This has been stewing in my brain juices for nearly a week now. I marathoned the Blonde Bond films and then thought hard about what it all meant. Especially Skyfall. I had read deconstructions of the tropes long before I saw the film.
Oh and they are there.
The opening scenes have Bond and another agent (later revealed to be Eve Moneypenny) shooting Bond instead of the enemy and getting shelved from field work. Apparently killing the legendary 007 is a career ender. And then she flirts with him in some absolutely baffling shaving scene.
I have no excuse for THAT. Honestly. And Moneypenny was taken out of the field because it was M. who ordered the shot be taken even though she said it was too risky, and no way was M. going down for that shit, let’s face it. Power structures in play, Moneypenny took the fall.
But in a later scene at a casino Moneypenny backs up Bond, and he trusts her to. He heard M. tell her to “just take the shot” and he rightfully blames M., Moneypenny subsequently saves him from getting his head blown off or falling back into a pit with komodo dragons. I do wish she had played a larger role, but let’s face it; This is a JAMES BOND film, and James Bond is all about wish fulfillment nonsense, so if a female is going to save his punk ass she’ll have to do it with an evening gown on and probably have to nonsensically flirt and stroke his ego. Because that shit’s his bread and butter.
Speaking of “flirting”; let’s get to former MI-6 agent turned villain Raoul Silva. Now we’ve seen Bond tortured in all sorts of ways over the years. Usually it was the brute-force or dead-girl-covered-in-substance-associated-with-the-villain route. This time we saw Bond threatened with sexual assault at the hands of a presumably gay man. Yes I said ‘presumably’.And YES I think it was intentionally playing up fears of homophobes who see Bond as the alpha-male, writer John Logan said he chose sexual intimidation because it would make the audience uncomfortable (citation) …And why would it make the -general- audience uncomfortable? ..because we never see that shit happen to men on film… we see it happen to women. All the damn time. Hell, in the same film a woman who was sold into the sex trade- and Silva shot her right in the head after Bond raped her in the shower (yes, I said raped, she couldn’t see him before he came up behind her, she didn’t know he was on the boat, she did not consent). We aren’t made to feel bad for her, it’s not played that way. So it’s thought provoking when Bond is touched this way against his will. And it doesn’t actually matter that/if Silva is gay. Because rape and sexual assault isn’t about attraction, it’s about power and control. There’s no two ways around that one. If it was attraction that caused rape it would be the victim’s fault for being so damn sexy. The aggressor is out to prove that they have the upper hand, this happens in staggering numbers during combat, among prisoners and even internally in the military among males. So when Bond says, “What makes you think it’s my first time?” it would likely be true.
What’s really of particular relevance to me is that Silva taunts him equally with the fact that James is completely not suitable for duty. He was told he passed the firearms test, he got 40%. He failed all the physical tests, fuck- he failed all the psychological tests. He’s dependent on booze and pills. It’s the truth. The glaring ugly truth that he is only even there because of the uneven power structures that lead to Silva leaving MI-6 and Moneypenny being shelved.
“So what does that matter?” I can hear you thinking it. “Bond is benefitting from all this privilege. He’s the action hero who always gets the girl. He’s the hero in this story!” Right?
At the beginning of the film, after he’s shot by Moneypenny he tries to enjoy his “death.” On a beach with a girl, having a drinking contest with people cheering. Spring Break! But when he sees the attack on MI-6 he *has to go back* because he’s been told the whole time that he’s the frigging best and has this whole savior complex about M. and England in general. And, just like in the last pages of PrinceLESS #1 where a young boy content to play in the mud is scooped up and taken to a special school to be a Prince Charming -subsequently being charred by a dragon while trying to prove himself to the ideal of chivalry which he’s been taught… society’s institutionalized gender roles are bullshit for everyone. Bond can’t kick back and retire because he’s been told he was optimal his whole life -told that he was meant to be there, that he has no life other than MI-6.
And YES I just went there with “oh the poor straight cis white males.” And yes I understand how much of a struggle it is to be told that you don’t belong there, to have to fight tooth and nail to make 88 cents on the dollar -or worse. And it’s a different issue, but not a separate one. Women face challenges in the corporate world, men face discrimination if they to a majority of the parenting and stats are showing that men face more issues returning to work than women do because it’s not expected so it is not accepted. Men are taught that their professional accomplishments are a major portion of their identity.
So who is Bond if he’s not MI-6?
A pathetic womanizing drunk who used to be somebody.
James Bond is a Creep Who Makes Me Sad About Our Culture
Oh, Bonus Content:
John Travolta wants to be the next Bond villain
And a photo of first trans Bond-girl
While the rape scene did kind of bother me, I never thought about it deeply. But this movie does seem to make the case of Bond being a product of MI6 more than any other film in the franchise. The movie makes it really difficult to feel sorry for M, and that`s part of what makes it compelling.
Very well thought out post, and it makes it clear you care about the Bond franchise. I can`t blame you; “Nobody does it half as good as you”`.