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Racism, Homophobia & Sexism in James Bond

Hi guys,
I am a fellow James Bond fan and A-level Film Studies student and I really wanted to look into the racism, homophobia & sexism in Goldfinger, Diamonds are forever & Live and let die. I really hope you can help me with my study and maybe I can find out things I never knew before.
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Comments

  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CA
    Posts: 15,898
    I can't think of a more annoying and utterly senseless way to approach this material.
  • RC7RC7
    edited October 2015 Posts: 7,786
    Birdleson said:

    I can't think of a more annoying and utterly senseless way to approach this material.

    Seconded.
  • Posts: 1,961
    Best of luck with your studies, you will find much negativity in these forums but don't let that put you off.
  • Birdleson said:

    I can't think of a more annoying and utterly senseless way to approach this material.

    Agreed

  • DariusDarius UK
    Posts: 354

    Hi guys,
    I am a fellow James Bond fan and A-level Film Studies student and I really wanted to look into the racism, homophobia & sexism in Goldfinger, Diamonds are forever & Live and let die. I really hope you can help me with my study and maybe I can find out things I never knew before.

    First things first, it would behove you to read the novels that these movies were based upon. Obviously, much of the racism, homophobia and sexism have been removed or toned down in the movies. a novel gives greater scope for inner exposition of character, so here you'll find more of what you're looking for -- it's then just a question of seeing how it translates into the movie.

    For example, if you read Diamonds Are Forever, the book has only a superficial resemblance to the movie plot-wise, but the relationship between Mr Wint and Mr Kidd is common to both. In the book, their homosexuality is plain to see and their roles as "bad guy homos" is much more up there and in your face than in the movie where this is only alluded to obliquely by Wint's use of spray scent and KIdd's comments about Tiffany's attractiveness "for a woman".

    Anyway, best of luck with your studies.
  • CatchingBulletsCatchingBullets facebook.com/catchingbullets
    edited October 2015 Posts: 163
    I do suggest you rethink your agenda on this one. Instead of the "isms" you might want to repoint your argument to look at the portrayal of gender roles, race and homosexuals in these films. There is very little that is homophobic about DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. And to suggest so is dubious.

    I am always asked about the gay motifs in Bond and defend and discuss the franchise's take on sexuality in CATCHING BULLETS. Of course, DIAMONDS is easily the campest of the Bond films but not in the way folk assume. GOLDFINGER is camp. MOONRAKER is camp. OCTOPUSSY is camp. There is a lot of gay currency in SKYFALL and CASINO ROYALE. It is not homophobic however (I don't think one Bond film is).

    I would also urge a rethinking about the context of each of the films you discuss. There is no point looking at LIVE AND LET DIE as a [allegedly] racist film through the context of 2015.

  • Posts: 1,395
    I've never found LALD racist. There's nothing wrong with a all black gang. Is a Triad movie racist against asians then? Mafia movie racist against Italians?
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Dancing at midnight under the BeBop Moon
    Posts: 9,781
    Rethink all of that. Yes.
  • Posts: 1,961
    "There is very little that is homophobic about DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER."

    The bag guys were from the same era as Are You Being Served and Dick Emery. Gay rights has moved on leaps and bounds within modern western society and, with hindsight, its cringe worthy to see how homosexuals were portrayed. Not having a go at Bond, it was representative of society in general.
    PS why not have a gay double O agent? that would really stir things up?
  • CatchingBulletsCatchingBullets facebook.com/catchingbullets
    Posts: 163
    I know you are not saying this in this context but the very statement "why not have a gay Double O agent" to "stir things up" is reverse homophobia too. But I imagine you did not mean it that way.

    Yes, I stand by the statement that DIAMONDS is not homophobic. It isn't. Portraying gays in one style is not homophobic. Do folk suggest A VIEW TO A KILL is racist because May Day is a karate chopping bitch? No.

    Is Blofeld in drag homophobic? No. It's laughable, it's sinister, it's colourful, it's VERY Vegas and EXACTLY what a cat-stroking villain in 1971 would be guilty of. And the presentation of Wint and Kidd in DIAMONDS is NOT homophobic. It's actually a curiously forward thinking representation. Forget the limp wrists and Glover's aftershave. It is a top and a bottom bitching about how good a lady they're trailing is dressing for the day. It is about a bickering old 'married couple' and - apart from the various Bonds and villains - we never see leading characters in a Bond film actually in a relationship with both halves sharing screen time. That is not homophobic. That is actually progressive and not "cringeworthy" in the slightest.

