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Ian Fleming’s James Bond, created in a series of novels and short stories from 1953 to 1966, is unforgettable. But how much of a problem is it that his attitudes often now feel dated (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site).
Can one hate Bond’s views, for example on women, yet still admire his single-mindedness and style? I think so. If you cannot discount dated attitudes in cultural artefacts (“Plato was a slave-owner”), you risk missing out on countless historical treats.
For writers, characters like James Bond are gold dust. Like him or loath him, he is well written: he thinks about his actions, has values and opinions, behaves within a clearly defined framework, yet is full of ambiguity. No wonder movie-makers adoe him.
Can you update a character such as Bond? That is what movie makers do, drawing on the original material in Fleming’s novels to create stories set in the present day which seek to update Bond selectively. Results are mixed, although as I say in the piece at the link, many of us keep going back to cinemas in the hope Bond’s next outing will be better than the last.
Debate swirls around a black or female Bond: my view is that this would be fine, so long as the character retained key Bond characteristics such as sophistication, humour, gadgets, great grooming, and a merciless streak.
The cover of my Folio Society “Casino Royale” is suitably dated both in style and content – get a whiff of that cigarette smoke
Some updating is essential. A modern movie which used Bond’s line about his former lover (more…)