It always seemed a bit too camp and not in the good way. (Not like this would be. Somebody tell Joss.)
When I was working at Sydney’s Virgin Megastore (back when people actually bought CDs), a ‘complete’ box set came out around the same time as Die Another Day. People went nuts for it.
So sure… I like Bond well enough. But his interest for me has always been in its usefulness as a British mirror.
In Fleming’s day, before the imperial sun set, all that was required to make safe the Realm was for a rakish gent who had been to all the right schools to drink and fuck his way around the globe. His innate superiority took care of the rest. (The gadgets may have helped.)
Those days are long gone, much to the chagrin of those who would really like to have that job.
Fast forward to Brosnan and you can easily see the suave, slick confidence of the halcyon era of New Labour. Those days are also long gone.
Based on the trailers, a lot of the upcoming Bond is going to be set in London. And, as Sam Mendes says in the videoblog below, “it’s not a particularly photogenic city”. (Sometimes hilariously so.) So he went for new angles and new ways of seeing a familiar landscape. It is literally a new, ‘post-London’ London.
We’re talking about this today because the new Bond song came out. And it’s not too bad.
Clearly, it’s kinda trying to be this. (Sung in London for the birthday of a man who once held a job that was a template for many a Bond villain.)
The melancholy air of Skyfall rather suits the times, if you ask me. And so does London’s prominence in the film. Whatever Beings are behind the current slow motion robbery of our world, London was one of their most successful portals onto this plane. Indeed, Europe blames it for their current woes. This isn’t just standard Anglo-bashing… they’re kinda right.
“In their eyes, we are responsible for everything they are suffering,” she says. “The Greek debt levels were their own doing but the situation escalated into a crisis because of the additional sovereign debt and the financial crisis. So the rest of Europe thinks the contamination went into their countries, through the single market, from the UK. That’s the whole point.”
She recognises my baffled expression, she’s seen it before.
“Think about it,” she demands with trademark directness. “They wouldn’t have the eurozone crisis if we had not had the financial crisis. Who was culpable in the financial crisis? We were – we’ve said so. We’ve sent our regulators round the world saying “sorry”. So in Europe they say, you’ve admitted you got it wrong, you are wrong.”
You can see the point: on top of the implosion of 2008, London has been rocked by scandals from PPI mis-selling, to Libor rigging and money-laundering.
Which has me thinking about the pages below, especially as I have been passing my illness time in bed re-reading them. (There were a few nightmares but otherwise I recommend trying it. Flu season is coming!)
It’s not just British identity you can see in Bond, you can also learn quite a bit about the world from the villains it chooses to portray. And in this case, it appears to be the utterly exhausted, utterly toxic world of psy ops, espionage and covert state meddling that birthed 007. The snake is eating itself.
To my eyes, Dame Judi completely conveys the dead, barren soul of a career bureaucrat who has spent too long in the world of spooks. (Rebooting M has been extremely successful.) No wacky supervillains, no media barons… just the reality of a game that has been overplayed.
Jack posted recently about the alarming return of Fascism in Europe. This was a day or so after Jason and I had had an email discussion about these spectral Nazis I keep seeing whenever I go to the Continent of late. Some of it is down to the research I’m doing for an upcoming post series, but there are enough syncs with my personal and professional life (in ways I can’t currently go into) to make me take notice.
For instance, last week in Spain, while waiting for the taxi out the front of the hotel, I saw two spectral SS officers rattle past on a Mercedes bike and sidecar.
Thing of it is… those roads would have been built in the fifties at the earliest. They weren’t ghosts. It feels like… you know that theory about how a living person’s human energies can ‘activate’ a spirit playback of certain events in a haunted location? It feels like that. There is an inevitability to the unfolding events without any particular agency causing them. Since then, there have been a few posts and discussions about a creepy WWII feeling to the world, so I’m assuming it’s not exclusively a personal experience.
Just before they collapse, some old worldviews have a tendency to spawn cancerous versions of themselves. It is possible our apocalypse has taken a turn for the Dark.
Constant fearporn, drone strikes, Turkey and Syria, Bibi and his cartoon bomb at the UN, total state surveillance, corporate egregores with increased political powers, bank bailouts, a demonised national group being ejected from the EU, dysfunctional austerity, a medieval gap between the rich and the poor, infiltration of peaceful protests, the dismantling of the NHS.
This is our milieu. But that doesn’t mean batten down the hatches. It means break out the blank badges.