Apologies for claiming in the last blog post that director Sam Mendes was gay. Turns out he’s not. In fact, he’s so un-gay, he was even married to Kate Winslet, who is definitively not transgendered (I’m not sure whether you’d classify someone who’s married to a transgendered person as gay or not; the English language will have to give birth to a new adjective for the purpose; let Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger be present for the anticipated mass-distribution of cigars).
Also, before you read any further, here’s a spoiler alert in case you haven’t already seen Skyfall. In addition to the arguably homophobic characterization of the villain portrayed by Javier Bardem (alluded to in the previous blog post), there’s one scene in the movie that is unconscionably misogynistic. I’m referring to the moment at which James Bond is coerced by Bardem’s character to shoot a shot glass of whiskey perched on top of the head of the woman he shtupped in an earlier scene. The baddy knows Bond’s aim is still shaky from the trauma he went through at the beginning of the story; luckily, our hero misses both the woman and the whiskey. (The scene appears to serve as a twisted homage to William S. Burroughs’ accidentally-on-purpose. . . maybe. . . shooting death of his wife in Mexico way back when in a similarly insane and sinister fashion.)
The bad guy, however, grabs the gun from Bond and shoots the poor woman anyway.
Instead of denouncing him as an unsporting homicidal thug who deserves to be boiled in his own urine, Bond responds to his jeering by saying: “A waste of good Scotch.”
The line struck me as almost unbelievably cold. Despite the embarrassment of still having a leftover umbilical cord my obstetrician neglected to snip off, I wasn’t born yesterday. I know the Bond films have always been a treasure trove of sexism; hell, it’s probably the main thing that helps them sell so well, considering the testosterone-addled demographic that serves as the majority of their viewers (and I’m proud to include myself among their number–salute the Betty Grable-adorned flag!).
And yet, there’s something insidiously abhorrent, or else abhorrently insidious, about the way the murder of this character is dismissed by the two nemeses. It just shows how expendable women are meant to be in their murderously macho (or macho-ly murderous) world. Apart from the unsexy Rosa Klebb portrayed by Lotte Lenya in From Russia, With Love, the one who poses as a hotel maid with a stiletto in her shoe, the lion’s share of women in the 007 franchise, or Bond “girls,” are mainly there to titillate the viewers and make them salivate for more popcorn and Coke–Judi Dench’s tough and unsentimental M and Bond’s amiable African-American female sidekick notwithstanding (hottie though she of course is–and pardon my own hypocritical use of that possibly sexist terminology to reveal my own hallowed shallowness).
I was, however, happy to see Albert Finney back in top form as Bond’s childhood shooting instructor. It was “chucklesome,” as my friend Bruce would say, to see him aiming a double-barreled shotgun at an approaching band of ninjas with the greeting: “Welcome to Scotland.” Finney is one of the greatest actors alive today, in my view. We’re lucky to have chameleons like him and Daniel Day Lewis to add to the mix of actors who always seem to play themselves.
Of course, in the wake of the Newtown shootings, the idea of being entertained by people pretending to be engaged in a violent repartee of knives and bullets with an occasional cameo by a Komodo dragon reminds me that as a species, we’ve still got some growing up to do.
Finally, it did make sense to have Q portrayed by a “pencil-necked” computer geek (having been referred to as a pencil-neck myself once before, behind my back, to my college roommate, by a guy with a face like a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese who later served as my manager at a telemarketing firm, where I’m proud to say after working four hours a day for three months and making hundreds of maddeningly repetitious calls, I did not make one single sale, since I’m morally opposed to the practice of telemarketing anyway and was only doing the job because I was too spineless and shiftless to find something better–to return to what I was saying at the beginning of the paragraph, having been called a pencil-neck myself, I don’t think it’s too unforgivably politically incorrect to use it to describe someone else; may he take it as a compliment) even though, for my money (penny), nobody–and I mean nobody–surpasses the late, great Desmond Llewelyn in the role of Q. I’m sure that Leonardo Da Vinci was there to shake his hand when his bus arrived in heaven.
As the members of the island captured on BBC TV’s classic drama of Orwellian suspense, The Prisoner, used to say to each other by way of goodbye, “Be seeing you.”