Yes, Idris Elba Can Be James Bond

September 1st, 2018 | R. Rados
idris elba james bond

This is an indirect response to everyone who has been saying that Idris Elba can't—or shouldn't—play James Bond. In particular, it's a response to a video done for The Rebel by British provocateur and alarmist, Katie Hopkins. Like all the other critics opposed to Idris Elba playing James Bond, Katie tries to tell us that her opposition has nothing to do with the colour of Elba's skin—only to tell us, a few sentences later, that her opposition has everything to do with the colour of his skin.

Any person who claims to have purged identity politics from their system shouldn't care what colour James Bond is. However, with that said, James Bond should never be played by a woman. Unlike the issue of race, gender still makes James Bond who he is: a suave, womanizing man with masculine characteristics. A female Jane Bond just wouldn't be the same, due mostly to the lack of testosterone and the science behind its role in making men masculine. The colour of Bond's skin has no bearing on his character, charisma or abilities.

Katie Hopkins tries to make her argument against Idris Elba sound logical, but it isn't. Not even close.

Hopkins opens her video segment by saying, “No, Idris Elba, you cannot be James Bond. You will not be 007.” She then says, “It's not because you're a gentleman of colour, it's because James Bond isn't.”

In her first few sentences, Hopkins tells us it has nothing to do with Idris Elba being black, it has to do with James Bond being white. Idris Elba cannot be James Bond because James Bond is white. James Bond is not a man of colour, but Idris Elba is. Therefore, Idris Elba cannot be James Bond, even though it has nothing to do with Idris Elba being a gentleman of colour—or something. Well, I guess the debate is settled then.

Not so fast.

If you actually found any kind of logic in Hopkins' opening statement, email me your address so I can send you a fucking dunce cap. Wear it and stand in the corner, because her video goes on to explain the reasons why Idris Elba is too black to play James Bond and those reasons are equally moronic and inaccurate.

Hopkins says that James Bond was written as a rich, white, arrogant white guy who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and into a rich, well-connected Swiss family. That's almost true, but then she goes on to say that Bond is written to portray an older generation and a time long passed, when women had big boobs, men were men and chivalry was still a thing. She's still right, but over the generations James Bond has evolved—that's what has made him and the franchise so popular and given him his longevity. Secondly, black men are capable of being wealthy, well-connected and chivalrous.

Even if James Bond is a “sexist relic of the Cold War era”, there is no reason he can't be black. James Bond and his technology, cars and women have evolved to fit the 21st Century, but that doesn't mean his personality has changed or that his trademark machismo and charisma need to change. James Bond being written as a relic of the Cold War would matter more if the newest James Bond films existed during the Cold War era, but they don't. James Bond can still be James Bond, but the world around him is vastly different than it was during the Cold War. Therefore, all of this needs to be taken into account when writing all future Bond films.

James Bond could still be a relic of the Cold War as a black man. James Bond no longer needs to be white to fit the arrogant, rich guy mold. Bond's race has no bearing on his status as a rich, arrogant, spoon-fed womanizer when modern, post-Cold War demographics are taken into consideration. Just like the cars and women around him, James Bond can adapt to the modern world while still maintaining his status.

Demographics and 21st Century standards don't matter in the unrealistic Bond universe, but even if they did—according to modern demographics—Bond's Swiss and Scottish heritage would no longer be confined to one race.

The Well-Connected Swiss Family

As of 2016, Switzerland was home to nearly 100,000 people of African descent. Furthermore, Switzerland is one of the world's most diverse countries—so diverse, it really doesn't even have its own language. A majority of Swiss speak German and French, while 8% speak Italian. By European standards, Switzerland is a melting pot (or stew pot) of culture. Racially, Switzerland has become more diverse since World War II.

Since 1980, Switzerland's African population has rapidly grown from just over 10,000 to approximately 100,000.

A big portion of Switzerland's millionaires are born outside Switzerland. Even so, as the country's native-born black community grows, more blacks will likely take positions at the top. In 2016, Switzerland added 50,000 new millionaires to its list. This means the likelihood of a wealthy, black Swiss family rising to the top is higher than it was 30 years go. As time goes on, the likelihood will grow—as will the likelihood of James Bond being from a wealthy, black Swiss family.

This means that Katie Hopkins' assertion that Idris Alba “will not be James Bond” because he is black is probably false. Also, in the books, only James Bond's mother was Swiss, his father was Scottish and James was orphaned at the age of eleven. In the films, his guardian is an Austrian named Hannes Oberhauser. So there's that.

The Scottish Side

It turns out, there are a lot of blacks in Scotland because of the country's role in the slave trade. Blacks only make up about 1% of the Scottish population, but 3% of the UK population. If you think this somehow reduces the likelihood of there being prominent, wealthy blacks in the UK or Scotland, think again. There is a guy named Idris Elba who is a wealthy and prominent black guy from the UK.

James Bond's father was a weapon's salesman for a company called Vickers. The films don't talk much about him, but in the books he travelled a lot and died in a mountain climbing accident along with James' mother. In terms of race, anyone can be a weapons dealer, a rock climber or a traveller. Race has no bearing on any of this and wouldn't likely infringe on any of the franchise's most sacred bits.

Whites Playing Black Roles

It's easy to imagine the outrage, as Hopkins says, if a white person were to portray Shaft. The outrage seems to have no limits, as we've seen with the controversy surrounding non-transgender women playing transgender roles and white women playing Japanese roles. But, that's how identity politics works. If we want to break the mold, we should lead by example.

Identity politics is still identity politics when one side tries to beat the other side by complaining about identity politics, but then uses the same racial tribalism to prove a point. To the ordinary person, it looks like a big mess of hypocrisy.

Yes, there would be a shit-storm if a white man was cast in the role of Shaft, but who cares. I'm ok with Shaft never being a white guy. Creating our own racial, tribalistic factions doesn't solve anything. People despise hypocrisy. Hypocrisy automatically disqualifies a person's argument. The minute we smell hypocrisy, our brains dismiss the argument. This means you can't win an argument by being a hypocrite. It just doesn't work.

Preaching against the very things you condone with your actions makes you a hypocrite, even if you're trying to prove a point. Your point will disappear into a big, black abyss of percieved hypocrisy, no matter how much sense you think it makes.

Don't Worry About Realism

Unless the Code Name Theory is correct, James Bond has been a secret agent jumping out of helicopters, seducing women and kicking the crap out of super villains on the big screen for 55 years... without aging. On the grounds of realism, this makes any racial facts and statistics totally irrelevant, meaning that the colour of James Bond's skin matters even less. Unless you can find me a vampire cult or family of ageless immortals from Switzerland and Scotland, realism shouldn't be considered a major feature of the 007 franchise.

If the Code Name Theory is correct (likely isn't), James Bond's race still doesn't matter.

In fact, if James Bond and 007 are continuous code names for different people, James Bond's actual lineage and nationality could vary widely, meaning that he could easily be black, Indian, asian or whatever race producers and audiences wanted him to be. The statistical make-up of the UK is able to accomodate any race in 2018.

In Skyfall and other films, the Code Name Theory has been mostly disproven, but that doesn't mean the franchise won't ever consider making 007 and James Bond a code name in the future by killing off the current character and having a new person take on the James Bond moniker in the current storyline. At the moment, the last two Bond films grossed nearly $2 Billion, so killing off James Bond and turning him into a continuous code name inhabited by various different personalities seems unlikely. Even so, there is no logical or valid reason why James Bond can't be black within the current canon.

James Bond can be black, he just can't be a woman.