Posts Tagged With: Thomas A. Shippey

007 Doesn’t Hate Women

A few days ago, I wrote on people finding sexism everywhere they look in books. A common target of theirs is James Bond (both the original books and films). Taking it further, article after article has labeled Bond as misogynistic. It appears many people just like pretending to sound intelligent by repeating a big word they never looked up, nor have they thought too deeply about Bond.

First, misogyny is the hatred or dislike of women. Bond does neither (more on that in a moment). What people have done here is equate objectification with dislike or hatred. This is a stretch and a misuse of words. Why, would most people, objectify something they hate? Even Bond actor Daniel Craig misused the word, but his costar, Monica Bellucci disagreed that Bond was a misogynist.

Bond never abuses women, only hates the ones trying to kill him, and his conquests are always willing participants. Professor Thomas A. Shippey, in his course on influential characters in literature, Heroes and Legends, reveals that Ian Fleming’s original 007 books reveal a Bond who is:

…gallant, even protective [of women] in an old-fashioned way. Nearly all the women in Bond’s life have been badly treated [by others]…Tracy and Vesper, the two women Bond marries or means to marry, both have hidden sorrows or secrets…He doesn’t physically abuse women, and he’s capable of falling in love. He shows concern for some of his partners, and although they sometimes dump him, he doesn’t dump them.

The films, especially the recent series, do reflect what the novels established. So why, historically, does every woman he meets “disappears or is disposed of before the start” of the next book or film? This where the sexist-misogyny-slinging experts have refused to think to deeply: Why is Bond so scarred? What has made him the way he is? The books, and the Daniel Craig films, have explored these reasons. Being a spy, the past is slowly revealed, and perhaps never fully, but losses like Vesper’s betrayal and death certainly have an obvious impact.

Bond is an easy target: Giant blockbuster films, full of barely believable escapades, a spy who always gets the girl. On even a cursory inspection, however, that man is flawed, has a history and a feeling or two.

In other words, a human after all.

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Categories: Books, Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heroes and Legends

Famed J.R.R. Tolkien biographer, Professor Thomas A. Shippey, in his course Heroes and Legends, writes on the “universal human art form” of storytelling:

…Over the millennia of human history, millions of tales, novels, romances and epics have been written, published, and many more must have been told in the far longer millennia of prehistory. The vast majority vanished without a trace once their immediate purpose had been served – forgotten, discarded, out of print.

A small number survive and become classics. Of that small number, an even smaller number does more than survive: They inspire imitations, sequels, remakes and responses. It is the heroes and heroines – and sometimes the villains – of these super-survivors who have created and continue to create our imaginative world. “Don’t the great tales never end?” asks the hobbit Sam Gamgee…Sam has good reason to see that the answer is: No, they don’t.

…Most of all, the “great tales” offer an insight into the human heart, in all its variety and complexity, that nothing else can provide.

Categories: Books, Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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