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License to Killjoy

As Tom Wolfe wrote, paraphrasing Malcolm Muggeridge, “We live in an age in which it is no longer possible to be funny. There is nothing you can imagine, no matter how ludicrous, that will not promptly be enacted before your very eyes, probably by someone well known.” Back in October, while Harvey Weinstein was being defenestrated near-daily in the news, Rob Long, as part of his “The Long View” column in the dead tree edition of National Review, wrote up a satiric lawsuit featuring a dozen Bond girls suing the living daylights (sorry) out of Her Majesty’s swinging secret agent.

The above-named plaintiffs — and others to be included at a later date — allege that in separate instances the above-named defendant, James Bond, repeatedly made unwanted advances upon their persons, in locations including public areas, private hotel rooms, corporate-jet interiors, ski slopes, and hollowed-out volcano hideaways. Further, plaintiffs claim that defendant refused to accept their demurrals, would not take “No” for an answer, and in some instances used his considerable latitude vis-à-vis License to Kill etc. to coerce, intimidate, blackmail, and relentlessly pursue the plaintiffs into unwanted situations.

Half the article is behind the NR subscriber paywall, but you get the gist of it: how could James Bond survive in the Weinstein-inspired #Metoo era? It turns out that maybe he can’t.

On Friday, London’s Sunday Express ran the headline, “James Bond: Millennials SLAM old movies ‘Sexist, racist and Sean Connery's 007 is rapist'":

He’s a womanising assassin from an age gone by, but is James Bond offensive?

In her debut as M in 1995’s Goldeneye, Judi Dench said to Pierce Brosnan’s 007: “I think you're a sexist, misogynist dinosaur.

“A relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, though lost on me, obviously appealed to that young girl I sent out to evaluate you.”

Now millennials, who recently voiced their offence at 1990s sitcom Friends, have taken to Twitter again to criticise older Bond movies.

One wrote: “Watching old James Bond movies and realised: Dude was low key a rapist.”

Another said: “In the early films, James Bond was a full on rapist! #goldfinger.”

While one tweet read: “Watching old school Sean Connery James Bond movies. He's basically a rapist who occasionally murders a Russian person.”

Are we really at a point where every past movie or TV show must be slowly and carefully explained to hyper-judgmental millennials in full Maoist cultural revolution “ban all the things!” mode? If so, this does not bode well for both future movies, and for protecting the past. In the 1993 book Bond and Beyond, 007 and Other Special Agents, author Thomas Soter described that the creators of the James Bond movie series deliberately attempted with the first Bond movie in 1962, Doctor No, to make their character an anti-hero, a hard-living paid assassin whom the audience would root for, long before the campy Roger Moore era: