Is it time to retire James Bond?
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Today is Ian Fleming's birthday. The former intelligence officer and author is most well-known for his creation of the super-agent James Bond - but how relevant is 007 in today's world, and is it time to retire Bond once and for all?
James Bond, or more succinctly ‘007’, has been serving Queen and country for 65 years. Since his first appearance, in Casino Royale, there have been 38 further official and authorised James Bond novels, written by 6 different authors. The first 14 were written by Ian Fleming, his creator, and are arguably the most known and well-read of all. So just what has made 007 one of the most successful characters in modern literary (and film) history? Is it simply the glamorous, dashing and clever persona, making him someone who all women want to be with and all men want to be? Or, perhaps, it’s the highly attractive bond girls, and the super evil, supervillains? Or possibly the ‘high-tech’ gadgets that often give him that vital edge? Maybe it’s simply the winning combination of all of these ingredients. Whatever, the answer, it is the very things that make him so attractive that are also the reason it’s time for 007, or at least as we know him, to holster his Berretta, and retire. Firstly, the women featured in the Bond books are always portrayed and presented through the ‘male gaze’, possibly arising from the fact that all the authors are male. Which means they are either sexual objects or sidekicks, to either Bond or the super-villains he confronts, implying the ‘chicks’ are distinctly second class in terms of both intelligence and importance. In stark contrast to Bond, of course, the action hero, who is involved and trusted with tasks of national security. Kimberley Neuendorf (2011), found that although the Bond girls all range in race, character, and size, or importance of role; they all remain heavily sexualised and targets of male aggression. This contrast highlights the masculinity of the male characters whilst belittling the importance of females in terms of national security and affairs of state.
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