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Topic: BLM and Bond

The Black Lives Matter movement is currently arriving at an important moment which hopefully will bring changes for the better.

Part of the conversation atm is in the area of 'culture wars', though arguably television-friendly coverage of flashpoints around statues risks taking away some of the focus from racist policing and the specific political action and reform necessary to address socio-economic disadvantage, health inequalities and the ways in which BAME people are disproportionately affected by Covid-19. That said, iconography and representation in public places and in the media are key issues too, affecting how people are asked to see themselves and each other.

There's a lot of coverage atm about how streaming channels are removing vintage films and TV series from their packages in cases where shows include racial stereotyping and blackface. One has to wonder how Bond may be affected by these developments; specifically, Bond until the mid 70s (perhaps even till the mid 80s). There's been a lot of past discussion in Bond forums about, for example, Bond ordering Quarrel to fetch his shoes in DN, Bond's yellowface in YOLT, stereotypical tropes in LALD and JW Pepper's bigotry in TMWTGG. I'm not suggesting that familiar arguments need to be rehearsed all over again. We know these include discussions about evaluating the movies in the context of the film culture in which they were made; how the Bond movies in question might be considered less offensive than some other contemporary fare; how the films sometimes counterbalanced negative stereotypes with more positive images of characters from around the world, etc. Points have been made, disagreed with and debated.

My interest here is in what might happen next. On TV, broadcasts of earlier Bond films have long since been relegated from main channels (and Bank Holiday billing) to less prominent schedules. I wonder whether some of the films might now be quietly retired from TV altogether. As for home media, we may end up with a re-branding of earlier Bond films to a certain point, putting increased emphasis on their 'classic' or 'vintage' status, presenting them more like museum pieces or curiosities than as currently relevant entertainment. I'm sure there will be some kind of review by the owners of the Bond franchise as to what they should and can do now - or not do - with some of their titles/property.

Last edited by Shady Tree (13th Jun 2020 09:57)

Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 49 years.

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Re: BLM and Bond

I don't think there's any danger of them being retired and it is, as you say, a distraction piece to worry about all of these small cultural issues rather than the actual important matters at the heart of all of this.

The most I can see happening is Strutter's 'spades' line being chopped, but Bond films get edited for TV all the time. The only thing people should be getting hot under the collar is how black people are treated today.

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Re: BLM and Bond

I think the Bond movies aren't in much danger of censorship, at least compared to many movies made around the same time. Fleming's novels are much more questionable when it comes to racist content and questionable attitudes towards women.

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Re: BLM and Bond

Number24 wrote:

I think the Bond movies aren't in much danger of censorship, at least compared to many movies made around the same time. Fleming's novels are much more questionable when it comes to racist content and questionable attitudes towards women.

Don't forget that homosexuals can't whistle! ajb007/smile
I don't think that the novels are in any danger though, I don't see literacy being seen that way.

I did watch LALD this week after a long gap since the last watch, and I used to think it's not too racist as the villains just sort of happen to be black rather than depicting all black people as bad and it doesn't really stereotype them, plus you have sympathetic portrayals such as Quarrel Jr, Strutter and even Rosie has a bit of nuance. But, I think it definitely leaves a flavour of black culture as being untrustworthy: all of their cab drivers are in it together against you; you can't go to their bars and clubs because they'll kill you there; you can't even trust their funeral processions. There's an 'us and them' situation conjured through this- even black CIA agents somehow know voodoo warnings when they see them. 
I don't think it was intentional, and I do think the filmmakers had good intentions (the aforementioned positive characters, Sheriff JW being a figure of fun etc.) and they don't go in for stereotypes, but there's a flavour inadvertently created. For example I think the funeral procession is such a great irresistible image that they had to use because it's pure cinema, but the impression it leaves you with is that all of these people, from their children to their old grandparents, are all in it together against 'us'.

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Re: BLM and Bond

emtiem wrote:
Number24 wrote:

I think the Bond movies aren't in much danger of censorship, at least compared to many movies made around the same time. Fleming's novels are much more questionable when it comes to racist content and questionable attitudes towards women.

Don't forget that homosexuals can't whistle! ajb007/smile
I don't think that the novels are in any danger though, I don't see literacy being seen that way.

