Why James Bond May Be Over
We currently live in a world of virtue signalling, safe spaces and trigger warnings, in which jargon in the new illiteracy. While I applaud the more practical elements, like the long-overdue attempts to redress the gender balance and the dumping of racism and sexism in the US creative industries, many people fail to understand that you can’t simply use new jargon to blanket the nation’s ills.
I’m always asked about class and race attitudes in old books. Should such novels be censored or simply not be published? I think of course they should be published, but with a preface that states they are products of the time and reflect many of the prevailing social attitudes. Would I draw the line somewhere? Perhaps at Sexton Blake, trash prose written by a host of different authors, much of it breath-catchingly offensive.
Which brings us, it seems, to Bond, James Bond (one of the best examples of diacope, the repetition of words for emphasis). In the novel of ‘Goldfinger, James Bond packs off his girlfriend to buy him a baguette and some wine, and generously adds, ‘get something for yourself’. I can’t remember whether he gives her a slap on the bottom as she goes, but he does in the film version.
A new generation of readers and viewers (well, let’s be honest, viewers) is taking issue with the sexism we always knew was inherent in Bond. But this is, frankly, shooting fish in a barrel.
What was Bond if not an avatar for 1950s male fantasies? Back then, few men ever got the chance to do anything that impacted upon anything else, so of course they enjoyed the impossible adventures of their surrogate heroes. James Bond didn’t really have to jump off an exploding building to achieve this sensation; he could simply have prepared a meal from scratch, because most men could no longer even manage to provide for themselves.
So, where does Bond go now? Should it be banned or dropped? How about the Carry On films? What will happen, of course, is that 007 will be rebranded and updated like Dr Who, because it’s simply too valuable to dump. In the same way that the BBC has announced that next yuletide’s big production will be…’A Christmas Carol’ – again – we provide for mainstream brand-loyal customers.
And now the fiction of the past will perhaps be provided with a nice piece of jargon that means ‘offensive to the modern world.’