Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Skyfall: Bond's Body - Part I

If you haven't seen Skyfall yet get your silly ass back on the bandwagon and go see.
Then read this post :)

ass firmly on the bandwagon.

The inspiration for this post arrived in a moment of delicious serendipity. 

Leafing casually through the Metro (because reading the Metro earnestly is never a good look), your honourable blogger decided to peruse a review of the new Bond film, only to find the following phrase, turned with what can only be described as an uncommonly absurd brilliance, and describing how Daniel Craig...

thrusts himself around the screen like an urgent penis – a penis pulling a ‘serious’ face. 


Fighting the urge to blurt the line verbatim to fellow passengers, who no doubt could have done with a bit of penis blurting action to liven their day, it dawned upon your honorable blogger that this was not his first dalliance with 007’s appendage, and a distant memory of a dreary afternoon in Cambridge University Library swirled into view:

Cambridge University Library, aka towering phallus of intellectual might.

James Bond’s Penis” is a scholarly article by Toby Miller, spotted whilst pretending to leaf earnestly through the equally wordy Masculinity: Bodies, Movies, Culture. And whilst there are other similarly (ahem) intriguing titles in this volume - “Suck, Spit, Chew, Swallow: A Performative Exploration of Men’s Bodies” providing, as we might guess, an academically rigorous enquiry into the social mores of Soho on a Friday night - we must stick to the case in hand. 

Despite subsequent and ill-advised attempts to trend #urgentpenis, it stands that Larushka Ivan-Zadeh’s joke at the expense of Craig’s macho bravado plays cleverly on the entirely earnest assertion of masculinity which underpins the Bond phenomenon. 

The classic character resume goes something like: 

Every man wants to be him, every woman wants to be with him. 

Babes this is totes a style personal best for you. WERQ.

And a phenomenon it is: Skyfall continues to break box office records around the world, whilst the virtually inescapable press hysteria and barrage of Bond editorials is truly astonishing; all of which demonstrate a truly global reach and confirm the franchise’s position as hugely important cultural artefact. 

Hey Girl, I'm part of film franchise which totes reinforces misogynistic values, but I can be cute sometimes.

If you want to go academic on Bond’s ass, feel free, courtesy of The Bond Phenomenon: A Critical Reader, just one of many academic volumes on the subject, as we ask the question:

What does the success of Skyfall tell us about our culture: men, women, and Britain today? 

dying to know if that's Burberry...

Skyfall is an intelligent film, acutely aware of its 50-year heritage, and researching this post has uncovered a mine of intelligent comment about Bond, from analysis of the artwork featured, to a detailed account of the cultural transmission the “every man wants to be him” meme has undergone.

Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) between Bond's legs, with Modigliani's Woman with a Fan (1919) in the background.
A woman framed and woman framed. Discuss.

There are, of course, more amusing things to be found too, especially when trying to track down a link for an article called “James Bond’s Penis”. For example, “Gay Fitness, Health, and Life” site RealJock (LOL) considers Daniel Craig and asks the pivotal question:


So now we’ve blabbed on quite a lot – sorry guys but Bond’s Penis is, like, totally, a really important topic – so let’s look at some Skyfall stuff. 

The Bond films featuring Daniel Craig have seen increasing emphasis placed on his physicality - weapons and gadgets are totes only for geeks (silly weak beta-males). Apart from guns obviously, because a gun is basically a metal dick that kills people. FUCK YEAH. 

flattering angle...

Anyway, Bond’s bodily strength and aspirational masculinity reflect the demands made upon a modern male film star: a six pack is basically a fait accompli. So Daniel Craig can kill people and look ridiculosa hot whilst doing so.

The beach scene in Casino Royale makes a refreshingly alternative homage to the “iconic” Bond moment where Ursula Andress emerged bikini-clad from the sea (primordial femininity anyone?), and signals a more overt sexualisation of the hero himself for a modern, flesh-hungry audience. 
(side note: is this Tom Daley in 10 years?)

Oh hi

Following this logic, contemporary Bond is more frequently injured and even subject to torture as his usually dominant physicality is threatened. This can be seen in the opening of Die Another Day, and also in the infamous bollock whack torture scene in Casino Royale (oh god eyes watering at the very thought). 

No-one can really remember what happened in Quantum of Solace because it’s so aggressively bad - let’s skip through unless anyone has anything to add? No? Thought so. 

If you’ve seen Skyfall then you’ll already recognise the body problems Bond faces, and there’s a lot to explore, but to wrap up Part I let’s have a look at a poster: 

We feel sad for the suit :(
Daniel Craig slides into view on his back and the larger-than-life, billboard proportions of his body fill the poster, as gritty punch-throwing masculinity bursts into our field of vision. 

Gun out (lol), Craig lies in a defensive position defending his crotch from an unseen threat (we do love a good unseen threat), yet manages to maintain that certain suave sartorial poise we associate with Bond.

It's more or less the male equivalent of a pin-up image, and has a lot to say as an icon of Bond-brand masculinity in 2012.

But that's for next time… MUHAHAHAH… no seriously literally / hopefully see you then :)

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