Sunday, November 02, 2008

James Bond R.I.P.

We went to the cinema on Friday evening to view the newest James Bond 007 offering, Quantum of Solace.

Watching this film, I was somehow reminded of Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s classic retort to Senator Dan Quayle during their vice-presidential debate in 1988: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.” While Quantum of Solace was an entertaining action film, even more entertaining in many ways than its predecessor Casino Royale, neither unfortunately was a James Bond film.

Turning their backs on the audience base that has generously sustained the James Bond motion picture franchise throughout the years, the current production team has elected to pander to the supposedly more lucrative 16-24 year-old X Box generation. The Cambridge-educated blue blood spy with a Belgravia address and a bespoke tailor on Savile Row has been replaced by an unsophisticated and humourless blue collar mercenary. The glamorous jet set lifestyle that we all were allowed to vicariously live, along with the witty dialogue laced with the well-placed double entendre, has made way for the violent gunfire, fisticuffs, and demolition car chases of a Grand Theft Auto video game. No big surprise then that many of the twenty-four advertisement trailers that were screened prior to the start of the film were for video games and other youth-targeted product.

The same blind pursuit for the 16-24 demographic audience has this week led to the resignation of one BBC Radio 2 personality and the three-month suspension of another. What some within the British media have dubbed a culture war between the generations, there has been a national debate this week over the differences in good and bad taste, and what is and is not acceptable to be broadcast across the airwaves by the license fee-supported BBC; a debate that has even included comment by the Prime Minister.

It wasn’t Auric Goldfinger’s laser or the many devices that were at the beck and call of Ernst Stavro Blofeld that brought an end to the James Bond that I knew. It was a far more sinister weapon: Blind greed.

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