Stu Presents, Men & Women Of Action: When Genre & Gender Collide!


Have read all this a few times with huge interest. Wondering how you would imagine a female character not being a “supporting” character to Bond in any context except if we did get a female Bond. You do say that can’t happen, I guess I just struggle with that.

I mean, the franchise is about him and bears his name - surely even if he were to get an equal partner and blah blah blah, this will be the secondary/supporting person in any context, due to the sheer fact this person is “new”? That said, I feel like Vesper has just about overshadowed Bond himself in the last 4 instalments, so narrative-wise, that’s as equal as it gets.
There's a number of ways it could do done, since they could possibly have James hand off the mantle of 007 to a female relative he's been training in the craft (so the lead character would still have the same last name, which would technically make her entries "Bond" movies), or they could reveal that James Bond is just a code name like some have theorized over the years, allowing it to repurposed for a woman. That being said though, I think either of those approaches would be unnecessary if the new movies were good; just so long as take place in the same established "universe", I don't think it would matter to a lot of people whether the lead character is a woman, or has a different last name. After all, Wolverine started out as a character in an ensemble cast, but that didn't stop Logan from succeeding despite its lack of X-Men branding, or even from overshadowing the whole rest of the series, for that matter.
I thought the closest to Bond that a Bond woman has become was probably Jinx from Die Another Day, because she is literally a female version of Bond it seems. Not just for action but also for seduction and sex as well.
Yup, and it kind of shows how it wouldn't be as difficult as it may seem to go with a female version of Bond, doesn't it?

Fury Road was done well in my opinion. But I guess that's different than changing the Mad Max character to a woman, and still keeping the same character overall. (Mad Maxine if you will?).

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome had a female warlord villain though, instead of the toxic male one. Does this mean that Beyond Thunderdome was ahead of it's time in that regard?
Sure, although the MM movies have a fairly loose continuity anyway, from using the same actors to play other characters across different entries, to changing/adding to Max's backstory, so a female reboot of the character wouldn't be as jarring as it could in other series. Anyway, that's a good point about Aunty Entity, since I can't recall many female villains in Action movies before her, at least not ones that were the lead antagonist, and not just a supporting one; maybe the female spymaster in From Russia With Love, I guess?

1) Yeah, Vesper's a good character. And Casino Royale is a good movie, in part because of her dynamic with Bond. I don't recall this being an argument about not incorporating a stonger female presence into these films though. I am entirely fine with the world around Bond changing. In fact, I think that is where you may find better ways to address the many unflattering elements of Bond's persona. Just swapping in a female to do that clean up work for the franchise just seems to be a lazy fix in the guise of the studios doing something bold.

2) If the argument for this gender swap is that we will now be able to offer a female actor a big budget role like Bond, I can understand that value of this. Even though, as I said, I am not going to be an optimist over how the studio would handle this, and I think they would treat the whole enterprise as a misguided enterprise as soon as it was in production, at least I get the value of extending an iconic role to this to those who have not had access to it before.

But as for the 'righting the wrongs' of the character, i think it is just a transparent dodge. I don't see how saddling a female with a character that is likely to be burdened with the same qualiites as a male Bond addresses anything. It's a play pretend solution. And frankly, seems to be a lazy way of not simply designing a new and similar type character that a female actress can make their own.

I just think it is an enormous fallacy to think that the way to get proper female representation on screen is to do things like 'fix' Bond. How about we just create a counterpoint to what Bond represents. Does even social justice have to abide by the tired mechanisms of retreads, reboots and sequels. And if we still want to be kinda lazy about the solution, you can put her in the Bond universe as a 006, or 013 or hey, let's give her the 001 treatment.

3) Maybe doing something like this would have been legitamately revolutionary if this was in the 90's or even early 2000's. But this approach barely feels like it has any cultural currency anymore. I really don't think this has the gravity you think it will. .Yeah, you'll get those who get disaproportionately outraged, and we can all have a chuckle at that, but that's an unbelievably hollow victory. At the end of the day, no one is really going to care or think about the value of this much. And while I'm not going so far to say it would be valueless (like said, there are probably a lot of female actors who would want to play Bond), and there are probably positives I haven't considered or have under valued, it just feels like a desperately empty gesture to me. And my deeply engrained cynicism can't get over that hurdle.
I'm not advocating for a female version of Bond because I want to see them do a lazy gender-swap with everything else kept the same, no more than I want them to go in the opposite direction and do a bunch of "gurl power!"-style pandering, though; the right path lies somewhere in-between those two extremes, naturally. Anyway, as for the point about the world Bond lives in changing around him, of course that's going to happen to a certain extent to reflect the contemporary values of the real world, but, as that happens, the character will have to change to keep pace, or else he'll be percieved completely different. Like, they could repeat the scene from Goldfinger where he dismisses a woman by casually smacking her on the ass, but if they did that today, then people of all genders would be giving him all kinds of dirty looks for it, changing him from being the more heroic figure he's always been to just an asshole, which would be an actual betrayal of the character, far more than making a feminist or female version of him.

