“No, Mr. Bond. That’s not politically correct.”
The recent publication of Anthony Horowitz’s new James Bond novel – “Trigger Mortis” (Harper 2015) – has created a flurry of anxiety amongst Bond fans. Pre-publication, there’d been rumors that 007 had gone all modern-man-soft on us; a politically correct shadow of his former self, his spunk sucked dry by insulted feminists, doctors, and men with three nipples.
Having read “Trigger Mortis,” I’m delighted to report that fans of the most successful literary and movie franchise in history needn’t have worried. In Horowitz’s expert and mischievous hands, Bond hasn’t been scolded into becoming all things to all people. Instead, he’s still Bond, James Bond, license to do what he damn well likes.
Forget all this political correctness nonsense. Bond’s got no time for it, and nor should we.
There are brief references in Horowitz’s brilliant tale that Bond needs to be aware he’s in a changing world. Cigarettes give you cancer. Gay people exist. There’s more to women than just making great bed partners.
In my view, Horowitz didn’t put these “politically correct” observations into his story because he was trying to win over a new kind of reader. After all, a staunch feminist is hardly going to rush out and purchase a Bond novel because she’s been waiting for the day when 007 would ask a woman for her opinion on glass ceilings and equality in the workplace. You either buy into Bond’s world, or you don’t. Changing Bond won’t make a blind bit of difference to that reality.
I think Horowitz inserted these P.C. references to show how Bond glides through life without a care in the world, aside from the need to save it amid the constant possibility of death by lasers or molten gold.
Tobacco is harmful to your health? We all die sometime. Homosexuals coexist with heterosexuals? Great to hear, and your point? Not all women are searching for a knight in shining armor. True -- half the women Bond’s encountered have tried to penetrate him with poisoned stilettos or strangle him to death with their thighs.
Bond shrugs off the judgments of others because they simply have no bearing on his life. Due to the nature of being a spy, he’s a dead man walking who’s been given a pile of cash and carte blanche to create the greatest bucket list ever. He’s having the time of his life while knowing that at any second he might be decapitated by a man with a steel-rimmed bowler hat.
Bond spent decades fighting so-called political correctness. It was called the Soviet Union – a tyrannical place of enforced drabness, wherein freedom of thought and expression was ruthlessly quashed alongside any religious belief, sexual persuasion, creed, and political conviction that didn’t conform to what a small elite decided must be politically correct.
Bond loathed the USSR because he hates the concept of people being told what to think and do. By extension, he loves people and believes they should have the freedom to live life to a max of their choosing. The feminist who wouldn’t touch a Bond novel with a barge pole might believe she has a very different world view to 007, but Bond would be the first in line to fight for her right to stand on a soap box and berate male ignorance. That’s what freedom’s about. In return, perhaps that feminist might be a little gentle on Bond if he asks her up to his hotel room for a shaken-not-stirred vodka martini.
Within the academic study of feminism, Bond is often labelled as the epitome of male chauvinism. Derived from French soldier Nicolas Chauvin’s fanatical belief that Napoleonic France was infinitely superior to all other nations, the word chauvinism later became more commonly associated with men who feel superiority over women, and/or have negative feelings toward them.
Yes, Bond charms women and sleeps with them. A lot of them. But, it’s consensual; he’s single; and he’s got a stressful job, with zero space in his diary for a second date. By all means accuse Bond of being a red-blooded male with the libido of an Olympian. But male chauvinist? Bond adores women – in many instances that becomes his Achilles heel – and I cannot think of one instance in his career when he’s done or said something that suggests he views women as beneath men.
Perhaps the more accurate accusation is that Bond has a tendency to use beautiful women as sexual objects. Mrs. Moneypenny is the exception to that rule because 007 knows she has the true potential to be Mrs. Bond, though neither wants the union because hey, where’s the fun in that? As for the “other women”, if Bond’s only got a couple of spare hours to spend time with a woman, in between fighting giants with metal teeth and bald men with white cats, what should we expect him to do with that time? As importantly, did the woman want to do something different in those precious moments? No. In that moment, she and Bond were complicit sexual objects. And they had fun.
Thank goodness Mr. Horowitz has delivered us a great new story with the Bond we know and love. Forget all this political correctness nonsense. Bond’s got no time for it, and nor should we. 007’s out there, saving the world, and doing so with a boyish smile on his face and a quip for every occasion. Nobody does it better.
Matthew Dunn was a former MI6 officer who worked in hostile locations around the world. He is the author of the espionage novels "Slingshot," "Spycatcher," "Sentinel," "Counterspy," "Dark Spies," "Spy House," and the forthcoming "A Soldier’s Revenge" (William Morrow). For more information visit matthewdunnbooks. You can also follow Mr. Dunn on Twitter @MatthewHDunn and find him on on Facebook.