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

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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.

https://www.unz.com/print/NewMasses-1946feb12-00019

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!"



Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
Are a lot of people who are into this idea of female action movies being a new thing, of the younger generation? For example, my gf is 21, and she hasn't seen a lot of movies before about 2005 and she isn't aware of a lot of female action heroes as a result. So is it a younger generation thing, who refuse to watch any movies as old as Terminator 2, and Hollywood is trying to appeal to this generation even though they damn well know that female action heroes have been around for a while?



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Are a lot of people who are into this idea of female action movies being a new thing, of the younger generation? For example, my gf is 21, and she hasn't seen a lot of movies before about 2005 and she isn't aware of a lot of female action heroes as a result. So is it a younger generation thing, who refuse to watch any movies as old as Terminator 2, and Hollywood is trying to appeal to this generation even though they damn well know that female action heroes have been around for a while?

https://sarahsjoking.medium.com/st-g...e-dd6ea9b61ef2



Since we're talking about Bond getting "woke" here anyway, I might as well finally get back around to restarting this exchange now...
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?



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.

https://www.unz.com/print/NewMasses-1946feb12-00019

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?
The presence of worse sexism in other countries seems like an argument to include more feminism in movies to me, not less. Anyway, you're acting as though movies being social relevant in a positive way is somehow fundamentally opposed to them being entertaining at the same time, which just isn't true, even in "popcorn movies". Of course, you can find plenty of examples of movies that push an agenda at the expense of being good overall, but there are plenty of successful counter-examples that disprove that idea, like (at the risk of beating a dead horse) this scene in Fury Road...



...where a group of women basically give an anti-patriarchal mini-lecture to a man in the middle of a chase, or the way that Do The Right Thing is a very preachy movie (in a good way) about race relations, but is also very entertaining and often even funny at the same time; in both these cases, the movies aren't weakened by their underlying "agendas", but rather, their messages gets through stronger because the movie are also so entertaining on the whole, and there's no reason to assume that the Bond movies can't achieve something similar in that series, as far as I'm concerned.



Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
Well as far as Bond movies go, it seems to me that ever since Licence to Kill more so, the women characters have become stronger and that that one was a bit of a gamechanger for the ones that followed. Unless I am wrong?



Well as far as Bond movies go, it seems to me that ever since Licence to Kill more so, the women characters have become stronger and that that one was a bit of a gamechanger for the ones that followed. Unless I am wrong?
I'd say the Bond women have been getting noticably stronger in one way or another before that (as far back as at least Goldfinger, in fact), so making a female version of Bond would only be an extension of that trend, if you ask me.



Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
That's true, it's just that before LTK, it seems they kept flipping back and forth. Goldfinger had strong women, TB strong, but then YOLT had weak ones, OHMMSS strong, DAF weak, LALD debateable...etc.

So it seems like it went back and forth a lot, but ever since LTK, there hasn't been a weak Bond woman since, at least in my opinion, with the acception of maybe Strawberry Fields but that's debateable, but it had a long run of consistent strong women for a while there before then.



That's true, it's just that before LTK, it seems they kept flipping back and forth. Goldfinger had strong women, TB strong, but then YOLT had weak ones, OHMMSS strong, DAF weak, LALD debateable...etc.

So it seems like it went back and forth a lot, but ever since LTK, there hasn't been a weak Bond woman since, at least in my opinion, with the acception of maybe Strawberry Fields but that's debateable, but it had a long run of consistent strong women for a while there before then.
Maybe, but that doesn't always mean that the more recent Bond women have always been well-written or portrayed; Christmas Jones, anyone? I mean, it's good for them to not be as much of a damsel in distress anymore, but that's just the first step in updating the series.



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The presence of worse sexism in other countries seems like an argument to include more feminism in movies to me, not less.
If so, then you see film as "church." We're norming our values directly and doing so with a greater emphasis on being right than being entertaining.

I don't trust Hollywood to save my soul or teach me moral lessons.

Anyway, you're acting as though movies being social relevant in a positive way is somehow fundamentally opposed to them being entertaining at the same time, which just isn't true, even in "popcorn movies".
It is when the tail wags the dog, when the message becomes a scold, and when the orthodoxy deforms the shape of plot and character. What do we do when we have to make a choice? When the two come into conflict, shall we have a bit of fun or stick to the orthodoxy ("Well, of course we can't make her crazy, because that would imply that she's hysterical, which messages that women are hysterical and weak")?

