The devolvement of identity politics into a zero-sum, grievance-hierarchy scrum is perhaps nowhere more obvious than in Hollywood and the entertainment industry overall. Political correctness has become a necessity in modern entertainment production, with diversity consultants in employ, cultural hot-button issues being shoehorned as virtue signals wherever possible, and, as today’s topic, the notion of casting a woman as the next James Bond.

Ian Fleming’s license-to-kill spy is described as: slim build; blue-grey eyes; a “cruel” mouth; short, black hair, a comma of which falls on his forehead; 6 feet in height; 168 lb; mid-to-late thirties; orphaned son of a Scottish father and Swiss mother; briefly educated at Eton; a Commander of the Royal Navy.

Oh, yes, and male.

So, why the notion of changing the character to female? It’s not as if there’s been a dearth of female action heroes and vehicles. They’re rebooting Tomb Raider this year, for one. Should Lara Croft be recast as Larry Croft, given that we’ve already got several Indiana Jones flicks in that genre?

We didn’t need Mad Maxine, when we got Furiosa. We’ve seen Alice six times, Selene five times, Ripley four times. We had Wonder Woman, the Atomic Blonde, Katniss Everdeen, Tris, Lucy, and Major. Rey is fronting one of the biggest movie franchises in history, with a hat tip to Jyn Erso. We’ve seen Sgt. Rita Rose Vratask kick Tom Cruise’s ass around. The Bride battled O-Ren Ishii. Nikita did her thing in two different languages. Hanna, Evelyn Salt, Cataleya, Kate Macer, Aeon Flux, Elektra, Jessica Jones, Violet Song, Sarah Connor, Foxy Brown, and Natasha Romanoff are all originals.

What’s the point of making James Bond female, other than as a genuflection to the cultural scolds who will insist, despite the plethora of female action leads I just named (and more), on rejections of patriarchal symbols? Bond isn’t Superman or some other prototypical paragon of virtue. He’s an iconic character, for sure, and his portrayal has evolved over the years, but at the core, the character is a womanizing, hard-drinking Her Majesty’s Secret Service murderer, and certainly not someone to bring home to meet the parents. Why muck with the identity so fundamentally, rather than simply write a new character, with her own back story, personality, flaws, and idiosyncrasies?

Is there some desire not just to elevate a strong female lead, but to undermine the male version? Must James Bond be diluted or corrupted in order to advance strong female role models? Is this to be zero-sum as well?

The evidence runs to the contrary. Strong female characters have been holding their own in the action realm for many years, and there’s absolutely no dearth of role models for young women, both as stand-alone leads (e.g. Hunger Games, Divergent) and as part of ensembles (e.g. Harry Potter, Game of Thrones).

Sure, some will argue that changing gender (or race, for that matter) of a cultural icon offers an opportunity to freshen that character and to explore ideas in new ways, but that’s just a cop-out. Any new Bond movie will be derivative, and there’s far more flexibility and far more opportunity for new ideas in a fresh character than in one that’s appeared in 26 movies over more than half a century.

Not everything has to genuflect to the political correct narrative of the moment. Indeed, we should seek the opposite: as wide a range of ideas and entertainments as possible. And, seriously, we should resist this ill-conceived shoehorning of identity politics into every last nook and corner of today’s entertainment. It’s not only unnecessary, it does more harm than good.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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