To put it gently, James Bond is a misogynist. The iconic spy, who has become one of the longest lasting characters in cinematic history, has never had a good relationship with women — or rather he’s always been a bit of an asshole to women. Especially pronounced in the earlier films, Bond’s hyper-aggressive masculinity and utterly unforgettable treatment of all Bond Girls — which in retrospect makes many of the Sean Connery and Roger Moore movies difficult to watch — has tapered off in recent years with Daniel Craig’s iteration of the character. And, in a move that seems almost designed as a moral life raft for the character, his relationship with women, especially Judi Dench’s M, has been redrawn as troubled and complex, stemming from a traumatic past.
To delve more fully into Bond’s (mis)treatment of women, a new BFI video, “The Unloveable James Bond,” takes a long, sobering look at 007. The 11-minute video runs through the full history of Bond, from his 1950s representation of masculinity, to his ’70s era misogyny, and to his more subtle womanizing of the ’90s. Throughout it all Bond has been the quintessential bad boy, which has given him leeway in his actions: bad boys are supposed to be mean, they’re supposed to break the rules.
Then came the Daniel Craig reboot. ‘The Unloveable Bond’ notes that Craig’s Bond is a sort of rebirth for the character. His films are buttressed by the trauma of losing Vesper Lynd (Eva Green in “Casino Royale“), a move that, while not quite entirely new in the Bond world, has helped to redefine the super spy as wounded and vulnerable: i.e. human.
It’s a fascinating look at one of cinema’s most enduring characters, one who has helped to shape our culture — for better or worse. Check out the video below and be sure to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.
*Spoiler* warning: the last two minutes of the video take a stab at the ending of “Spectre.”