PARIS - Is anyone else disturbed by the idea that espionage author Ian Fleming's James Bond character, currently depicted on silver screens worldwide in the latest 007 film, "No Time To Die," must somehow evolve in order to keep up with modern times? Is nothing sacred anymore in this era of ripping down historical statues and canceling comedians?
"Why a non-white actor should replace Daniel Craig as James Bond," Forbes argued last year. "It's Bond, Jane Bond: 11 Women Who Would Make a Killer 007," proposed Vogue magazine, citing actresses like Lucy Liu, Lupita Nyong'o, Emily Blunt, and former Bond girl Rosamund Pike for the role.
All of these women are indeed incredibly talented and could pull off a Bond-like action role. Just as Lashana Lynch, in the role as Bond's colleague — also given the 007 designation within the 00 section of MI6 in this installment — bestowed ample credibility on that casting choice. Her performance laid waste to fears of critics and online bullies who lashed out when she landed the role in 2019, leading her to delete her social media accounts at the time.
Alongside women, male actors of color have also been evoked as possible Daniel Craig replacements, notably Idris Elba and Rege-Jean Page.
But Daniel Craig himself recently said in an interview with Radio Times: "There should simply be better parts for women and actors of colour. Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?"
He's absolutely right. The James Bond character is more than just a role. It's a cultural icon. Who exactly does it benefit to make him anything other than how he was originally written? He's supposed to be a throwback to a time of gentlemen spies in an era where espionage had a certain mystique and elegance rather than the crass mass data dragnets collected by guys working at the National Security Agency, sitting in front of computers and spilling Cheeto crumbs on the keyboard in cubicles at Fort Meade.
James Bond is a whole ambiance. It's the bad guys who dress stylishly and are keen to engage in witty, high-tension repartee with our lady killer. Speaking of which, Bond must continue to be politically incorrect and to project the mores of the era in which he was etched. It doesn't mean that he can't also be surrounded by other characters who can make him take a verbal or rhetorical punch as much as he enjoys dishing them out. Now that's good entertainment.
In one of the most arguably memorable Bond scenes, French actress Eva Green as Vesper Lind said to Craig's Bond in 2006's "Casino Royale," while on a train ride in which he had spent an entire meal backhandedly insulting her: "Having just met you, I wouldn't go so far as calling you a cold-hearted b*****d, but it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine that you think of women as disposable pleasures rather than meaningful pursuits. So as charming as you are, Mister Bond, I will be keeping an eye on our government's money and off your perfectly-formed arse."
It was a moment in which Bond realized that he wasn't in the private gentleman's club anymore. But did he change since then? Not at all. He's still seducing women and firing off witty but crass comments suggesting that he was teleported from the 1950s, which he now kind of is.
What the next Bond needs is more partners in mayhem and repartee like Vesper. Black, white, brown, yellow, man, woman, gay, straight — who cares as long as they can hold their own with the heavyweight of anachronistic insensitivity. Taking away Bond's license to trigger the few leftists who can't function outside of their safe space while murdering the rest of us with laughter will defeat the whole purpose of the films, which is, after all, to entertain.
If social mores have "surpassed" Bond, then let's see what happens when some of the best cinematic fantasies and flag-bearers that the woke brigade has to offer go up against Bond on screen. If, in their own minds, they come across better than he does, then everyone wins: the woke get to feel that their on-screen representatives are morally superior to that pig Bond while the rest of us get to still enjoy a cultural and cinematic legend in an untouched, still recognizable form. We're pretty sure that he'll be able to handle himself.
The leftist religion of wokeism wants to make over everything from toy aisles to stand-up comedy in its own image: bland, predictable, and superficially tokenistic. The Bond character doesn't deserve such disrespect, nor do his fans. But leave him intact to take on such a world and it gives everyone a future to relish.
Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language program that airs on Sputnik France. Her website can be found at www.rachelmarsden.com.