Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Shocks and Bonds

There has been a lot of Bond talk floating in the atmosphere recently. By the way, my high school English teacher marked us down for beginning sentences with "there is/are," and my mom, my 6th grade teacher, marked us down for using "a lot" in our papers. By those standards, I'm already failing.

As I was saying, there has been a lot of Bond talk floating in the atmosphere recently, and I, for one, enjoy Bond talk. No, not savings bonds. Those are boring, dull, flat, and taxable. I speak, of course, of the one and only (or six and only) world-saving, woman-seducing, rule-breaking, havoc-wreaking, licensed-to-killing, dry martini-chugging, three-digit-number-having super secret agent who isn't actually so secret because all the villains seem to know about him Bond, James Bond.

I fell in love with Jimmy, his gadgets, and his cars when I was but a child, and although my parents forbade me to watch The Simpsons, we all joined together as a family on the old navy and rust davenport for Thirteen Days of 007. In those early days, I viewed Bond as he was meant to be - the hero, the infallible hero. He could do no wrong, looked smashing in a suit, wore too-short swim trunks with awe-inspiring confidence, and made more puns than Angie. In one moment he was wining martini-ing and dining with the elite, and in the next he was blowing up submarines with his money clip and wristwatch. He was a man's man and a woman's man, and the world depended on him.

Then I grew up. I went through a Bond hiatus for a few years and then returned
as a woman, albeit a woman whom strangers still guessed to be fifteen or sixteen (grr), to re-watch some classic 007. The woman saw something that the child had always missed, namely that James Bond was a colossal jerk.

I would bet my job and my dad's Jeep that even if you've never seen a Bond film you can still name at least one of the Bond girls. They're named for their...exemplary moral fiber and winning personalities. While I enjoy maybe one every Bond girl in her own, unique way, no one stands out quite so well as the goddess of Goldfinger, Miss *cough mumble* Galore. She is smart and sly, and she runs her own fleet of female pilots for heaven's sake. She toys with Bond, and she threatens Bond. I hate to ruin it for you, but despite all of her protests, 007 still gets her in the end of the movie. That and all their heads explode.

More to the point, however, is another Goldfinger girl, Jill Masterson. Poor Jill. Poor, poor Jill. She holds a certain distinction among all the Bond girls. You're probably thinking, "Yeah, she's that one woman who runs around in her underwear," or perhaps, "Oh, Emily, you mean that blond one?" Yes, Reader, that blond one, but more importantly that blond one who gets slapped six ways from Sunday by our hero, Mr. Bond. (And you thought I was going to talk about that whole Death By Gilding thing.)

Miss Masterson's unfortunate brush with Bond's rookers came up in a recent article by Courtney Hazlett, featured on msnbc.com. She says:

The scene that caused my initial pause: Bond, fed up with the tomfoolery and double-crossing of Jill Masterton, palms her face as if passing a well-worn basketball during a casual game of street ball. Horrified by how naturally this came to Bond/Sean Connery, I reacted inappropriately — by laughing nearly to the point of tears. And that’s where msnbc.com’s former Tabloid Tidbits scribe and current Technotica columnist, Helen Popkin, who was within earshot, chimed in (while laughing), “You know, it takes someone who’s never seen (a Bond film) before to say, ‘that’s really unacceptable,’ and realize just how bad that behavior is.” A compelling argument for how we’ve become de-sensitized (and a case study in inappropriate laughter).

The idea of desensitization to Bond wasn't new to me. Two years ago, the topic came up at Easter dinner, you know, where normal secret agent talk happens. I had just finished my last helping of Elizabeth's glorious chunky mashed potatoes when Bitty made this statement (and I paraphrase): "You know, I just don't like James Bond."

Gasps from all around.

"But, Elizabeth, he's JAMES BOND. How could you not like him?"

"He slaps that one girl in that one movie." (This is the part where I strip Bitty of her vocabulary.)

"Oh yeah, I forgot about that. He is kind of a jerk, isn't he?"

"This is what I'm saying." (Again with the stripping.)

From the shadows of the corner came Dr. Pfil, serving his patented dish of controversy for our Easter luncheon. A malevolent gleam shone forth from his eyes, and he said, "Ahh, but we've known this for years. He slaps one character in one film, but he sleeps with multiple women in every film and then disposes of them without a second thought. Why is it that your generation is so accustomed to sex that it doesn't even bother you? Why does a slap bother you, but fornication doesn't? Why am I so bald? I'm just curious."

And here's the thing about Dr. Pfil. He made a good point about our general desensitization toward sex in film, but he phrased it in an accusatory way because he LOVES arguing. If he had simply said, "Yes, James Bond is a jerk, but consider this: slapping a woman is just one of his many faults; he also sleeps around," then we would've agreed and moved on. But nooooo. Since he made a generalization about an entire generation, he got us all riled up, and he got his precious argument. We defended our generation, saying things like, "Of course that bothers us, but the sin of two people who decide to blah blah blah naturally elicits less of an emotional visceral reaction than a woman being physically harmed by a much larger man blah blah blah." Then we argued about the definition of "visceral" for awhile. Then Dr. Pfil repeated his original statement but louder. Next, we probably accused his generation of something or came up with a few different arguments. He responded with his original statement, but shouted. Then we fought amongst ourselves and screamed things like "Zeitgeist!" and "Christocentric!" It was just like Easter on Walton's Mountain.

After we picked up the pieces of our damaged psyches, I thought to myself, "You know, Emily, you really are desensitized. Despite your natural instinct to do the exact opposite of what Dr. Pfil suggests, you have to quit allowing culture to define sin for you," and the thought hit me like - prepare yourself - a slap in the face.

10 comments:

audra.marie said...

:) i'm just so tickled, three posts in a week, and it's only wednesday! tickled, i say, tickled!

Anonymous said...

Well, as someone who witnessed that Easter conversation, Imust say that Dr Pfil was right on target as usual, though he was very gracious in making his point. The excessive defensiveness that followed only underscored his point about generational blinders.

Emily said...

Oh shut up! Those who are their own heroes are not allowed to comment.

Anonymous said...

What a rude comment to an anonymous person who merely witnessed that conversation, shrewd though her (or perhaps his) observations surely are.

Anonymous said...

Emily wins!

~The C

Six in the Mix said...

Woo, I laughed to tears!

Jonny said...

I don't like Bond because his movies are lame.

-Jonny

Elizabeth Glass-Turner said...

"Zeitgeist" and "Christocentric". AAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA.

And I recognize the point that was made: the potatoes were really good. But no matter how chunky they were, I still say that, no matter what the reason, Hollywood - run by Baby Boomers - says that promiscuous sex is okay, but that slapping women isn't. And I'd like to say, when did that change happen, and why? I think it's a valid cultural exploration on sex, violence, gender, politics, and entertainment.

Zeitgeist! Christocentric! Mashed potatoes! And I insist, insist, that the last two Bond movies have been masterpieceii.

Eschatological mysterium!

Dar said...

jonesy, i am in the middle of writing a 30 page final paper. a good chunk of my transitions begin with "there is/are" and i use the word "a lot", well, a lot.

gulp! -dar

Anonymous said...

No, Elizabeth, The Godfather is a masterpiece, not that garbled mess of a popcorn flick.