The Geographies, Genders, and Geopolitics of James Bond discusses the representational geographies of the Bond film franchise and how they inform our reading of 007 as a hero. This book offers a new and interdisciplinary lens through which the franchise can be analyzed and explores a range of topics that have been largely, if not entirely, overlooked in Bond film scholarship. These topics include: the shifting and gendering of geopolitical relations; the differing depiction and evaluation of vertical/modern and horizontal/pre-modern spaces; the use of classical elements in defining gender, sexuality, heroic competency, and geopolitical conflict; and the ongoing importance of haptics (i.e. touch), kinesics (i.e. movement), and proxemics (i.e. the use of space) in defining the embodied and emotive world of Bond. This book is comprehensive in nature and scope as it discusses all 24 films in the official Bond canon and theorizes about the future direction of the franchise.
The release of Skyfall in 2012 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the James Bond film franchise. It earned over one billion dollars in the worldwide box office and won two Academy Awards. Amid popular and critical acclaim, some have questioned the representation of women in the film. From an aging M to the limited role of the Bond Girl and the characterization of Miss Moneypenny as a defunct field agent, Skyfall develops the legacy of Bond at the expense of women. Since Casino Royale (2006) and its sequels Quantum of Solace (2008) and Skyfall constitute a reboot of the franchise, it is time to question whether there is a place for women in the new world of James Bond and what role they will play in the future of series. This volume answers these questions by examining the role that women have historically played in the franchise, which greatly contributed to the international success of the films.
For His Eyes Only is a scholarly collection of essays on femininity and feminism in the Bond series. It covers twenty-three Eon productions from Dr. No (1962) to Skyfall (2012) as well as the spoof Casino Royale (1967), considering a range of factors that have shaped the depiction of women in the franchise, including female characterization in Ian Fleming’s novels; the vision of producer Albert R. Broccoli and other creative personnel; the influence of feminism; and broader trends in British and American film and television. The volume provides a timely look at women in the Bond franchise and offers new scholarly perspectives on the subject.
Funnell, Lisa and Klaus Dodds, eds. Special Issue on “James Bond in the Daniel Craig Era.” Journal of Popular Film and Television. 20.46 (2018).
This special issue in the Journal of Popular Film and Television explores the reworking of the James Bond brand across the Daniel Craig era (Casino Royale , Quantum of Solace , Skyfall , and Spectre ) from a range of critical perspectives. It featured articles written by Klaus Dodds, Lisa, Funnell, Nick Jones, Sarah Thomas, Claire Hines, and Christopher Holliday exploring the agencies, moods, places, ans structures of the Daniel Craig era films.
Dodds, Klaus and Lisa Funnell. “Doing Popular Geopolitics and Security: Intersectional and Interdisciplinary Readings of James Bond.” How to do Popular Culture in International Relations. Eds. Sandra Yao and Mark B. Salter. New York: Routledge, (forthcoming 2017).
This chapter reflects on our experiences working together on a various projects exploring the popular geopolitics of James Bond. As a political geographer and a gender and film studies scholar respectively, we have had to learn how to work with, connect, and integrate our varied theoretical and methodological approaches that we brought to the study of film and popular geopolitics. This has resulted in the development of a unique, interdisciplinary, and synergetic lens through which popular culture can be analysed.
Dodds, Klaus and Lisa Funnell. “‘A Relic of the Cold War’: The Elemental Geographies and Geo-Political Legacies in/of James Bond.” Between Star Wars and Glasnost: Cold War Representations and Media Coverage in the 1980s. Eds. Henrik G. Bastiansen, Martin Klimke, and Rolf Werenskjold. (forthcoming 2017).
This chapter focuses on the late Cold War (c. 1974-87). Our periodization is deliberate because it illuminates the way in which ‘elemental formulas’ work in Bond films in the 1970s and 1980s. We address the underappreciated role of the atmospheric, the elemental (air, earth, wind, fire, and ice), and resources like gold, diamonds, silicon, carbon, and sodium. For the evil geniuses that haunt the Bond films, manipulating the elemental, profiting from natural resources, and designing and protecting spherical bodies such as underground bases, space stations, special escape capsules, and secret hideouts were based on the assumption that unwanted intruders such as James Bond and his allies could be foiled. In order to defeat them, Bond we conclude has to go ‘elemental’ and sent powerful feelings about Britain’s role in late Cold War geopolitics.