    Homo-cidal is not the same as homophobic. No-one attacks them in the film for being gay. They are not irritants and meddlers because they are gay. They are villains because they are ruthlessly and calmly bumping folk off. The camp is the pay-off, not the rationale.

  • Posts: 1,961
    - it looks dated because it is, thank goodness we have moved on
  • suavejmfsuavejmf England
    edited October 2015 Posts: 2,635
    RC7 said:

    Birdleson said:

    I can't think of a more annoying and utterly senseless way to approach this material.

    Seconded.
    Agreed.
  • CatchingBulletsCatchingBullets facebook.com/catchingbullets
    edited October 2015 Posts: 163
    Ah - that famous Bond henchman, Dick Emery.
  • Posts: 1,961
    http://www.toddalcott.com/diamonds-are-forever.html

    "The second villains, the simpering gay assassins, as you may have guessed, I have very little patience for. I don’t know if it’s just the performance of Bruce Glover, who plays Mr. Wint, the more simpering of the two, or if it’s the haircut of Putter Smith, who plays Mr. Kidd, the more clown-like of the two, but these two get my hackles up. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive to negative portrayals of gays in movies (and their “humorous,” brutal deaths), but these two offend in a way that, say, Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love does not. Rosa Klebb indicated her homosexuality exactly once (just in case we didn’t “get” it from her haircut and mannish demeanor) and then got on with the business of being a power-mad killer. Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd remind us in every scene they’re in that they are, in case we forgot, homosexual men. We are plotting to kill a man, says Mr. Wint, and then spritzes himself with cologne (which smells, we are told later by Bond, like “a tart’s hankerchief”*), closing his eyes and swooning with the sensation. We have just blown up a man in a helicopter, says Mr. Kidd, let’s walk off hand in hand. For we are, as you know, homosexuals, and that fact is always uppermost in our minds. Mr. Wint dies when Bond literally shoves a bomb up his ass; Mr. Wint, we see by the look on his face, is conflicted by this experience, because on the one hand he knows he’s about to die, but you know, on the other hand, he greatly enjoys having things jammed up his ass. Because he is a homosexual man, and that’s how they are."
  • Posts: 4,182
    w2bond said:

    I've never found LALD racist. There's nothing wrong with a all black gang. Is a Triad movie racist against asians then? Mafia movie racist against Italians?

    The only racist term used in LALD is Mr Big referring to Bond as a 'honky'.
  • RC7RC7
    Posts: 7,786
    NicNac said:

    w2bond said:

    I've never found LALD racist. There's nothing wrong with a all black gang. Is a Triad movie racist against asians then? Mafia movie racist against Italians?

    The only racist term used in LALD is Mr Big referring to Bond as a 'honky'.
    Black people can't be racist, @NicNac.
  • eddychaputeddychaput Montreal, Canada
    Posts: 364
    I often find these sorts of statements or intentions (writing a university paper on the racism or homophobia in a Bond film) a bit dubious. Any piece of art form will reflect the morays of its era. Cultural and societal standards change.

    In DN, Bond rather impolitely tells Quarrel to fetch his shoes at one point. That's a terrible line that does not sound at all good in 2015. Clearly the people making the film in 1962 didn't bat an eye otherwise they would have cut that line out. It doesn't make it right, even in 1962 it wasn't 'okay' if we're being honest about it, but people didn't put much thought into it then.

    I didn't ever think DAF to be homophobic. While I find it interesting that the author of the article that @patb cited is so deeply offended by the fact that the film keeps reminding the audience that Wint and Kidd are homosexuals, I find it just redundant. It's as though, with the dawn of a new decade, the filmmakers thought it would be awesome to constantly point out that Wint and Kidd are gay. I'm not exactly sure what's offensive per say about it. I see it more as overkill.

    The way people view racism and so many other isms is so different from the way people saw them 30, 40, 50 years ago that I'm not sure what the point of arguing that older movies were racist and homophobic. 'Birth of a Nation' is racist, but it's still considered by a plethora of historians as an important film for many reasons. You have to conceptualize things.

