Goodbye

It took a lot of thought (plus a half finished follow up to my fanfic series that would have involved the last three 007’s plus my AU) but I’m done. Bond and I are no longer an item. There will undoubtedly be some issues as to who gets the music collection and plants, but in the main this is an amicable split. In the end, let’s be honest, this is all about the money, and the fact that when you own a phenomena, that is never something a sane person screws with.

I’m fine with the split. The next best thing debuted last night on BBC1 (review to follow) so I’m off to shack up with Doctor Who instead. I used to furiously stan the male version anyway (there is fanfic), so a woman in this role is never, EVER going to be frightening. Despite all the assurances in the article above that women are very well taken care of on Bond sets, placing Ms Broccoli clearly in the Good Guys camp, there is a principle at play here that is never about to alter. The elephant remains untouched in the room.

There is no interest in a future that won’t consider THAT portion of the ultimate pillar of toxic masculinity as intractable.

The interview with Broccoli is interesting in the lengths it takes to explain how Mr Craig’s interpretation is no longer the Bond of old, that elements that typically became part of the persona for so long (and became progressively more denigrated) have been largely removed. However, and this has always bothered me since I was a child, the way these things is now effectively ignored and dismissed has become frankly embarrassing.

Bond is the lecherous family member everybody puts up with ‘coz he’s rich and attractive. Blokes wish they were him. Women like to lust after him because you know, he’s clearly really good in bed because why else would all these women fall in love with him, flirt continuously and be happy that they were one of his harem when he buggers off? The assertion at the end of SPECTRE, riding into the sunset with the woman half his age, is clearly that he shags her until England needs him again and off we go, with nobody remember the bad bits of any of the movies before.

That might have worked a decade ago, but it won’t now.

Sure, lots of people might not know what a Blockbuster was in the Captain Marvel trailer, but everybody gets her relevance in the MCU. This is a company unafraid to stick women front and centre, that is happy to admit it’s fucked up royally with representation and is fixing its house without even a second ask. For 007, men still matter more because they are the executives in the companies whose high-finance, aspiration-based products are advertised on screen. Bond is a reminder of what it might be like to be that cool, when cool means money on top and girls on tap.

When Bond finally stops making money, THEN we know the tide is finally turning, and it occurs to me that if I don’t buy the DVD or the cinema ticket this time, that’s how things change. If I walk away from this relationship because finally, toxic is not attractive, we might get somewhere. Casino Royale remains my favourite film in the canon, but the  bandwagon will not make any money out of me for this, however awesome the final product might be.

Sometimes, you have to be the change.

Another Way to Die

Yes I KNOW I’m supposed to be writing poetry, and as it happens I have been, quite well all told. However, this happened Tuesday night and ever since my brain’s been looking for a release, because I think the game might be up.

You see, if you gave me a straight choice between what I feel Bond 25 will be like without Boyle’s attempts to modernise and The Spy Who Dumped Me (which even borrows from the Casino Royale titles in it’s initial trailer) yes, I’ll take the ladies who are killing it, plus Gillian Anderson as what Jane Bond would look like when promoted to M status. Honestly, unless you reinvent the franchise Eon, I am really done, and the last best hope for that just left the table citing that most dangerous of generic excuses, ‘creative differences.’ I might forgive the company for being protective of their brand, were it not for the ‘official’ statement on their website:

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SERIOUSLY, THAT’S IT?

You’re a massive multimillion dollar production company, this is the age of digital communication and THAT IS THE BEST YOU CAN DO? Boyle walks away, and you won’t even discuss the reasons? Why even bother with the post, honestly, this is just making you look… well, intractable. Old fashioned. INCAPABLE OF CHANGE. Maybe I should be impressed that some people clearly don’t feel the need to even grace us with explanations via digital media because they are above such actions but honestly, nope. This is not good enough, and I think you probably know this.

What happens next, of course, is now anybody’s guess, but I’ll be amazed if they start filming when they said they would. Daniel Craig’s due to become a dad in several months regardless, and there’s a part of me that can see his missus pushing quite hard for time with their new son/daughter over reinforcing some pretty brutally outdated gender stereotypes. So, do I pop down the Bookies and stick fifty knicker on him giving up the job and Idris Elba getting shoed in? I doubt we’re even close to that level of change… but there’s a better than average chance Craig made his last Bond movie with Spectre.

As they say, watch this space.

