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What can we learn from 007? page 5
Stephen B. Tippins Jr.'s op-ed column on James Bond.

 Fifty years ago, James Bond was first portrayed in film by Sean Connery in 'Dr. No.'
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Date published: 11/18/2012


It's no coincidence that James Bond, like his creator, is an orphan. And if you read carefully between the lines--or listen closely to the give-and-take on screen--you'll notice that Bond's relationship with his superior "M" always plays much like the relationship between a headstrong adolescent and a stern, hard-of-praise father, as if both Fleming and Bond are straining for fatherly guidance. (That give-and-take, by the way, is something that Bernard Lee and Robert Brown always get right on-screen and that Judi Dench, by definition, cannot; in fact, the brilliance of "GoldenEye" lies in Pierce Brosnan's discontent with having a female chief, while the shortcoming of subsequent entries lies in his acceptance of female superiority.)


Ian Fleming always denied that he shared character traits with his creation--he said that Bond was merely a composite of his war colleagues. But it's hard to say that he shared no traits whatsoever: Bond's penchant for scrambled eggs, short-sleeve Sea Island cotton shirts, and liquor, women, and gambling are reflections of Ian. And Bond's operational prowess is definitely drawn from the commandos Fleming knew during World War II.

But Bond's intangible virtues are Valentine's--and, no, these virtues may not have been singular then, but they are quite un-plural now. Where Valentine's contemporaries took to the trenches, the young men of today's Britain riot in the streets. That's what a half-century of self-entitlement does to a society: It takes the backbone out of people while simultaneously giving them notions of grandeur. This makes them malleable. Make enough people malleable and you can make them, en masse, believe in any fancy or whim. Want to know why gay marriage is inevitable? Because today's man, coerced into believing in his own emasculation, would introduce himself to a lesbian named Pussy Galore by saying: "I respect your lifestyle choice." When James Bond met a lesbian named Pussy Galore, he slept with her.

The New York Times' film review of "Live and Let Die" noted that the Bond movies hold a "certain insolence toward public pieties." This certainly seems true. But why then are the films--like the books before them--so incredibly popular? The answer is that, like with any good spy, Bond has proven adept at creating a little misdirection here and there.


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Stephen B. Tippins Jr. is an attorney in Buford, Ga. This column is reprinted with the permission of The American Conservative, in which it first appeared.