28 February 2023 419 Views

And then they came for JAMES BOND

by James Murphy

No. Not a double entendre (oooo!).

More a very scary statement of  fact? 


Indeed, I wonder was fate tempted in my last piece on this issue (RE Roald Dahl: a Fleming ally/friend)? As in. Go after one idiom and you must take down ALL its literature.

Fleming and Dahl.

Both war veterans, ethical hedonists, creators of a sub-genre in the ‘adult fairy-tale’. They fought Nazis, shunned Communism and yet remained open minded to political possibilities, across the spectrum. Very much of their time but somehow, ahead, in predicting trends we now take for granted.

There is an healthy distrust of women in the texts but equally, ironically, thereby a veneration OF female allure and power.

Colonial curiosity meets inevitable surrender to end of empire. And a frantic bid to retrieve the adventurous values and liberal spirit of exploration which built Britain to its very best.

All wrapped in stylish, innovative, engaging, imaginative, thrilling STORIES.

These authors’ books are neither cultural manifesto nor political treatises. Which is what makes Fleming and Dahl so important as sources to review, as transitional time capsules in cultural shift.  That is NOT a licence to amend, tamper with or dilute down toward the blandly inoffensive. 

And yet: sure enough, moves might be afoot to tweak the Fleming canon; irreparably? Yes, his books do contain some now culturally offensive terms. And so long as his estate is cited/compensated? I genuinely doubt Ian is losing sleep in the afterlife over that being disclaimer-ed to death.

He, like Dahl, moved with his times. But he hated any insidious threat to freedom and censorship is one of those stealthy villainies to be repelled from the gates of His Majesty’s Realm. 

It’s also VITAL to note that rarely, if ever, does Fleming’s Bond endorse the values of either his masters or nemeses. Yes, he works within/for the establishment. Yet he exists apart and outside of that.

Equally, the reason 007 cannot settle down is that when he tries doing so, fate selects him to resume a solitary existence, whereby affairs punctuate the kills.

NB / SIDENOTE: Pay attention, sexually illiterate and apologist woke wannabe Bond ‘fans’, who accused their OWN HERO of being ‘rapey’ in SKYFALL/SPECTRE. (NO! He was sexy to the women in question and they both thought DEATH was imminent so they did sex stuff..something you will never do, obviously?!).

I digress…Grrr…back to the job in hand..

..BOND = everyman, albeit armed with remarkable skill and style to stand out from that role.

Indomitable hero and beyond his element, out of league and depth: uncomfortable with specific politics. Ultimately, a champion of underdog utility; rather than blunt instrument for elite overlords.

Heck, 007 even gets friend-z007ned in MOONRAKER (book, not film; though PLEASE give us Gala Brand onscreen, asap, as now is the time!).

James stops wars, rather than starting them. He firefights the fallout from colonial handovers but is not there to consolidate power or cling onto dying embers of British influence.

The hero just happens to enjoy and endorse English/Scots/other Empire tradition and imagery, whilst deploying those in service of opening new frontiers, without compromising old symbols and values.

The films ‘got’ that ethic and championed it, albeit teetering close to eschewing and shunning the magic balance in the latter days of Daniel Craig.

Same way, perhaps, one tends to confuse Connery’s brutality in his take on the part, with that of Bond, as character, in all iterations?

EON Productions evolved Bond; as did Fleming.

They did not quite shun entirely, the SPECTRE like ‘WOKE’ march (a word so insidious, it is deployed by both left and right wing extremes, to opposing aim yet same impact: destruction of free expression?).

Yet they did avoid going off the cliff, altogether. The essence is still ‘there’, sustaining an image of Bond who even at his  brutal, blunt and yes, British best, remains, unfailingly, a gentleman. GOOD.

Wandering eye: yep. Playful rogue: sure! Thug with an education, maybe. But even Daniel Craig’s 007, at most vengefully wounded, opens the car door for his lady love in NO TIME TO DIE.

THAT is the essence of Bond and it was there, with Fleming, on the page. Which is why censoring him is pointless.

It is not Bond who endorses racism and indeed, even in the books, James goes quiet/plays stupid when villains or plodding civil servants lecture him on racial characteristics or class divisions.

If in doubt? READ. THE. BOOKS! Just a thought, like?

Neither Fleming, nor Bond, is a racist. And they share a romantic regard for women and diversity, ahead of their time. The homophobia is there, yes. But it’s comical and therefore, innocuous, rather than malicious imho.

James Bond is not perfect. Even now, his role is to take us on an adventure and save the day, slay the dragon etc. He’s never meant to function as Superman or spy-Jesus Messiah, so ought not be regarded as moral role model.

Bond is nonetheless, exemplary. As gentleman style icon, with  unimpeachable code of patriotism and ethical hedonism, to match. Which is why I still love the character, both on page and screen, without apology or equivocation. 

Those who would censor 007 are the latter day Blofelds: with print power the newest and most deadly weapon of all. That insidious, pernicious and now, pervasive danger  MUST be confronted.

‘This is the big one, 007’. (M, THUNDERBALL) 

‘If you invented or continued James Bond, today? He’d be a bisexual UN aid worker’ (Will Self). 






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