They call him Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; the man with the license to kill; the most famous – and perhaps infamous – secret agent in history; his call sign is 007 and his name, we all know the immortal line, is Bond… James Bond. By investigating two films from the Bond franchise, GoldenEye (1995, Martin Campbell) and Casino Royale (2006, Martin Campbell) this dissertation will demonstrate that these James Bond films are depictions of the geopolitical and sociocultural values of the time in which they were made. The research will be divided into two parts. Part One will investigate the representation of women while Part Two will focus on the representation of masculinity, conflict and geopolitics in the respective case studies. Each part will begin by contextualising the case studies within the zeitgeist1, or socio-cultural values and perceptions, of the decades in which they were made. Thus Part One begins with a discussion of the state of feminism and gender equality in the 1990s and 2000s. Part Two begins with an investigation of the socio-cultural values and perceptions of masculinity, conflict and geopolitics in the same two decades. Each part then continues by identifying how these socio-cultural values are clearly reflected by the respective case studies.
The reason for dividing this research into these two parts is simple. This dissertation argues that socio-cultural values and perceptions of women do not experience a significant 1
The way in which this dissertation utilises the term ‘zeitgeist’ is usefully mapped out by Marshal in A Dictionary of Sociology: “The characteristic spirit (Geist) of a historical era (Zeit) [...] most fully developed by Hegel [who argued that] works of art [...] cannot transcend the spirit of the age in which they are produced” (1998: available online). Hegel’s notion that art – or, in this case, film – “cannot transcend the age in which [it is] produced” (ibid) ties in neatly with this dissertation’s argument that these two popular films reflect the socio-cultural values – or “characteristic spirit” – of their times.
Further, just as “the term zeitgeist has come to more loosely describe the general cultural qualities of any period, such as ‘the sixties’” (ibid), so this dissertation’s use of the term will refer to the “general cultural qualities” of the nineties and 2000s.
change between the 1990s and the 2000s. It thus follows that the way in which women are represented in the Bond films from these respective decades does not differ greatly. In fact, it will prove that female characters in both films conform to exactly the same narrative structures and ideology.
In contrast to this Part Two will demonstrate that a significant change occurred in the socio-cultural values of masculinity, conflict and geopolitics between the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. In terms of these issues the two case studies, while merely a decade apart, are products of vastly different times. The world of the 1990’s (post Cold War; post Gulf War; on the cusp of the millennium; technology obsessed and technology anxious) stands in stark contrast to the world of the mid 2000’s (post 9/11; during ongoing and bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; post the coming of the millennium and enduring an elusive terrorist fear). The result is that, in contrast to the representation of women, the representations of masculinity, conflict and geopolitics in the two case studies are vastly different.
These differences in subject matter influence the structure of Part One and Part Two. Part One argues a continuing trajectory in socio-cultural values which can be traced through both case studies. As a result it addresses the two films separately and chronologically, beginning with GoldenEye. This allows the dissertation to clearly delineate the depiction of women in the first film and then illustrate how the second followed on this depiction almost exactly. Part Two takes a different...
References: White 's in Violent Femmes: Women as Spies in Popular Culture (2007). White’s essential point
of departure is to acknowledge that these women are represented as "active, intelligent and
male viewer. White writes this with reference to “female spies in the 1990s [...] in films like La
Femme Nikita (Luc Besson, 1990) and [its] American remake Point of No Return (John Badham,
from Inness (2004). In her introduction to Action Chicks (2004) she outlines not only her own
opinion but that of several of the authors who contributed to her anthology about tough
representation [...] demanded by the ideology of the patriarchal order” (1990: 33-34)31. But
this ideology, as Mulvey described, suffers “anxiety” because of the “alien presence” of the
woman (1990: 35 & 33). This was written in 1975, describing a passive female, one can only
imagine what anxiety the tough, capable action women of the 1990s and thereafter must
“fetish objects [...] so that it becomes reassuring rather than dangerous” (1990: 35).
Further proof of this ideological packaging and consumption of women is clearly
illustrated by Andrade (2003) whose study is based in factual, rather than theoretical, analysis.
neglected story of the individual human experience [...] as opposed to common
theorizations of group viewing behaviour (2003: 50).
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