A lot of modern writing is really stiff in that you can predict paint-by-numbers how things will play out, because that is what the code demands (like the old Hays Code when it was guaranteed that the villain would face justice at the end).

And why are we sweating social relevance? Why should we insist on doing both all the time? Why can't we give it a rest every now and then? Why not just have a bit of fun without saving the world or at least worrying that going off-code will somehow make it worse? Why not just tell the story for the sake of the story and not tack on a sermon?

...where a group of women basically give an anti-patriarchal mini-lecture to a man in the middle of a chase,

or the way that Do The Right Thing is a very preachy movie (in a good way) about race relations, but is also very entertaining and often even funny at the same time; in both these cases, the movies aren't weakened by their underlying "agendas",
Do The Right Thing is. As much as Sal is the sympathetic racist of the pizzeria, Spike Lee is a bit of a Sal himself (i.e., he has some racial problems of his own). It's an important film, but it's also a bit student film, rather heavy-handed. In my opinion, both films could have been done better.

but rather, their messages gets through stronger because the movie are also so entertaining on the whole,
Who cares? Why do you keep putting evangelizing first? Who cares if a message added on to the entertainment succeeds all the more in the entertainment does the heavy lifting? Why are you going to the movies? If the filmmaker plays fair with me and let's me know what I am getting into before I spend my money and I agree to pay for a sermon, fine. Apart from that, this is ideological bushwhacking.

and there's no reason to assume that the Bond movies can't achieve something similar in that series, as far as I'm concerned.


James Bond isn't here to save our souls but to give us a release from our cares.

You want James Bond to be a vehicle for your preferred agenda, but this is unfair. I would love to make James Bond a born again Christian who tastefully lectures the audience about eternal life through Jesus Christ just to see how you like it. And I might tell you,

"Well, it was also entertaining wasn't it?"

"What's the matter? Are you a religiophobe?!?"

"Certainly there are religious soldiers and spies! It's perfectly realistic. Now if you will please turn the to Book of Joshua, for example, we can read about some nice Biblical spies as evidence."

"Why can't we have a James Bond who kills and saves souls? I mean if we can do both, why not?"



Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
Maybe, but that doesn't always mean that the more recent Bond women have always been well-written or portrayed; Christmas Jones, anyone? I mean, it's good for them to not be as much of a damsel in distress anymore, but that's just the first step in updating the series.
I didn't mind Christmas Jones because even though she may have been mis-cast, I don't think there was anything wrong with the character as written, unless I am wrong?



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I didn't mind Christmas Jones because even though she may have been mis-cast, I don't think there was anything wrong with the character as written, unless I am wrong?

I think the problem, as you note, would be with casting. I think people probably didn't accept her as a nuclear scientist because she looks too much like a supermodel (a bit too young and a bit too pretty). They didn't give her the "Willow" (i.e., cute nerd) treatment, but instead dressed her up like Lara Croft. They didn't exactly put her light under a bushel and the acting talents of Denise Richards (no offense) were not exactly going to sell her in the part.



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I can understand the mis-casting, but as a character Christmas Jones seems more feminist, and doesn't like to take crap, and is resourceful when it comes to fixing problems, so I thought fans would like her on that basis.



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I can understand the mis-casting, but as a character Christmas Jones seems more feminist, and doesn't like to take crap, and is resourceful when it comes to fixing problems, so I thought fans would like her on that basis.

Honestly, I don't really remember her a character that well.



If so, then you see film as "church." We're norming our values directly and doing so with a greater emphasis on being right than being entertaining.

I don't trust Hollywood to save my soul or teach me moral lessons.

