I wonder if this is the best time to be The Man — if your desirable definition of manhood with a capital letter and definite article has some kind of a James Bond dream, in which the superhero figure is surrounded by a bevy of beautiful and/or hot women, and thrives in a fantasy world of fast cars in which the bad guys lose in the end to you. Guns now invite talk of a gun culture in the US that needs a shut-down. Fast cars (touch wood) still seem okay, particularly the variety that does not run over hapless people, consumes less fossil fuel and does not pollute the air.
Now for the fast women. The legend goes that the Nawab of Pataudi Senior, who was a seasoned cricketer in his own light, wrote to his son, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, when the latter was studying in the UK: “Son, beware of fast cars and fast women.”
The son wrote back: “Father, I know nothing about cars.”
Both James Bond and other such men of that British vintage are no longer real role models. In a hint of the times we live in, showbiz experts have been counting the rare black women in Bond movies and have barely reached a dozen in decades of power play and 24 signature flicks in which the lead actors change but the character has the same dash. Halle Barry has made it to that list but Mr Bond still has to go a long way away from the wrong way to be truly Millennial.
There is an outside chance in this age of diversity for a James Bond to get away if the woman in question is truly treated as an equal, turns out to be coloured and gives her consent to communion in a way that leaves no room for doubt to hawk-eyed gender justice activists.
Maybe there is someone out there writing a post-modern version of a James Bond script in which the celebrated spy talks against war and is actually not a debonair secret service agent but a soft-spoken gentleman who has returned to desk duty at the MI6 headquarters. He takes the London Underground as a celebration of public transport to his office so that he could save the planet — not from demonish villains of non-white heritage but from the growing tentacles of climate change.
We were told some weeks ago that
Danny Boyle, the director who won the Oscar for his sensitive Slumdog Millionaire quit as director of the 25th Bond movie due out in 2019 on account of “creative differences” — and I am tempted to put two and two together and guess it is because he did not quite want Ye Olde Patriarchal Bond.
The old Bond is just not politically correct anymore. Hit movies such as Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians are giving enough hints that diversity is now mainstream in Hollywood. Who wants a dominating, war-mongering, gun-toting, rich, white man?
That brings us to the #metoo Movement of women standing up to recount incidents of sexual harassment, long past and recent, of various shapes and disturbing details. Since it has reached India as well, it might be better for Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood and Sandalwood directors to take note and do the honours in observing a new-normal in which the superhero has to be super in other ways.
A gentleman who opens doors for the ladies is just fine, assuming he shows other signs to reveal that his gestures do not amount to acts of passive dominance but more in the nature of sensitivity. Sensitivity is a word that remains in fashion, though I am not sure if that goes with passion.
James Bond, with some imagination, can be described as a ladies’ man, but not a post-modern Diversity Dude. His traditional characteristics, therefore, may not actually impress a diversity-era woman. But Bond remains a male. The idea of a female James Bond has been recently ruled out by a Bond historian (a species that actually exists).
We may be better off now waiting for a joke that goes like this.
Black Panther and James Bond walk
into a bar.
The bartender is a Crazy Rich Asian Woman mixing cocktails for fun after a harrowingly successful day at Wall Street.
They order an organic herbal drink.
How is that for new age thinking?