I did watch LALD this week after a long gap since the last watch, and I used to think it's not too racist as the villains just sort of happen to be black rather than depicting all black people as bad and it doesn't really stereotype them, plus you have sympathetic portrayals such as Quarrel Jr, Strutter and even Rosie has a bit of nuance. But, I think it definitely leaves a flavour of black culture as being untrustworthy: all of their cab drivers are in it together against you; you can't go to their bars and clubs because they'll kill you there; you can't even trust their funeral processions. There's an 'us and them' situation conjured through this- even black CIA agents somehow know voodoo warnings when they see them. 
I don't think it was intentional, and I do think the filmmakers had good intentions (the aforementioned positive characters, Sheriff JW being a figure of fun etc.) and they don't go in for stereotypes, but there's a flavour inadvertently created. For example I think the funeral procession is such a great irresistible image that they had to use because it's pure cinema, but the impression it leaves you with is that all of these people, from their children to their old grandparents, are all in it together against 'us'.

You know literacy is a prerequisite for and not a synonym of literature, right?
Other than that you make some good points.

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Re: BLM and Bond

Slip of the brain, don't worry too much about it: this isn't exactly proofread publishing going on here.

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Re: BLM and Bond

Of course. It's not like I haven't made mistakes like that  ajb007/lol

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Re: BLM and Bond

That's sort of the way Bond movies have been looked at for the last couple of years right? Curiosities of the past and all that.
But it's very clear that considering all the locations Bond's visited and the use and respect he's shown for other cultures, especially at the time it was produced that these are actually not in danger at all to be called racist. Bond's proud to be British and maybe sticks out because of that but it's never shown as a contrast between the civilised west and an "us vs them" type of thing.
It's part of Bond's international appeal imo.

It seems that Quarrel is forgotten but he was in the very first movie and Bond was quite amicable towards him, even going as far to actually be sort of disturbed by the sight of his death.
May Day? Another good example of Bond simply get along with someone.

The overarching message in Bond movies to me always has been that it doesn't matter what race someone is but how they are as a person. Wai Lin? Bond loving Japan...maybe for sexist reasons but regardless?
Hell.
Felix Leiter is an African American and it's the best interpretation yet.

Diversity is the fibre of movie Bond's fabric. Bond might be rapey and sexist at times but he wasn't ever a racist.

emtiem wrote:
Number24 wrote:

I think the Bond movies aren't in much danger of censorship, at least compared to many movies made around the same time. Fleming's novels are much more questionable when it comes to racist content and questionable attitudes towards women.

Don't forget that homosexuals can't whistle! ajb007/smile
I don't think that the novels are in any danger though, I don't see literacy being seen that way.

I did watch LALD this week after a long gap since the last watch, and I used to think it's not too racist as the villains just sort of happen to be black rather than depicting all black people as bad and it doesn't really stereotype them, plus you have sympathetic portrayals such as Quarrel Jr, Strutter and even Rosie has a bit of nuance. But, I think it definitely leaves a flavour of black culture as being untrustworthy: all of their cab drivers are in it together against you; you can't go to their bars and clubs because they'll kill you there; you can't even trust their funeral processions. There's an 'us and them' situation conjured through this- even black CIA agents somehow know voodoo warnings when they see them. 
I don't think it was intentional, and I do think the filmmakers had good intentions (the aforementioned positive characters, Sheriff JW being a figure of fun etc.) and they don't go in for stereotypes, but there's a flavour inadvertently created. For example I think the funeral procession is such a great irresistible image that they had to use because it's pure cinema, but the impression it leaves you with is that all of these people, from their children to their old grandparents, are all in it together against 'us'.

Agree with you both.

a reasonable rate of return

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Re: BLM and Bond

Quarrel is a bit of a sore point though: James does rather famously treat him like a servant in one line, and I wouldn't say he's hugely fond of him. Roger's Bond is much more friendly with Quarrel Jr and manages not to say anything massively racist to him! Obviously don't mention the 'curry' incident... ajb007/biggrin

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Re: BLM and Bond

emtiem wrote:

Obviously don't mention the 'curry' incident... ajb007/biggrin

ajb007/embarrassed

Well, at least Wai could poke fun at the fact that she doesn't have a little red book.

a reasonable rate of return

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Re: BLM and Bond

emtiem wrote:

Quarrel is a bit of a sore point though: James does rather famously treat him like a servant in one line, and I wouldn't say he's hugely fond of him. Roger's Bond is much more friendly with Quarrel Jr and manages not to say anything massively racist to him! Obviously don't mention the 'curry' incident... ajb007/biggrin

This "Fetch my shoes" -moment is something that IMHO has been blown out of proportion. I have been around enough military men of higher rank (as well as seasoned noncoms) retired and serving, who when pressed for time will revert to giving orders to everybody, even on casual situations. This is something my wife keeps taking offense for, especially from my father. And it feels like screaming into wind, when I try to tell her that he doesn't mean anything by it, it's just that "old dogs and all that..."
Just because it was Quarrell and shoes, it's been made a terrific hooplaa about it, but Bond is just as curt and impolite with his orders when he tells Leiter to "Set it down, now" -in TB. I'm sure that If I were to watch all the movies looking for instances, I would find plenty of times when Bond orders people around.