This introduction highlights the four areas of enquiry addressed by contributors featured in the special “James Bond and the Daniel Craig themed issue of Journal of Popular Film and Television: agencies, moods, places, and structures. It also acknowledges the place of Daniel Craig era in relation to other serial film franchises like the Jason Bourne and Batman series.
This article explores how the Bond Girl concept is being reworked in the Daniel Craig era. First, the archetype is deconstructed across the orphan origin trilogy—Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall—to accommodate the development of a new heroic model in the franchise that focuses more on physical strength and resilience than heterosexual romantic consequence. The qualities typically associated with the Bond Girl are distributed across at least two characters per film and this opens up space for the emergence of women—Vesper Lynd, Camille Montes, and M—who are depicted as outliers to the Bond Girl formula. Second, the archetype is reconstructed and reintroduced in Spectre as Dr. Madeleine Swann can be read as a composite of previous Bond Girls. The film offers a significant reworking of the narratives associated with aforementioned outlier women, bringing key aspects of their characters into the Bond Girl fold while reinstituting a more traditional phallocentric order in the franchise through the (re)positioning of Bond as a successful suitor and romantic hero. While the orphan origin trilogy is revisionist, Spectre is inherently reversionist as it returns the series and its gender politics to a more traditional Bond mode.
This article explores the importance of elemental geographies in the James Bond franchise and how the hero’s encounters with water, air, earth, and fire shape our understanding of him as a character and the missions he completes. On the one hand, Bond is depicted as being “in his element” and his ability to put classical elements to work to his advantage is crucial to shaping the prevailing mood or ‘atmospheres’ to the geopolitical crises and dramas he encounters. On the other hand, Bond villains frequently manipulate, re-engineer, and even poison the elemental as part of their projects to secure geopolitical domination. By securing the elemental, Bond helps to reinforce the dominant Anglo-American security architecture and restrain the potential of the elemental to overwhelm the life he has striven to secure.
This article explores how the shifting geopolitical terrain in 2016—with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump—could impact the way in which James Bond, Britain’s premier super spy, is able to move and execute his secret missions in both subtle and not so subtle ways.
Funnell, Lisa and Klaus Dodds. “The Anglo-American Connection: Examining the Intersection of Class, Nationality, Gender, and Race in James Bond Films.” The Journal of American Culture 38.4 (2015): 357-374.
This article considers the representation and geopolitical significance of Bond’s American allies in order to better understand how Anglo-American geopolitical interests are refracted across the different eras of the franchise. The intersection of nationality with class, gender, and race shapes the reading of American characters and informs the nature of their relationships with Bond. A number of recurring characters and character types appear across the franchise including Felix Leiter, a variety of American Bond Girls, and a handful of minor figures like J.W. Pepper and Jack Wade. But those intersections, however important, are not sufficient in their own right. Bond’s repeated demonstration of what he can do, touch, and feel also matters to the ‘special relationship’. His ability to connect is what makes the relationship special with his American allies—he can push the button at the right moment, seduce a key informant, and sense danger that others cannot. So while Bond may be the ‘junior partner’ operating in a Cold War geopolitical climate dominated by the United States, it is his personal intuition, touch, and movement that allows him to connect with people, objects and sites/spaces, and thus emerge as a dominant/superior figure.
This article examines the significance of James Bond’s body and haptic encounters in the film franchise across various situations, spaces, and contexts. Our discussion of the haptic geographies of James Bond focuses on how his body is defined as being fit, sensual, technical, memorializing, and calculating, as well as the ways in which his body changes in accordance with shifting generic and gendered codes in the franchise. We argue that although Bond might be perceived as a ‘blunt instrument’ in his films, this viewpoint should not obscure the fact that he is also a touchy-feely and sensuous secret agent. Without that touch and without that feel, he would be a ‘dysesthetic instrument’ and ultimately less likely to serve Queen and Country with any great distinction.
Funnell, Lisa. “Objects of White Male Desire: (D)Evolving Representations of Asian Women in Bond Films.” For His Eyes Only: The Women of James Bond. Ed. Lisa Funnell. London, UK: Wallflower Press, 2015. 79-87.
