Dead Sexist: Why Bond Still Has a Long Way To Go



I'm starting to think that Barbara Broccoli hates all the women. It is possible that this is part of a revenge scheme for the time she declared Bond girls from the sixties to be feminist icons and we all laughed at her. Whatever her motive, she has convinced a large percentage of the viewing public that her franchise has burst into a glorious swan of pro-feminism. The Guardian has even become convinced by this, which is a feat for a paper that doesn't believe 'Women's Interest' to be Katie Price's pubic hair. As a result of these claims, I wandered like a lamb to the slaughter into a screening of the new Bond movie, expecting a romp straight out of the 21st century. A progression along from the lovely Casino Royale thread of ideas. Instead, what I actually experienced was the relic of the Cold War resurrected for a new generation. Basically, NOTHING HAD CHANGED. 

For starters, there was no variation to the delightful trope that at least one Bond 'conquest' had to die. I wasn't hoping for the earth. I did realise with there still being two Bond girls, one of them probably wasn't going to make it to see blood drip down the gun barrel at the credits. However, aware that one of the women was a field operative, I hoped that maybe this apparent necessity could be fulfilled with her dying in a blaze of glory. Some nice deadly gender equality there. Sadly, it turns out I am deluded. Bond once again gets a shag and the woman in question is rewarded by dying hideously and hopelessly in the next 24 hours. 

But they didn't seem content this time with just killing a random besotted broad, oh no. They made her the victim of child sex trafficking, which was brought up, waved around like a flag and then forgotten two seconds later. If we all accept Bond’s emotional range is so stunted that he literally cannot feel, the franchise has no scope to deal with such issues. This was demonstrated when he got into the shower with this abuse victim without so much as a by-your-leave, as though promising to top a man she was the prisoner of gave him the right to creep up on her naked. Unlike an actual woman who would have told him what he could do with his 9mm, she seemed overjoyed at the prospect of sex with this raddled old bloke she had just met. I found this particularly surprising considering she had apparently been the victim of rape since she was 12 years old. The one-dimensional macho-fantasy world isn't equipped for the task of handling these topics, especially considering what happened next. Which was that she got put into a push-up dress (not by the sadistic maniac, by the costume department), tied to a rock and then shot at as target practice, which seemed a whole different kind of fantasy to me. 

The Bond of the good old days was back on cracking form with his glib one-liners, announcing that as her body crumpled it was ‘a waste of good whiskey’ and then proceeded to beat everyone up. Why he couldn’t have done this before a woman got shot in the face was a mystery, but I assumed it was connected to fear of child maintenance payments (which the man must be suffocating under by now).  Why else would he still be hobbling around after 50 years when he could have retired to a beach in Acapulco and be drinking Pina Colada from a coconut through a curly straw while wearing a loud shirt? As I have cheerfully outlined, the aforementioned death scene represented the tired trope that prevails in all Bond films, namely: THIS MAN DESTROYS EVERYTHING HE TOUCHES. 

After the Midas-plot in Casino Royale, the film was partially saved by the hard-hearted Vesper and her ability to have outside interests other than getting under Bond. This was not a luxury we were afforded in Skyfall. My dream of the blaze of glory field agent became a soggy muppet of a fantasy. It was an embarrassment really. Had no one noticed she was pretty and had tits? How did they expect her to drive and shoot things? Wouldn’t her squirrel brain short circuit? It turned out, yes it would. She retired from being an agent on the gentle reminder of James that ‘field work isn’t for everyone,’ to fulfil her girlhood ambition of becoming a secretary. Fantasy overload. Bond has already bedded her by this point after she turned up for no reason declaring she is there to ‘help in any way I can.’ I’m guessing our hero remembered the Durex for this one, as she didn’t have to die in cold blood. Though one could argue with some conviction that becoming desperate sad-act Miss Moneypenny is a fate worse than death. We can only assume her traditional traits will be resurrected considering she seemed really flattered at the end of the film when Bond asked her name, about 2 weeks after they’ve shagged for the first time. Not only is Dopey Desk Eyes back in attendance, everything else is back to ‘normal’ in Bond Towers, where the matriarchy has also been wiped clean. Dame Judy Dench’s ‘M,’ the aspect of the film that The Guardian lauded as so progressive has also been dispatched. There’s a man back behind the leather-clad traditional door as The Boss with his pretty secretary outside. Judy Dench didn’t even get a secretary! Is there no humanity?!

I will desist now, as I am becoming repetitive in my old age. There is nothing like the overwhelming sense of there being no point to anything to age you horribly. But there are some things to take from the experience. I am obviously too giddy and hopeful for my own good. Barbara Broccoli missed a few memos from the sisterhood. And when the sequel appears in my local cinema in a couple of years I’ll have a spare few quid to treat myself to a new pair of tights.