"I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
-Mr Arlington Beech

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0073 wrote:

This "Fetch my shoes" -moment is something that IMHO has been blown out of proportion. I have been around enough military men of higher rank (as well as seasoned noncoms) retired and serving, who when pressed for time will revert to giving orders to everybody, even on casual situations. This is something my wife keeps taking offense for, especially from my father. And it feels like screaming into wind, when I try to tell her that he doesn't mean anything by it, it's just that "old dogs and all that..."
Just because it was Quarrell and shoes, it's been made a terrific hooplaa about it, but Bond is just as curt and impolite with his orders when he tells Leiter to "Set it down, now" -in TB. I'm sure that If I were to watch all the movies looking for instances, I would find plenty of times when Bond orders people around.

I agree with you 100% 0073. I have always felt the same way when watching Dr No, that Bond could have said that to any colleague or assistant. It felt like something quite natural to me in the circumstances.

I think I do tend to feel the influence of the novels to some extent when watching Dr No, perhaps assuming Bond has a greater affection for Quarrel due to having read the more fleshed out relationship between the two in LALD and DN by Fleming, rather than strictly due to what is presented on screen by the filmmakers.

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Re: BLM and Bond

0073 wrote:
emtiem wrote:

Quarrel is a bit of a sore point though: James does rather famously treat him like a servant in one line, and I wouldn't say he's hugely fond of him. Roger's Bond is much more friendly with Quarrel Jr and manages not to say anything massively racist to him! Obviously don't mention the 'curry' incident... ajb007/biggrin

This "Fetch my shoes" -moment is something that IMHO has been blown out of proportion. I have been around enough military men of higher rank (as well as seasoned noncoms) retired and serving, who when pressed for time will revert to giving orders to everybody, even on casual situations. This is something my wife keeps taking offense for, especially from my father. And it feels like screaming into wind, when I try to tell her that he doesn't mean anything by it, it's just that "old dogs and all that..."
Just because it was Quarrell and shoes, it's been made a terrific hooplaa about it, but Bond is just as curt and impolite with his orders when he tells Leiter to "Set it down, now" -in TB. I'm sure that If I were to watch all the movies looking for instances, I would find plenty of times when Bond orders people around.

Nah it's pretty uncomfortable stuff: 'fetch' is a very particular kind of word. And you can't really excuse him as being military, because he's not a real military man and I doubt they were writing it that carefully. It's an attitude of the time so I don't blame them necessarily, but it's perhaps the most dated moment in the entire series.

Golrush007 wrote:

I think I do tend to feel the influence of the novels to some extent when watching Dr No, perhaps assuming Bond has a greater affection for Quarrel due to having read the more fleshed out relationship between the two in LALD and DN by Fleming, rather than strictly due to what is presented on screen by the filmmakers.

Yeah I tend to agree: they don't share much screentime really, and Bond barely blinks when Quarrel is killed (perhaps because it's his fault! ajb007/biggrin ). It is notable how Bond is pretty much an arse to everyone in Dr No: they really softened him for FRWL.

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emtiem wrote:

It is notable how Bond is pretty much an arse to everyone in Dr No: they really softened him for FRWL.

Well here we do agree to a tee, the first time I saw DrNo, having been introduced to Bond with more suave Moore, it felt strange to see him try to cut in line for a taxi.

"I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
-Mr Arlington Beech

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Re: BLM and Bond

Yeah I only really noticed it recently. He's even pretty rude and abrupt to all of the embassy staff he's actually working with; Felix he's vaguely friendly to but they barely share any screentime. Doesn't he even make that guy mix him a martini and then doesn't even bother to have any of it? And then there's that odd moment where he decides to just murder one of the guards in the river despite everyone being very effectively hidden underwater. He's vaguely psychotic at worst and at best has a major cobb on in this one! ajb007/biggrin

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Re: BLM and Bond

Huh. I'd say that Bond's beastial manners sort of come out worse especially around women.
The eavesdropping assistant in Dr No?
The entire barn sequence in Goldfinger?

emtiem wrote:

He's vaguely psychotic at worst and at best has a major cobb on in this one! ajb007/biggrin

That's sorta....weirdly...part of the appeal though. Which is not meant to be taken the wrong way but the closer you get to Fleming's Bond the more of an asshole you have to make him.

