James Bond (Trigger Warning and Destruction of Fantasy Warning)

James Bond, the fantasy of many men. The ideal that men are told they must be. He is deemed sexy, he drives fast cars, and shoots people without remorse. The super spy, agent 007. James Bond is every ideal according to the media and is a role model for elegance for many men. James Bond is a rapist. James Bond is a Misogynist. James Bond is not the type of person anyone should model their sex appeal after. James Bond’s franchise shows more violence against women while dehumanizing them than many others, while making this seem like a good thing. The female characters that Bond has sex with are reduced beyond a name but to property. The Bond Girl. A Bond Girl.

It started out as a pleasurable afternoon activity, a reward for my hard work. I turned on Doctor No, and though I was aware the film would be disablist, racist, and generally ridiculous I was prepared for that and Sean Connery’s stereotypical white man in the movies good looks. I was not prepared for the growing disconcertion that would happen as I proceeded through my Bond movie Marathon. Bond is a rapist, he commits sexual assault and his female coworkers should file complaints daily. This never happens of course. MoneyPenny instead becomes entranced with him, wanting to be a Bond Girl herself but of course she’s just not good enough for Bond. Little does she know this saves her from what I have deemed his Death STD.

I became unable to like Bond by the end of From Russia With Love. You see, I was prepared for the sexism, I was prepared for the violence and the racism as I said. I was not prepared for a scene which I had forgotten was present. James Bond doesn’t take no for an answer, in fact this is a part of his trademark. He ‘seduces’ women who are unwilling. As the female fights and pushes him away, as she says no he continues to force himself on her. Bond’s body pins Tatiana Romanova down. She said no, he kisses her and she stops fighting him. That was when I stopped the movie and had to deal with the fact that James Bond is a rapist. I couldn’t just turn my brain off, instead my brain kicked into hyperdrive cataloging everything wrong with Bond.

I could list them here and run out of energy to type. Instead I will skip over the fact that every single Bond Villain up to Quantum of Solace has a disability, disfigurement, or blatantly uses a wheelchair. I could in fact point out that although the Bond films have more people of color acting in them than many other films, all the roles they have are of villains. Such as guy who blows up, guy who gets shot by Bond, etc etc. I could even talk about the objectification of violence but instead I am stuck on the dehumanisation of women, the constant sexual assault, and the frequent rapes that are made worse with the very bad puns.

The female characters in the films defined as Bond Girls for the purpose of this ramble will be defined as such: Bond has shown interest in them, he has had sex (consensual or no) or flirted with them, and they are given a name that makes absolutely no sense and is often some sort of sex joke. These females come in sets of three in most movies, he only marries one, and they all end up dead with the notable exceptions being the female lead in Quantum of Solace. They must also be rescued repeatedly, even M once the role was given to Dame Judi Dench is not saved from this humiliation, they must scream and flail a lot, and every single one of them says “Oh James!” during sex. In fact most of them look exactly alike, they are all “beautiful” by society’s standards. This is a loose definition in some areas and yet there is absolutely no deviation even in the newest and supposedly renovated Bond Films.

By naming the female characters things such as Octopussy the characters are dehumanised, they are reduced to sex. James Bond furthers this by treating every woman that he deems attractive, and that is most women, as if they are there just for his penis to enter. There is no concept of lesbians and if there ever is in a bond film it will be Lesbians for HIS pleasure. Most Bond girls are blonde, though there are a few redheads and the newer films have more dark haired females, all have large breasts except Halle Berry who was misbilled as the first female of color to be in a bond film. This erased Grace Jones’ tenure as the “scary black villainess”. In fact the lack of a signular identity for the characters reduces them to Bond’s property. They exist only for Bond, at his pleasure and discression. Every Bondgirl is attacked, beaten, and most are murdered because they belong to Bond and destroying his property is a good way to get him to react. He almost always “avenges” them but it would be far better for him to just stop having sex all together so that his female companions don’t die. My friend M and I discussed this and he pointed out that this makes it less emotional when he moves on. The woman didn’t die, she died. This means he has a free pass at the next female paragon of his sexual pleasures.

In the 22 Bond Films that exist at the time of this writing over half of the Bond Girls say no. Not in the “playing hard to get” fashion either. The majority of his sexual encounters are non consentual. The other half change their minds once they see how manly he is. Though if a man acted like Bond in person, even his white male privilege would be placed into jeopardy as at least in my local social sphere a person who drives that many sports cars, plays with guns as much as he does, and tries to act so overtly macho is deemed to have impotence issues. This played through my mind often, and helped ease what became an excercise in torture.

It took me exactly 1 week to the hour to watch all of the Bond Movies, though this became my day job. I admit fully that several times I had personal revelations about the forumula for Bond. As a child I wanted to be Bond, not the Bond Girl. This still stands, though I wouldn’t rape anyone. I was disciplined for this and I firmly associate Bond with the assignation of gendered behaviors that is so present in Western Society. I suspect other colonized societies carry this burden too but I can only speak from my sphere of existence. By wanting to drive the fast car, shoot bad guys and get the girl I was being unprofessional. Four year olds aren’t supposed to want this, that was what my mother said. My father corrected her, violently, and pointed out that Boys can want this. Being in a female body, I was forbidden to want the girl, the car, or the “fun”. I realize as an adult that the culture of violence we live in disguises being nearly killed constantly as fun. We pay great deals of money to endure mindless torments in the US. We pay to watch people beat and kill defenseless and rather stupid women.

Back to the Bond Girl Formulae I wrote above. We can expand his Bond Girl related deaths by deeming every female in the bond films a Bond Girl. This means that the charactes that I can recollect surviving right now aside from the final Bond Girl (he usually has two or three women he “loves” during each movie, one to betray him, one to die (sometimes combined) and one to survive to fuck another day) would be MoneyPenny, who is oddly credited as Miss MoneyPenny in the early films as if this will somehow explain why Bond does not desire her, via her being too good for him. The second would be M as Judi Dench.

MoneyPenny is thankfully not brutalized violently, beaten, shot, stabbed, poisoned, suffocated by being painted in gold, dipped in oil, strangulated, dies saving bond, or as a casualty of a drive by style violent thing but is constantly objectified and teased by Bond. The one woman that would consent easily to his sexual requests is rejected, this adds to his predatory nature. MoneyPenny is also one of the few female characters that is shown to have a brain in her head. From the beginning she often could procure information that others with in the agency struggled with. There is no MoneyPenny currently, in the Daniel Craig series. She is now a computer at best, though perhaps she will be made into his equal, a spy of equal power. Of course not. No she will likely be lobodimised or was recast as a male and I didn’t notice. Bond still treats her as if she is a child, another crime against the women, even through the end females are infantalized. We need the big strong men to tell us how to think and act.

The Early Twenties Bondgirl sex doll pattern was advertised as being broken when Die Another Day was being released. I remember the trailers, the supposed controversy over Halle Berry being a bond girl. There were racist pigs who decided she was too black, despite her being on the paler end of the dark skin spectrum. She was billed as the first strong female counter part to bond. A CIA Agent who could take care of herself. Except, this was a lie. She ends up tied up, drowned, and then for some reason having sex on a pile of diamonds. I suspect they chose diamonds because that has to be the least comfortable way to have sex ever. The only deviation in the usual bond system aside from her skin color was her flirting with Bond. This meant twice as many really bad puns while bad guys died, but just as when M was locked in a cage, Bond had to save the girl. Over and over again.

This is the Bond formulae. Bond is a training ground for violent rapists, normalizing the fact that we are just meat. Roger Moore’s era had the least intelligent Bond Girls. One accidentally saved the world by bending over in a bikini. Another was too stupid to realize people were shooting at her. Intelligence is not something a Bond Girl has, though the Daniel Craig films did improve on this slightly.

There is one other thing that I am compelled to note. James Bond is actually a horrible spy. He sucks at his job. The idea of spying is to NOT get caught. In each and every bond film his cover is blown, followed by things blowing up and women dying. He usually figures out that people know James Bond is James Bond when he finds one of his victims dead. The Death STD he carries is in his own lack of wit. He may be able to make innuendo but a real spy would do their utmost to not use their real name, to obfuscate their origins, and they would try to blend in. A real spy aims to be average. This is of course unless the Russian Spy ring that was recently caught is used as an example. They seem to have gone to the James Bond School of Spying. The man kills all his contacts, ruins most of his equipment, and causes so many international incidents. It is a wonder that the British people embrace this male supremicist pig rapist as a wonderful thing.