This chapter explores the depiction of Asian women across three key phases of the Bond franchise. In the Connery era (1962-71), Asian women are defined solely in relation to the white male hero and the films foreground the distinction between unacceptable and acceptable Asian femininity. In Dr. No (Terence Young 1962), Miss Taro is conceptualized as a “Dragon Lady” and vilified for challenging the mission and libido of James Bond. In comparison, Aki and Kissy Suzuki in You Only Live Twice (Lewis Gilbert 1967) qualify as Bond Girls for being compliant, submissive, and eager to please. In the Brosnan era (1995-2002), Asian femininity is re-defined through the star persona of Hong Kong action star Michelle Yeoh. Although her character, Wai Lin, is the most physically empowered Bond Girl of the franchise, Tomorrow Never Dies (Roger Spottiswoode 1997) strips away some of her agency by having Bond seduce her at the end of the film. In the Craig era (2006-12), although Severine is initially characterized as a powerful Dragon Lady in Skyfall (Sam Mendes 2012), she quickly devolves into a tragic Lotus Blossom; she is presented as a disposable object of pleasure and struggle between two white men. I will argue that as Severine is one of the most disempowered women in the franchise, Skyfall is regressive in its representation of Asian femininity.
Funnell, Lisa. “For His Eyes Only?: Thoughts on Female Scholarship and Fandom of the Bond Franchise.” Fan Phenomena: James Bond. Ed. Claire Hines. Bristol, UK: Intellect, 2015. 86-94.
I have been studying the James Bond franchise for over a decade and the one question I am most frequently asked is, “how can you, as a woman and feminist, not only study James Bond but also like the films?” This question taps into the longstanding gendered assumptions associated with the Bond franchise. The Bond films are considered to be a masculine (sub)genre of action created by and for men. As a result, spectatorship of Bond has been largely perceived as a masculine endeavor. Contrary to this impression, there are many women like myself who watch, analyze, and enjoy the Bond films. This chapter constitutes my response to this query. By forwarding my perspective as a feminist, scholar, and fan of the Bond series, I carve out a space for the discussion of female scholarship and fandom. While the Bond films are clearly problematic texts, I draw attention to the fact that Hollywood produces few high quality action films that are not overtly sexist and misogynistic in nature. In addition, commercial films designed for women like chick flicks forward traditional gender roles and envisage professional women in similar ways to the Bond Girl. I argue that it is my act of consumption of male culture and not the constitution of images in the Bond series that seems to be cause for concern. This chapter explores how female fandom of James Bond operates in a complex space defined by the patriarchal nature of film production and the gendering of consumption practices that work to delimit and delineate pleasure.
Daniel Craig’s portrayal of James Bond represents a dramatic shift in the serialized character as the franchise moves away from the British lover tradition. Casino Royale presents Bond’s origin story from the moment he attains his 007 licence and introduces a new heroic template informed by Hollywood models of heroic masculinity and the iconography of the Bond Girl conflated through the image of Craig in a swimsuit. As a hybridized character, Craig’s Bond is simultaneously active and passive, masculine and feminine, British and American, Bond and Bond Girl.
Through the characterization and narrative treatment of female villains, the Bond franchise reflects popular attitudes towards changing feminist sentiments. In the 1960s, the Bond films present a ‘backlash’ towards second wave feminist momentum and punish ‘bad’ women with liberal sexualities. In the 1970s and 1980s, female villainy gradually disappears from the series. As the only exception to this trend, May Day (A View to a Kill) is informed by the third wave feminist impulse and her character presents the protofeminist possibility of transgressive female identity in the franchise. Female villains of the 1990s and 2000s are inspired by the emerging Girl Power movement and subsequently disempowered by the shortcomings of postfeminism.
Funnell, Lisa. “From English Partner to American Action Hero: The Heroic Identity and Transnational Appeal of hte Bond Girl.” Heroes and Heroines: Embodiment, Symbolism, Narratives and Identity. Ed. Christopher Hart. Kingswinford, UK: Midrash, 2008. 61-80.
Although the Bond film is a unique hybrid composite of the British spy thriller and Hollywood action flick, the series has become increasingly Americanized over a 20-film 40-year period. This transformation is reflected, most notably, in the image and nationality of the Bond Girl as she transitions through three distinct character phases: English-, American Side-Kick- and American Action Hero Bond Girl. With this shift from English to American heroic identity via iconography and narrative, the Bond Girl emerges as a figural representation of Hollywood’s pervasive transnational appeal and domination of domestic and international film products and markets.