Reactionary formulae

Over at Acculturated, Mark Judge argues that Skyfall, the new James Bond film, has some things to say about the state of today’s males:

The film is arguably the most conservative film since 300. It doesn’t argue that there are marginal differences between the generations; it holds that younger people are epicene and clueless. In one key scene, Bond (Daniel Craig) solves a riddle that has escaped the young, techno-savvy Q (Ben Whishaw) because Bond remembers that a clue refers to an old subway station that closed decades earlier. And without causing a spoiler alert, let me just add that in the end Bond doesn’t dispatch the villain, a creepy Javier Bardem, with a computer, but with the most primitive of weapons.


I’m usually wary of arguments about “the feminization of culture.” I don’t like them because behind them is the assumption that women are not incredibly powerful, which is a fallacy easily refuted by anyone who has a mother, sister, or wife (in fact, women are probably more resilient than men, if not physically stronger, as Judy Dench has shown over and over in the Bond films). And as a teacher I know that people who criticize kids usually don’t know any. But there is something going on in Skyfall that is an important defense of experience and traditional manhood. Frankly, the film expresses a rebellion against today’s young males forgetting what it is to be a man, whether it be the ability to couple noble purpose with raw strength or just the proper way to shave. Watching it, I thought back on two of my own experiences that the theme of Skyfall seemed to validate. 

(full post here)

The James Bond franchise is a pop-culture survivor from a bygone era, with all the elements of that time which bled into its basic formula preserved intact. Whenever this sort of thing happens, it seems like just following the franchise’s standard procedures is going to come across as a tad reactionary  – even if on a purely aesthetic level (imagine if the later Star Trek series just kept the 60s cultural vibe of TOS going indefinitely). I haven’t seen the new Bond flick, but this seems to be a case where the franchise itself has become aware of this phenomenon, and chooses to make it into a statement instead of deconstructing itself.

Also, an odd quote from the combox:

As a master of culture, skill, and himself, is James Bond expressing the same masculinized ideal as Nietzsche’s Ubermensch? – Tom Sutton

About Josh W

Scribbler and doodler
This entry was posted in pop culture and its discontents, Stuff other people said. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s