I have no answers to why James Bond is so popular, except that if you can watch a movie without thought and go “ooh pretty explosions” it may be alright. The contrived plots of this spy franchise however should offend almost everyone alive, unless they are so innundated with White Male is Right thinking that the idea that anyone should just shoot Bond to put England and the rest of us out of our misery is bad. The idealism of Bond goes so far as the fact that I have heard and seen via the internet people of color that lament their genetics as they prevent them from being like bond.

We need a female spy of color who doesn’t rape people, kicks as much butt and doesn’t blow her cover. Of course, the media doesn’t want people to realise that Bond Girl is synonymous with Dead Barbie, or James Bond is synonymous with bad spy. They want everyone to ignore that this normalization of violence effects each of us. The ambiguity of the sexual assaults, as some are very hard to spot, and the acceptance of his rapes as being sexy and beautiful adds to the dangers women face. I know this because I have been raped in the name of Bond. I have been told that to be a good girl you must submit to any man that deems you penis worthy. Not just by my father but by most of the white men I have dated. This phenomenon is well documented with many franchises and I am sure I am not the only person to go “Oh my god Bond raped her!” I just think more people need to.

I am going to find some brain bleach to try and get the 22 films out of my head. I must wash it off! WASH IT OFF!

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10 Comments

  1. If you think the movies are bad, you should read Ian Fleming’s original books! There more in them than in the movies.

  2. Fantastic post Kat!

    Agree on all counts. I used to enjoy Bond as a kid but the moment I started viewing them analytically, it’s nearly impossible to be anything than interminably depressed by the whole franchise.

    They tried to subvert some of the traditional tropes in Goldeneye (from what I can remember) having Moneypenny be the one to objectify and then reject Bond, having the bad guy basically be the same as Bond and having Famke Jannsen’s character take control of the sexual situations… however, it’s still a mess in terms of stereotype and sexism.

    I had hoped that Casino Royale would see a new take on the genre and while Bond at least is shown as far more vulnerable and human, the same old bollocks occurs in terms of women and bad guys. Quantum of Solace was nearly incomprehensible in terms of plot – I really don’t remember much more.

    As for films focussed on a female spy who kicks ass, I can recommend “Salt” which came out a few months back. Admittedly, not a person of colour in the lead but a damn sight better than the Bond/Bourne dictatorship. I should say however, her “origin” is suspect and abuse is hinted at – don’t want to spoil anything but it’s not nearly as clean cut as Bond. Would leave to read your thoughts.

  3. Kat!
    I loved this! Oh god every single reason I have had to hate bond is here. The one problem I would have with this WOC spy, who kicks ass and remains a spy till the end is that she would be somehow exoticised or they’d make her seem like ‘better than all the other POC’ and by extension almost White.

    I hope the brain bleach works 🙂

  4. I left a lot of what I wanted to say out because I couldn’t put together anything else and remain coherent but I may write more on my feelings about the treatment of the PoC. I still found myself loathing how all the PoC were savages except that one female spy who of course was an expert marital artist because she is Asian. Bond also kept stating in a few films that India is not in Asia, which is NOT true as you obviously know. Being that you are an Asian woman in India…

    I just wish the brain bleach had worked. It failed but I buried the bond under some horror movies. For some reason the misogyny there bothers me far less. Probably because the killers in horror films aren’t being worshipped but reviled most of the time.

  5. Sorry for the delay on the reply here Chris. MoneyPenny failed to reject Bond in Goldeneye. They started it out that way but then in the end he still rejects her. They did show her having sexual desire for him with the Virtual Reality machine but that’s as close as the only willing female has gotten to Bond. Famke Jansen’s character was hardly subversion as well but was the other end of an extreme. Her character was meant to be yet another exotic killing machine and merely demonized female sexual agency. She was meant as a reminder on the subconscious level, or at least worked that way, to point out that good girls are sexually submissive and to know what you want and to even be on top is deviant behavior. Which doesn’t work for me at all. I found the character utterly repulsive though I am aware she was supposed to be gorgeous and tempting.

