Updated: Apr 28
(This is a photo of Hoagy Carmichael, who Ian Fleming thought Bond should look like)
James Bond. 007. Bond, James Bond.
Although it seems like his hold on culture has been losing its grip, it’s clear that James Bond is a mainstay in our culture. I mean, people argue on Twitter (and I assume in other areas of their lives) about who should be the next actor to play Bond in the ongoing film series.
Sorry not sorry to everyone, I’m doing another pop culture episode. I probably will do a lot more, so strap the fuck in.
Why do I care about James Bond? I guess I don’t really…I’m just curious about him because he’s always given me bad vibes.
Also, the way that Americans buy in so hard to British culture is very funny to me considering the fact that they fought a war to get away from them almost 250 years ago…but OK. We love British shit…and that’s weird to me considering…everything. Don’t get it twisted though…I’m not a patriot, I hate this country, but like…it’s just funny.
I didn’t really grow up around Bond content like many people I know did. I have friends whose dads were into both the novels and movies or just the movies. When it came to cop shit, my dad wasn’t really into spies, and he definitely wasn’t into British shit. Really my dad liked the grittiest versions of copaganda. He was into the detectives who wanted to do the “right thing” or cops who were trying to stand up against some corruption in the department or some shit like that and he just liked Tombstone a lot. The man loves Tombstone. So, if we were going to watch a movie that involved these kinds of themes, it was mostly like Steven Seagal and Denzel Washington movies. And sometimes, Turner & Hooch or Kindergarten Cop (which is quite dark, actually). So yeah…not much 007 except for when Goldeneye came out on N64 and we were all obsessed with it despite having very little context for what was happening and why. And personally, I never got into it as I got older because there’s only room in my heart for one series on espionage and it’s Mission Impossible (which fucking rules).
Brendan, what is your experience with James Bond-related media?
Let me be clear about something: I’m not a Bond expert. I didn’t go and watch the movies. I’ve seen a couple by pure happenstance but I didn’t watch any for the research of this podcast so just have a good time and don’t leave us a bad review.
So, my understanding of him is that he’s a spy…which ok. I guess he’s a spy. But what does that mean in terms of like…the labor he does? Naturally, I Googled this:
OK, so he’s not a spy?? He’s an intelligence officer…which to me, sounds like a fake ass job but I guess that’s neither here nor there. He’s a fictional intelligence officer in the British Secret Service, commonly known as the MI6. You’re probably wondering what they do…well, according to friend of the pod, Wikipedia, they are “tasked mainly with the covert overseas collection and analysis of human intelligence in support of the UK's national security.” So, they fucking suck and in my opinion, James Bond also sucks for a laundry list of reasons, but we should probably explore a little more before we officially decide that.
I think most people know about the Bond gadgets, the cars, the women, the fucking martini. And I guess those things do deserve some attention. Thinking about his lavish lifestyle is especially funny to me given that if he was working in the MI6 today at his level of command, he’d be making a little less than 80k in American dollar. Of course, the original creator and author of the James Bond books, Ian Fleming had a cover for that…I’m sure you can guess it…man was born into a wealthy ass family.
So, we’re not really going to talk about that…sorry to disappoint you folks. What I think is most intriguing about the James Bond character are his origins and what he really represents in the geopolitical sphere.
Let’s start with origins because I think that helps us understand his standing overall:
The character of James Bond: an invention of the writer Ian Fleming…almost everything he wrote was about Bond (interestingly, he also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which I just find funny)
He says he based Bond’s character on spies he met while in the Royal Navy
Bringing it back to birds…the real person named James Bond who Fleming stole the name from was an ornithologist – just a little connection treat for ya
Ian Fleming really wanted Bond to be this completely neutral character: “I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, 'James Bond' was much better than something more interesting, like 'Peregrine Carruthers'. Exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure—an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department.”
In his mind, James Bond looked like Hoagy Carmichael, which I feel like you can imagine but here’s a pic:
His intention was for him to be good looking but also not TOO good looking. Just a regular guy doing wild shit…which if you look at a pic of Ian Fleming…it makes sense. He was a regular degular ass dude.
Supposedly, Fleming gave a lot of his own traits to Bond–like his golf handicap, his preference for scrambled eggs, his penchant for gambling, etc. There is no documentation of whether or not Fleming was also getting in that ass like Bond was…seems to me that part was a fantasy.
Some scholars have pointed out that Fleming’s actual inspiration was a man named Porfirio Rubirosa, known to his friends as Rubi
Rubi came from a rich-ish family in the Dominican Republic…in the early 30s, he met the newly elected president of the country (dictator) Rafael Trujillo (far right wing conservative) at a country club and soon after, he became one of the heads of Trujillo’s security. He eventually married Trujillo’s oldest daughter but then they divorced and Trujillo still treated him like a son anyways. THEN soon enough, he became a Dominican diplomat, so he was flying all over the fucking place with diplomatic immunity in tow.
With the money and the lavish lifestyle he lived, it didn’t take long for the international tabloids to notice. They dubbed him the “Casanova of the Caribbean”
And much like James Bond…this guy FUCKED. I mean, he really fucked. Throughout his time as a diplomat, he was linked to Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, and Eva Peron–yeah, Eva fucking Peron–to name a few.
