I Dream of a Future With a Female Bond

If I could just write "AMAZING" and leave it at that, I would. But that wouldn't be a very interesting or justified commentary. I'm aware I'm a tad late at weighing in on this branch of the Big Question, but which lucky thespian will be claiming the Bond title next remains unanswered, and the longer the wait continues, the more painful the suspense becomes.

Gillian Anderson recently shared a picture on Twitter of her photoshopped onto the Skyfall poster backdrop, captioned with "It's Bond. Jane Bond." IMAGINE. A female Bond! Called Jane!! And not James like Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively's daughter!!! It's an unprecedented prospect that makes me so giddy I could burst. 
This was, of course, met with controversy. What Ian Fleming debuted in 1953 with Casino Royale was an iconic, exemplar male hero. Even when the most minute of details changes, die-hard fans react uproariously - the switch from a Rolex Submariner to an Omega Seamaster, for example. But - and it's a big but - he is, and always has been, the archetypal hyper-masculine lethario, cited in countless sociological studies of gender and the psychological impact of media images.

And here we come to the crux of this piece. The James Bond introduced in his first novel was different to his first silver screen outing in 1962's Dr. No, and Sean Connery's depiction was different to Daniel Craig's. The longevity of Bond after Fleming's death is partly thanks to a directorial tendency to adapt his mannerisms and nuances to the norms and values relative to society at the time of publication or release for optimum popularity, and so, in 2016, when the concept of gender has been almost entirely reshaped, it is time for 007 to morph once again.

The fact that film critics and fans alike are even considering the possibility of a female Bond shows remarkable progress. It's not the panacea for all the gender-related wickedness prevalent in the entertainment industry, but the conversation itself has added fuel to the fire that's bringing that glass ceiling down. With the exception of Moneypenny, think of the typical 'Bond Girl' - a damsel in distress that the titular character saves from a captive scenario then ultimately seduces despite her initial reluctance. She's usually a minor role but is an equally important component as the man himself. An iconic gender swap is already being put to practice in the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, so why can't the next Bond Girl actually be Bond? What Hollywood blockbusters consistently lack is a strong, sharp female lead working in a profession that requires a particular skill or training, who is not presented as a victim of her own sexuality but is, instead, perfectly in tune with her desires both occupationally and romantically. The best and most recent example of a whip-smart matriarch that I can think of is Viola Davis as Professor Annalise Keating in How to Get Away With Murder; not a saint by any means, but an extremely respected high-profile defence attorney and teacher at Middleton University. There needs to be more of these characters because their absence on-screen is simply not representative of today's cultural landscape.

Several writers have commented on the impossibility of a female Bond. Turn of the century Bond Piers Brosnan said the next actor has to be another white male, and vintage Bond Roger Moore provided this chauvinistic little quip: 
"I have heard people talk about how there should be a lady Bond or a gay Bond, but they wouldn’t be Bond for the simple reason that wasn’t what Ian Fleming wrote." 
What a load of old shit. Why don't women save the day more often, outside the realms of the sci-fi and superhero genres? Even in the latter, why are there next to no female lead feature films, aside from Katniss Everdeen and 2004's unspeakably bad Catwoman? Why are roles filled by women still downplayed as the surprisingly savvy sidekicks, or the underdogs, or the good girl gone bad? There is absolutely no justification for it.

Maybe Hollywood has made genuine strides towards equal gender representation since Laura Mulvey introduced the concept of the male gaze in her seminal work Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema in 1975, or maybe we've just come a short way over a really long time so it feels like a much bigger achievement. I cannot stress enough how important it is to include female heroes in films. It is not only phenomenally frustrating to see the same rehashed personalities stuck in the same scenarios time and time again, but it's also incredibly debilitating to belittle women to a homogenous character. I think in order to keep advancing equality, the media needs to be more inclusive and be more sincere in doing so.

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