To the reader

Some thoughts, I cannot keep.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bond, James Bond: A Theory

Lately, the famous spy with his dapper tuxedo and love of dry martinis has been invading my daily routine to an almost exhausting point. It started as a random notion to watch "Live or Let Die" (because, well, the theme song is rockin and I distinctly remembered a pretty awesome bit of voodoo sacrifice in the first five minutes) and it turned into a three day movie marathon that unearthed some surprising observations.

Day 1:
I watched Richard Moore with his wit and his subtle dishiness, and I kinda wanted to see more of the Moore movies (no pun intended). The poor guy is so often overlooked as 007 even though he starred in more Bond movies than anyone else. Now, granted, he does seem awfully wrinkly to be bedding the eighteen-year-old fortune-teller and leaping through the air in death-defying acts of escape. Still, he intrigued me. After watching "Octopussy" (set in India, my favorite location for any thriller full of intrigue and exotic romance) and "The Spy Who Loved Me" I then had to see all the other Bonds in comparison. One Major Problem. There are over 20 films- arghh!

Day 2:
I hunkered down during a rainy day and watched free (or stolen, depending on your definition) movies online ( until my eyeballs felt like sandy ghosts of their former glory and my Bond craving was satiated. What did I gain from this massive time-consuming and seemingly pointless undertaking, you ask?

Day 3:
After coming down off the Bond high in which I fantasized that my basement could turn into a diamond vault full of death traps (steroid injected eel mutants- yes please!) and realizing that it's not okay to wear rhinestone encrusted backless thonged catsuits in public places (my bad, Publix), I started really thinking about my final impression of the movies. Really, the lasting contribution of the Bond legacy is the changing male fantasy of romantic relationships. Let me explain. I'll start with an example.

Average american girl, does your grandma get exasperated with your obliviousness to the rules of dating, your boyfriend's lax attitude or your inability to cook anything more than a burnt grilled cheese? Well of course she does! In the sixties, Bond women were props, servants, or sexy eye candy who keep the volcano dungeon clean and make the beds warm. Even Pussy Galore, the die-hard man hater of her era not only succumbed to Bond's agressive advances but was named, you know, after a vagina. Well dang. Sure, these are male fantasies, but in the sixties that's what the media was selling en masse as an ideal. Woah. Still, as much as I hate to say it, Bond was just more badass when he was smacking ladies' bottoms and wrecking hearts all over the place. Personal theory, but I think thats why Sean Connery's the favorite Bond. His Bond was so masculine, so authoritative and alpha. Unfortunately, old 007 was also kind of a woman beater. So thank god for feminism and all that.

Fast forward. Slowly but surely, you can watch the evolving of acceptable male-female dynamic through the decades of Bond. Feminism starts to creep in by the eighties and by the time of "GoldenEye" you have the spitfire Russian "Natalia" bossing Bond around, saving the day with her mad computer skills and sporting a simple white tee the whole time. She's the total 90's woman and her equal skills in different areas from Bond make the movie better. She and Bond have an exciting chemistry because they both need each other. Hmm. So what about now?

Let's look at "Casino Royale" and the current incarnation of Bond. He has a minor flirtation with a married Italian beauty. He brings her back to his place, gets the info he needs and leaves her with no more than a kiss between them. In fact, she seems to be the one rarin' to go. Weird. Old Bond would never had walked away from a lady, but then old Bond would also have forced said lady to succumb to his charms despite her guilt over her husband. The reversal is bizarre- does the modern man want to be a tease? Is the modern female fantasy woman the agressive one in the beginning?
After the single flirtation (note, no quickies with any pool girls, baristas or dancers) Bond meets his main movie love, who is gasp, an accountant!?! That's the least sexy job ever, in fact it's downright responsible. And so is her character. In the first five minutes she sizes Bond up and skewers his ego. She then proceeds to mock him, babysit him through his awesome spy activities (lame) and reject all his advances. The only time they seem close is when she can't handle the violence and retreats to a shower to cry. Bond comforts her and sits, fully dressed mind you, in the shower with her. Still he persists with puppy-like devotion and after she saves his life, gets them both captured and she single-handedly gets them freed, they get together. They have magical romance for a good ten minutes of film and then she betrays him and at the end of the movie we see a much broken, tragically love-sick Bond. Whaaaaat?

Basing my entire theory off of the new Bond, the new modern male fantasy is just as unbalanced as the 60's idea of male dominance. The woman takes all the initiative and the man is the emotional tuning fork. The woman draws all the lines in the sand and the man just hangs on for dear life. In fact, only the deliciously cool athleticism and violent badassery saved Daniel Craig from looking like the lead singer of Dashboard Confessional on a crying jag at the end of the movie. Bond was the eye candy. He was the one galavanting about half-naked, playing the tease and falling hard for love. Where was all the fantastic equality of "GoldenEye", all the neat fluid partnership that made it an exciting romance that both men and women could pull for?

Most importantly, do all men think they can now sit back and let the ladies do all the romantic work? Can we women be content to do everything, what with being foxy, working towards our dreams, living the picket-fence family-unit good life AND paying for the check? Hang it all! Someone please give Bond back his lady skills..... but maybe with the exception of the public spanking.

1 comment:

sidd finch said...

i don't remember enough of casino royale to agree or disagree with you re: whether or not d. craig was a wuss. just as general commentary, though, and i think we've talked about this before - guys these days are socialized with the notion that sensitivity, unrestricted emotional availability, and utter devotion (puppy syndrome) are desirable qualities. they may be for some, but they certainly are not for all.

despite the modern bylines that ladies want someone open and honest and cute and romantic and funny, it seems that actual desire has not kept pace with the progress (some) men have made in eschewing traditionally masculine aloof brutishness for a more caring countenance. everyone still wants a challenge. back to bond, i think if your description is correct, he's a representation of what guys think women want. for a more "beat-you-over-the-head" kind of stand-in for the modern man, see "what women want." for whatever reason, that movie has shaped a lot of the way i feel about how men should treat women in whom they're romantically interested. judging by recent levels of success, i'd say i've been willingly misinformed :)

and yes, i've already posted twice to your facebook wall, and yes, it's way too late for me to be awake on a sunday night.