And of course, Bond's already changed as a character by becoming less sexist in general, and apparently more than I'm aware of personally (since the most recent entry I've seen was Skyfall), a change that's benefitted the series as a whole, so it seems arbitrary to draw the line here, and discourage the movies from continuing in that direction by embracing feminism in a thoughtful, tasteful manner, which I would advocate for with any series or hero, but especially with one that has the sort of sexist baggage as Bond. At any rate, I'm not even necessarily more skeptical than you are of the likelihood of Hollywood getting it right; I just think it's possible, but also more importantly, worth doing, due to the particular history of this series (because if it's good, then of course it would be worth doing), and that's what my entire argument is predicated on. Whether or not it's likely that they'll do it well is a whole other debate, and one that I feel is pretty irrelevant in this context.

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Regardless of the specific polarization of American politics at this current moment, sexism (particularly misogyny) is still a worldwide,
I'd say especially worldwide.

universably understood aspect of society, one that's still pretty much present in every country to one degree or another, so it's not like other nations wouldn't be able to appreciate a more feminist Bond.
Other nations might not, on the other hand, because of the even worse sexism in their cultures.

And what is the purpose of James Bond? Is this liberation theology or escapism? Are we in church at at the movies? What are we even on about here?

Anyway, politics on its fundamental level is just a matter of the real life power relations between people, relations that inevitably get reflected and reinforced in art, so the idea that one of the most iconic characters of all time being sexist to half the human race isn't political is a bit silly to me; I mean, to a certain extent, how could that be anything but political?
That's not really the question so much as the question is if the art is still good. A key point about entertainment. It should entertain. This is precisely the issue raised by Maltz and for which he would be punished severely (basically "cancelled") by fellow communists.

Why do Godsploitation films generally suck? Well, largely because they're so worried about being "four square" with dogma that they just wind up being square.

Although we cannot avoid political implications, we have usually made a space for the scoundrel, the lovable heel, the bad dude with a one-liner who gets away with more than he should and more than we could (e.g., Han Solo, Axel Foley, Harry Callahan, Malcolm Reynolds, John Shaft, Loki, Bugs Bunny, Cartman, Perry Cox, Gregory House). These characters are politically incorrect on matters of race, gender, class, religions, etc. In this sense, they are all political. But they're also fun. They entertain. The tail does not wag the dog.

James Bond doesn't really belong in our world anymore. The film series which best explores this issue is the Austin Powers series (all the comedy is driven by how out of place Austin and his villains are). The disconnect is so bad that it's like watching people trying to find clever new ways to stage Shakespeare to make it relevant to new audiences (e.g., "O" and the DeCaprio Romeo and Juliet and McKellen's Richard III).

First and foremost, however, these films should be fun. James Bond is not Sunday school. He's the guy who cuts class and smoke cigarettes and has sex with the prom queen. We don't need a feminist James Bond anymore than we need a born again devout James Bond, although I suppose both would be a moral improvement over the cold, boozing, philandering, murderer that he is.

And yet, we watched Tony Stark sell weapons and sleep around and quip-kill and casually kick ass, so it's not like our appetite for wise-cracking heel-heroes has passed.

Bond can be modernized, I suppose, but the most important challenge is to make him Bugs Bunny with a PPK (not a moral saint or even morally respectable character). Why are we so concerned with making Bond a feminist when we should be concerned with making him fun?

Is Hazards of Helen another Perils of Pauline clone ?

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Is Hazards of Helen another Perils of Pauline clone ?
Don't have a clue, however, it is telling that bad-ass babes in cinema appear before our living memory of movie watching, but new movies keep promising us that they are FINALLY going to REALLY break the gender barrier an give us the first true female hero. I don't buy it. Captain Marvel ain't got s--t on Sigourney Weaver or Pam Greer or even Annie Oakley (an actual John Wick-type pistolera).

The narrative is that of "doing the work" which tends to conveniently forget all the work that has already been done. We're stuck on a treadmill of "Now, for the first time! Women as strong action heroes!"