Fetch does sound like he's ordering around a dog but everything sounds crappy in writing. It's the same as comedy routines imo

a reasonable rate of return

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Re: BLM and Bond

Dirty Punker wrote:

Huh. I'd say that Bond's beastial manners sort of come out worse especially around women.
The eavesdropping assistant in Dr No?
The entire barn sequence in Goldfinger?

emtiem wrote:

He's vaguely psychotic at worst and at best has a major cobb on in this one! ajb007/biggrin

That's sorta....weirdly...part of the appeal though. Which is not meant to be taken the wrong way but the closer you get to Fleming's Bond the more of an asshole you have to make him.

Presumably part of the reason why they drifted away from Fleming, yeah.

Dirty Punker wrote:

Fetch does sound like he's ordering around a dog but everything sounds crappy in writing.

And in execution though! ajb007/smile

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Re: BLM and Bond

The whole scene with Leiter and quarrel in the bar was cringeworthy, Bond throwing his weight around "get the girl Quarrel and the camera!" also his questioning of the pair in a obnoxious manner. Connery is also trying too hard in this scene

ive smelt that aftershave before and both times ive smelt a rat

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Re: BLM and Bond

silvertoe wrote:

The whole scene with Leiter and quarrel in the bar was cringeworthy, Bond throwing his weight around "get the girl Quarrel and the camera!" also his questioning of the pair in a obnoxious manner. Connery is also trying too hard in this scene

Yes, agreed there! It's quite a strange scene.

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Re: BLM and Bond

When we first see Quarrel in DN he seems tough and worldly wise; firstly, in his crusty rebuff of Bond at the harbour, at a point when (as we learn a little later) he isn't yet sure whose side Bond is on, and secondly in the nasty 'sex and sadism' scene where he handles "freelance" at Bond's behest. But when we get to Crab Key there's a significant shift in the characterisation of Quarrel. The moment announcing this change is just after he and Bond arrive on the island in their rowing boat. Bond moves away and Quarrel is left alone in the shot, drinking from a pot of water and looking warily from side to side, bug-eyed, presumably on look out for the 'dragon'. Monty Norman arranges over this shot a couple of comic 'wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-WHA-waaaaaah' bars of 'Underneath The Mango Tree', signalling that the character needn't be taken so seriously anymore: Quarrel's regressing to a racist stereotype of a superstitious Man Friday. The later "Fetch my shoes!" line reinforces that, an effect already produced.

Last edited by Shady Tree (15th Jul 2020 13:12)

Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 49 years.

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Re: BLM and Bond

Shady Tree wrote:

Quarrel is left alone in the shot, drinking from a pot of water

Are we 100% sure that's water?  ajb007/biggrin   Felix was teasing him earlier about the amount of rum he'd been drinking.

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Re: BLM and Bond

Barbel wrote:
Shady Tree wrote:

Quarrel is left alone in the shot, drinking from a pot of water

Are we 100% sure that's water?  ajb007/biggrin   Felix was teasing him earlier about the amount of rum he'd been drinking.

Good point!

Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 49 years.

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Re: BLM and Bond

A youtuber had an interesting point of view on what many call political correctnes sin movies. A leading character can be un-PC if the movie isn't. He used the example of Ethan Edwards in The Searchers. Ethan is a racist (or is he? Perhaps he just has a negative view of humans, but he happens to be white?), but the movie has a better attitude than Ethan.

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Re: BLM and Bond

Number24 wrote:

A youtuber had an interesting point of view on what many call political correctnes sin movies. A leading character can be un-PC if the movie isn't. He used the example of Ethan Edwards in The Searchers. Ethan is a racist (or is he? Perhaps he just has a negative view of humans, but he happens to be white?), but the movie has a better attitude than Ethan.

It's right to make the distinction. My point in #20 is that the movie itself gets round to making fun of Quarrel.

Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 49 years.

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Re: BLM and Bond

I think they filmed the Crab Key scenes first?
If so, the filmmakers' conception of Quarrel's character might have evolved as they were filming, but because of the order of the scenes we see it backwards.

Fleming himself was hanging round for a lot of the Jamaican filming, I wonder if he had any input as to how Quarrel was being presented? The character would have been based on real people he knew. He probably didn't like seeing a character he had created reduced to such a stereotype.


The eyepopping superstitious negro is an oldschool stereotype we should hope modern filmmakers would leave behind.
But, in fairness:
1. Honey believed in dragons too
2. Quarrel had just been shot at by machine guns
What is strange is not that Quarrel was scared after the machine gun attack, but that Honey wasn't.