Here’s a private commission I did recently. Mary Millington (a British glamour/softcore porn model from the 70’s) as a 1970’s-style spy/Bond girl character. pic.twitter.com/ELBJYzESEm
— Staz Johnson (@StazJohnson) July 20, 2020
A woman should be the next James Bond?
I don’t agree; at least, at first, I didn’t.
I’m excited for the new James Bond film, “No Time to Die.” It’s opening tomorrow in the United States and the trending conversations have piqued my interest—including the controversy over whether a woman should play the next James Bond.
I’ve heard that Bond will take a leave from active duty in this film—while his agent number 007 is reassigned.
And his successor is a woman.
My original thought was 007 should be raised to the rafters and kept affiliated with only James Bond—much like the world of hockey has #99 permanently affixed to Wayne Gretzky.
But the more I think about this, the more I’m okay with the reassignment.
James Bond is still James Bond, a male.
And a woman is just as capable as a spy, even 007—duh.
I softened up to the idea of a woman in a Bond jersey and liked it, until I read lines like this by former Bondsman, Pierce Brosnan.
“I think we’ve watched the guys do it for the last 40 years. Get out of the way, guys, and put a woman up there.”
Apologies if my tone shifts within this article, but come again Pierce?
Have the men done something wrong here?
Have we been “in the way” by starring in over two dozen films since the fictional “male” character was created, grossing over seven billion dollars, and creating jobs for thousands of men and women along the way?
What have we, men, done wrong this time?
It’s not like we are forming a defensive wall in front of the Bond Franchise much like you see in soccer in front of a goalkeeper—right?
Are we in the wrong?
The role was written as a British male character who happened to look phenomenal in a suit and cufflinks. He’s James Bond—a multitalented, charming, handsome, athletic, buff, and highly accomplished spy who can drive a sports car through narrow Italian cobblestone roads and is adored by beautiful women.
That Brosnan comment is disrespectful, to be honest, and a bit ungrateful. It was spoken by someone who had the distinct pleasure of playing one of the most successful male characters of all time in cinema—four times.
And for all the talk of the character’s flaws of being entitled, this quote actually came off that way—“Get out of the way.” That’s demeaning all the men who have ever played Bond.
It’s no different than saying, “Shut up.”
Instead of swiping away history, Daniel Craig chose to speak on behalf of all women in a different way.
“There should simply be better parts for women and actors of color…why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”
I am of the same opinion, with slight variations.
I love movie characters, both male and female, and I don’t like to see history rewritten to conform with the times. Rather, I would like to see constant evolution as we create new projects, new ventures, and new movie roles.
Evolution doesn’t involve changing the gender of a historical character, thus gaslighting history in the process.
Women should not be reaching back to be Bond, but rather reaching forward with a razor-sharp, stylish, fascinating but enigmatic, intellectual, and untouchable female spy or other interesting characters. Someone unique that will stick in our hearts and minds and wow us all, not cover the tracks of old-school, acceptable behavior of a handsome and brilliant yet notoriously sex-thirsty man.
Bond was written for a male, and the franchise spent more than half a century solidifying that character. Don’t just erase him; he deserves his life, accolades, accusations, and all. And I’m certain there are many minds inspired to develop a female character who is a spy in a lead role—that blows us the f*ck away and is even better than James Bond.
There is no doubt that this is possible.
So please, let the women heroines stay women. And please, allow James to stay James Bond, a man.
And while I’m at it, here are four characters I would never ever like to see even entertained to be remade or recast as a man.
Amelie’s imagination, fun, creativity, and her wild daydreams, playful eyes, and expressions will never be topped for me. Absolute joy in the purest form.
Adorable-ness. Males need not apply.
Ripley’s courageous, cool, controlled, calm confidence, and her resourcefulness while in extreme danger was like nothing we had seen before—and, well, she took down the scariest most violent creature cinema had literally ever seen.
Meryl Streep—Miranda Priestly
Authoritative, elegant, confidently in control, expert in her industry, stylish and bold, focused on detail and highly intelligent. I’m all set with a man trying to wear her shoes.
I dare ya. You won’t beat her. It’s her game.
Linda Hamilton—Sarah Connor
Don’t. Even. Try.
The new film’s director, Cary Joji Fukunaga, said it best for me.
“You can’t change Bond overnight into a different person. But you can definitely change the world around him and the way he has to function in that world. It’s a story about a white man as a spy in this world, but you have to be willing to lean in and do the work to make the female characters more than just contrivances.”
And long-time 007 producer Barbara Broccoli also nailed it.
“I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that.”
At the end of the day, perhaps this quote is the one we should covet, when thinking about the future of the Bond franchise.
“As Bond continues, I hope it’s a man who takes on the role and changes it, a man who shows that strength can be found in vulnerability and equality.“
I can’t wait to see Daniel Craig’s last appearance as James Bond, but please, everyone:
Let Pinocchio be a boy.
Let Cinderella be a young woman.
Enjoy our male and female differences.
A great character is a great character.
Let’s celebrate them all.
As Bond continues, I hope it’s a man who takes on the role and changes it, a man who shows that strength can be found in vulnerability and equality.https://t.co/QRFyb6hiAO
— British GLAMOUR (@GlamourMagUK) October 4, 2021
And go ahead, prove me wrong.