Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Down with Bond villains

You’d think the President of the Royal Society of Chemistry would have better things to do with his time than talk down Bond villains. Shouldn’t he be off discovering new elements and making blue steam emerge from retorts? The current …

Sat, Jan 14, 2012, 20:16

   

You’d think the President of the Royal Society of Chemistry would have better things to do with his time than talk down Bond villains. Shouldn’t he be off discovering new elements and making blue steam emerge from retorts? The current holder of that post, David Phillips, does seem to find the eccentric behaviour of those master-criminals worthy of comment. Professor Phillips argues that for too long our perceptions of nuclear energy have been coloured by goings-on in huge underground bunkers. “Let’s say yes to nuclear and no to Dr No’s nonsense,” he remarked recently. Odd. I suppose Bond villains do often have a reactor in their basement, but it’s not exactly the first thing you think of when considering such satanic masterminds.

Mind you, he is right in suggesting that Fleming’s characters have a malign influence on the public psyche. Just think of all those hideous racial stereotypes. Dr No is not just an evil “Chinaman”, he also (horror of horrors) has some German blood in his veins. Rosa Klebb offered a somewhat unhelpful caricature of  Lesbianism. The less we say about Mr Big in Live and Let Die the sooner the NAACP will recover from an understandable fit of the vapours.Fleming made sure to clarify that Auric Goldfinger was not actually Jewish, but certain queasy odours do hang around that character. A trainee racist could do worse than immerse himself in the Bond back-catalogue.

Never mind all that. The most outrageous slurs in all Fleming’s work — and the the films adapted therefrom — surely appear in the depictions of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (whose name was, apparently, inspired by a relative of the great cricket commentator Henry Blofeld).  I was, just minutes ago, pondering this while cradling the cat in a downstairs room. We’ll let Charles Gray off the hook. But the versions inhabited by Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice and Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service positively seethe with hatred for bald people and cat lovers. “Oh, don’t be so sensitive,” I hear you say. “The baldness and the felinophilia are mere accidents.” Don’t be so naive!  My friends at the National Association for the Advancement of Bald People have long been campaigning for the banning of this manifestation of hate crime from all television screens. Just look at the healthy head of hair on James Bond in the early films. More to the point, remember that — as the thatch began to wither — Sean Connery took to wearing a wig when playing 007. What does that say to you? It’s fine for the megalomaniac villain to sport a shiny dome, but the hero is allowed no such privilege. Good people have hair. Bad people no longer require visits to the barber. The cradling of cats is seen as further evidence of  an unreliable personality.

Think about this. Can you imaging a bond villain wearing his hair over his shoulders? Can you imagine such a fellow feeding choc-treats to a panting beagle? Of course you can’t. You have already been lured into their trap. There is still time to start a campaign. Write to Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall, and demand that the upcoming Bond villain feature a maniac with a hippie haircut and a big, slobbering pooch. This continuing outrage has to be  stopped.