    Quantum of Solace was mostly explosions, it even ended on a note of misogyny with Bond’s revenge. He had to save yet another “unaware damsel in distress” who was a Canadian Agent. The plot was about thirty seconds to five minutes at the end where the woman from Castle (I forgot her name and am not going to look it up as I have to go offline in a few minutes) is rescued. As an agent she is apparently too stupid and ineffective to protect herself. British Bond most go do it. I find the amount of time he spends fixing other countries a problem as well.

    I am glad you and I had the same hope and crash with Casino Royale. The problem is that we saw him vulnerable before this, when he married someone in the sixties. She dies before they even reach their honeymoon of course. We also already had a bond do the soft to cold thing with Dalton’s run at Bond. So Casino was a rehashing in shiny new CGI packing.

    I saw Salt and I may review it soon but I felt it wasn’t very good. I keep getting told it’s supposed to be revolutionary because the role was written for a man. Jolie doesn’t pull it off, which is a big issue as well as REALLY bad make up, but there are other problems too. I would have to rewatch it though and Salt was boring. The twist did surprise me because it was too obvious to me, and therefore I figured they would try something more subtle. Salt is a heavy handed film, as are the bond films but the plot also belongs in Bond. at least I thought so until that Russian Spy Ring was pointed out to me… still the movie feels Dated

  6. I own the books but I admit I haven’t read them. I was given them many years ago but I can’t make it past the first few pages. I am not sure how those sold except to say that Bond is the first Twilight. Which is insulting to both franchises but they use a similar fantasy formulae anyway. At least it saved me from needing to buy more brain bleach!

  7. “Quantum of Solace was mostly explosions, it even ended on a note of misogyny with Bond’s revenge. He had to save yet another “unaware damsel in distress” who was a Canadian Agent. The plot was about thirty seconds to five minutes at the end where the woman from Castle (I forgot her name and am not going to look it up as I have to go offline in a few minutes) is rescued. As an agent she is apparently too stupid and ineffective to protect herself. British Bond most go do it. I find the amount of time he spends fixing other countries a problem as well. ”

    The reason why “Quantum Of Solace” is the first James Bond movie I saw in the cinema, is because I had read that the character of Olga Kurylenko was the first “James Bond girl” to NOT sleep with James Bond in the movie, and I thought it was a good progress and still think it IS (and I also saw it because the script was from Paul Haggis and I loved “Crash”, and it was directed by the SWISS Mark Foster and I liked very much “Neverland” and “Stranger then fiction”!)
    It’s probably because of that that many critics didn’t find her to be a good “James Bond Girl” and criticised her!
    I liked some thing in the movie including that, but you are right… very sad that they had to turn her into Damsel In Distress by the end of the movie.

  8. Hugo Drax has no disability or disfigurement. Nor does Max Zorin.. Neither Auric Goldfiner nor Kananga nor Karl Stromberg nor Aristotle Kristatos Nor General Orlov, nor Kamal Khan, nor Brad Whitaker nor Georgi Koskov, Nor Sanchez from Licence To Kill, nor Elliot Carver. In fact, most Bond villains have neither disability nor disfigurement. I suggest you do your research more thoroughly before making such bold claims

  9. Devin my research was watching all of the films. You definitely are welcome to disagree with me but, are you absolutely sure? Also when you say that most do not, you may want to make a chart. It’s okay, we have time for that!

  10. Devin, I would say another pertinent question is not simply, how many Bond villians have disabilities or disfigurements but also, how many Bond characters with disabilities or disfigurements are villians versus characters with whom we are meant to have some sympathy (versus people who are unnamed background extras with no lines). This is often a more meaningful question if you’re exploring what messages about disability or disfigurement is being sent by the Bond movies. The fact that some, many, or even most Bond villians don’t have disabilities or disfigurements doesn’t really erase the message that is sent if most (or all?) of the images of disability/disfigurement in Bond movies are villians or otherwise not meant to be sympathetic.


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