Sunday 28 April 2019

In the Brexit era, Britain is more Mr Bean than James Bond

If there’s any film character Tory Brexiteers identify with it’s tool of empire Bond. In reality, they’re more slapstick than sexy

We spend far too much time getting down about the state of the country – the whole international laughing-stock, spinning manically out of control and generally going nowhere thing is pretty draining. Yet hardly any effort is spent crudely shoehorning in film references to explain our political plight. This is a real shame, because for the Tory Brexiteers who valiantly yelled “Charge!”, then promptly led us off a cliff, the story of the past three years has fundamentally been a clash between self-perception and reality.

 Our macho superhero will gloriously defend a country whose government has wet itself while everyone else was watching
If there’s any film character with whom they identify, I’d plump for James Bond. Tough, no-nonsense, doesn’t play by the rules – he’s menaced by sinister European foes but always takes them down in the end against all the odds. A chauvinist who belongs to another era but considers that a plus, because moving with the times is for wimps. The tragedy for them – and, I feel, at this point, for the nation as a whole – is that they’re more like Mr Bean, a petulant, self-absorbed slapstick caricature who excels in screwing up the most basic of tasks.

Rowan Atkinson in The Story of Bean … ‘a petulant, self-absorbed caricature who excels in screwing up the most basic of tasks’. Photograph: taken from picture library

Bond 25 (there’s still no name announced, just the rumoured Shatterhand, which sounds like an unpleasant toilet-related accident) will be the first 007 film of the Brexit era. Our macho superhero will be sent out to gloriously defend a country whose government has wet itself while everyone else was watching. His boss will be Gavin Williamson, a man whose idea of tackling Russian malfeasance was to tell them in his big-boy voice to “go away and shut up”. How is anyone going to take it seriously?

To be a po-faced leftie, James Bond was traditionally cold war propaganda, basically a misogynist trying to make British imperialism look sexy, although it’s more recently taken some interesting detours. In Quantum of Solace, comrade Bond joins the anti-imperialist resistance and tries to stop a multinational corporation in alliance with the CIA from staging a coup d’etat to privatise Bolivia’s water supply. Under pressure from the Bourne franchise, he’s even shown hints of emotional vulnerability.

Indeed, for those who saw Brexit as a cultural counter-revolution – basically to tell those PC lefties, the party’s over, we’re bringing back blue passports and unapologetic racism – there are signs that they’re even losing James Bond to the culture war. The decision to hire Phoebe Waller-Bridge, one of the funniest people on Earth and also a proud feminist, has sent insecure rightwing men into paroxysms of rage: one viral YouTube video screeches, “Feminist Attack on James Bond – MeToo Takes Down 007”, while alt-right Twitter claims that James Bond has been “cucked”.

Perhaps it is for the best that James Bond is not to be updated to represent the spirit of our times. Nobody wants to watch a dribbling, embarrassing mess ordering a martini.

(Source: The Guardian)

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