Bye bye Bond: The new 007 is a black woman, but does everything old need to be fixed?

  16 July 2019    Read: 1948
Bye bye Bond: The new 007 is a black woman, but does everything old need to be fixed?

The James Bond franchise will shake things up completely for its 25th instalment, casting a black actress to take over from Daniel Craig as the new 007 – since re-doing old stories with a PC angle is easier than writing new ones.

The UK’s Daily Mail reports that British actress Lashana Lynch will take over from Craig as codename 007 in the as-yet-untitled film. The movie will reportedly see Craig retain the title role, however, being called out of retirement in Jamaica for one last mission. If previous trends are anything to go by – and if the move pays off – Lynch may then take over fully for the 26th movie.

The revelation is not so surprising in an era when political correctness has become something of a new religion – and naturally, the casting has somewhat ironically prompted much divisiveness on social media, where there have been both celebrations of the daring move and anger that the long-established brand of the male, martini-sipping Bond would be fundamentally changed forever.

To avoid confusion, it should be pointed out that Lynch won’t be playing ‘James Bond’ per se, but will be taking over the 007 codename, which, technically speaking, can be done by anyone. 

The question is whether or not it should be.

The Bond news comes shortly after it was announced that the Little Mermaid character would also be played by a black actress in an upcoming live-action remake of the 1989 classic, causing similarly divided social media reaction. Before that, there was the controversy over the casting of a black actress in the role of the white, red-haired Annie in 2014 – and the way things are going, a black female Bond won’t be the end of it, either.

Amid all of the outrage and celebrations, only a few are pointing out the laziness of rehashing the same old stories with ‘diversified’ casts in blatant attempts to make bag-loads of money pandering to more varied demographics – all without having to get the creative juices flowing to come up with entirely new characters and storylines.

Perhaps afraid to pour money into untested ideas, Hollywood studios are churning out remakes a dime a dozen – but the creative inertia could backfire if enough people decide that Bond (and the rest of the modernized remakes) are no longer worth the price of a movie ticket. 

If the opposite happens and people eat up the recycled offerings, then we can look forward to an endless stream of tedious remakes of everything from The Sound of Music to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The trend also points to an arguably insulting assumption that women – of any race – would be so overwhelmed with gratitude to be ‘given’ a traditionally male role. 

In an era when Hollywood actresses talk so much about a lack of strong female leads, one might assume they’d be happier to see each other take on new, challenging roles in female-driven stories – instead of being placated by the offer of recycled male roles that have been around for decades.

Does everything old need to be fixed? If a movie franchise is outdated, surely the better option is to simply move on and make something new? Bond critics have long said the character is a womanizing player unfit for the #MeToo era – or, a “sleazy sexist pig” as one tweeter put it. Why is the solution to that to simply turn the 007 character into a woman? Even if that description of Bond is apt, “sleazy sexist pigs” do exist in the world and erasing them from the plots of all movies to sanitize stories for the sake of political correctness is quite unrealistic.

If the latest obsession with rewriting movie history to be less ‘sexist’ and ‘racist’ continues in the current vein, audiences may soon start to catch on to the fact that this lazy pandering is more about Hollywood studios making a quick buck than genuine interest in diversity and inclusivity.

 

RT


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