It is the 50th anniversary of James Bond movies and this is worth celebrating! Part of the celebration is the release of Skyfall starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris and others. Adele’s sound track to the movie has also been celebrated as one of the best Bonds songs since the days of Dame Shellie Bassey (Gold Finger, Diamonds are Forever and Moonraker). I am a Bond fan and this goes back to the 1980s when I used to watch Bond movies with my Dad back in Nigeria. You could say my Dad was a Bond fan as we had all the Bond movies, at least the ones by Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton. So far, including Skyfall, there have been 23 Bond movies (excluding Never Say Never Again by Sean Connery which is not classified as an official Bond movie), and I have seen all of them. Do not worry this blog is not a review of Skyfall as I do not want to spoil it for fans who have not seen it!
There are currently speculations that the next Bond might be black. Lenny Henry also managed to drop the idea during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration. If this is true this is exciting news as this will positively affirm that it is possible to be black and British, or an ethnic minority and British. Secondly, it will be encouraging for black young boys as well as ethnic minorities. But it will also be controversial because it will be viewed by some people as PC nonsense. Questions that will be fired are “why not a female Bond or an Indian Bond or a Gay Bond”? Idris Elba who may become the first black Bond has also said he struggles with the idea because Sean Connery was not considered as a Scottish Bond, nor Daniel Craig as a Blue eyed Bond, therefore he would not like to be known as a black James Bond.
Another reason why a black Bond will be controversial is whether people will see the actor for his merits as a talented star, or just reduced him and his personality to black? In essence, the idea could be perceived as tokenistic.
Thirdly, while a black Bond will in some senses address the inequality that we still see in the movie industry, I am not really sure it will bring a lasting significant change. The first black American president brings visible representation and participation, but also holds power that can effect real change. It will be the same if we have the first black Prime Minister or the first black Pope. In the case of a black Bond this will bring visible representation and participation, but I am not sure it holds any power to bring about change in societal structures.
Lastly, while on the one hand having a black Bond will be pioneering and well received in some quarters, on the other hand, it could reinforce the notion that black people or ethnic minorities are second class citizens. Past and recent history seems to suggest that white comes first and then black, such as white Disney princesses and then later having a black princess in The Princess and the Frog (and will we see another black Disney princesses in future, or is this a one off?). What will be next, a black Bourne? Why can’t we have a white Shaft after the pioneering efforts of Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson? Why does it always seem to follow the order of white first and then black?
If we eventually have a black Bond, I will probably be one of the first people to see it but will also be aware of the issues that it will raise.