So I’ve been gone for a while due to a mix of lack of internet, schoolwork, and non-existent-soul-destroying job hunting. So if anyone feels like offering me a job out of the blue and you’re not a scam artist, I will greatly appreciate not having to fill out a form or write a cover letter. Seriously, fuck cover letters. I always sound like the most boring person in the world in them.
But anyways, today I am back with a rant because I saw Skyfall. Before I begin, let me say that I’m not overly familiar with James Bond. I’ve seen a couple of the old films and both the serious and the non-serious Casino Royale, but I don’t really remember any of them. I use the theme to warm up on my cello (along with the themes to The Pink Panther and the non-Marvel Avengers), and that’s about it. I knew going in that I was not going to like the way the women were treated because James Bond has never treated women well. But since it’s 2012 and some people believe women are humans now, I wasn’t expecting it to be so blatant. Since this is a rant, expect spoilers.
Now, before we get to the women, I just want to cover the homo/biphobia in this, since it will be short. If you make your villain psychotic and the only non-heterosexual person in the film, that is an offensive stereotype. There are tropes.
Moving on to how much this film hates women, Bond is rapey as hell. The scene where this is the clearest takes place after Bond has met up with the character of Sévérine by sneaking onto a boat she’s on. It has been established that Sévérine has a long history of sexual abuse and is still captive. So she’s in the shower and thinks Bond is dead (note that they’ve had one conversation ever), and Bond comes in naked. This puts her in a position where she cannot say no. She is on a boat full of hostile people, in the shower, and Bond just comes in behind her and grabs her. He even comments that he likes her without her gun and she responds “I feel naked without it.” You do realise that means she feels vulnerable, right? That is not sexy. And you know what happens the next morning after Bond is discovered on this boat? The other people on the boat take her away to be beaten and eventually killed for sleeping with him. How much use do you think they’d have been if she had caused a fuss the night before, especially since she told Bond what boat she’d be on in the hopes that he’d help to free her? The only option she has in the shower scene is to minimise damage.
(Further misogyny with Sévérine: When Sévérine dies, involving a glass of Scotch falling in the process, Bond quips “I think it’s a waste of good Scotch.” My boyfriend said he could see it as Bond attempting to unnerve Silva (who was holding Sévérine captive) and his men if Bond had bothered to look a bit sad about it later, but obviously Sévérine is never mentioned again. My friend who is actually named John says that this didn’t happen because Daniel Craig doesn’t know how to make a sad face.)
(Further rapiness and misogyny: Moneypenny comes to help Bond out with whatever. He decides to ask that she shave him, because that’s clearly the job description of professional women in MI6. While she’s doing this, he starts to unbutton her top. She tells him to stop, but she doesn’t really mind the sexual harassment there because the next shot is the fireworks of sex.)
This film also has serious issues with women doing their jobs. M is constantly referred to as a bitch and told not to be emotional. There is a female MP, Clair Dowar, which is impressive, but she is publicly humiliated for doing her job. Yeah, you know that scene where M is trying to justify the relevance of her department? What Dowar was doing was stating the case against it. I saw no sign that M wasn’t going to be allowed to speak. Honestly, it would be more useful to hear her out in order to understand what arguments would convince her. But no, Dowar is interrupted by a man of lower status in the proceedings and told that she is doing her job wrong. (And before anyone brings up the imminent attack, 1) they were not aware of this, and 2) do you you honestly believe that hearings interrupted by terrorist attacks don’t get rescheduled?)
(I also find the idea for Silva to consistently refer to M in maternal terms creepy, since, as far as I am aware, she doesn’t have children and isn’t too bothered by that. It’s weird to me for someone to force her into a maternal role, but since it’s the villain and no one else, it’s not really an issue other than the whole depraved bisexual thing.)
And then of course there is Eve Moneypenny. This was the one that really infuriated me. (Note that as I am not overly familiar with Bond films, this is the only representation of Moneypenny that I am familiar with. That doesn’t matter though, because it’s still offensive as hell.) Throughout the film, Moneypenny consistently struck me as more competent as Bond. She missed one very difficult shot and was going through the appropriate process to get back into the field. She never seemed particularly emotionally damaged over the whole thing. And yet Bond tells her she’s not cut out for fieldwork and she agrees and decides to become a secretary. Fuck you, Skyfall, fuck you. Can you get any pettier Bond? Don’t you realise you signed up to be disposable when you took this job? She didn’t fucking shoot you on purpose, and honestly, I wouldn’t even mind if she did, because you’re horrible.
Now, I know a lot of you are going to say “It’s a Bond film, what did you expect?” People already have. But why does Bond get a pass? If you don’t think these are appropriate ways to treat women, why is it okay when Bond does it? Because he’s a good agent? He’s really not, especially in this film. Remember all those tests he failed? Because it’s tradition? Since when was that an excuse? There are four women with speaking parts in this movie. Two of them die, two of them have sex with Bond (in ways that make me uncomfortable about the whole thing), and three of them are consistently reprimanded for doing their jobs, one of them publicly. There is also a fifth woman who only exists to sleep with Bond while everyone thinks he’s dead. This isn’t something to just smile, shake your head at, and say “That’s just Bond.” It’s not endearing, it’s not cool, and it’s not okay. As a society, we do our best to denounce blackface, the tradition of the black character dying first, and other racial stereotypes. In the same way, we must place a stigma on the use of sexist tropes in our stories. James Bond has to be irrelevant in any world where we treat women as equals.