Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz has been making headlines this week for saying something fairly obvious: James Bond shouldn’t be played by a woman. In an interview with The Telegraph, the actress (who happens to be married to the current 007, Daniel Craig) said a woman shouldn’t play James Bond because “women are really fascinating and interesting, and should get their own stories.” Uh-oh movie fans, did someone in Hollywood just imply that men and women are different?
Rachel Weisz interview: 'Should there be a female Bond? No, women deserve their own stories' https://t.co/HnkRJ4prvI
— Telegraph Film (@TelegraphFilm) February 10, 2018
Idris Elba (who has long been the fan favorite to be the next James Bond) suggested last month that perhaps the role should go to a woman. Lots of big-name actresses have expressed interest — including Gillian Anderson (of X-Files fame) and Emilia Clarke (AKA Mother of Dragons) — and the internet is rife with articles suggesting the best women for the job. The way I see it, there’s only one problem: 007 is a man.
As Rachel Weisz put it, James Bond’s character is “particularly male and relates in a particular way to women.” One could argue that the entire idea of James Bond is that he’s a man. He shoots, he drinks, he sleeps around. He’s cool as ice, sophisticated and sharp, he wears a tuxedo and a sardonic smirk, and he never lets emotions get in the way of his job. Pretend for a minute you’ve never heard of James Bond. Was that the description of a woman? I don’t think so.
But this is the whole point. If Hollywood could make a movie with a female James Bond, it would prove a key feminist point: that a woman is no different than a man. Yohana Desta at Vanity Fair responds to Weisz’s comments saying, “Women certainly deserve to anchor franchises on the same scale as Bond. But in a world where we still don’t even have a Black Widow movie, those franchises are few and far between.” Well, right. If you’re looking for blockbuster movies with leading ladies instead of leading men, you’re going to have to make different movies.
Weisz’s comments are completely accurate. It’s not that women shouldn’t be featured in movies — nor is it that movies about women are destined to fail because of the patriarchy — it’s that movies that feature women acting like men are going to fail because nobody actually wants to watch that.
The notion that, in order to be equal to men, women must become men is probably one of the most nonsensical tenets of feminism. Are we strong, empowered women? Are are we helpless copycats who acknowledge that everything male is superior to everything female?
When Weisz says that women should “get their own stories” she isn’t saying that women aren’t worthy of James Bond. She’s saying that women are better than that. They don’t need to ride on the coattails of men — copying everything men do in the hopes that it will make them just as powerful — they can shine all by themselves by being themselves.
By maintaining that female characters have to make it in male roles, feminists have set themselves up for failure. But that’s the way they want it. If, in trying — and failing — to portray male protagonists as female, they make flop after flop, they’ll “prove” how sexist “the system” is. And, if movies featuring women acting like women are more successful, they’ll “prove” that the patriarchy still exists. Hooray, we’re still oppressed, feminists win.
But Weisz is right, men and women are different. There’s no reason why a film about women can’t be successful. But it won’t be a shoot ‘em up spy flick. It’ll be a love story, an internal struggle, a tale of courageous war brides keeping the home fires burning, or a widowed mother trying to make ends meet. The woman will be strong the way women are strong, powerful the way women hold power.
But who am I kidding? Those movies will never get made. Not when we can have Jane Bond.