In his Ian Fleming’s Seven Deadlier Sins & 007’s Moral Compass, author Benjamin Pratt highlights James Bond’s function as an essential archetype, the (sometimes) last good guy fighting the ultimate baddies, St. George against the Dragon.
While declamations such as “Watch the birdie, you bastard!” or “Welcome to Hell, Blofeld!” are less saintly than would receive canonization in a typical church, Bond is, deep down, one of the good dudes.
The British anti-hero who quips than grips the nearest deus ex machina to pound a villain into pudding has inspired a hundred John McClanes, Terminators and Dirty Harrys, and has hailed from the ranks of Bugs Bunny and Batman, but there is simply never a shade of doubt about him. James Bond is good.
Several times at the google group alt.fan.james-bond, there have been epic discussions over whether Bond can be a civil service murdered yet a moral agent, a flaming fornicator yet a man men want their kids to be like, a dude who demolishes more real estate than five crane operators yet a friend to those who have no friends. In fact, the threads such as “Bond Should Not Sleep With Many Women” have been far and away the most popular threads in the history of the group.
So how about it, fans? What makes Bond, who is really, really bad, so good?
Wow…what a topic. I just have time for a few quick thoughts, but I think that a lot of it has to do with a post WWII British sense of right versus wrong that Fleming imbued in his novels. When you get right down to to, Bond is essentially a government hit man more than anything, which can be good, or bad, depending on your side of the fight. I’ll have to check out that Google group.
Bond is an immoral agent for a moral cause, and he knows it. Hence he lives in the moment. He is fundamentally existential; life is fleeting and without meaning, so only the temporal pleasures matter.
Bond may not believe in existentialism for everyone, just for himself. England, he believes, is a force of moral good in the universe. But the work his country needs him to do compromises his own morality, hence he is without moral standing in the world and indulges in pleasurable sins to sustain himself.
Flapflop said, in May 7th, 2009 at 3:05 am
In fact, Bond gets an assignment to investigate something or someone and if on the job he thinks its necessary to kill a person to save the world, England, country he is in, his partners on the job or himself he may kill. So yes he is a bad guy himself if youre not on his side. The old saying a terrorist is another mans freedom fighter really applies to the bond universe.
When he gets the assignement for a direct kill Englands thinks necessary he normally isn’t allowed to make his own opinion about that person good or badness and maybe not kill him. He has to follow orders.
But in the movies we often see the opposite. Het gets the order, goes there, finds out its the wrong one and kills another. Or he is dilluded in thinking its wrong but in the end he could have saved much sorrow if he immedeately killed the person he had to kill without questions answered.
In this last trap most Bond baddies fall. If the had shot Bond at first sight there plans would not fail and the would have lived to take over the world.
From Holland with love
Interesting read. I dare say though, that while Bond is a “killer” most of his kills are actually in self-defense (whether they were an initial target for a kill or not). I am not saying this justifies the killing, but how many cold-blooded, unprovoked kills does Bond have (at least in the films)?
— Dr. No tried to kill him first.
— Professor Dent tried to kill him first
— Red Grant tried to kill him first
— Odd Job tried to kill him first
— GF died his own death
— Vargas tried to kill him first