Archive for the ‘James Bond’ Category

My Hopes For Bond 23

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

There have been a lot of long, fun discussion threads over at the James Bond Wiki, but near as I can tell this one has become by far the longest. And it may become among the most fun:

My hopes for Bond 23
Having just seen QOS, one thing that I hope they do (or more accurately, DON’T DO) in the next one:

Enough of the rogue agent thing. It’s effective once in a while, but now they’ve done THREE in a row where Bond going rogue has been a major part of the story. Having *really* established a relationship between Bond and M now in QOS, it’s time that Bond go on an assignment where MI6 have his back. Bond having to dodge his own people as well as the villains? Let’s give that device a rest for one or two films, shall we?

Nearly three hundred posts since then. Lots of ideas for locations, girls, weapons. Maybe there’s even a post in there from Yours Truly, about which I completely forgot. Much speculation about the mysterious organization of Quantum. I dunno about that…I think it had a lot of potential, but Marc Forster might have screwed the pooch on it. Could be wrong.

Appended the following to the end:

We seem to have a clear consensus here and I’m just adding to it. But here I go nonetheless:

1. The things that made the old ones kinda silly in a charming way, should be converted to gags. Like “My name is Pussy Galore” “I must be dreaming.” That needs to be “demoted,” in a manner of speaking, to a lady making something up about her name, then Daniel Craig says “You must be joking” and she says “Yeah, actually, it’s Susan.”
2. Agree about the love thing [Bond falling into it]. Enough. He bangs 4 gals in one flick. Anybody who doesn’t like it can work on some other movie.
3. One of the ladies is a “closing-credits girl” of course.
4. Another one is a bad girl he makes good with his awesome prowess. Is that the same as the closing-credits girl? I think it has to be. Dunno.
5. It almost goes without saying that another one of them is a doomed-girl who gets killed.
6. Another one is a “Fiona Volpe” who’s just plain bad and stays bad.
7. Every third or fourth Bond movie, the bad guy died first in the climactic battle scene, and then just as life returned to “normal,” the henchman came after Bond for a final assault. I think it would be pretty cool to do that here.
8. The henchman should be developed into a “real” character. This is one thing that’s been missing from Bond movies. It would be really awesome to have a strained, Vader-vs-Sidious relationship between the 2 bad guys, where it shows they don’t really trust each other.
9. Love the ideas about the locations. Philippines, Australia, etc.
10. Bugatti Veyron. Why not.
11. A little more attention to the actual threat. Le Chiffre was a threat because he was going to direct funds to terrorists who would then do God-knows-what. That was great, but vague. Green just wanted to make poor people thirsty. Please do better. Back to the orbiting laser cannons please.

Pussy Galore's Flying CircusI have an idea for the discussion thread itself. First of all: Curse you two-thousand-character post limit! Discuss your ideas for the next Bond movie but make it fit in a 2,000-byte buffer? Secondly: Go ahead and allow the use of the word “Pussy” when we’re talking about cool ideas from past James Bond movies. Really, if anyone cannot see the conflict there, I challenge that person’s James Bond Fan credentials on solid grounds.

I’m not terribly pleased with Bond 22, Quantum of Solace, I’m afraid. It remains the one single installment we have not quite yet gotten around to acquiring, here at Freeberg Manor. Which says something; Freeberg Manor has everything. We even have Never Say Never Again. It is likely that we’ll be past the opening weekend for Bond 23 before we ever bother to snag Bond 22.

It broke far too many rules.

Bond should screw every single beautiful woman involved. Ever single one that has a speaking line. Period.

Another rule broken: While sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong is an indispensable part of being a spy, Bond embarks on treacherous territory when he becomes Robin Hood. He has never come out of such a thing completely whole, and there is a reason for it: James Bond is something of an inconsiderate asshole. You make your hero into Robin Hood, to prove his inner, shining, wonderful good-natured qualities. Economic injustice! It cannot stand! This doesn’t fit Bond. Bond comes to find out about an impoverished layer of humanity being oppressed, he walks right past it all and continues with the Big Five: Finding the clues, fighting the henchmen, saving the world, drinking and whoring. Stick to business.

There is a wonderful line in Casino Royale (the book), or maybe I read it in Ian Fleming’s notes somewhere, about how Bond’s value as a good guy, is in the fact that he is just as loathsome and detestable in his methods as any of the bad ones. This is what the Bond franchise is really all about. It is a live-action story that depicts that famous quote questionably attributed to George Orwell, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

I’m not up on Marc Forster’s politics…although, better-than-even-odds, I can make an educated guess. But I suspect Double-Oh-Seven suffered a gaping flesh wound because his story was taken up by someone who doesn’t believe in such a thing.

As the old M might have said: Let’s try to keep that from ever happening ever again, shall we old boy?

Bond Prefers Brunettes

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Where do I get a job where I put together research papers like this one

Academics who set out to discover what makes the ideal Bond girl found that apart from having long dark hair, she is likely to have an American accent – and to carry a weapon.

The unexpected findings were reached by a team who assessed the physical traits of all 195 female characters in the first 20 Bond movies, then contrasted the characteristics of the 98 who had “sexual contact” with Bond with those of the 97 who did not.

The paper itself is here.

A quantitative content analysis of 20 James Bond films assessed portrayals of 195 female characters. Key findings include a trend of more sexual activity and greater harm to females over time, but few significant across-time differences in demographic characteristics of Bond women. Sexual activity is predicted by race, attractiveness, size of role, and aggressive behaviors. Being a target of weapons is predicted by size of role, sexual activity, and weapon use, while being harmed is predicted principally by role. End-of-film mortality is predicted by sexual activity, ethical status (good vs. bad), and attempting to kill Bond. This identification of a link between sexuality and violent behavior is noted as a contribution to the media and sex roles literatures.

“Few significant across-time differences”? I wonder if they noticed that all of the 60’s Bond girls, aside from the legendary Pussy Galore, had foreign origins/accents whereas all of the 70’s Bond girls, apart from Solitaire and Major Amasova, were American. The across-time differences are there, if you really look.

Bond movie producers want women to come see the next movie, just as much as the men, and this is why the Bond girl evolves. The appeal to the masculine mind and libido provides none of this incentive for change, whatsoever. Bond could sleep with Marilyn Monroe herself, and as long as we got a glimpse of her somewhat-naked, we’d be every bit as motivated as if she was Vesper, Jinx or Agent Fields. So the Bond girls change just as, and for the same reason as, hemlines going up and down, heels growing thicker or thinner, boots becoming taller or shorter, hair being worn up or down. They change, cyclically, to appeal to the women. They are fashion.

One thing that’s long been a source of amusement is that each Bond girl claims, in all sorts of ways, to be more skilled, independent and strong-willed than all the Bond girls that came before. But after a few decades’ worth of Bond movies have been put in the can, we see there really weren’t too many revolutionary moments like that. One could reasonably say there haven’t been any at all.

Of course, if every Bond girl’s contribution was limited to a) smooching with 007 right before the closing credits, b) getting abducted and c) getting rescued, the women in the audience would have been bored out of their minds and stopped going. But the men would have lost interest even quicker, I think. And that assumes Ian Fleming would have been motivated to finish writing the books…which is quite doubtful. Bond girls, from the very first pages of the very first books, have always had something to make them spiced up, interesting, and interconnected with the story’s events.

The sentence that begins “Being a target of weapons is predicted by size of role, sexual activity, and weapon use…” implies that an important point or two might have gone whistling over the researchers’ heads. Bond girls have been, for a very long time now, assorted according to well-established classes and it would be a statistical-sampling error to put them all in one bucket and then examine the concoction for meaningful patterns or trends. There is the “bad girl gone good” role started by Ms. Galore, and then there is the “doomed girl” we see from time to time, whose premature demise occasionally brings out the dark, vengeful side of Bond. It is often useful to have a just-plain-bad girl slip under the sheets with the superspy to see what kind of information she can pry out of him, only to learn later that Bond beat her at her own game. This is a motif that has had generations to go out of style but still remains entertaining and fresh today.

If I had unlimited time, I might be inclined to repeat the research to see if I could do a better job. First thing I’d inspect: How much of an agenda did each Bond girl have, as a character in an entertainment action movie, to displace James Bond as the central character — with Jinx as #1, followed by Wai Lin, then by Amasova. And then, against that ranking I’d plot another arrangement reflecting a general consensus about whether that character was well-received.

