Lashana Lynch will play 007 in the new James Bond film - I'm white, male, in my thirties and I have had enough!
I am a huge James Bond fan. I have been to see every Bond film in the cinema since Goldeneye, have watched every James Bond film multiple times, have done podcasts about Bond and have even read some of the novels. The Bond film franchise has run 57 years this year and news about Daniel Craig returning to film a new Bond film, the 25th in the long running franchise, have been all over the place the last few months.
Then it was revealed this weekend that Lashana Lynch, a black female, will take over the reigns of the 007 code name in “Bond 25” and potentially continue the franchise once Craig leaves (although at the time of writing this has not been confirmed). Well I am a 39 year old white male and so, obviously, I have a loud opinion about this news.
The Bond Franchise, through the bumpy Brosnan and Craig years, has been adrift without a clear focus or very good writing. While everyone else seemed to embrace Craig as a new, harsher, cooler, more violent and serious Bond, I thought he was an awful, po-faced, moody twat with all the charisma of some beige chinos. The writers couldn’t decide if he was new Bond, old Bond, if this was his first mission or his fiftieth. They refused to put him up against terrorism (something a real secret agent would be dealing with in 2006 - 2019) and just as it looked like they were going to have him bring down some corrupt capitalists instead (equally threatening and troublesome in the 2000s), they made Blofeld his brother, stealing a plot from Austin Powers, and had him “give it all up again for love” like they hadn’t made Casino Royale already a few years earlier. It’s safe to say the franchise had no idea where to go.
The report I read recently stated that in Bond 25 James Bond comes out of retirement and when he meets the new agent with his old 007 number, it’s Lashana Lynch. She was my favourite part of Captain Marvel, so much so I wish she’d been Captain Marvel, and if the Bond franchise has to go forward - and I'm not really sure it needs to - then this is definitely the way to do it.
In 2019 either for the podcast or just in my general viewing habits I am noticing more and more that the films I am enjoying and responding to are either made by women, predominantly star women or are stories about women, different ethnicities and cultures.
I haven't been seeking them out particularly and it's not like in the past I didn't watch diverse programing, my very vocal love of Pam Grier films should be a small indication of that, but after a recent viewing of Booksmart, I said to my podcast co-host Jim Wallace, I don't care if I never see another film or TV show starring a mid-30s white male again. If I want to I can cherry pick any of the bazillion and one movies from a young, white, male’s perspective from the last 150 years and just watch that.
Now, it's not that there won't be such films and shows that I will like with white male leads - I’m really excited for the return of Mindhunter for example - and I am not avoiding them or boycotting them but the stories that are getting me enthused recently just happen to be told by a broader and more diverse cast and crew base. Long may it continue.
I do wish the movies we were getting were new films and new characters, created by women or diverse creators but one step at a time. Hollywood is far from perfect but the tide seems to be slowly turning. I know a lot of it is simply female done versions of previously male properties but if that's the way it has to happen, to change minds and attitudes, great! It’s all an evolution and like everything in human evolution it is an annoyingly long, slow time coming.
I know a bunch of fan boy dude bros will be up in arms about what, they'll no doubt, call stunt casting or pandering or whatever euphemism for "50 years of Bond being white and male isn't enough for me and I feel threatened by having a black, female 007 because I am insecure in myself and my male whiteness" but if these are the steps we have to take to get more diverse, interesting programing then so much the better.
I actually, recently, had an unpleasant conversation with someone about the idea of a black Bond. He was saying that people shouldn’t be just cast in films because they’re black. He was, clearly, someone for whom the integrity of the writing and the characters was paramount and not just a confused, ignorant, fearful, borderline racist but I am sure he is not alone in the assertion. If we were talking cold war era, walking into casinos and pretending to be a wealthy whoever, era of James Bond then he’d be, sadly, correct because, culturally a black person would’ve stuck out like a sore thumb in those situations in the 70s or 80s but that’s not the world we live in anymore and the Bond films are not telling cold war stories - anyone can be a fictional, super spy in 2019! That’s the fun of it! Isn’t everyone else bored with the same old same old?
White men need to get a little self loathing and insecurity in their make up - I have some spare if you need to borrow any. We are literally the worst category of human. What’s the worst thing about us is that despite all contrary evidence, we think we’re the best category of human. We are in the majority but act like a fearful minority when someone casts a fictional character from a slightly different gene pool than ours. Now, of course, there isn’t a “best category of human” and not all white men are bad. We’re all just human, we’re mostly the same too, regardless of what gene pool we swam out from. The story shouldn’t really be “Black Woman cast as 007” it should be “New actor cast as 007” but even in 2019 we don’t live in a fair world with an even playing field. Everyone doesn’t have the same social, civil or cultural status yet - which is mental and makes no sense - but therein lies the, very big, problem. Until we all do and white men get the fuck out of their own way for a while, the news story is “Black Woman cast as 007 and isn’t that fucking GREAT!”
So The After Movie Diner website, for one, will be embracing Lashana Lynch’s casting and can’t wait to sit down in a theatre and watch the first full 007 Adventure (Bond 26) starring a black woman. If nothing else, not having to watch Daniel Craig pout like he’s on the cover of GQ’s “Casual swimwear for the bachelor who has it all” edition for 3 hours straight would be a nice change! I would only ask that Lynch’s first full film as the character be good, not like the last 8 Bond films. A good plot, a good script and have women write, direct and shoot the film too! Go all out!
People have pointed out that there is no confirmation that Lashana Lynch will continue the franchise. They have suggested she will die in Bond 25 and be the reason that James takes back the number. This seems like a thinly-veiled, childish, fanboy hope. It’s clear they don’t want Bond to change and certainly not to a black woman. While it’s not, of course, out of the realms of possibility that Bond producers would do this, it would be a staggeringly unwise move in 2019 to introduce a potential Bond replacement of this kind and then just make them a little plot point.
There’s also the cynic in me that has a nagging suspicion this is all just publicity or something. I really, really hope neither of these scenarios is the case. I think that this is such a good way to pass the torch while not just doing a “now it’s Jenny Bond” gender switch or something clunky. If her being 007 is just a plot device and not a plan to continue the franchise with a strong, black, woman, I’ll be 100% done with the franchise for good.
This way they can do 007 films forever, casting whoever they want every few years and they can even do James Bond films which are either set in he past or set in his retirement. This allows crossovers and so much potential in the future. So my assertion still stands. I can’t wait for 007 films to enter a new, awesome era of diverse, exciting action film-making.