    On the topic of contextualization, maybe we should let @agentknight more clearly explain his intention with the essay. What is he hoping to find, exactly?
  • ThomasCrown76ThomasCrown76 Augusta, ks
    Posts: 757
    This politically correct stuff got old years ago, but I guess the dead horse hasn't been flogged quite enough.
  • eddychaputeddychaput Montreal, Canada
    Posts: 364
    I should also point out that there is a distinction to be made between understanding the societal context of something and understanding what is and is not decent behaviour. Racism and homophobia are not okay in 2015 just as they were not okay in 1605 or whenever. The thing is to grasp what the people were thinking back then and how they understood the world. It doesn't make the behaviour fine, it doesn't excuse the behaviour, but it puts it into context.
  • Posts: 1,961
    spot on, context is everything, I remember sitting down in front of the tele every Sat evening to watch the Black and White Minstrel show, now I just cringe. Understanding social context is a perfectly healthy thing to study for A level IMHO
  • RC7RC7
    Posts: 7,786
    patb said:

    spot on, context is everything, I remember sitting down in front of the tele every Sat evening to watch the Black and White Minstrel show, now I just cringe. Understanding social context is a perfectly healthy thing to study for A level IMHO

    I would argue there are far more interesting lines of enquiry for a film student when it comes to the films than the classically ubiquitous hot potatoes of racism, homophobia and sexism. Why you'd want to fixate on very acute and misrepresented aspects of the movies, I don't really know. Perhaps following a film from novel to screen might be a more enlightening experience, rather than looking for faux-semiotics, which is what a lot of these 'essays' contain.
  • Posts: 1,961
    Misrepresented in your opinion, 17 is a fine age to research data, seek other opinions, (hence this thread) and start to build your own opinions. It would be a strange type of research to drop the topic altogether on the basis that it has been misrepresented (or claimed to be) and move on. The claim that it has been misrepresented is surely justification for a fresh look?
  • RC7RC7
    Posts: 7,786
    patb said:

    Misrepresented in your opinion, 17 is a fine age to research data, seek other opinions, (hence this thread) and start to build your own opinions. It would be a strange type of research to drop the topic altogether on the basis that it has been misrepresented (or claimed to be) and move on. The claim that it has been misrepresented is surely justification for a fresh look?

    I'm not suggesting he drop the topic, I just see it as a very small facet of a much richer tapestry. The opening remark suggests the poster has already decided that they contain racism, sexism and homopobia. Perhaps it would be of interest to find a thread to which they have attached no preconceived ideas and go about exploring that? I feel like these topics and Bond have been done to death and are rarely afforded a pragmatic, impartial eye. If the OP can achieve this, however, I wish him the best of luck.
  • edited October 2015 Posts: 4,214
    RC7 said:


    I would argue there are far more interesting lines of enquiry for a film student when it comes to the films than the classically ubiquitous hot potatoes of racism, homophobia and sexism. Why you'd want to fixate on very acute and misrepresented aspects of the movies, I don't really know. Perhaps following a film from novel to screen might be a more enlightening experience, rather than looking for faux-semiotics, which is what a lot of these 'essays' contain.

    I don't know what "semiotics" means ;) but well said.

    Dear sweet innocent and naive @agentknight. You are being led down garden path by your campus pc-police brigade.
    Watch these films for their entertainment value.. They are inoffensive in the extreme.
    Toss your paper in the trash and maybe do a paper that might advance the human cause, rather than wallow in faux expressions of offence.
    Guy Hamilton was top Bond Director and by all accounts a decent human being.
    NicNac said:

    w2bond said:

    I've never found LALD racist. There's nothing wrong with a all black gang. Is a Triad movie racist against asians then? Mafia movie racist against Italians?

    The only racist term used in LALD is Mr Big referring to Bond as a 'honky'.
    Don't forget that cue-ball line too. Double shot. There is probably more, but I'm sure its lurking under the surface.

    I know you are not saying this in this context but the very statement "why not have a gay Double O agent" to "stir things up" is reverse homophobia too. But I imagine you did not mean it that way.

    Yes, I stand by the statement that DIAMONDS is not homophobic. It isn't. Portraying gays in one style is not homophobic. Do folk suggest A VIEW TO A KILL is racist because May Day is a karate chopping bitch? No.

    Is Blofeld in drag homophobic? No. It's laughable, it's sinister, it's colourful, it's VERY Vegas and EXACTLY what a cat-stroking villain in 1971 would be guilty of. And the presentation of Wint and Kidd in DIAMONDS is NOT homophobic. It's actually a curiously forward thinking representation. Forget the limp wrists and Glover's aftershave. It is a top and a bottom bitching about how good a lady they're trailing is dressing for the day. It is about a bickering old 'married couple' and - apart from the various Bonds and villains - we never see leading characters in a Bond film actually in a relationship with both halves sharing screen time. That is not homophobic. That is actually progressive and not "cringeworthy" in the slightest.