I expect I’d find that on opening weekend, as well as years later when the movie is nothing but a dusty old DVD on a shelf, there is an eyeball-rolling and simmering resentment against the women who are designed to “spin off” and perhaps get their own series going. A grudge nursed by both male and female Bond fans. My theory is that people really don’t care that much about who’s stronger or who’s more resourceful or who’s more independent or who is more likely to save the world working alone — but audiences cannot abide multiple, competing objectives at work in character design. They can tolerate chaos but they can’t stand a mess.

And so nobody has a kind word to say about poor Christmas Jones.

Why Quantum of Solace Disappointed Me

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Warning, you might regard some of what follows as a spoiler. There are some big spoilers I will not reveal, but I understand this wouldn’t excuse things if I blew open the little ones. So forewarned is forearmed.

1. The Double-Oh-Seven Milagro Beanfield War. Moonraker remains, in one shallow respect, the greatest James Bond movie of all time. The bad guy was going to destroy everything. It doesn’t seem to matter much when a mediocre-to-awful Bond movie is made, in which the catastrophe threatened is global. But it matters a lot when the catastrophe threatened is local. In fact, I’m coming up empty on why exactly it was any official concern at all to Her Majesty’s government, let alone to the CIA.

2. He Didn’t Shag. Okay, the “doomed girl” got a shagging. He was platonic with his closing-credits girl. That’s not Bond. It’s a hideous mistake. Memo to Wilson and Broccoli: Don’t…do that…ever…again.

3. That Goddamned Shaking Camera. Of all my complaints, this is the one I have the greatest confidence will reasonate, because I’m not in the minority on this one. An action sequence can be wonderful if you know where things are. Indiana Jones going under the truck, is art, because I know that’s where he is in relation to the truck. If I don’t know who’s chasing who, it’s just so many minutes of dreck. And some of these stunts are horribly dangerous, so that’s a shame.

4. Goofy Villains. Le Chiffre was a model here. His physical form was puny and diminutive and there was very little intimidating about his person, but he was horrifying because of his connections. Ditto for the two Big-Bads in QoS, but you made the mistake of putting them in fist fights. I’m not afraid of what might happen to Daniel Craig, post-workout, when Mathieu Amalric is coming after him, even if Almaric is holding an axe. I’m still waiting for Mr. Craig to kick his ass. Checking my watch while I’m doing it. That’s your point of failure. I shouldn’t be looking at my watch. Weapons or no, nobody under seven feet tall should be getting in a fist fight with Daniel Craig.

5. Parachute. This is like a newbie mistake with cliffhangers. A parachute needs about five seconds, give or take, to slow you down before you land. The jumping out of the plane was cool, though.

6. The Organization. Frankly, I find this quite unforgivable. We were wondering throughout all of Casino Royale what this “organization” was. Yeah, the questions were answered. Kinda. Why I should give a rat’s rear end, is something I’m not quite clear on.

7. The Human Rights Scrub. There really is no controversy left about this in intelligence circles. Actually I don’t really know that. It’s probably not true; but it should be. If you want to find out filthy information about what’s going on, you have to deal with filthy people, and that’s just the way the business works. Some Hollywood movie about that being a bad thing, isn’t going to make it any less true. Besides, the quibbling about this makes for a rather pointless, distracting and monotonous subplot. Should’ve left that one alone.

8. The Ending. Who the hell is this guy, the one James Bond is pointing his gun at? Oh, that’s the guy James Bond has been chasing ever since the last movie. Why am I only seeing him in the last five minutes? What does he have to do with Dominic Greene and Quantum? What clue led James Bond to this apartment? Maybe I can update this after multiple repeat viewings when some connection jumps out at me; maybe I’ll have to update this. But I don’t recall anything. And it’s not appropriate for that to be a multiple-viewing subtlety either. Santino Corleone getting lectured by his wife at his sister’s wedding reception, that’s something you want the audience to pick up after multiple viewings. This should’ve been something blatantly obvious from the very first get-go, slapping the audience right in the kisser, over a bag of popcorn. Hey, I saw the movie, and this looks just sloppily tacked-on. This was supposed to be the point of the whole movie.

9. James Bond is Framed. James Bond was at this opera house. This other guy ended up shot. The head of MI-6 is convinced that this means James Bond shot the guy. Wow, M, don’t hurt yourself jumping to conclusions. I can’t speak for Jason Bourne, but since this isn’t a Bourne movie, it should probably be pointed out that James Bond uses an exceptionally distinct caliber in his firearm. All together now: Walther PPK with Browning 7.65 mm. (Actually it’s been updated to a P99 with 9mm, but since M never even asked about the forensics, the point stands.)

10. Mathis. That was pretty lame. If you’re going to do that to poor Mathis, wait until there’s a movie that has no Leiter. Also, I can’t quite get over the thing with the dumpster. I know you were trying to say something about how well Bond and Mathis knew each other…the problem is, they didn’t really know each other that well.

All in all, it was an okay movie. But it wasn’t a Bond movie. You’ve got me looking forward to #23, which is good, but I’m looking forward to it hoping you’ve learned a lot of lessons from this one. Which isn’t good.

Hottest Bond Girls

Monday, May 26th, 2008

MartineAn intriguing challenge comes to us by means of the James Bond Wiki, in which an anonymous user asks:

May i suggest that you make a poll that has, Which ladies in James Bond are the hottest?

That sounds like a fun poll, provided you can have the usual back-and-forth arguing (Pam Bouvier, you kidding? Cigar Girl has her beat by a mile!). But it occurs to me that someone should go out and make sure the list is more-or-less complete before the arguing can commence. Who wants to be belabored by all those false-starts…”oh yeah, I forgot about her, she was pretty smokin’ huh?”

And I think people inwardly realize this. Out of 21 movies, who’s the hottest? It’s easy enough to answer who made the biggest impression. But that’s not necessarily fair, is it.

So I came up with some ground rules, and then I gathered the list.

1. “Bond Girls” are rated whether Bond slept with them or not; whether he expressed an interest to sleep with them; whether he ever enjoyed the positioning that would be needed to sleep with them; whether or not he had the time.
2. I had a “Natalya Simonova” rule in which the measure is based on the hottest as each woman appeared within the film. (This Goldeneye character was presented as a sort of dowdy computer programming waif in most of the movie, but was much hotter in her white bikini — outside the movie, as a professional model, Izabella Scorupco is hotter still. We take our measure from the bikini scene.)
3. Two characters in two movies played by the same actress, are evaluated independently. (Maud Adams is ageless, or at least was for the twelve years in question, so this rule never came into play.)
4. Scrumptious as they are, we leave the young ladies who did voices for the James Bond video games entirely alone. Because this is a mostly visual exercise, and hey, they’re a bunch of pixels.
5. We also leave untouched the names announced for Quantum of Solace this coming Thanksgiving. If we can’t see them on the screen, it’s not fair comparing them to those who came before.
6. These are EON Bond Girls. Never Say Never Again is out of scope…although, it must be said, Fatima Blush and Domino Petachi would both rank very high.

I gave it one go, and everything went wrong. There’s a text entry limit on the James Bond Wiki for starters…and then…I realized I left out a couple names. And then I found I left out ten. And then seventeen. Then, of course, I found a few places where I’d rated some super-hot girls above others who were super-super-duper-hot. Thus negating the entire point…so I had to go back and address that.

By now, I think I’ve got it all smoothed out and pressed into place. This isn’t quite so much time-consuming, as subject to an excessive amount of potential “aw crap” revision later on, so it occurs to me this is probably the ideal medium for the list. With that in mind, be advised that the following is necessarily subject to change. Although I’m reasonably sure the most disruptive is behind it.

So here you go. Bond Girls, to date, in order of hotness.

