James Bond’s Skyfall

I feel the same way about James Bond movies as I do Superhero movies: I like my misogyny straight-up. That way you don’t get sucked into watching something arty like Sideways and then discover half-way through that its just another giant wankfest for men. James Bond is usually predictable in its misogyny: every woman who fucks Bond dies a horrible, vile death as punishment for being a slut. After all, the only reason any woman would want to have sex with a man they aren’t married to is because they are a slut. Consequently, they deserve to die. But, Casino Royale changed this. It was different. Bond was different and his relationship to women was different.  He wasn’t just a violent, misogynistic sociopath. He was an arsehole and recognised as such. Even with the whole “falling in love with a woman made him a better man” trite sub-plot, Craig’s first outing as Bond changed the franchise.  Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd was a different woman to previous “Bond girls”.  She was smart, resourceful, loyal and brave. 

Olga Kurylenko’s Camille Montes in Quantum of Solace took it one step further. The film ends with Montes being left to lead the Bolivian resistance movement in taking back their land and their water rights. She is every bit Bond’s equal. Unfortunately, in order to have Montes as an equal, the film reasserted the “women who fuck Bond deserve to die” motif which is unbearably tedious. It’s like the producers were frightened by a Bond who wasn’t just a sociopath and so had to drag the series back to its original construction of Bond the Misogynist. 

Skyfall is just a pile of pooh. It’s basically old school Bond resurrected and it wasn’t anywhere near as good as either Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace. The plot had holes big enough to drive a subway train through, which it did. Literally. There were 3 women: the whore who dies, the ‘wife’ who becomes the secretary and the mother who is M. Each gets the punishment they deserve for trying to transgress her assigned gender role. Heck, they even throw a female MP who is clearly supposed to be the ‘bitch’. Quantum of Solace ended with a strong woman walking away from Bond to lead her people to freedom. In Skyfall, the women fucked up, got punished and then disappeared into ignominy.

Now, I like James Bond movies. I like movies with explosions and general silliness but Skyfall couldn’t decide if it wanted to like Casino Royale or cheesy like Tomorrow Never Dies. The  funny places were few and far between and mostly figured around Q; by far the best character in the film. But, it was the erasure of the strong women from the previous two films which disappointed me the most. It’s a good movie for car chases and explosions but they lost their nerve. Skyfall is just like a 100 other movies in the spy franchise which is unfortunate because it had the chance to do something really different. And, even almost feministy .

UPDATE: I have been getting crosser and crosser about Skyfall. I have been in such a rage that I haven’t quite worked out what pissed me off the most. Last night, a friend posted on FB and pointed out that the woman who is punished with death for fucking Bond isn’t just a ‘woman’. Severin’s back story involves being sold to a brothel at the age of 12. She is raped and tortured repeatedly. Her escape route is the official ‘bad guy’ of the film who is still raping her. As she says, he frightens her more than anyone she’s ever come across before. It is a deeply abusive relationship. Bond’s response to this story of child rape is to push Severin into helping him. He does so by climbing aboard her boat and getting into the shower with her. Without asking permission. Bond has sex with a terrified and abused survivor of child rape. She dies because of this. This is why Skyfall is more than a return to old school Bond misogyny. It glamourises and eroticising child sexual abuse by keeping the adult woman as nothing more than Bond’s sex toy.

Here is a great blog by Giles Coren on Skyfall: [[http://reciperifle.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/bond-villain.html]]

And a brilliant response by Exiled Stardust: [[http://exiledstardust.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/women-the-makers-of-skyfall-hate-you/]]

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