All Time High

Since the #MeToo Movement emerged in Hollywood (and beyond) the knives have been out for Ian Fleming’s secret agent. It is no surprise, on reflection: if you wanted a genre that had male dominance stamped all over it, here it is. Despite various attempts to shift emphasis (and a distinct move away completely from women as objects that began with the Casino Royale reboot in 2006) Mr Craig’s shower entrance in Skyfall gets an entirely understandable mention in that montage. What might once have been considered sexually charged gains a different hue when consent isn’t obvious, or indeed bothered with.

The people who make Bond quite obviously know they have a problem. A look at the @007 Twitter feed or the Official Website make this all too apparent: nothing controversial, a real emphasis away from the sexual and overly misogynist aspects of the movies, with shift towards what could be considered a more family-friendly outlook. To that end, I can now buy a Funko 007. There’s a 10p Coin of the Realm in a Bond stylee. At the weekend, a friend quite gleefully linked me a tweet which would appear to suggest the iconic DB5 is soon making a debut in brick format.

Those of you concerned that Danny Boyle’s gonna stuff up Bond 25 should bear in mind that there’s a lot at stake here besides the transfer of 007’s License to Kill. The world does need heroes, of that there is no doubt, but it is clearly time to ensure that diversity and respect get a fairer hearing than was previously the case. If the push into less controversial territory in terms of merchandising (and a new installation in the Alps in a location where SPECTRE was filmed that ignores all those scantily clad ladies completely) it’s a fair shout that you’ll be fixating on plot far more than has normally been the case.

The tabloids are full of casting rumours, we know when it starts shooting. Bond 25 has a lot to live up to, quite apart from public expectation. The groundwork already being done already suggests the direction that we’re heading may be distinctly different to those trodden before. Time will tell.


PS: I’ve written my own take on the current 007 and how there could be the means to introduce a female into the iconic slot on the MI6 roster. It seems like a good idea to shove some self-promotion in here…

 

You Know My Name

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Took a day off all forms of writing yesterday, because occasionally even I like to not worry about output. Then I went with Mr Alt to the Royal Albert Hall and watched Casino Royale scored by a full orchestra (plus David Arnold on guitar) and was in the same place (briefly) as Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. I continue to maintain that this is the best Bond movie ever made. After 11 years it stands up incredibly well to scrutiny, which is more than you can say for many of its predecessors. A long (bar based) conversation was had over the merits of 50 plus years of the Franchise, agreement that most of the ‘best’ movies are undoubtedly products of the age in which they were made. This movie is dated by its electronics, as has been the case for decades. That Sony Vaio laptop… plus so many mobile phones. Ah, nostalgia.

However, as a writer, the progression and eventual denouement of this movie are the most satisfying of any that precede it, and that really matters. You’re also given motivation for a series of four movies that follow and, like it or not, that ‘story’ ends at the end of SPECTRE, which makes the task of tacking on a fifth movie even more problematic. When you know the reason Craig finally said yes to the role (having initially turned it down) was on the strength of this script, one has to think doing one more is going to be a mistake for everyone involved.

The feeling refuses to go away: it isn’t just historical precedent at play here either. Diamonds are Forever, View to a Kill and Die Another Day are hardly stellar examples of the franchise, and all three just showed up the need to change the current actor with the designation to someone younger. The script for Bond 25 frankly has to be so good that it could win an Oscar, or else this landmark film will end up just being remembered as the last one that an actor made who should have quit whilst everybody was ahead. Whatever happens, however, this is where Craig was undoubtedly best as Bond: raw, malleable and ultimately prepared to die for his Country.

My feeling we should have stopped at Skyfall continues to persist, even more so having seen Casino for the first time on the big screen: I only ever got that on video as 2006 was the point in my life where depression consumed everything. I’ve often wondered if that mental attitude clouded my judgement of just how good Craig’s inaugural outing was. Last night confirms just how strong, brilliant and quintessentially Bond the whole experience was. If I am going to remember anything from the tenure of this actor, it will be his first movie and the third. Everything else will be consigned to space marked as ‘acceptable filler’ and I’ll wait to see which British actor is given the nod to replace him. Of course, I’d like an actress or a non-white male to take the role, but there’s as much a chance of that as me getting to write a Bond script.

This version of Bond undoubtedly has run his course. Time for a change.

Hope for the Future

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I didn’t get my mentorship. It wasn’t a surprise. In good news, they sent the e-mail nice and early, so I didn’t have to stress about it all day. Not that I would have, of course, because I already know how this is going to pan out.


What mattered more this morning was bettering my own standard.

I woke up at 7am with a mission.