It is when the tail wags the dog, when the message becomes a scold, and when the orthodoxy deforms the shape of plot and character. What do we do when we have to make a choice?
That's my entire point, though; you don't have to make a choice between movies being entertaining and socially relevant in a positive way, because the two qualities aren't automatically are in opposition to one another, and there are plenty of examples (Fury Road, DTRT, Parasite, etc.) for me that show movies are better able to deliver big social messages because the film around them is fundamentally entertaining, which is the sugarcoating that helps audiences swallow the bitter medicine inside the pill easier. Of course the first priority should be to just make a good movie in general, and not every movie will need to be as socially relevant as the next, but if there's a way to make a particular movie even better by including that, than why not go for it? I mean, gender relations wasn't initially one of the defining themes of the Mad Max series, but the entry that almost everyone (including myself) agrees is the best one is the one that just so happens to deal with feminism in its own way, so I think that speaks for itself, as far as I'm concerned.



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That's my entire point, though; you don't have to make a choice between movies being entertaining and socially relevant in a positive way,
The more you make it "socially relevant" according to norms you want to foist on the audience, sure it's great for you.

What you're not getting is that the more you code for what you think is is morally right, the more you're irritating people who aren't in your club. People don't want norms pushed on them when they watch a killer spy quip, kill, and kiss the girls.

They don't want Kombucha. They didn't order it. They don't care how good it is for you. They wanted a hero-Martini, slumbering not woke. They didn't order a Kombucha Martini or a Martini with a "hint" Kombucha (which to them is a hint of "ass"). Would you like a drink with a hint of "ass"? I wouldn't.

And again, let's put the shoe on the other foot. Let's make Bond a born again Christian. Let's have him drive home the socially relevant message of salvation, forgiveness, and compassion. Let's do just enough to keep it fun, but also let the audience know they need Jesus. Who is with me? Can I get an Amen?


because the two qualities aren't automatically are in opposition to one another,
So long as the audience was fairly warned, fine. If, for example, I make my Godsploitation Spy movie, I am sure you're fine with it, just so long as you know what I am up to before you've paid the price of admission. And no, "It's 2021" is not fair warning (hint, that's why people are complaining).

there are plenty of examples (Fury Road, DTRT, Parasite, etc.)
I am not enamored of your examples here (I am not familiar with Parasite and will leave off commenting on it). As for Do the Right Thing, it has strengths besides the typical kinda-racist Spike Lee preachy-B.S. and Fury Road is pretty good despite the shoe-horned feminism.

for me that show movies are better able to deliver big social messages
And for me Jesus Bond, License to Save is better because it can deliver my tidings of comfort and joy to the world with a catchphrase and a PPK. And who are you to complain about getting the masses just a little bit closer to eternal life?




the sugarcoating that helps audiences swallow the bitter medicine inside the pill easier.

We know. The coding is blatant. But we didn't ask for the medicine. When we're talking about a long-standing franchise, we know what we're asking for and we know what we want. And what we want is NOT a lecture from an amateur grievance studies Tumblr prof. giving us "just the tip" of the ideology, or just getting a sweaty gropey hand on our knee or shoulder.

The writers who are now ruining and tilting storied franchises left and right are not the saviors of society. They're not even good writers, for the most part. Good writers are walking on egg-shells with the sensitivity editors deployed by publishers. Good God, even J.K. Rowling is not left-wing enough anymore.

A healthy filmic environment is one of actual diversity (intellectual diversity), and increasingly we find the monocrop of your budding ideological hegemony in every film. It's become a checklist (can't do this, must do that, choose from these items for elective bonus points). Film is supposed to be a cultural conversation, NOT a struggle session, not a perpetual task of one-way programming the apes who just want to watch things go boom.

Of course the first priority should be to just make a good movie in general,
And I promise that Jesus Bond will be high-quality family edu-tainment! You'll be glad that you spent the time and money for the homily. We'll even have well-endowed (but modestly dressed!) women there to distract you. Were you listening to me Stu, or were you looking at the nun with the super-hot ankles?


and not every movie will need to be as socially relevant as the next,
Of course, we cannot indoctrinate heavily in every film, but we will do what we can to raise the conscience of the workers with regard to sexual and racial inequity and capitalist pollution of the environment.

You are so deep into this that you take it for granted that a major purpose of the arts is to code the public to take their medicine which is discretely sugar-coated. They don't want it, but you know best, and it is for their own good. You assume, therefore, that you are morally and intellectually superior to your audience. You assume the position of a parent to oversee their training. This is elitism. This is infantilization. This not dialogue, but programming. This is bad.