What if...Bond was different?


#21

Um…how to put this as it’s not a simple matter…https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Troubles and this isn’t even close to the start of it, just the part where the British military got involved. It’s basically another consequence of Britain’s colonialist past.


News on BOND 25
#22

I’m afraid there isn’t that many at all. Look up “NO BLACKS. NO DOGS. NO IRISH”


#23

Perhaps they deserve to feel under seige.


#24

Brosnan himself moved to London at the beginning of the new wave of troubles and was according to himself , subjected to much racist abuse . My own experience in first being in London in the mid 90s was one of being subjected to accent being mocked and copied endlessly, Irish jokes everywhere and an extra hour at least in any UK airport control.
The Irish were lumped together with the windrush generation and those from colonial Africa as was rightly pointed out " no blacks, no Irish , no dogs." Those communities formed a close relationship together through adversity and bigotry, to a point where colour of skin is irrelevant to large swathes of the British population, highest mixed marriages are Jamaican Irish , his( Bonds) class is perhaps more relevant.
Even Roger Moore who spoke posh came from a working class background. Key being this posh Etonian figure has never been played by one…


#25

I raise a glass to my fellow Irishman
image


#26

I was thinking more in terms of the historic traumas that have been transmitted throughout Black culture: The Middle Passage; humans being owned property; the cavalier separation of families; sexual servitude of Black women.

I do understand that Black and Irish people were considered on the same level–in New York City, a community where they lived together was razed in order to build Central Park. There is also the book “How the Irish Became White.” From the review linked to below:

“In order to overcome these barriers, the Irish made a strategic choice: escape the bottom-rung of poverty and be accepted into mainstream US society by aggressively aligning themselves with the Democratic Party and doing everything they could to keep African Americans in slavery or otherwise out of the labor market. Thus they earned the right to be considered ‘White’ and receive the benefits and privileges associated with that social category.” Full at:

I would maintain that there is a significant difference in inherited historical trauma between the two groups.


#27


#28

I think it went a different way in the UK


#29

My gran came to England in the 20s with nothing. By the war she bought out a town house in a selubrious part of London she’d been partially occupying because the owners fled the bombing.

She survived the bombing, as did my mother; once deciding not to enter Camden tube bunker, only to see it bombed directly with huge casualties.

Once the war ended the ‘council’ came knocking in this now Irish Albert street and threatened all with eviction and tax investigation (many had taken lodgers off the cards in order to survive an otherwise baron war landscape). It was an establishment authorized move to take back the high end property they had fled several years earlier when the bombs dropped. Now it was safe they brought in their civil serpent heavies to take back their territory.

The Irish were swept away by the money and now it’s a road in which houses are worth millions.

London was (possibly is) is a place that actively works to prevent the Irish from enjoying the spoils of the city they helped build and maintain.

Being also more than half Scottish I’ve no love for the English and nor, I suspect at an unconscious level has bond.

Brosnan came to a London with a long history of subjugation and exploitation of the Irish. It would’ve been hard and that hardship would’ve given him the tools he needed to survive Hollywood and be what is seen by some as the ultimate British icon - a great Bond for 4 movies. The irony.

Btw, had a few :slight_smile:


#30

In America, there is a strong sense among many people that there is a Black American culture and a White American culture. For Blacks who have had a privileged upbringing, there is the constant mandate to “keep it real” and “not act white.”

In America, we are hyphenated people, so in cultures where the hyphen is subsumed, things may play out/be perceived differently.

Thank you for your insights into how things are in America. I’m sorry to hear there is still so much pressure to conform, to both subcultures and the larger culture.

My fellow Brits on this forum might disagree, but I’d say the same pressures are less prevalent in Britain, although they still exist. There are pockets of strong minority culture, especially in the big cities (be it Orthodox Jews, Jamaicans, Nigerians, Chinese or Indians, etc.) But as a whole, differences in self-identification are more tied to class and geography than to race. Semi-jokingly, people insist on being “northern” or “southern”, “Londoners” or “Brummies”, and so on. Often there’s an implied attachment to class in that statement, i.e. “working class vs upper class”. Not many people like to admit being middle class…

You have made me think of something I’ve never thought of before: how important is the international market’s perceptions of “Britishness” to EON?

Making Bond black probably wouldn’t do much financial damage to the franchise in Britain. And if it had a negative effect on US & Canada box office, I suspect EON would be okay with taking the hit. But what about the Asian, African and European audiences? Do they only imagine the British as white, and would EON be particularly sensitive to this?


#31

I think the “Bond has to be white” argument boils down, by this point, to “we’ve always done it that way.” Which isn’t nearly as convincing or powerful an argument as “Fleming wrote him that way.”

Fleming wrote Bond as a WW2 veteran, a chain smoker, something of a racist and misogynist, with a not-that-muscular build, dark hair and a prominent scar, without an expensive taste in clothes or even much fashion sense. Most or all of that has been downplayed, ignored, forgotten or rejected by the films. So given that movie Bond is already such a different creature, why should skin color matter that much? Maybe casting a Bond of color would be worth a shot.

Similarly, I’m bored enough with Superman now to be willing to see him change race, as well. It would certainly add new meaning to the “strange visitor” trope if the most powerful being on Earth grew up in a culture that considered him a minority. How would the authorities in Metropolis, Washington and UN react to a black man with the power to lift mountains? When he said, “I’m here to help,” would they take him at his word? What would he represent to people who looked like him? And those who didnt? I’m far from a “multicultural diversity” activist, but that’s a movie I wouldn’t mind seeing.