1. Professor Inga Bergstrom, Tomorrow Never Dies
2. Valenka+, Casino Royale
3. Bonita, Goldfinger
4. Zora, From Russia With Love
5. Paula Caplain+, Thunderball
6. Hotel Clerk+, Casino Royale
7. Log Cabin Girl, The Spy Who Loved Me
8. Patricia Fearing, Thunderball
9. Kimberley Jones, A View to A Kill
10. Gypsy Dancer+, From Russia With Love
11. Naomi+, The Spy Who Loved Me
12. Domino Derval*, Thunderball
13. Bibi Dahl+, For Your Eyes Only
14. Miranda Frost, Die Another Day
15. Dink, Goldfinger
16. Plenty O’Toole, Diamonds Are Forever
17. Tatiana Romanova*, From Russia With Love
18. Sylvia Trench, Dr. No
19. Arab Beauty, The Spy Who Loved Me
20. Helga Brandt, You Only Live Twice
21. Xenia Onatopp+, Goldeneye
22. Peaceful Fountains of Desire+, Die Another Day
23. Mary Goodnight*, The Man With The Golden Gun
24. Tiffany Case*, Diamonds Are Forever
25. Teresa di Vicenzo*, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
26. Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova*, Goldeneye
27. Paris Carver, Tomorrow Never Dies
28. Female CIA Agent #2 (Jeep Driver)+, The Living Daylights
29. Holly Goodhead*, Moonraker
30. Andrea Anders, The Man With The Golden Gun
31. Octopussy*, Octopussy
32. Corinne Dufour, Moonraker
33. Honeychile Rider*, Dr. No
34. Fiona Volpe, Thunderball
35. Vida, From Russia With Love
36. Miss Taro, Dr. No
37. Solange, Casino Royale
38. Stacey Sutton*, A View to A Kill
39. Tilley Masterson, Goldfinger
40. Cigar Girl+, The World Is Not Enough
41. Melina Havelock*, For Your Eyes Only
42. Jill Masterson, Goldfinger
43. Kissy Suzuki*, You Only Live Twice
44. Dr. Christmas Jones*, The World Is Not Enough
45. Jenny Flex+, A View to A Kill
46. Pola Ivanova, A View to A Kill
47. Felicca+, The Spy Who Loved Me
48. Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson*, Die Another Day
49. Hostess of Private Jet+, Moonraker
50. Linda, The Living Daylights
51. Elektra King, The World Is Not Enough
52. The Photographer+, Dr. No
53. Manuela, Moonraker
54. Lupe Lamora, License to Kill
55. Nancy, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
56. Anya Amasova, The Spy Who Loved Me
57. Lisl von Schlaugh, For Your Eyes Only
58. Pam Bouvier*, License to Kill
59. Magda, Octopussy
60. Pussy Galore*, Goldfinger
61. Aki, You Only Live Twice
62. Solitaire*, Live and Let Die
63. Carver’s PR Girl+, Tomorrow Never Dies
64. Female CIA Agent #1 (Gun Holder)+, The Living Daylights
65. Miss Caruso, Live and Let Die
66. Bambi+, Diamonds Are Forever
67. Ling, You Only Live Twice
68. Marie+, Diamonds Are Forever
69. Thumper+, Diamonds Are Forever
70. Saida+, The Man With The Golden Gun
71. Dr. Molly Warmflash, The World Is Not Enough
72. Kara Milovy*, The Living Daylights
73. Caroline, Goldeneye
74. Vesper Lynd*, Casino Royale
75. Rosie Carver, Live and Let Die
76. Ruby Bartlett, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
77. Colonel Wai Lin*, Tomorrow Never Dies
78. Pan Ho+, A View to A Kill
79. Mayday, A View to A Kill

* “Closing Credits” Bond girl. (I decided to go ahead and include Vesper and Teresa under this.)
+ He didn’t actually sleep with her.

Disagree? How in the world could you? Nevertheless, let me know…

I Want a Piece of This Pie

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

Judging by the dollars they’re sinking into the latest, this is definitely not going to be just another Bond film. And it is going to make an amazing quantum of lucre.

Maybe sometime between now and November my “ship will come in”…and I can somehow get hip deep in this thing. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Eh, the Magic-8 balls says I’m going to keep on being a wage slave until the movie comes out — but it’ll kick some serious ass. Hey, I can live with that. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

The Dark Age

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

In our relatively recent memory, there is a micro-era just 76 months long that shook the world. That this tiny epoch exists in our past, says a great deal about how we live with each other, how we’re slaves to fad and fashion, and how we’re not nearly as independent as we like to think we are.

My son’s been having this interest in cultural events that immediately preceded his birth, which was in ’97. This could be a sign of genius, if he knows what he’s doing…something that is always open to question. It could be hereditary. In my case, back in my childhood I had an interest in what was going on in the sixties and seventies, barely conscious of the fact that “big things” were going on, and I didn’t quite understand what they were. But they were bigger than me. My similar interest was decidedly a case of not knowing what I was doing. If I had my childhood to live all over again, knowing back then what I know now about post-modern feminism and the effect it’s had on our culture and on our public policy, I would have read every single newspaper I possibly could have gotten my hands on.

There are cycles, waves, and other such patterns involved in the way we value things across time. We’ve always had this tendency to elevate one demographic onto a pedestal, and bury another one shoulders-deep into the ground for a vicious virtual-stoning. We take turns doing this, and throughout it all we have this self-deceptive way of telling ourselves we’re treating everyone “equally” when we all know it isn’t true. It’s a delicious and intriguing piece of human hypocrisy, something woven deeply into us inseparable from our body chemistries.

Maybe we picked it up when we bit that damned apple. Who knows.

And we exercise it as individuals. In a couple of years, my son will be a teenager and the “My Dad Knows Everything” phase will come to a bitter end. I’ll be the clueless dolt who doesn’t know a damn thing.

James BondIn the meantime, my son likes James Bond movies. He seems to be in search of the elusive James Bond question that his father can’t answer. And always, always, we keep coming back to the above-mentioned chapter. He’s figured out that the history of the movie franchise is inseparable from the history of modern America…double-oh seven’s adopted parental country. How it is connected, he’s not quite completely sure. But he understands there is a connection.

Always, we come back to the elephant in the room. The one thing about the superspy that cannot be ignored…but defies explanation because it defies definition. The one things in Bond’s timeline that is absolutely intermingled with and inseparable from ours. I’ve made several casual references to it, but have never thoroughly explored it before in these pages.

The Dark Age.

The time when the Knight of the Cold War underwent a timeless and decidedly female fantasy — the story of Persephone, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. He was taken away. He slept. The world tried, and arguably failed, to get along without him.

This has been an educational experience for me; the one facet to this Dark Age that fascinates me, above all else, is that it is a classic case of the few dictating the tastes of the many. We recall it — when we do — as a grassroots event, a natural consequence of the everyday folks getting fed up with an over-saturation of machismo. It simply isn’t true. It wasn’t bottom-up; it was top-down. Our elders decided they knew what was best for us, and they decided we were tired of James Bond. It was part of a much larger thing. Manhood was out of style. Masculinity, it was thought…although nobody came out and said straight-out, for it made far too little sense…was something that enshrouded us in the age of warfare, and now that the Cold War was over manhood no longer had a home. Anywhere. It was time for it to go away.

And so it became obligatory for the Lords and Vicounts and High Priests to instruct the peasants not to like James Bond. Or cigars, or martinis, or…well…anything you might’ve seen your “daddy” doing, be it Yankee or Anglican.

Working on cars on a summer day in an old greasy tee shirt. Drinking beer. Knowing best. Peeing on a tree. Opening jars for the wife. Telling dirty jokes. Growing facial hair. We were “above” all that, as we explored this new chapter in which 007 would be 86’d.

James Bond’s long slumber, the span between the sixteenth and seventeenth film installments, neatly bookends a small era in which we wanted none of these things…because we were told we should want no such things. And this year, as my son teeters on the brink of teenagerhood and is about to lose his curiosity about the Dark Age, and as Senator Hillary Clinton repeatedly struggles and fails to bring the Dark Age back again, perhaps it would be fruitful to re-inspect exactly what happened to us.

Supposedly, what happened was that Ian Fleming’s creation stalled out with the always-crescendoing legal troubles that arose from ownership disputes. There is certainly some truth to this; the evidence seems to suggest, on the question of Fleming taking indecent liberties with Kevin McClory’s contribution of the storyline in Thunderball, that Fleming is actually guilty. But it doesn’t really matter, does it. The very thing that makes this explanation plausible, is the thing that makes this explanation all bollywonkers and gunnybags. James Bond, at least in film form, has always been in legal trouble over this McClory issue. It is the reason there were two James Bonds in 1983. It is the reason that, in For Your Eyes Only two years previous, there was that surreal “Blofeld” appearance nobody can explain completely — the one with the smokestack, the wheelchair, the helicopter, and the delicatessen in stainless steel. Yeah, that.

Personally, I’ve never completely bought into this line that James Bond went away because of legal problems. He went away because he was out of style. Our feminists didn’t want us watching him. They told us what to do, and we obeyed our feminists. Starting with Hollywood, which made the regrettable decision — and today, looking back, the most ludicrous one — that the most profitable years of double-oh seven were in the past.

