Not Just a Number

As 2021 runs its course, with all of the usual “good riddance to bad rubbish” sentiments that we have come to expect from this particular decade, it comes as no surprise that the disease has spread to cinema.
I know we live in a world where we are so paranoid about upsetting each other, it is practically impossible to say anything without tripping over someone’s sensitivity. We resort to empty plaidoyers instead and spend an awful lot of time nodding gravely at each other. That the world has become a grey, uninteresting place seems to be what the future generation wants. Call me unenlightened if you want, at least I didn’t grow up fearing my own shadow. Life is not an excuse, it is a responsibility and funnily enough, you only get this one chance to make it good. So if you want to spend it worrying about your pronouns and shouting incoherently about whales, quinoa and (insert relevant cause here), then help yourself.
But where you have finally gone too far is James Bond.
I could almost forgive you for Dr. Who. After the travesty that was Matt Smith I had lost interest anyway, and Peter Capaldi was nice but he was bogged down by lazy writing so it was no surprise when you decided he had to be a woman too. So, I turned off Dr. Who, never to return. I have the old ones to turn to still and can still look up at the sky and imagine my Doctor is somewhere in the stars with his Tardis. Though if he still wants to save this world, I wish him luck.
But with James Bond, my dears, you have gone too far.
It was with great reluctance I watched the Daniel Craig reincarnation. I have learned to distrust films made after 2005 so I was not too surprised that Bond now had feelings and spent an awful lot of time being just broody and reflective. The villains, in their turn, were no longer overly evil or particularly frightening; a horde of distraught psychopaths with emotional baggage. Of course, they turned M into a woman and Q into a gay man. Fortunately, M went away and was replaced, while Q is just a reflection of desperate inclusiveness. (Inclusive would be if you didn’t have to tell me that Q was expecting a man over for dinner. I am clever enough to draw my own conclusions, thank you). With this new Bond I had to endure this soap opera style of love interest, and a Bond who so obviously didn’t want to be Bond it makes me wonder why Daniel Craig did this in the first place. So in his infinite hatred of the character, he committed the ultimate sin.
He killed off Bond.
Yes, I am going to destroy the ending for all of you who have not seen the movie, “No Time to Die,” and the reason I am going to do that is to save you the pain of watching this mess of a film. Besides running way too long with a story that ultimately was secondary to the film itself, (though I guess that what this generation fears the most is things they can’t see, so the idea of a plague of nanobots makes sense) – in fact, they could just have done away with the story and simply concentrated on Bond being broody, Bond being snubbed by the new 007, Bond being wrong about the love of his life, Bond, being right about the love of his life and horror of horrors, Bond making breakfast for a toddler. The villain himself didn’t seem to know what he wanted to do, the overly stereotyped smiling turncoat American and the hilariously accented Russian scientist were at least funny in an uncomfortable way. For a generation so determined to offend nobody, you have managed to fall back on two of the worst stereotypes from the 80’s so I guess I should thank you for that. My only issue with the Russian scientist, I doubt very much a real one would grovel as much as this one did.
Then there is the fundamental problem of Ms. 007.
As a woman, I find her frankly insulting.
Not because she is 007 but because she is rude and overbearing. It is not a sign of strength and independence to insult people. All I saw stomping across the screen was a nasty harpy with so much attitude that I was hoping someone would shoot her. No class, no character. All the things a 007 is, she isn’t.
But I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? Because according to Ms. 007 here it is “only a number.” Then why on earth did she want it so badly, if it wasn’t just to stick it to James Bond? She is the epitome of these times. Where everything is equalized out of existence, where there is nothing left to strive for. It is “just a number” after all and means nothing. No honour, no class, and above all, no manners. She didn’t become 007 because she was honoured to take on the number, she took it to show us all how much she hates it. And how she hates it.
In fact, this whole movie was created to show us how to hate something we have grown up loving. Devolving 007 to “just a number” that anyone can take on should make us understand just how little regard we should have for anyone who works hard. We should loath people who strive to be better than us: it gives us the right to insult them for their achievements and then whine a little about our own underachieving selves – because we should all have the right to that number, regardless of whether we deserve it or not. What a pathetic mess of cruelty we have become.
So they killed off Bond.
They killed off the idea that a man can be heroic and brave. That a man can be admirable and suave. They left us with an empty shell of a man who in the real world would have trouble getting a blind date on Tinder. A man who should have gone out in a blaze of glory is left blubbering on a telephone to his girlfriend about how blue his daughter’s eyes are or some such nonsense. Then the missiles come and there goes Bond into oblivion. Goodbye Mr. Bond. But it isn’t said by some smirking villain, it is screeched by a self-righteous mob who are happy this perceived symbol of misogyny has been wiped off the face of the earth and can be shelved with all the other things they don’t like. He can now be replaced by a wholesome generationally correct character, who will tick all the right boxes and since it will probably be a woman, preferably an insufferable one, then they can guarantee there will be plenty of free seats in the movie theatre in the future.
Because let’s be honest. Who really wants a woke Bond?
From my perspective, I want a Bond who isn’t just a man, he is the man. And I don’t mean one who simpers about his feelings. I want an indestructible one, who has impeccable manners even when he is about to be eaten alive by sharks. A Bond who dazzles in a suit and lets us imagine what he is like out of it. Devil may care with intelligence. The women he meets are smart enough to know that a Bond is not for life. And that is how it should be. His profession alone does not exactly make for an harmonious family life. Bond is alone because he has to be alone. His dedication to his country is his life. He does not peel apples for toddlers.
But James Bond has been turned into a number that seemingly anyone can have. He can be replaced by anyone, anywhere at any time just because. He died the death this Epoque felt was fitting – just an ordinary, damaged man who happened to kill people for a living, so nothing special then. He can be a woman because of meh, numbers, and all that.
We can’t have special, we can’t have good. We can’t have a distinct line between good and evil because we have to have a mix of everything. The logic is no one is absolutely evil so no one can be completely good either. Since you have to have a reason for everything, then even evil comes with a whole host of excuses.
I will miss my Bond. I will miss the laughs and the villains. I will miss the gorgeous women and the thrilling gadgets, the quirkiness of Q, and the exasperation of M. I will miss lovesick Miss Moneypenny who holds her heart for the man she can never have. In the end, they couldn’t even let him die as a hero.
I am sorry Mr. Bond. You met the 21st century and you lost.
Goodbye, Mr. Bond.

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