is vital for a convincing fight scene: tall, imposing, physically intimidating, modern Bond demand more emotional involvement, a good English accent, icy stare, suave and youthful enough not to look like a past-their-sell-by-date Roger Moore acting the role into his late fifties.
Any future Bond should be able to dedicate a decade to the role, because recasting would lose continuation in the storyline. Idris wouldn’t start filming til he was 47, giving him three movies by 57.
For those who suggest Idris, I would ask them would you want someone like Christopher Patten to play T’Challa in Black Panther? Or Danny Devito to play Gandhi?
The same arguments that propose Black Panther to have a white protagonist as T’Challa because of his long lineage falter when you consider Scottish skin colour of an old aristocratic family established in the Highlands that descended since 1183.
Make your own hero
Those who suggest a Bond who is discriminated against, looked down upon because of his skin colour, but rose up because of his aptitude and resolve to become a top-secret agent, do have a point to make in bringing the franchise into the 21st century. However, why touch this one? Why not make their own?
The Bond movies are now made up by scriptwriters, set in the modern world. Fleming’s era did not have mobile phones, satellite surveillance, or women in positions of power. Should we also remove them from the Bond universe because they didn’t exist him Fleming’s time?
What would be nice is that this new figure has difficulties with women, get rejected a few times because the black man who is good with women is a bit cliché. And it would be nice if women wouldn’t be objectified and we had a heroine featuring in a major role like Halle Berry in Die Another Day. Perhaps this alternative would be the hero young black boys look up to in a film industry devoid of ethnic representation.
Of course, the white man who dreams of getting sex with a lot of women, might feel discriminated – they can just rewatch the old ones.
Should we ponder how much further this could go? An autistic Bond? ADHD? Depression? Wouldn’t this add more depth and relatable quality to the character?
An Inconvenient Truth
The inconvenient fact about minorities is they are just that. Only 3% of the UK population identifies as any form of ‘black’.
There are twice as many British Asians as British black, of which Indians constitute the largest group.
There are many tall, physically imposing, well-groomed, well-spoken Indians who could nail the James Bond role but for the skin colour and what he stands for.
Where are the calls for more Asians up on the big screen? Perhaps their cultures have assimilated better with British culture to the point where they could pass for a quintessentially British man, leaving less call to complain.
I would love to see wider involvement of these subcultures in the creative space. But not co-opting existing white Caucasian identity by acculturation.
Maybe features like the Walther PPK or the vesper martinis are subject to the artistic license of the directors. But why are we pandering to such a small minority who demand submittance our popular culture to the contusions of their perverse ideology?
James Bond represents a troubled, immature person as metaphor for the confused position England has in the world today. It provides a touchstone – a link to our past, our heritage which is all but lost to the diminished cultural memory extant today.
Why besmirch history by inverting the role to Elba for the sake of political correctness
There are plenty of new characters and opportunities for characters of different genders and cultural backgrounds. If they don’t have the creativity to create franchises as timeless as James Bond, that remain popular throughout generations, it is because they fail to capture the hearts and minds of the audience in the same way.
It is their lack of truly exciting and original ideas that betray them, leaving us with tentpole movies that are fly-by-nights.
Finding the right fit – not plain sailing
It is for this reason that not any old white actor could do either. It requires a specific man for a specific role.
The lack of viable alternatives to Daniel Craig led Eon to increase his remuneration for further films.
There is only one actor who truly fits the bill, is popular enough to draw the crowds, is suave, sophisticated, classic, dangerous, charming, ruthless, and cool. And that is Michael Fassbender. However, he wouldn’t sign to the exclusive contract by a country mile.
Craig took a while to mould into the role, with many older Bond fans disappointed by his offering.
The other suggestions like Tom Hiddlestone,Tom Hardy, or François Damiens lack the looks, imposing demeanour, and the aura.
While new possibilities exist in James Darcy, Matthew Goode, Richard Madden or Henry Cavill, it should remain within the white demographic for the metaphoric imagery Bond conjures up of washed-up Empire, Queen and country, and the confused orphan who never really had to grow up – courtesy of Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
And in the meantime, let’s see what creative projects the subcultures can devise to improve black, women and Asian under-representation.