    Homo-cidal is not the same as homophobic. No-one attacks them in the film for being gay. They are not irritants and meddlers because they are gay. They are villains because they are ruthlessly and calmly bumping folk off. The camp is the pay-off, not the rationale.

    Nice blurb. but then it should all be rather obvious shouldn't it. DAF is not a mean-spirited film. Neither is LALD or GF. But thanks for so eloquently articulating what is readily apparent to most anyway.



  • CatchingBulletsCatchingBullets facebook.com/catchingbullets
    edited October 2015 Posts: 163
    Apologies but that quoted piece from Todd Alcott is dubiously pointed to say the least - and clearly written from a straight guy's perspective which is focusing in on a very different reading that was possibly the intent.

    When Wint is bumped off, Mr Kidd is angry at the death of his lover. Why wouldn't two gay guys who are together hold hands as they walk off into a South African sunset? They are not overly homosexual in every scene they occupy. They are camp, but that is not the same thing.

    As I have noted before, Wint and Kidd are very progressive for the whole representation of gay characters. Yes, they are pinned as killers from the outset, but so is James Bond. So is Dr Kananga or Blofeld. Putter Smith particularly plays it as a west coast ex-hippy queer. I have met people like him. But NEVER on film. DIAMONDS wasn't trying to be, but it is very progressive.

    One of the increasingly dangerous elements of our world (or at least in western zones) is this damning obsession with worrying what other people might worry about.

    The DNA of Wint and Kidd can also be traced to the later gay villains Silva and Le Chiffre.
  • edited October 2015 Posts: 4,214
    double post
  • Posts: 1,961
    Peoples perceptions of what homophobia is and their reaction to "political correctness" (whatever that is) is part of the issue and, therefore, these comments are providing rich material for the initial poster.
  • edited October 2015 Posts: 4,214
    political correctness provides a semantic fog where manipulation can occur under the guise of being fair or non-discriminatory.
    pc is enemy of any honest quest for truth or reality.
    Birdleson said:

    I can't think of a more annoying and utterly senseless way to approach this material.

    Yes, of course.

    This politically correct stuff got old years ago, but I guess the dead horse hasn't been flogged quite enough.

    Apparently not. There are those in the Ivory Towers of academia, hopelessly detached from reality, who will flog forever, intent on establishing their own dubious moral superiority over the rest of less enlightened types, milling amongst the hoi-poloi.

    Context btw can be a red herring. Its important but its not the only factor If something was inoffensive in 1973 its still inoffensivie. And offence is still offence. It doesn't change over time. Just as faux-offence remains as pretentious over time as when originally affected.
    If black people were offended in 1973 than I will listen to them, but I don't believe they were. The blacksploitation films of the time , Shaft, Foxy Brown etc were playing with the same tropes. Those were the times.
    New York black criminal underworld would be portrayed differently now. In fact we get a lot of it in modern cinema. Its not racist.
    In 1973 the scene though, resembled the look of LALD. LALD obviously camped it up, but so did Shaft etc.
    White people telling black people they should be offended are absolutely not worth listening to. That is real racism. Once race telling another race they are too dense to know they should be offended. And there is a lot of that bs going on in pc segments of society ie the explaining to others that they should be offended by xy and z.
    Context is meaningful in that language changes. We don't say negro any more. It was never intended as derogatory and still wouldn't be, but its a dated term.
    Its been replaced in the common vernacular by black.

    Putter Smith particularly plays it as a west coast ex-hippy queer. I have met people like him. But NEVER on film. DIAMONDS wasn't trying to be, but it is very progressive.

    And progressive in the sense that it managed to reflect reality ie Mr Kidd in this respect. DAF wasn't encumbered by affectations of pc, thus it could play with the reality that Mr.Kidd was extrapolated from. The DAF filmmakers were far more liberated and progressive than than modern comtemporaries who are chained by the pretentions of pc.
    The Kidd character would make no sense now, as I don't believe the Kidd-like charater is terribly common. But if hippie culture ever resurrects, than we might see Kidd types again on screen.

  • The 'Tintin' album which sold the most in Africa is 'Tintin in Congo', and it is still very popular today. Yet people in Europe wants this album banned for 'racism'.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Not in Nottingham.
    edited October 2015 Posts: 17,030
    NicNac said:

    w2bond said:

    I've never found LALD racist. There's nothing wrong with a all black gang. Is a Triad movie racist against asians then? Mafia movie racist against Italians?

    The only racist term used in LALD is Mr Big referring to Bond as a 'honky'.
    Yes, and Felix warns him that he may be thrown out of most Harlem clubs, just for being white.
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