September 14, 2015

Trigger warning: James Bond gets a politically correct reboot in new novel

Richard AndersonRebel Blogger

The walking, talking microagression that is James Bond is getting a politically correct make-over:

The Telegraph reports:

In a new book, however, James Bond will be getting a dose of modern morality, as author Anthony Horowitz reveals the tricks he used to drag the spy kicking and screaming into the era of political correctness.

Horowitz, the writer of new Bond novel Trigger Mortis, said he had worked carefully to preserve Ian Fleming’s original character and ensuring his 1950s attitudes remained in tact.

But he has introduced a cast of new characters to point out the error of his chauvinistic ways, including messages about smoking causing cancer, women who give him a run for his money, and an “outspoken” gay friend.

Because if there is anything James Bond needs it's an "outspoken" gay friend. Apparently a character who is both gay and not "outspoken" would be unimaginable.

The novel is set in 1957, so it would be interesting to imagine how many "outspoken" homosexuals were working for MI6 at the time. Since homosexual conduct was -- in theory -- a fireable offense in every intelligence and military organization in the world for years before and afterwards, I suspect that any outspokenness exists only in the author's exquisitely sensitive imagination.

Please keep in mind, by the way, that the above refers to the Bond novels, NOT the films, which are in many ways an entirely separate enterprise.

Something like half of all the people on earth have seen a Bond film, but very few of those have read Ian Fleming's original novels or the subsequent "tribute" stories that have been written in the half-century since his death.

This is something of a pity. While I haven't read, nor do I plan on reading, any of the newer pseudo-Flemings, I have read some of the originals. Ian Fleming was a master prose writer, as was his now largely forgotten brother Peter.

Ian Fleming isn't the only one to get the post-mortem ghost-writer treatment. The same has been done to Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy. Back in the early 1990s, Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind was mated with a much hyped sequel, Scarlett. I think the two-time Bond actor Timothy Dalton was in the TV film version. I'd look it up on IMDB but I doubt anyone cares. These are examples of marketing going to war with art. A fair fight it is not.

As if having an appropriately gay friend wasn't modern enough, James Bond has in this new novel also acquired a live-in girlfriend. In the early Connery films, Bond was paired with a girlfriend named Sylvia Trench. You can see her at the very beginning of Dr No and From Russia With Love. The character was dropped from the later films.

Since no one remembers Sylvia Trench, in the new novel Bond is instead being paired with no less a Bond girl -- sorry Bond woman -- than Pussy Galore.

Now imagine living with a woman like Pussy Galore. Heck, imagine living with the actress who immortalized her, Honor Blackman. You're thinking action, adventure and wild nights of passion! And you'd be wrong:

Trigger Mortis sees the new couple living in 1957 Chelsea and irritating one another over their boiled eggs, with “an uneasy silence full of dark thoughts and words unsaid”.

Given the flaccid nature of what I've read so far, I'm certain the thoughts aren't dark enough. The author explains himself with the brazenness you'd expect:

“My first duty, my first responsibility was to be true to the original feel of the book, to be true to Ian Fleming: his creation, his world and his ideas.

"What I was trying to do was wrap myself in his mantle and write a book that would be worthy of him.”

Ian Fleming was for his time an unusual enlightened and far sighted man. Perhaps if he was writing a Bond novel in 2015 there would be an outspoken gay friend. Fleming, however, didn't live long enough to experience the New Jerusalem that has subsequently been built in England's green and pleasant land. Instead, this pseudo-Fleming is using the real article as a puppet for his personal views.

Perhaps if Mr Horowitz's version of Fleming's version of Bond was set in 2015 then adaptations should be made. But it isn't. The novel is set six decades in the past but with modern sensibilities slipped in, under a dead writer's name. The Bond of the novels was a man of his times. He smoked like a chimney and shagged anything that moved.

Trigger Mortis is the sort of sophomoric re-writing of literary history you'd expect from a militant feminist, the type who likes to re-imagine Queen Elizabeth I as a lesbian being oppressed by the Tudor patriarchy. Such attempts at cleverness soon become wearily predictable. Even the novel's title, Trigger Mortis, seems like a failed attempt at mordant wit.

James Bond isn't real. Even by the standards of the novels -- which were far more realistic than the films -- he is a creature of fantasy. To imagine a politically correct Bond is to imagine Merlin as a research chemist or Prospero as a climatologist. Even in a world of pure fiction, it seems, we cannot be left alone. Our imaginations must be made to conform to the dictates of our pedantic times.


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commented 2015-09-15 13:14:42 -0400
Loved the first book Casino Royale, and the film did a good job keeping to the book. No interest in this new enterprise. Ian Fleming for me. The reason I like the books generally better is the Bond in the books is more serious. He is not the wise cracking product of the 1960s which the films are. I do find the whorish image of Bond in the films too much a product of that era. He was written in the 50s, which had quite a different attitude on sex. In essence the films had a certain amount of cheese the books do not have. To Live and Let Die was an absolute abomination as a movie.
commented 2015-09-15 12:39:47 -0400
They tried this in 1987 – The Living Daylights (1987) – and it sucked.
commented 2015-09-14 19:19:22 -0400
Ahhhhh! The 1960’s politically incorrect James Bond. Particularly for a politically incorrect early teenage heterosexual male with hormones raging. Favourite…Dr. No with Ursula Undress…I mean Andress. Yep. Yep. Yep.

Bonus: My lovely heterosexual female wife of 40+ years is a major early era .007 fan.

OOOOOOps! Was I politically incorrect in my comment? As Yoda would say, “Not sorry, I am.”
commented 2015-09-14 18:22:59 -0400
a fantastic franchise does not need to be politically correct or changed. then again, a black partner who is gay, transsexual, and half dog and half cat, and moos like a cow would really be entertaining to the leftist twits out there. would probably win an Oscar.
commented 2015-09-14 11:33:04 -0400
Everyone should petition Gavin Mcinnis to create all the characteristics of the new politically correct James Bond and then have a great writer do the stories based on the guy Gavin comes up with. Get Gavin to select who plays the guy as well.
commented 2015-09-14 11:31:15 -0400
When is the French language going to get politically correct and stop with the masculine and feminine? The Thais for that matter too…(I kid of course)