Friday, December 26, 2014 at 8:23 AM

A Black James Bond? No, Hell No!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

images (4)The latest batch of leaked Sony e-mails includes an exchange between executives on the prospect of Black actor Idris Elba playing James Bond – after Daniel Craig ends his stint. But, far from the embarrassment other leaks caused, this leak has incited near-universal excitement.

What I find most interesting, however, is that it betrays earlier leaks, which outed these very same executives, especially Chairman Amy Pascal, as a bunch of closeted Hollywood racists. But this irony seems lost on those who are now all atwitter over Elba as Bond.

Meanwhile, because Sony lawyer David Boies issued a desist-or-else threat, which, I assure you, has more bite than Kim Jung-un’s bark, no reputable news organization dares to publish the e-mails at issue. This is why we’re being treated only to reports about them:

The Sony e-mail leak revealed a suggestion by executive Amy Pascal to bring in a new – and groundbreaking – face to star as the next James Bond: Idris Elba. With Daniel Craig’s days as 007 numbered in the movie’s franchise (he is contracted to shoot one more film), Elba as a replacement is a very huge, and possible, deal.

(Vibe, December 24, 2014)

splash-rush-1224Unsurprisingly, conservative shock jock Rush Limbaugh, the most popular radio talk-show host in the Western Hemisphere, seized this opportunity to go on a politically incorrect, ratings-generating, viral-making rant against the blackening of this iconic movie character.

Equally unsurprising is that I might be the only Black person willing to publicly cast his lot with Limbaugh in this case. But, lest anyone thinks we are of like minds in any other respect, let me hasten to clarify with this excerpt from “Black Players Deny Limbaugh Membership in NFL Owners Club,” October 16 2009:

In his 1996 bestselling book, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, former comedian Al Franken, now the junior U.S. senator from Minnesota, exposed (with eviscerating humor) the galling hypocrisy and brazen lies that permeate the conservative gospel Rush Limbaugh preaches on his radio talk show every day.

For example, even though thrice-divorced, Limbaugh never betrays any hint of appreciation for the hypocrisy inherent in his self-righteous fulminations on family values.

Therefore, it is not at all surprising that, even though he belongs to the all-white Everglades Country Club, Limbaugh is now hurling moral indignation at those who rallied to deny him membership in the NFL owners club.

All of which means that, despite surgical weight loss (no doubt in vain hope of pleasing his new 31-year-old girlfriend), Limbaugh (58) is still what Al Franken called him a few years ago: a big fat idiot.


Incidentally, Limbaugh has since regained most, if not all, of the weight….

Anyway, with that weighty clarification established, here in part is what he said about Elba playing Bond:

James Bond is a total concept put together by Ian Fleming. He was white and Scottish…

[N]ow [they are] suggesting that the next James Bond should be … a Black Briton (sic) … but that’s not who James Bond is and I know it’s racist to probably point this out.

(E News, December 23, 2014)

To be fair, Limbaugh spewed this half in jest, noting for emphasis (or laughs) that Elba playing Bond would be every bit as ludicrous as George Clooney playing Barack Obama or Kate Hudson playing Michelle Obama.

Still, one must at least acknowledge the apples-and-oranges distinction between taking such cross-racial license with fictional characters like James Bond and doing so with non-fictional characters like Barack Obama.


Not to mention the ignorance Limbaugh betrays by insisting that only a Scotsman should play Bond. After all, of the actors who have played him, only Sean Connery, the original Bond, is in fact Scottish – in accordance with Fleming’s total concept.

Ironically, it speaks volumes that even a self-professed Bond fanatic like Limbaugh seems oblivious to this fact. Because, in betraying this ignorance, he unwittingly demonstrates why, even with iconic fictional characters, it’s a lot easier (for obvious historical and cultural reasons) to draw red lines between black and white skin than between Scottish and English nationality or brown and blue eyes. The latter, of course, reflects the creative license producers took in casting Craig – whose relatively short stature also does not comport with Fleming’s total concept.

Which brings me to the naiveté, if not fallacy, inherent in Elba thinking that there’s no difference between a Black playing Bond and a Brit playing him:

I just don’t want to be the black James Bond. Sean Connery wasn’t the Scottish James Bond, and Daniel Craig wasn’t the blue-eyed James Bond, so if I played him, I don’t want to be called the Black James Bond.

(NPR, September 28, 2011)

Frankly, casting a Black actor would require too much suspension of disbelief for anyone who knows anything about the zeitgeist in which Bond was born, and still thrives. To say nothing of the wanton disrespect to Fleming’s oeuvre, or the insult to reasonable expectations of existing fans, it would entail.

But, in the event vainglory compels him to play the role (as he seems all too eager to do), Elba should at least appreciate that whining about being called the Black James Bond would smack too much of wanting to have his cake and eat it too.


That said, I prefer to emphasize my opposition by noting that Idris Elba playing James Bond would be every bit as ludicrous as Michael Fassbender playing John Shaft, despite rumors that he might be anatomically correct for the part in at least one respect….

What’s more, I refuse to believe, and Elba should be loath to affirm, that it is so untenable for Hollywood to create iconic Black characters that it has to cast Black actors to play firmly established White ones.

The insult to Black pride inherent in this prospect should also give pause to those situational racists at Sony. For I can think of nothing more exploitative (in so many respects) than the inevitable marketing of the first Black James Bond as if he were worthy of as much “groundbreaking” acclaim as the first Black president of the United States.

So, instead of playing along, Elba should at least challenge Sony executives to greenlight a Bond-like character for him to play. Indeed, if Hollywood has become so bereft of creativity, Sony executives could turn John Luther, the detective Elba popularized on TV, into a movie star to rival James Bond or Jason Bourne. Hell, they could even introduce him as John Luther 009, the mysterious, unnamed MI6 agent Fleming refers to in Thunderball. (Contrary to popular belief, agents 001 through 007 are already named characters….)

But Elba as Bond? No, hell no!

Related commentaries:
Blacks deny Limbaugh

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