Interestingly enough, the man who’s been playing Bond for four films now (Daniel Craig, our fictional patient zero) is the one who wants to stop the outbreak. He’s been doing everything he can to remind interviewers that James Bond is a made-up character who possesses not only outdated views toward women, but also of British Imperialism — a time upon which the sun has set. His suits, cars, and gadgets may have moved into the 21st century, and now his mentality and worldview need to as well.
In September 2015, Craig told Esquire U.K., “[Bond is] very fucking lonely. There’s a great sadness. He’s fucking these beautiful women, but then they leave and it’s…sad. And as a man gets older it’s not a good look…Hopefully, my Bond is not as sexist and misogynistic as [earlier incarnations]. The world has changed. I am certainly not that person. But he is, and so what does that mean? It means you cast great actresses and make the parts as good as you can for the women in the movies.”
Craig repeated this point in a more recent interview with The Red Bulletin. “Many men admire Bond for his way with the ladies,” the interviewer began (gracelessly). “But let’s not forget that he’s actually a misogynist,” Craig replied. "A lot of women are drawn to him chiefly because he embodies a certain kind of danger and never sticks around for too long.”
The interviewer pointed out that Bond has become more "chivalrous" (itself a problematic notion) in recent films, to which Craig replied, “That’s because we’ve surrounded him with very strong women who have no problem putting him in his place.” Craig also corrected the interviewer when he referred to actress Monica Bellucci, who appears in Spectre, as “an older woman.” “I think you mean the charms of a woman his own age.”
The sexism inherent in the James Bond saga can creep in anywhere. Monica Bellucci is considered an “older woman” because she’s technically older than past Bond love interests. In September 2015, Bellucci told The Guardian, “I’m not a Bond girl; I’m a Bond woman.”
Categorizing all of James Bond’s past love interests as "Bond girls" reduces them to attractive, disposable trophies. Craig told Esquire U.K. that he and the Bond movie producers have made an active effort to change this stereotype during his time as 007, even having him meet "the love of his life" in Casino Royale (2006) — only to watch Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) drown before the movie ends. It's one of the first times viewers witness James Bond deal with an emotional loss and grief, and we see it again when M (Judi Dench) dies in Skyfall (2012).
Coren’s remark sparked instant outrage, with many people and news outlets calling his comment sexist. Coren didn’t understand why. “How is that sexist? How is passive hope that a film star and fashion model will take the initiative demeaning or reductive,” he tweeted, trying to reframe his statement as something that puts Seydoux in the power position while also alluding to feminism — sure, that’ll cool all of our jets. (He inadvertently reminded us of this satirical McSweeney’s essay on the same subject.)
Coren eventually deleted his first tweet and reposted the cover with the message, “Oh alright then. In this month’s Vogue I discuss the sexism of Bond with a Bond girl over herbal tea in a hotel bar.” His tone was very, “Are you happy, internet harpies? This is why no one can have nice things, and by the way, everyone quietly hopes to shag everyone; that’s just human nature.” Coren also penned an op-ed about the situation (in which he insists he was joking about the shagging thing) titled “The Halfwit Hate Mob Has Taken Feminism Hostage” in The Times of Britain.
Craig has called for an end to the James Bond-proliferated misogyny and sexism several times. Léa Seydoux and Monica Belluci have spoken out as well. Fans seem to be getting the message just fine. It’s time for the media to get it, too. Stop letting the 007 of days past infect the evolving Bond of the present. Live and let it die.