Mankind Will Always Need James Bond
Don’t let the sous-title of this volume confuse or anger you. Let me unequivocally declare that I am no chest-beating misogynist who refuses to acknowledge the importance or value of the fairer sex in our society. Indeed when referring to our fabulously flawed fledgling species I was use the term humankind and address large crowds as “ladies and gentleman” or “men and women.” Neither is this article implying that women can’t or don’t like James Bond. Women around the world have loved Agent 007 for over forty years. If women didn’t think Bond was legit, wives mothers and girlfriends everywhere would have thrown out their husband’s 007 Box Sets and Ian Fleming novels years ago.
Indeed humankind likes James Bond. But they don’t need him to function as a society. Mankind needs James Bond. Not to show us who we should or could be. I mean, shit, if the world was filled with a whole bunch of assholes walking around trying to be James Bond it would be a pretty insufferable place to live. No, mankind needs Bond to remind us who we want to be deep down, but prevent ourselves from becoming in order to sustain healthy relationships, hold steady jobs, raise children, and maintain mental health.
Men, like most animals, are biologically programmed to fuck as many women as possible and kill anyone who stands in their way. For better or for worse the Western World has deemed this an unacceptable lifestyle. Since most men want to stay out of jail and be liked by our fellow humans, we more or less oblige. But our innate instincts remain. By reading Bond novels, watching Bond films, and playing Bond video games we briefly indulge these instincts and temporarily excise them from our systems, allowing us to return to “normal” life. Some men engage in this ritual irregularly—every time a new Bond flick comes to theaters, or when a new Bond game hits the shelves. I must do it every day.
Because so many men indulge in “Bondage” there is a misconception that “all men want to be Bond.” Really? We all want to be a brutish middle-aged alcoholic whose parents were killed in a climbing accident as a child, has watched the only two women he ever loved (his wife included) die, has been beaten to an inch of his life and tortured all over his body (testicles included) on a regular basis, is insidiously addicted to cigarettes, and whose job is to murder people? I don’t think so. Would most men want to be James Bond for a day? You bet your fucking ass.
Since Aristotle penned his poetics, humankind has understood that the function of drama and dramatic characters in our society is fundamentally cathartic. By stepping into the shoes of extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances we experience the things we can’t do in our quotidian existence (be rich, be famous, be princes and princesses) and also the things we wouldn’t want to do (kill or be killed, experience tragedy and loss, war and defeat). And once the drama has unfolded on the stage, page, or screen we have excised those desires and fears from our mind and spirit.
James Bond is such a mega-creation—mythic in proportion and inescapable in our public sphere—that he allows us to experience our desires and our fears in each sweeping spectacle of a story. We travel the world with him, wining and dining with beautiful women, staying in the world’s best hotels, and raking in small fortunes at the Baccarat table. But we must also lurk through the shadows with him, watching our backs at every turn, always knowing that if we are captured our lives will become incredibly short and painful.
At the end we get to return to the safety of our homes, the normalcy and comfort of our wives and children. James Bond? He lights a cigarette, pours himself a drink, and goes home to an empty apartment, awaiting his next assignment. As a man it’s comforting to know that 007 is prepared to defend the baser desires of my brutal and lascivious sex. And as gender roles change and Political Correctness continues to dictate our behavior and conquer our lexicon, this becomes an increasingly difficult task. But if anyone’s up to the task, it’s the world’s greatest secret agent.
For James Bond needs no man. But all men need James Bond.