I’d written an essay for today’s Internet of Words site that, frankly, I was less than enamoured with, far too similar in tone and outlook to the one produced a week before. I realise now that what works best in my four week format is a general essay on the book, and then a more detailed assessment of a portion of the subject matter, but seen through a wider lens. I have tried since the weekend to get a handle on what that view would encapsulate, and yesterday morning it came to me: time travel. So this morning I’ve taken a day’s worth of notes and a week’s worth of general research and produced something new pretty much from scratch. I’ve yet to do my re-read but honestly, I already know it is 1000% better than what I started with.

Today therefore is a resounding success, because I didn’t just stick with what was good. I created something better.


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Talking of creating something better… Bond 25 had better not be Diamonds are Forever or Die Another Day.

PLEASE DON’T FUCK THIS UP, SQUIRE.


Last night, the Real World crashed the party on Social media, and today lots of people will be REALLY cross. Be nice, and accommodate discussion. If your mental health won’t support remaining in public places, leaving’s perfectly fine. There’s plenty of us left to give the alt right, extremists and anyone else with stupidity running through their veins a run for their money. A smart person might even consider capitalising on current events.

I think I’d pay good money to see that happen.

Coming Around Again

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This is the blog post about Bond 25 that needs to be made, as the announcement popped up yesterday from Eon’s @007 Twitter feed confirming something is in pre-production. Booking a weekend in November 2019 might seem a bit previous, but considering what we’ve seen coming out of Comic Con over the last weekend, it makes perfect sense. This is to prepare the US market for a film which, one presumes, is going to have to be pretty damn special to follow SPECTRE, which effectively drew a line in the sand for everybody involved. If I believe the Internet, Daniel Craig has no soul and is doing two more films. I’m REALLY hoping he is finished with the role as was clearly the case at the end of Bond 24.

As was also true of Dr Who, this is a franchise in desperate need of a reboot.

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The chances of getting a woman in this job however are slim to non-existent. The canon doesn’t support it, and despite the likes of Gillian Anderson saying they’d play Jane Bond, I doubt the majority of the world will want to know. I can’t see Barbara Broccoli allowing her father’s legacy to be redefined in this way anyway: her love of Craig as Bond had as much to do initially with his physical appearance as it was about any ability to act. Bond is supposed to do something at a brain stem level to women that makes his behaviour somehow acceptable. Men just want to pretend they can get away with treating the opposite sex that badly whilst remaining insouciantly cool. Really, like it or not, this role goes to a man, because no woman could ever be that sociopathic and get away with being believable.

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Of course, nothing is stopping the next Bond being Iris Elba, or Dev Patel, except an awful lot of historical baggage. When reduced to only looking at white, heterosexual men, the field gets pretty samey. That’s the problem, all told. Everybody’s of a certain look, or a particular style, and then you’re comparing Tom Hiddleston to Craig or Tom Hardy to Roger Moore, which I’m sure neither would thank you for. Bond, like it or not, is a poisoned chalice: when you die as an actor, I’d argue what you don’t want is to have your family hear your media obituary contain the line ‘best known for his role as 007’ at any point. Anything and everything else you ever did as a professional is effectively sacrificed to commercialism, and that will hurt.

However, even though I’d like a minority interest Bond above white male, there’s probably a compelling argument at present to get Tom Hardy into the Aston Martin. If I believe the rumours that Christopher Nolan is interested in directing, Hardy’s a good fit (Bane in Batman, key role in Dunkirk) and clearly they’d work well together. The problem is, where you go when the criminal organization created solely to engineer your demise seems positively childish compared with the man running the US Government. The enemy remains crime families, sure, but honestly, truthfully, how the fuck are you going to create a believable plot for a Bond movie that’s not been done to death already? SPECTRE only worked as it rebooted the one villain we’ve not seen for decades because, of all things, a legal battle that prevented Eon from mentioning Blofeld existed.

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Whoever they get to play Bond, whether we keep going forward or its rebooted again, is being made to live in a world which his misogyny, plus treatment of the opposite sex has become frankly unacceptable. However sensitive and caring you make the man, he’s still a fucking dinosaur. It is going to take a monumental effort to produce anything based around current canon that won’t look outdated and ridiculous, or that doesn’t involve killing Madeline Swann before the opening title sequence, a la OHMSS. I tried to re-write the canon, but that only worked by making 007 part of an effective unit and one could argue as soon as you take away the ability for Bond to work alone, he’s not Bond any more anyway. Needless to say, I don’t envy the script team one iota. If they pull this off they really are miracle workers.

