The new Bond film is out and I have to confess I am looking forward to watching it. However, Bond films, like a number of other things I enjoy such as rap music, leave me conflicted. With the latest film No Time To Die, author Jen Campbell has highlighted the continuing, unhelpful and lazy trend of giving Bond villains disfigurements. This time round we are ‘blessed’ with two characters Blofeld and Safin.
From an inclusion perspective, the Bond franchise is riddled with talking points from misogyny to racism to a lack of representation. Whilst the Daniel Craig instalments have tried to address a number of issues the villain should be disfigured trope, a bit like Bond himself, just won’t die.
There is a campaign that has been lobbying against this for a number of years called I Am Not Your Villain. The facts are concerning. In previous posts I have talked about the importance of representation but in the case of visible difference the issue is much starker. Rather than individuals not seeing themselves in roles cast as heroes (only 1 in 5 people with a visible difference) or love interest (15%) many more people (39%) have seen someone with a visible difference cast as the villain or “baddie”.
Let’s just have a think about what that consistent repetition is doing to our psyche. We are essentially being programmed to be scared of people with visible differences and that is something we should be guarded against. The research conducted by CHanging Faces indicates that people with visible differences report long-term impacts from not being represented in society and across popular culture.
- A third report low levels of confidence
- Three in 10 have struggled with body image and low self-esteem
- A quarter say it has affected their mental health.
It is here that the conflict kicks in. If I was being true to my conviction I would boycott the Bond film, especially in the cinema, to play my part in impacting on its Box Office take. If large numbers of us did that and were vocal about our reasons why it would hit studios where it hurts and could possibly lead to a change in scripting and characterisation.
But will I do that? My honest answer is probably not. I am a cinephile and seeing movies like this on IMAX is one of my big loves. So my reflection this week is despite positive intentions. Despite wanting to see the world change there are times I am a hypocrite. Whether it is listening to Eminem because I love his beats or watching Bond on the big screen there are times when I feel ashamed of my choices.
I would love to hear your own reflections on this, or other choices you may make, where you feel you are potentially letting the campaign for a more inclusive society down.