Your RDA of Irony

Rue Britannia

Over the weekend, I saw “Casino Royale.”  This film is certainly the first intelligent, psychologically insightful interpretation of James Bond.  Perhaps we can now anticipate an equally profound and mature reconsideration of “Gidget Goes Hawaiian.”  The fact is that James Bond is an male adolescent fantasy.  Insight and sensitivity are not merely irrelevant to James Bond, they are the antithesis of what his audience wants.  Pubescent boys like mindless thrills and gravity-defying bosoms. 

I recall a discussion among my fellow seventh graders.  The topic was neither the decline of the British Empire nor the influence of Stanislavsky in Joseph Wiseman’s portrayal as “Dr. No.”  We were debating whether or not Ursula Andress really was nude in one scene. 

“Casino Royale” is not a complete betrayal of adolescent expectations.  The stunts are thrilling, the carnage is spectacular but tidy (the way Martha Stewart would want her eye gouged out), and the cleavage of actress Eva Green will inspire a new generation of seventh grade males.

Yet, with its world-weary disillusionment and cynicism, “Casino Royale” might be the James Bond story that John Le Carre would have written.  And the ultimate concession to a grim reality is the casting of Daniel Craig.  It seems that Great Britain now can only afford a working class James Bond.   

In fact, I was surprised that Craig was not denounced by Conservatives….

“He’s too fish-and-chips!” lamented William Kristol over the selection of Daniel Craig as the new James Bond.  Although often mistaken for a hobbit, Mr. Kristol actually models himself after Ian Fleming’s dashing international spy. “Bond was my inspiration. Because of those movies, I learned about fine wines and sports cars, and how to kill Maureen Dowd with just one karate chop.”“But look at Craig. He is a warm-beer-swilling, soccer-rowdy bloke. Minimal education and fewer teeth. If he were ever on Savile Row, it would be to clean the chimneys. In fact, maybe he should be in a remake of Mary Poppins, except he looks the type who’d get drunk and beat Mary.”Such hysteria was widespread among the twenty-three Republican intellectuals. David Frum, the celebrated author of two-thirds of the phrase “Axis of Evil”, rued the eroding standards of casting. “Now the villains will speak better English than James Bond. Given Britain’s role as America’s stooge, I can see why James Bond should be servile. But you can be servile and articulate. Butlers are required to be.”

George Wills joined in the mourning. “Is this a James Bond who can quote La Rochefoucauld? Is this a James Bond who can even pronounce La Rochefoucauld. Bond is the embodiment of British history and literature. He is Lord Byron with penicillin. He has the valor of Henry V and the politics of Richard III. To play James Bond, you must represent Western Civilization as well as kill for it.”

Of course, the most shrill reaction was from Ann Coulter. She questioned the loyalty of the new James Bond. “You know those socialist working class types. He’ll want to unionize the secret service. When he is taking his Saturday night bath, you can hear him singing ‘The Internationale.’ And you can imagine what he’ll be singing to his fellow proletariat in Cuba and China!” When Ms. Coulter was informed that the British traitors in MI6 actually were aristocratic Cambridge graduates, she pretended not to hear.
After a whimpering request from Tony Blair, the White House defended the performance of Daniel Craig. “Poverty and humiliation don’t necessarily make you sensitive and compassionate,” explained Tony Snow.  “Mr. Craig could be a skinhead. Look at his record. In ‘The Road to Perdition’ he was embezzling his own father and then killed a woman and child to cover it up. That shows a genuine commitment to Free Enterprise.”

Ms. Coulter was not appeased. “So we’re supposed to be optimistic, to hope that Daniel Craig is a skinhead! Let him prove it by beating up Ben Kingsley.”


  1. Richard Greb says:

    Of course, this is a return to basics — the first of Ian Fleming’s works finally getting the main series treatment. Craig, therefore, is pre-Connery and, so I hear, since I’ve not seen it yet, the best since I spent college time off taking in sequential showings of Dr. No and Goldfinger and, yes, mooning over Ursula, not Sean..

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