When one inspects what James Bond really is, one can easily see why our feminists have always hated him so much. He isn’t really a British spy, you know. He is the very apex of male fantasy. Let’s face it, international espionage doesn’t really have a great deal to do with saving the world from a madman with a laser orbiting the planet. It certainly doesn’t have to do with Aston-Martin automobiles, or sleeping with a lot of women. Or wearing a two thousand dollar suit and a three thousand dollar watch, when a couple hundred bucks divided among the two of those acquisitions will do quite nicely.

No, what those things have in common is that they typify male fantasy. They define manhood. Being entrusted with an important job, going about it, noticing something is about to happen that will injure millions of people you don’t even want to ever meet, preventing an enormous disaster and then retreating back into the shadows to go about your more mundane daily duties. Huh. I’ve just described the typical Superman episode. I’ve also just described a day in the life of any knight sitting at King Arthur’s round table. This is male fantasy that goes back a good stretch before Ian Fleming’s parents ever met.

And as frosting on the cake of feminist hatred toward the British superspy…once these male fantasies solidify into a newest James Bond movie installment, and the knuckledragging males like myself move heaven and earth to go see it…we don’t go alone. No, we bring our women along. Yes, women following men into the theater to watch a man’s movie. And we don’t jam our “honey do jars” full of bits of paper promising to do this or that pain-in-the-ass thing in compromise. We don’t have to. Our women want to go. Our women want to see the next James Bond movie more than we do.

This is what earns James Bond a fatwa from the feminist movement. He reminds us that men are noble creatures, and that women are complicated. Our feminists tend to hunger for the exact opposite, you know…they like men to be disposable and they like women to be simple. But with not a single sign of Meg Ryan crying, or Hugh Grant acting like a dork, the simple woman isn’t supposed to be having any fun. And she wouldn’t be. Yet the latest Bond flick comes out, and our women are practically jumping in the car, warming up the engine for us, offering to buy the popcorn.

James Bond is a sign that feminists may have more to learn about women, than anybody else.

And so, during the Dark Age, they killed him. They did what feminists desire to do: Shape our culture and define the values we exercise therein. Glittering recruiting-buzzwords like “power” and “freedom” and “choice” really have very little to do with any of it.

But…when angry women want us to do things, we find it hard to tell them no.

For the two thousand three hundred and thirteen days that began in the summer of 1989, James Bond slept.

The world went un-saved.

And when the experiment was over, it turned out — maybe the world doesn’t need saving after all — but it certainly does need James Bond. That male fantasy that he’s really all about. We depend on it; that’s just the way it is, and the feminists can get as grouchy about that as they want to get, but it’s true and will always remain such.

The feminist edict that James Bond should go away, began the way all cultural impulses do: With a tailwind, and on a downward slope. It caught on because resistance was at a low ebb. Certain external events created a climate in which it was handy and convenient to suggest a retirement from MI6 and from Hollywood. The AIDS crisis had reached a plateau, and some would say it was still on a sharp upswing. The baby boom generation, always numerous, always powerful, and always hostile to anything that might have been identified with the generation previous to them, had reached middle age and they started to occupy positions that were powerful, positions in which “real” decisions were made about things. And with Russia’s troubles, anything even remotely connected to a “cold war” seemed naturally headed to the trash heap.

It was Timothy Dalton’s second venture in this role. It is sometimes said that his style, notable in fidelity to the book version of Agent 007, grated on the movie audiences and there may be some truth to this as well. But another thing about Dalton that doesn’t get a lot of mention is that he was the first “Fountain of Youth” James Bond. Fans were expected to believe this was the same guy who outwitted Dr. No in 1962 and wrecked that railroad car on the Orient Express with Red Grant the following year; here he was, maybe seventy years old, wrestling control of an airplane in mid-flight after waterskiing behind it in his bare feet. The storyline was original enough, involving Bond’s defection from the British Secret Service and carrying out a personal vendetta on behalf of his friend Felix Leiter. And Robert Davi had all kinds of things going for him as the bad guy. He was dark, sinister, bloodthirsty, cruel and charming.

But — and looking back on it, this was probably the nail in the coffin — the bad guy was also a drug lord. In the previous film, The Living Daylights, it turned out that bad guy was also a drug lord. James Bond fighting the war on drugs. Nothing says “past the prime” quite like that.

The only sense of continuity was that Dalton had signed up to do three movies, and this was the second. Other than that, there was no momentum at all.

The death knell also came from bad returns, and the bad returns undoubtedly resulted from bad promotion. The film competed with Batman; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; Lethal Weapon 2 and many others. Bond had been a summer phenomenon with every film appearance since The Spy Who Loved Me, but evidently the time had come to re-think that, and perhaps it was re-thought a bit too late.

When the thumping came from the dismal revenues, feminists, and others invested against Bond’s success, trumpeted that we were tired of men saving the world from disaster, conveniently ignoring the success of Die Hard just a year ago. The talking point stuck. They talked it up and talked it up. Meanwhile, MGM/UA sued Danjaq, the parent holding company of Bond-related trademarks and copyrights…another outgrowth of the McClory mess.

That winter, in a dark omen about the times in which we were about to live, carefully sanitized of any male heroism or derring-do or respect for same, Marc Lepine murdered 14 women at the University of Montreal. The Montreal Massacre has come to epitomize what’s wrong with feminism, why it is the very last mindset that should have anything, whatsoever, with the formation of public policy.

Let us summarize it here: Feminists talked down male heroism. They opposed it at every turn. They poured vast sums of money and energy into sneering at it, indoctrinating entire generations of people to the idea that the Real Man is a myth, and if he is indeed real he serves no purpose, in fact is something toxic and ugly. And Mark Steyn, quoting himself after the Virginia Tech shooting, fills us in on what happened next:

Yet the defining image of contemporary Canadian maleness is not M Lepine/Gharbi but the professors and the men in that classroom, who, ordered to leave by the lone gunman, meekly did so, and abandoned their female classmates to their fate — an act of abdication that would have been unthinkable in almost any other culture throughout human history. The “men” stood outside in the corridor and, even as they heard the first shots, they did nothing. And, when it was over and Gharbi walked out of the room and past them, they still did nothing. Whatever its other defects, Canadian manhood does not suffer from an excess of testosterone.

The conclusion is inescapable. Masculinity was killed, and soon after it the real women it had been defending.

Well, Mark Steyn has his opinion about what it all means, but the prevailing viewpoint has another take on it…

Since the attack, Canadians have debated various interpretations of the events, their significance, and Lépine’s motives. Many feminist groups and public officials have characterized the massacre as an anti-feminist attack that is representative of wider societal violence against women. Consequently, the anniversary of the massacre has since been commemorated as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Other interpretations emphasize Lépine’s abuse as a child or suggest that the massacre was simply the isolated act of a madman, unrelated to larger social issues. Still other commentators have blamed violence in the media and increasing poverty, isolation, and alienation in society, particularly in immigrant communities.
The massacre was a major spur for the Canadian gun control movement. One of the survivors, Heidi Rathjen, who was in one of the classrooms Lépine did not enter during the shooting, organized the Coalition for Gun Control with Wendy Cukier. Susan and Jim Edwards, the parents of one of the victims, were also deeply involved. Their activities, along with others, led to the passage of Bill C-68, or the Firearms Act, in 1995, ushering in stricter gun control regulations. These new regulations included new requirements on the training of gun owners, screening of firearm applicants, new rules concerning gun and ammunition storage and the registration of all firearms. The gun registry in particular has been a controversial and partisan issue, with critics charging that it was a political move by the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien that has been expensive and impractical to enforce.

Who’s right? Form whatever opinion you wish to form; I’ve formed mine. This culture conflict between male-friendly and male-hostile forces had been going on for awhile, and ultimately it culminated in the death of James Bond, the greatest family-friendly male fantasy material ever put to the big screen. And then the Montreal Massacre showed us the horrific consequences in store for us if we eradicate masculinity…and in response to that…our neighbors to the North, in their infinite wisdom, eradicated masculinity some more. Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women — as if deranged gunmen pay attention to such things, before making the fateful decision to go charging through a college campus shooting people.

Little things began to happen in popular culture about this time, poisoning the well just a little bit further. The Simpsons premiered — the madcap adventures of a little poorly-drawn cartoon boy named Bart. It turned out his doofus dad Homer had special resonance with our now thoroughly-vaginized audience, and in the years to come the family patriarch would steal center stage. Homer Simpson, in this way, continued the trend set by Al Bundy in Married…With Children — albeit as a less sympathetic character — and the Age of the Doofus Dad began in earnest.

On the big screen and the little screen, things started popping up “geared toward” girls and women…which means deliberately excluding men. The studios discovered women were feeling a special attraction toward things that not only entertained them, but were assured to provide little-to-no entertainment for anybody else. They called it “tailoring” or “customizing” or “specially targeted” or whatever. The meaning was all the same: Men wouldn’t like it.

Makes sense. Guys, when you take your sweeties to the movies, it should hurt. Makes as much sense as that ring that should cost a lot. Sacrifice is the point.

So we were buried in an avalanche of things men wouldn’t like. The Little Mermaid marked the beginning of what became an annual pilgrimage — Disney would market the hell out of their next big feature cartoon, full of strange people and animals with eyes the size of dinner plates, with obscene volumes of merchandising tie-ins. Next year, they’d go back, Jack, and do it again. All of it “tailored.” Cleansed of anything that might be interpreted as even residual masculine appeal. All of it calculated to make Dad barf.

Steel Magnolias. That spring, Pretty Woman. Ghost. Feelings, feelings, feelings…bits of fluff to make you cry, tossed up there for the purpose of pulling in the little gold statues of the man who has no face.

Ryan White died of AIDS. Such poignant deaths tugged at our heartstrings, and helped to remind us that the era of feelings could not have crested out just yet. It was just getting started. After all, if you resolved to confront the AIDS crisis with your brain instead of with your heart, what in the world would you do? There was nothing to do in the Realm of Thought except throw a little bit more money at the disease. And then a lot more money. Well, when people can’t form a plan that seems complete, they like to feel their way through things so with every AIDS-related news event we did some more feeling.

Manhood being coupled with stoic, rational thinking, it was buried a little further in the ground as we continued to bury our brains. We had to be more sensitive. People were dying of AIDS. Nobody ever explained how being more sensitive would stop AIDS deaths, but that’s the beauty of feeling your way through things — no explanation necessary. Just think happy thoughts. Or sad ones. Whatever fits the occasion. Just be compatible. Doing constructive things, that was out of style now.

The era of James Bond continued to slip into the past. In August of 1990, movie producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli parted company with screenwriter Richard Maibaum, and John Glen, director of the previous five films. Half a year after this unfortunate event, Maibaum would be dead.

The environment took center stage, now that we were being extra-feminized and sensitive. We had a new Earth Day, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the 1970 event, and that summer Captain Planet and the Planeteers premiered on TBS.

Men were understood to be inherently bad and women were understood to be inherently good. We began an endless fascination in women doing those heroic male things, like catching the bad guy. This is the year in which Clarice Starling became famous, as portrayed by Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs. And then there was Thelma and Louise. Of course, the Tailhook scandal helped out a lot. Women were heroes — and hero status was incomplete if it was even suggested that maybe, just maybe, there might be some things men could do that women could not…that wouldn’t do. We pretended otherwise. And if anybody dared to get tired of it, we’d simply explore how women were victims — and that would return them to “hero” status.

The dysfunction that took hold in our society, wasn’t so much that we saw good things in women. The most “patriarchal” societies, contrary to popular belief, have it in common that they have seen women as innately good and worthy of protection — hence the necessity of strong men. No, in the 76 months of this Dark Age, the real damage was irony. Things seemed, to us, to be the opposite of what they really were…starting with strength and weakness. Weakness was now the new strength. In the news as well as in fiction, people were shown to be strong through a ritual of showcasing their frailties. Rodney King was worthy of our attention because he got beaten up. The beating was worth talking about. His leading the police on a high speed chase through a densely populated suburban neighborhood…wasn’t worth talking about, because this didn’t service the goal of portraying King as a victim. Starling was strong because she was a victim. Thelma and Louise were strong because they were victims. The Tailhook ladies were strong because they were victims.

Strong didn’t have anything to do with being ready, willing or able to defend someone in need of a defense. That would be too patriarchal.

In July of 1991, Patricia Ireland succeeded Molly Yard as the head of the National Organization of Women. This was a pivotal event because it was a generational hand-off; Ireland is a baby-boomer, and Yard came from the generation previous. Three months after this, Susan Faludi published her book, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. Strength-through-victimhood continued.

Feminists, during this time, could be as nasty as they wanted to be. If anyone called it out they’d just call it a “backlash” and do some more complaining about dark and sinister undercurrents in our society, working against them. Meanwhile, James Bond was dead…along with countless other “patriarchal” trinkets, involving far less meaning to us item-by-item than they meant collectively. The feminists were being exactly what they called others. Rodney King’s famous query was “can’t we all just get along?” The irony was, those who worked day and night to make sure everybody heard the question, also labored with equal gusto to make sure the answer was a resounding “Hell, no!”

Jeffry Dahmer was arrested. For eating people. The police got in trouble when it was discovered Dahmer fooled them into returning a bleeding, naked little boy to his care…who he later had for dinner. He ate lots of other people, but the police got in trouble because of this one boy. Don’t worry about Dahmer, he’s probably the last cannibal we’ll see for awhile, but we’d better fix the police because they’re feeding little boys to cannibals!

So the pattern continued. Those who did harm, were presented to us as nothing more than a curiosity…maybe even something deserving of our sympathy. Those whose job it is to protect us from the harm, are presented as part of the real problem. Ostensibly, this is done to make sure our protection is worth something. But every crime needs a protagonist, doesn’t it? If I’m a cop I can’t very well feed someone to a cannibal if there’s no cannibal around, can I? The police were a danger, the protagonist was not.

In November, Freddy Mercury died of AIDS. The feeling-over-thought continued. Bohemian Rhamsody, that winter, blared from every loudspeaker on every radio and every television.

Disorder was the new order. Justice was dispensed, not from the courtroom in which Stacy Koon and his colleagues were acquitted for the Rodney King incident, but in the riots that followed in downtown LA. Again…it was all about solving problems with feeling instead of with thought. Justice becomes a myth when you do that; just a glorified system of might-makes-right. More irony: People who want to disclaim masculinity, manhood, “patriarchal oppression” and so forth claim that as their goal — to elevate themselves and society above an anarchy in which might-makes-right. But that’s exactly what they cause to happen.

Meanwhile, nobody noticed that the Maastricht Treaty had been signed. This was the beginning of the European Union. Just like any other union, it was constructed to “level the playing field” against someone who had an “unfair advantage” — which means to attack that someone. In this case, it was the United States.

The importance of the Maastricht event cannot be overstated. Sixteen years later, we have been dutifully fed our talking points that the United States is seen by our “allies” as an oppressor. Most people who believe this uncritically, fail to comprehend how intricate and robust is the organization that is really responsible for all this “seeing.” It is an international union formed for the purpose of gaining more power…against the United States. With a little bit of a longer memory, one can see there is more to that story than just President George W. Bush. The hostility against America has roots in it, that go all the way back to this event. This quiet event.

Then came the Year of the Woman. It was part of a global fashion trend. That year, Betty Boothroyd had been elected as the first woman Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, and Stella Rimington became the first woman head of MI5, the domestic counterpart to Agent 007’s MI6 international espionage branch. The movie industry continued to assault us with their feeling-over-thought anti-man pap: A League of Their Own; Lorenzo’s Oil; Prelude to a Kiss.

Dan Quayle, technically correct, perhaps even prophetic, but hopelessly tone-deaf, gave a speech on the harm Murphy Brown was doing to our society. It was something we needed to have pointed out, but we weren’t ready for it at the time. Our sense of direction was utterly destroyed by now. Chaos looked like order, women looked like men, cops looked like robbers and robbers looked like cops. When cowardliness led to piles of womens’ dead bodies, we thought the best way to protect our women was to embrace more cowardliness. Murphy Brown’s dysfunction? It looked like function.

As Quayle’s boss faced re-election that fall, the worst debate-question ever was asked by pony-tail guy at the debate in Richmond, VA: “How can we, as symbolically the children of the future president, expect the two of you—the three of you—to meet our needs?” Rush Limbaugh provided more context for the quote here (link requires registration with Rush 24/7):

RUSH: Shall we go back to March 30th, 1993, from my Television Show, I played this sound bite from October 15th of 1992. This was the presidential debate, Perot, Clinton and Bush 41 in Richmond, Virginia.

THE PONYTAILED GUY: The focus of my work is domestic mediation, is meeting the needs of the children that I work with by way of their parents and not the wants of their parents, and I ask the three of you, how can we as symbolically the children of the future president expect the two of you, the three of you to meet our needs?

RUSH: That’s the famous Ponytail Guy from the Richmond debate in 1992. These presidential candidates are our fathers, the president’s going to be our father, and what can we expect from our father, you, to meet our needs?

The irony continued. Dependence was independence.

As the Danjaq/MGM case wound its way through the courts, The Crying Game was released…continuing the irony, women were men. Superman, the defender of Truth, Justice, The American Way, died. Just as well. We had some significant questions about what exactly all three of those were…and at the time we didn’t even realize we had those questions. But Superman just plum ran out of ways to save the day — without offending insecure women with his masculine oppression and what-not. So down he went.

Clinton appointed a whole bunch of women to his cabinet. Had he been seeking the best and the brightest for these important positions, he might have accidentally picked some pretty ones, and that would have been threatening. So he made sure they were all physically unappealing. Reno. Shalala. Albright would come later…and of course later that year Ruth Bader Ginsburg would be nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court. I don’t wish to be unkind, but these ladies are homely. To doubt that there was an agenda in place to select them that way, is to doubt the evidence of our senses. If you sent me out to find some that look like this, I’d be out there all day long…probably finding none at all, or no more than one. In one of his first acts of office, not quite content with his retroactive tax increase, he passed the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA.

Because as anybody knows, the first step to making the economy stronger is to make it godawful expensive to hire people. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Country music didn’t escape the Age of Dysfunction either. Eilleen Regina Edwards, better known as Shania Twain, released her debut CD. Country Music purists became apoplectic, and the schism helped to channel this seemingly limitless supply of anti-tradition anti-male energy into lifting the nascent career of the gorgeous Shania…whom, apart from that, had no shortage of assets appealing to the male psyche. There was little or no animosity involved in her lyrics, but a darker culture arose to consume her. No bitter, angry single-mom was complete without a cheap little CD player belting out one Shania Twain cut after another. It was all just so fresh…which sounds deceptively positive. Under the roots of it all, was a underlayer of raw, naked animosity toward anything that was traditional, and/or not yet quite as feminized as it might possibly be.

The Supreme Court decided Wisconsin v. Mitchell, signaling the readiness of our modern culture to consider hate-crime legislation. Who exactly is ready for it, nobody is willing to say; for a judicial-branch decision to drive what the legislative-branch is supposed to do, isn’t quite the way things are supposed to work. But work that way it did, as the Supreme Court decided states have latitude in considering motive for a crime in enhancing the penalties for it.

What’s been mostly forgotten is that the Wisconsin decision concerned an assault on a white fourteen-year-old boy, Gregory Reddick, by a gang of black individuals in Kenosha, who had just seen Mississippi Burning. Todd Mitchell asked the group “Do you all feel hyped up to move on some white people?” — Reddick was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the rest is history.

Todd Mitchell’s penalty was enhanced due to thoughts in his head. The Wisconsin Supreme Court had determined there was something wrong with that, that such an enhancement would have a “chilling effect” on free speech. The Supreme Court overruled, finding “no merit in this contention.” Those are unfortunate words. Penalty enhancements due to thoughts-in-the-head may, with a little bit of trickery, be shoehorned into some functional compatibility with the spirit of our Constitution, or at least with the letter. But “no merit” is a little on the strong side. To say penalties can be enhanced because of free speech exercised, might have a chilling effect on free speech…it does, at the very least, have some merit.

In an act that symbolized exactly what was going on, Lorena Bobbit cut off her husband’s penis and flung it at a stop sign, to fall into a field where it was later retrieved and reattached. Good thing she picked the summer of 1993 as the best time to do it. She was hailed as a feminist hero. The jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity, and after a court-ordered 45-day psychiatric evaluation, she was released.

She got away with it.

And the feminists said she was exactly what they wanted to be. Good for them. I wonder if, in 2008, they have the decency to be embarrassed by that. But it might be a good idea for the rest of us to remember what exactly “feminism” meant fifteen years ago: Cutting off dicks, or wishing you had the guts to do it.

Kim Campbell was sworn in as the first female Prime Minister of Canada.

President Clinton passed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, then went out to the Rose Garden for a photo op as Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shook hands in a sham peace ceremony. The age of fakery, of built-in irony, of feeling-over-thought, of pretending things weren’t what the cognitive lobes understood them to be…staggered on. Meanwhile, John Wayne Bobbit flirted with porn. It seems he was restored to his potency much more quickly than we were restored to ours.

Sleepless in Seattle assailed our senses, followed closely afterward by the premiere of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Jocelyn Elders was confirmed as our Surgeon General, and the Maastricht Treaty came into effect, forming the European Union.

As Madonna slipped into her Dominatrix outfit, Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act into law, then sent his wife down Pennsylvania Avenue to babble some kind of nonsense at Congress about socialized medicine.

On November 13, Star Trek: The Next Generation had an episode called Force of Nature that nearly killed Star Trek. It was about environmentalism. It turns out, when you take a starship above Warp 5 you do some incremental damage to the fabric of the space-time continuum. At the conclusion of this episode, Starfleet, in its infinite wisdom, imposed a galactic speed limit on all starships, bringing the fictitious age of exploring the “final frontier” to a virtual end.

Another metaphorical event of profound poignancy: Ripping apart the fabric of a space-time continuum, was exactly what was taking place in real life. With manhood, our spirit of exploration was dying. And with that, our fastening to logic and truth. We wanted Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. We wanted the thoughts in our heads to be regulated, while we were told no such thing was happening. With all the exploring done, we just wanted things extra safe…we wanted our Hillarycare universal health plan.

Lani Guinier, the “quota queen,” was nominated as the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

Colin Ferguson, accused of killing six passengers and wounding nineteen on the Long Island railroad, employed the black rage defense. His attorneys tried their best to retroactively declare open season on people, but to no avail. He received six life terms. Hey, at least they tried.

Black rage was first proposed by black psychologists William Grier and Price Cobbs in their book Black Rage (ISBN 1579103499). Grier and Cobbs argue that black people living in a racist, white supremacist society are psychologically damaged by the effects of racist oppression. This damage causes black people to act abnormally in certain situations.

Irony continues. The victim has strength, and is to be respected. Inequality is equality.

Since everybody was instantly good and wonderful if they would just let women do things they previously couldn’t, the Church of England began to ordain female priests. Hugh Grant typified his perpetual role as the hapless clumsy “git” in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Timothy Dalton went on record, announcing his official abdication from the role of James Bond.

Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley. The World Series was canceled, and the FIFA World Cup began in the United States. Enter soccer, exit baseball. But the real insult to the United States was just around the corner: Michael Fay used his American origin as an excuse for spray painting cars in Singapore. You see, we Americans are meek and mild and we’re just not tough enough for that caning punishment they have over there. The skin on our buttocks is especially thin, I suppose. So, you should just let us get away with it. I have a social disease, Officer Krupke! Grasping for the chance to show that chaos is really order and strength is really weakness, President Clinton intervened and bargained the ritual six strokes of the cane down to four.

With our national identity confused, lost, given away, we went through our summer ritual of being buried in annoying, glurgy, anti-male, feeling-over-thought movies. When A Man Loves A Woman. Natural Born Killers. Bad Girls. Blue Sky. Exit to Eden.

Woodstock ’94 commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of something that wasn’t really worth the trouble. Hippies smoking dope listening to music having sex in the mud. It was kind of a bust. The hippies had grown up, gotten jobs, mortgages, heads full of gray hair…and some nice suits that couldn’t get muddy.

ER premiered.

Hillarycare was quietly abandoned. We just weren’t going for it…yet.

A new Star Trek movie came out in which Kirk and Picard would appear together. This started lots of Kirk/Picard comparisons…wonderfully entertaining, all of them…but again, metaphorical toward the confusion and dysfunction we felt during these 76 months. The overall trend was that Kirk was more dependable and effective when confronted with a crisis, but Picard was more desirable…for reasons left unstated, or stated only vaguely. His propensity to surrender was thought to be an asset. Again, weakness is strength.

Disclosure came out, asking us to imagine an event in which a woman is guilty of sexual harassment (including an unfortunately ludicrous and silly scene in which Michael Douglas is given a blow job against his will).

We showed some signs of an early bloom in this 330-week winter. We voted in a Republican Congress, and Dr. Elders was finally forced to resign. Peter Jennings said we were having a “temper tantrum.”

When the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City was blown up, they blamed talk radio and angry white men.

Bryant Gumbel, then co-host on the NBC News Today show, reported that “The bombing in Oklahoma City has focused renewed attention on the rhetoric that’s been coming from the right and those who cater to angry white men. While no one’s suggesting right-wing radio jocks approve of violence, the extent to which their approach fosters violence is being questioned by many observers, including the president…”

We were being told what to think and what not to think. But dependence was independence.

Women continued to take on male roles in fiction. One expensive production after another failed, either in the short term or over the long haul, but the producers insisted on believing women could look appealing just by doing manly things. Real entertainment is expensive, after all. And so Hercules had an episode called “The Warrior Princess” which spun off into its own show; “Star Trek: Voyager” premiered. Of the latter, the only draw was that the Captain of the vessel was a woman. Who acted a lot like a man. It was rather painful and boring to watch, but it did endure for seven seasons, the Warrior Princess for six.

In those early days, success was sure to be had so long as the personalities showcased were not straight, white and male. And so 1995 brought in the now-ritual summer of glurgy anti-male-ness and anti-family-ness and anti-thought-ness…Babe, Pocahontas, Boys on the Side, Bridges of Madison County. Copycat, Scarlet Letter. And, let us not forget the Macarena being released. Looking silly is serious business.

Sandra Bullock, in the first movie appearance since she lit up the screen in Speed, embarked on a new rejuvenated career dedicated to chick flicks — with While You Were Sleeping. Funny. Thirteen years later, I have yet to remain awake all the way through that movie.

Nearly three years after Barbara Boxer began her vendetta against him, Sen. Bob Packwood was forced to resign. A few years later, she’d circle the wagons around President Clinton for doing something much worse…I guess inconsistency is consistency. But with Packwood gone, we could talk about women being victims again, especially with Shannon Faulker’s adventures at The Citadel. Victims are strong because weakness is strength.

On November 13, 1995, the 2,313 day winter was finally brought to a thaw as Goldeneye was released. It received two BAFTA nominations and earned $26 million during its opening, the most successful Bond movie since Moonraker.


It should be obvious by now. We had been starved. We had been denied what we, men and women, really want: That old story, the knight-of-the-round-table story. Disaster prevented. Good thing that strong smart resourceful guy was where he was.

Women, somewhere, may be capable of doing what men can do. But there is no fantasy there. Nor do we have any inner lust toward this phony irony, wherein victimhood is strength, femininity is masculinity, unfairness is justice, thought control is freedom, chaos is order, dependence is independence. We know, deep down, all of us, that that’s all crap — we can only snack on it for so long before we get sick of it. Three hundred thirty weeks…it’s far too much to ask of us. Can’t keep it up.

Eventually, we have to return to our programming and our programming has to do with truth, logic, and order. That is what our programming is all about, for our programming has to be consistent with nature. If it were not, we would not be here. And so we like to see a strong masculine figure preventing disaster, for the benefit of people he has never met and never will meet. A man…defusing a bomb. A man…lifting a concrete slab off a baby who is miraculously unharmed. A man…fishing a kitten out of a tree…or shooting a terrorist who was about to wear a dynamite belt to a pizzeria. Men see that, and they feel better about themselves because they want to be that guy; women see that, and they feel better because they understand someone somewhere believes they are worth defending.

What was this long winter, the Dark Age in which James Bond slumbered away, really about?

It was about abjuring reason…for the sole purpose of feeling good…and failing. Once it was over, we felt better than we’d ever felt since it began. Let that be a lesson to us: To plagiarize Franklin, those who disclaim logic, reason and masculine symbiosis for a good feeling and “self esteem,” deserve none of these things and shall ultimately have none of these things.

The New Bond Movie Title

Friday, February 1st, 2008

What with the only decent candidate dropping out of the presidential race, and the, ahem, other high drama going on, it seems after waiting a solid year for this announcement to come out I completely missed it.

Producers have revealed some of the secrets about the latest James Bond film, due for release later this year, including the inner turmoil that drives its suave superagent hero and its title: “Quantum of Solace.”

As titles go, it’s not as mellifluous as “From Russia With Love” or “Goldfinger.” But Daniel Craig, returning as Bond after 2006’s “Casino Royale,” says he likes it.

“It has grown on me,” Craig told reporters on the film’s set at Pinewood Studios near London on Thursday. “It doesn’t trip off the tongue. But why should it?”

You can find a plot summary here

Betrayed by Vesper, the woman he loved, 007 fights the urge to make his latest mission personal. Pursuing his determination to uncover the truth, Bond and M (JUDI DENCH) interrogate Mr White (JESPER CHRISTENSEN) who reveals the organization which blackmailed Vesper is far more complex and dangerous than anyone had imagined.

Forensic intelligence links an Mi6 traitor to a bank account in Haiti where a case of mistaken identity introduces Bond to the beautiful but feisty Camille (OLGA KURYLENKO), a woman who has her own vendetta. Camille leads Bond straight to Dominic Greene (MATHIEU AMALRIC), a ruthless business man and major force within the mysterious organization.

On a mission that leads him to Austria, Italy and South America, Bond discovers that Greene, conspiring to take total control of one of the world’s most important natural resources, is forging a deal with the exiled General Medrano (JOAQUIN COSIO). Using his associates in the organization, and manipulating his powerful contacts within the CIA and the British government, Greene promises to overthrow the existing regime in a Latin American country, giving the General control of the country in exchange for a seemingly barren piece of land.

In a minefield of treachery, murder and deceit, Bond allies with old friends in a battle to uncover the truth. As he gets closer to finding the man responsible for the betrayal of Vesper, 007 must keep one step ahead of the CIA, the terrorists and even M, to unravel Greene’s sinister plan and stop his organization.

Video follows…

Faaaaaaan…tastic. I’ll be there on opening day, doin’ the Mervyn’s open-open-open thing. Official site here; more here and here. Interviews and video clips here. Rumors are flying around, and I’m inclined to think they’ll collapse, that the superspy is going to wed.

James Bond is by far the most beneficial contribution to western civilization that originated outside of the U.S. of A. And it’s not because he makes men feel good about themselves…it’s because he makes someone feel good about themselves.

Because the truth of it is, if this movie franchise showed off how suave and sleek and daring and resourceful and strong the male of the species could be, by actively and constantly ticking off the ladies, I personally wouldn’t be so supportive of it. Here’s what everybody’s missing: James Bond is exactly what we all say we want but cannot find, which is a truly positive role model. Yes, his sex life is irresponsible, and he drinks a lot…used to smoke a lot too…but that’s all trivial stuff. Whenever there’s a megalomaniac somewhere in his orbiting space station, or his undersea fortress, or his dirigible, and he’s plotting to blackmail the United Nations with stolen nuclear weapons or blow up Fort Knox or irradiate the Caspian Sea, it might be a good idea for someone to hop on in there and make sure it doesn’t happen, maybe.

BondThis is a real hero. On the surface, cosmetically, Bond lives for himself. That defines the character. And yet…if it really defined him to the marrow of his bones, wouldn’t he just kind of yawn and scratch his ass while circuses in East Germany were blown up, and the banking system of London was wiped out with electro-magnetic pulse? So…he seems to live for himself, but the twist is that he really doesn’t.

Contrast that with the “typical” hero, which, I submit, is an equally puzzling dichotomy, but turned around in the exact opposite direction. They seem to live for others but in reality, live for themselves. There have been so many and they’ve all faded from memory so quickly — which is my point — but where to begin.

Your typical movie hero is designed to gather glittering compliments about being a constructive role-model for the little kidlets, from people whose adoration is most valued by the leftwing pinhead Hollywood jetset, which is more leftwing pinhead Hollywood jetset. This type of hero promotes a collectivist society, although necessarily in a thickly subtle way. What is going on in the hero(ine)’s personal life, what people think of him/her, over a long term or over the span of a few seconds at some social event — this is presented as crucial dramatic tension, on par with the sinister plot the typical forgettable hero is trying to foil.

He’s occasionally a white guy, but great pains are taken to ensure that he’s usually not — and nobody notices.

Everything, and I do mean everything, s/he does is something that is hip, or more to the point cannot be considered un-hip. One painful vision that comes immediately to mind, is a “Walker, Texas Ranger” deep into his fifties, heading out to a honky-tonk bar with his much younger friends and groovin’ to the modern country music with the much younger kiddies already ensconced therein. Blegh. See, like a sophomore in high school, he had to do it. The character is uber-cool, and would be compromised if ever caught — just once — failing to climb on to whatever bandwagon came along.

Another example…the Legally Blond girl. The fairer sex, I notice, is particularly victimized by this overwhelming deluge of “entertainment” vessels in which the so-called “real” contest between good & evil, has to do with reforming our unfair, stratified world into a more egalitarian society. Here, we’re going to become better people by acclimating ourselves to the idea that there can be — *cough cough* — woman lawyers. Zowee, there’s a paradigm shift for ya. That is the surface drama: Will Reese Witherspoon be able to prove herself worthy, or not? And if she can’t, one gets the sense that, oh horrors, no woman will ever be able to practice law again. Oh dear, just like G.I. Jane, she’s fighting for all her sisters.

Except, you see, she isn’t. Because it’s always an important part of the story that at the end of the movie, just before the closing credits roll, everybody thinks the wunderfeminist is a beautiful, great person. This is mandatory. Always, always, always…or nearly always…we see, at the final curtain, the goal the entire time was more about achieving a certain social status than about getting anything done.

And these hero(ines) are always uninspiring and forgettable. Frankly, I feel a little silly citing them. But they’re important because they represent hundreds that are just like this. On the surface, they’re about promoting a utopia where everyone has opportunity, but by the climax we see they are all about themselves — since, if they were able to break those glass ceilings and tear down those barriers, but nobody knew, it would all be a futile exercise.

I can’t help but think James Bond has succeeded, well above & beyond whatever he did during his time, the cold war era — because we are so hungry for this. The upside-down hero. The exact opposite of what we see all the stinkin’ time. For James Bond will, we know beyond any doubt, save the world…or at least a part of it…millions of men, women and children he has never met and will never meet, who probably do things differently than the way he’d ever do them. And yet, he has no social status to earn, or to save. He doesn’t exist within a social status. The message you glean from between the lines, is that his personal life is rather abysmal, tortured, maybe even…boring.

Here’s something to think about.

In roughly half the Bond movies that we do have, at closing credits some mention is made about bringing James Bond of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, some of the glory he does deserve. Knight of the Garter, “Order of Lenin,” etc. These are the Bond movies widely accepted as the most forgettable.

Do NOT take my word for it. You have 21 Bond movies you can analyze to try to prove me wrong…you’ll see I’m not. The very best Bond movies are the ones where he’s left swapping spit with his leading lady, who will become his steady until — well, at least next Wednesday or so. But the important thing is, nobody has a clue about what he just did, or how close the world came to certain annihilation. And nobody cares that nobody knows. James Bond…knight in the shadows…man without a name.

You see, our fascination with Bond isn’t really about him saving the world, or being a male superstar filled with positive masculine attributes. Our fascination with him is that he’s sufficiently engaged in the world to affect large, positive changes in it, while simultaneously existing outside of it. This is exactly what the xXx movie, and its sequel, were trying to do…ineffectively.

The now-tedious bad-boy tries to be hip. That just destroys the formula there. Existing outside the social structure doesn’t mean being a hoodlum; hoodlum is a social status. Our hunger is for people who care more about what they do, than about what anyone thinks of them. And yet Hollywood keeps shoveling to us big ol’ piles of that other kind of guy or gal, the hero who has to keep looking over his shoulder to make sure everyone just saw what he did.

As long as they keep doing that, we’ll keep appreciating, and loving, James Bond 007, Licensed To Kill.

And they can’t stop.

Bond, According to Freud

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

What would Sigmund Freud have to say about James Bond? More than you might think, it turns out.

Nope, That Took Me Completely By Surprise

Friday, January 26th, 2007

The Bond Girl from the latest 007 installment, Eva Greene, is Marlene Jobert’s daughter.

I have To Catch A Spy, and it’s one of my favorite stupid old spy-spoof flicks. Momma acted circles around Kirk Douglas, no mean feat that.

Time Machine Lunacy

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

It occurs to me that if one wants to be committed to a looney-bin, without lying about anything or deceiving anyone in any way, a time machine set to the right year will do the trick. The right year, and a carefully-selected tidbit of factual disclosure.

Hello good people of 2006! I’m from the future. Democrats are going to take over Congress, and one of the first things they’ll do is ask for direction from those whackjobs at DailyKOS. You think I kid! I’m as serious as a heart attack.

See what I mean? Off you go, and here’s your straightjacket. And yet…here we are.

Hello good people of 2005! I’m from the future. Democrats are blaming George Bush for hurricanes. Yes. They really, truly are.
Hello 2004! George Bush is thought by many to be the most “hated” President ever, and it looks like he is, even though he’s won more popular votes than any President in history.

It’s just awfully tough for me to believe we would be allowed to keep our freedom as responsible, sane people, after uttering such drivel. It all makes sense now; in fact, in some quarters you’ll be subjected to some form of verbal assault if you don’t go along with it. But we wouldn’t be able to explain it to the people of yesteryear. We’re like the frog sitting in a pot of water, raised to a rolling boil degree-by-degree.

Hello 2003! We have captured Saddam Hussein and he’s been executed; we’re having a lively debate about whether this makes the world any safer. The folks who think it was a bad move, have pretty much won the debate, even though they are never — ever — called upon to say what should have been done differently.
Hello 2002! Evidence has been produced that the people in the U.N. voting against an invasion of Iraq, are on Saddam Hussein’s payroll through the oil-for-food program. To the tune of billions of dollars. What are we doing to bring them to justice? Nothing. Actually, hardly anyone ever talks about it.
Hello 2001! I dunno what to say to you…just hug your kids. And may God be with you.
Hello 2000! If you give Republicans control of all three branches of government, Democrats will try their very best to win you back by…calling you a bunch of fucking goddamned idiots and hoping that will change your mind. Ultimately, it will.
Hello 1999! Don’t worry about President Clinton’s legacy. He’s doing more to try to hide it, than anyone.
Hello 1998! Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of California.
Hello 1997! Little kids are going to start performing oral sex on each other because the President said it wasn’t really sex. He’s going to stay just as popular as he is now, if not moreso.
Hello 1996! We’re debating about whether Saddam Hussein was ever a dangerous fucknozzle; the people who insist he was a harmless misunderstood old teddy-bear, are winning.
Hello 1995! We got a “Pelosi Revolution” that’s just like your “Gingrich Revolution.” It involved between a quarter and a third as many House seats changing hands, as what you just went through…but our media tells us it means far, far more. And you wouldn’t believe how differently they’re treating it. It’s working, too.
Hello 1994! Your “co-President” is going to get her husband’s ass handed to him in the upcoming mid-terms with her socialized-medicine scheme. It’s going to make history — and yet, twelve years later, she’s going to start pushing the same product all over again, running for President “in her own right.”
Hello 1993! I’m from the future. Your brand-new President is going to lie to you. About a marital affair. On television. Waggling his finger at the cameras…and I mean that literally. And then he’s going to get caught by his own spunk, spurted all over a blue dress. DNA tests and everything. He won’t be run out of town on a rail, in fact, there will be a cult following devoted to him and how he “got away with it.”
Hello 1992! James Bond is gone for awhile, but eventually he’s going to come back. But while you’re settling into this era of political-correctness and female-friendliness, I can’t begin to describe what you’re about to do to the White House.
Hello 1991! Saddam Hussein’s going to be left in charge. This will be proven to be the wrong decision. The United Nations will make every single mistake about him they possibly can, including — get this — taking billions of dollars in bribes from Saddam himself, to veto enforcement of Resolutions 678 and 687. And yet, I daresay, there is no one in my time who is opposed to the U.N., who isn’t also opposed to it in yours. Not a soul, so far as I know.
Hello 1990! In about five years, it will become highly fashionable for mens’ pants to slip WAY down so their butt cracks stick out. You won’t be able to get away from it, and it will remain highly fashionable for about a dozen years.

These things make some measure of sense to us because we’ve been acclimated to them slowly. They would make sense in no other time.

The Other Bond 17

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Just generally interesting stuff. What would have happened if Goldeneye had been made with Timothy Dalton returning to play James Bond a third time? Plot overview, car, devices, bad guys all here. Yakuza gangsters. The Aston-Martin DB5 returning for “one last ride.” Motorcycle with front-mounted missile launcher. Some asshole named “Nigel” who wants to shut down the double-oh section for good. What more could you want?

Opening Themes to Bond Films

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Yup, that’s what it is. Audio and video. All twenty of ’em.