#32

I keep meaning to come back to this but there’s always something getting in the way…

Anyway, maybe an interesting thought in the context: the Flemings, for all their Scottishness, actually stem from Flanders and seem to have cherished this piece of their ancestry throughout the generations. Flanders is situated in Belgium and also covers parts of France and the Netherlands - what an amusing irony given the current state of affairs. Bond was thought up by a descendant of emigrés. And sure enough, Bond himself also bears the foreign influence from his mother’s side.

So that slight trace of the un-English, of the foreign that’s mentioned in Moonraker is indeed present by intent.

That’s an interesting question. According to some accounts Fleming, when first dealing with the prospect of seeing his novels adapted, wrote a short writer’s guideline or ‘bible’, mainly concerning the tone and style he imagined for his character. One of the points, as far as I recall, concerned itself with Britishness. And Fleming vehemently refused to have Bond depicted as a classic Briton.

Of course, back then a Briton was invariably depicted as an elderly chap talking vaguely retarded stuff in an absurd clubland voice, wearing heavy tweeds and smoking a pipe, with some pompous military rank instead of a Christian name. In short, a caricature and Fleming wanted to avoid that at all costs. So no Burberrys and no tweeds for Bond. And surely no pipe. And definitely no tea.

What Fleming imagined was a kind of consumerist paradise where his character was enjoying only the very best - and that stuff often came from abroad, often from America. So the early films avoided the cliché of the Englishman wherever possible - although of course the truly iconic elements, the clothes and cars, were still signature brands from Merry Old England. Only back then these articles didn’t need huge Union Jacks slapped on them.

I don’t know when it started - perhaps after GOLDENEYE and headlines moaning about ‘Euro-Bond’ - but gradually during the Brosnan years the mood shifted towards making Bond a bit more British, even if nobody was suggesting otherwise. The BMWs of Brosnan’s era had been severely criticised, the Italian suits likewise. Apparently the British part of the audience didn’t feel Bond was one of them any more.

So with Craig came another version of Bond, now wearing the posh British brands that were in demand with the middle aged menopausal male GQ reader, Baracuta and Barbour and Burberry and some whatstheirname shoes, I forget. This stuff appears because the audience partially expects it to, partially also because this stuff is deemed cool this month (and let’s forget about next.)

For the international market I’d say the Britishness of Bond is not the central element. Bond is the central element, the unique selling point. That’s why these films work more or less in any market, because their appeal is universal.

There is of course also a perception of the UK involved when watching the films (or reading the books) but it’s a vague idea largely drawn from a mythical, fictional vision of Great Britain. Foreign markets do not mind that this version of the UK has hardly any connection to the real thing.

This reminds me of some discussion I read many years back; it revolved around which football club Bond would support. A fellow fan from Australia (who originally came from Russia or Israel, I forget) immediately said football was a much too plebby thing for Bond, one would have to be totally ignorant to even suggest it.

Now this fan (from Israel or Australia, I still cannot remember) obviously never heard of the Eton wall game or ‘our game’ as Winchester College Football is known. But regardless of that guy’s ignorance, on another level he was of course totally right: Bond is a number of - flexible - elements, influences and traits, the sum of which now make up the cinematic Bond. And you can go to the farthest corners of the world and grab some guy, any farmer, peasant, lumberjack, and just say ‘007?’ and they immediately have a whole range of images and know exactly what Bond is and what not. ‘British’ of course figures somewhere in that whole sea of elements and traits, but way way down. And it doesn’t concern the audience that these concepts - of Bond, of the secret agent, of the United Kingdom - are for the most part fictional and carry scant resemblance with actual people and events.


#33

Ahh, this old chestnut.

As the world continues to change socially and subject matter drifts further and further from original Fleming material, we can’t rule anything out. Context being king here, a black James Bond is totally possible.

With that said, previous life experiences would be completely different for a black James Bond. We’d have to understand those differences and that backstory clearly first, before being reintroduced to this new version of the character on the big screen.

Now, pop a black actor in the role and continue with the same old formula and people are sure to be pretty confused, to say the least.

But, if we are to compare, Superman isn’t human. His backstory can be whatever someone can dream up. James Bond is completely different from a character standpoint, if we are considering historic and very specific descriptions of the ‘man’ in the original works of which he is featured.

It is hard to up and change the very DNA of a ‘human’ character an audience has been accustomed to know. For the better part of a handful of decades, nonetheless.


#34

I’m fairly open to a Black Bond, but (and this is a big but) the actor chosen should be the right actor, the ‘best’ available, I’d hate to see Eon go that direction because they feel either a) under pressure b) need to keep up with the times or c) want to be trendy.
Even with the Elba discussion (despite the fact he is clearly too old by almost a decade) I feel currently he’s not even the best available (that would be Fassbender for me)
I suspect it’s likely, maybe even inevitable that Eon go down this road, but I hope if/when they do, they do it for the right reasons.

Re Bond and football; I always assumed he would have little interest in sports, maybe too trivial? but would certainly assume he would support the English national team (There was always a hint in Flemings Bond that he saw himself in competition with other nationalities);
I suppose (unfortunately) given his flat location, that if he DID follow a team it would be Chelsea…