Until there are details and confirmation of who has the keys to the Aston Martin, all bets are off. Only with more details can we speculate on what happens next. I just hope and pray that the days of a Moonraker style film (with some ridiculous terrorist/cybercrime plot a la Mission Impossible) is not what everybody has to look forward to.

Please Please PLEASE let Bond 25 be a reboot.

Who Are You?

You remember that post from the end of June when I said there was no chance of seeing a female Doctor Who in my lifetime?

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier about being wrong in my life. Waking up this morning, to the first day when Jodie Whittaker is Doctor Who is… well, part of me still doesn’t believe it. My Twitter feed yesterday summed a lot of it up quite well, but if I’m honest this tweet is the real reason I’m celebrating:

That’s been me since I pretended to be James Bond, because all the women in his world were simply afterthoughts. Then I discovered Emma Peel, and I’ve sought out my own female heroes ever since… but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I still aspire to be the men. The ‘problem’ here is not the gender of the people involved. It really does not matter one iota whether these heroes are men or women. The bigger issue, by a long way, is their sexuality.  That’s what detonated all those bombs yesterday, will cause wailing and trauma for months to come. As Doctor Who becomes a woman, NOBODY should lose their minds. The problem with the individually focused, me-cultured Social media climate we live in is that lots of people can’t separate gender from desire.

I lost a fair number of followers yesterday on the back of my joyous ranting. I asked one of them why this appointment was so galling: she cited the trouble coping with the fact that the Doctor has a grand-daughter. How was it possible to reconcile this fact now the man is a woman? This is, of course, using established conventions that you need one of each sex to reproduce and create offspring. It is the same convention that will imprint on men that the Doctor was their hero… except now, she’s a heroine. The man they looked up to and aspired to become is now someone they could find sexually attractive. That is going to be difficult for many people to cope with.

There’s a flip side to this that’s made me especially angry, and it is watching certain women complain you can’t have a woman in the TARDIS. They enjoy the idea of a man being in control. Capaldi might not have been the most visually appealing of Doctors, but you could always go back to the days of Matt Smith and David Tennant and pretend you were one being rescued, or you were the favourite companion they’d turn to after a long day of saving the Universe. How can you write fanfic when the 13th Doctor’s forcing you to become a lesbian?

All of these issues are underpinned by conventional notions of sexuality. Once one dismisses these, it does not matter one iota who plays what role. What then comes into play is whether your canon will support the change. When a female Thor was announced by Marvel, already established wisdom backed up the decision by stating that Thor’s hammer would only imprint on someone worthy of wielding it, and that choice was not gender specific. The path to gender fluidity in the Time Lords has been laid well in advance, placed into canon as far back as the transformation of Tennant to Smith.

‘The Doctors Wife’ establishes, IN CANON, the Corsair who (according to 11) ‘didn’t feel like himself unless he had (a) tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times. Oooh, she was a bad girl.’ It is another thing to thank Mr Moffat for, I suppose, apart from breaking the whole show apart and putting it back together in a modern, progressive fashion. You can choose to forget all this for the sake of non-canon sensibilities, of course, but anyone who offers shock and surprise that this could happen has really not been paying the right amount of attention.

You can’t complain now, because that’s your fandom, and you should know better.

I want to quickly mention 007 here. This is a Universe that, as it stands, won’t support anything other than a white, hetrosexual Bond, if you look at canon for guidance. Sure, the franchise has tried to reinvent itself (see my mate Roger’s excellent dissection on License to Kill and how changing this male lead’s not as simple as writing in some historical precedent) but even now with Mr D. Craig, Esq in the lead roll, that reinvention has only gone so far. Unless something radical changes in terms of how the lead man is portrayed, it is unlikely we will ever see change on the scale that now exists in the TARDIS. Personally I’d want to pair him up with an equal female agent as we did in Tomorrow Never Dies, but I’m not sure even that is possible at this stage. Some ideas, like it or not, just have to be left to die.

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There has also been, quite understandably, some comments on how the kerfuffle in the TARDIS could have been avoided if an actor of colour or from a non-white background had been cast. That is another large can of worms: it might help the Bond franchise reboot, on reflection, but I suspect would have caused similar levels of outrage in the TARDIS, which is ridiculous. This is 2017 and honestly, anyone getting upset at a TV show employing anyone in a lead role who isn’t white and male is on a hiding to nothing.

There are more important things to get upset about, and really this is not one of them.