Legend has it that Rubirosa was given a “license to kill” by Trujillo so he was also FUCKING PEOPLE UP…supposedly the diplomat title was just a cover for him to go and kill Trujillo’s enemies internationally.
AND LASTLY, Rubirosa and Fleming were actually homies…they ran in the same circles in the Caribbean and had a lot of friends in common. Rubirosa became a diplomat in 1936 and the first Bond novel didn’t come out until 1953…so seems about right in terms of timing. Also, side note, what the fuck was going on in the 1940s and 50s…everyone was hanging out with fucking murderers and shit?? I don’t get it.
Why isn’t this more commonly known? Well, a lot of people say Fleming hid this info because of racism. That a lot of people wouldn’t think Bond was as cool or whatever as he is if Fleming admitted he was based on a Dominican man. Which…OK, fair. But let’s look at the facts…Fleming was a rich, white British guy who owned a large property with a huge staff in Jamaica. I know he didn’t give a shit about racism. I think, personally, he didn’t want people to know James Bond was based on someone that Americans and British people would deem unacceptable in terms of the kind of work he did. We all know the U.S. and Great Britain try to distance themselves from far-right governments while also supporting them so I think this was just an attempt to keep that information from being part of public consciousness.
James Bond and the Cold War:
OK, so this is where it gets VERY interesting because the ties here are wild.
First, it should be known that Rubirosa–because he was a rich socialite–had a lot of ties to other rich people including…the fucking Kennedys!! We hate ‘em, folks! Here’s more reasons to hate them!
Let’s back it up a little bit…so the Cold War starts in 1947, shortly after WWII ended. We had the alliance between the U.S. and Great Britain essentially waging this weird as war against the Soviet Union because they didn’t want communism to take over all of Eastern Europe. I’m kind of just giving the base level details here, not as much as I know, personally, from actually reading and understanding the history of communism in the USSR and eastern Europe.
So ok…we got the U.S. and Great Britain trying to prevent the spread of communism. And well, being the “good British ex armed forces guy” he was, Fleming HATED communism.
In the books, the anti-communist sentiment is a lot more pronounced than in the movies, but even still, in the movies, you see Bond all over Russia, eastern Europe, China, Japan, the Carribbean (including Cuba), Iran, the countries of North Africa, etc. etc. battling bad guys who want to overthrow governments and shit. You get the idea.
In regards to the movies, especially, the novelist and fellow spy John le Carre, really criticized Bond and the film adaptations for promoting nothing more than consumerism…which, if you really think about it, is the most anti-communist shit they could’ve done. Like, showcasing Bond killing a bunch of dudes wearing t-shirts with the hammer and sickle on it would not get the message about why communism is “bad” clearer than just showing people the “beauty” of being about to buy whatever the fuck they want.
Gadgets = showing what’s possible in a capitalist country, as opposed to the sticks and rocks that communists had to depend on for defense.
Bringing it back to the Kennedys….Bond’s anti-communist slant was so pronounced that even JFK was like “fuck yeah, this guy rules!” I mean, JFK is also a known fan of FUCKING, so I’m guessing that also played into it. But yeah, he loved Bond…
He loved Bond so much that he invited Fleming to his house in D.C. to hang out like bros, and fun fact: Fleming suggested that the way JFK could finally get Castro out of office was by dropping money all over Cuba with tags that say “compliments of the U.S.”...that sick fuck!!
According to sources, JFK cited “From Russia With Love”....perhaps the most anti-Soviet book of all the Bond books as his favorite book when he was newly elected and the shit became a bestseller after that…SICK. He then persuaded the studio that produced the first Bond “Dr. No” to fucking make “From Russia With Love” next and they fucking did it!! I’m sorry, but this is just funny to me at this point…like CLEARLY engaging in propagandizing. And then at the same time, he’s hanging out with far-right dudes like Rubirosa who even tried to convince JFK to support Trujillo’s brother in taking over the DR after Trujillo was assassinated (I assume also by the U.S. but I didn’t look into this).
Obviously, JFK was killed by…also us probably...BUT he did get to see a rough cut of “From Russia With Love” like 2 days before he died. Dope.
A N Y W A Y S
It’s really interesting when you think of this in terms of American leadership. Like, JFK campaigned under the idea that the U.S. was a weak ass country, and what does every weak ass country need? It needs a man like James Bond who’s gonna BEAT ASS. And some political leaders kind of position themselves as that. I think JFK kinda did…but ultimately, obviously, he didn’t get to beat ass.
JFK was just moralizing everywhere and shit and saying that communism was bad, and at the end of the day……he was hanging out with fucking Rubirosa. So, what does this teach us about trusting the U.S. government?? They suck ass!! Why should we care what they say???
So, yeah…..James Bond fucking sucks. And I would bet that he’s still being used as propaganda, though again, I haven’t seen the movies to know for sure what exactly they’re propagandizing against. Probably still communism because that’s still the West’s greatest fear.
Bottom line: the only respectful thing about James Bond is that he’s a slut