So, as the weather (theoretically) warms up, I’ve been trying to motivate myself to go on more walks… and one powerful incentive is the fact that a charity shop a few miles down the way has started selling their CDs and DVDs for a single pound sterling! Which is why I ended up purchasing the 2-Disc “Collector’s Edition” of Casino Royale (2006) last week, to see how Caterina Murino faired as a “Bond Girl”… and the answer to that question is she did a mighty fine job. It goes without saying that she looks incredibly glamorous and gorgeous throughout, but she also shines during the flirtation and seduction scenes, demonstrating a sly sense of humour and winning charm. The fact that her character’s husband would rather spend his time in the bar playing poker with random strangers (or conspiring in acquisitive acts of terrorism), than back in the hotel room with her is completely and utterly incomprehensible to me! Bizarrely, Bond also ends up giving her the cold shoulder, so I’m left with no one to envy but the horse she rode in on! Thank goodness she chose to do her own “stunts”. Later, Ivana Milicevic appears as ‘Valenka’, the big baddie’s main squeeze… although I can’t recall her uttering a single word during her time on-screen. She does do a bit of shameless mugging during a scene where she’s attacked by her boyfriend’s disgruntled clients, but other than that there’s little evidence of the skilled comic-actress we all know is lurking beneath the beautiful veneer. What a waste! Meanwhile, you can’t blame the filmmakers for wanting to keep Judi Dench on board for this “reboot”… ‘cuz there ain’t nothing like a Dame!
The second disc boasts a fascinating made-for-TV featurette which sees Maryam d’Abo chatting with various Bond Girls about how they came to be involved with the franchise, and how they felt about their work after the fact. It’s interesting to see how the role the Girls play has “evolved” over the years, from largely disposable distractions to kick-ass action chicks in their own right… although a couple of the older actresses still seem proud of having played passive “sex kittens” back in the day. And there are frequent references to female viewers appreciating the Girls as much as male viewers do (albeit for different reasons)… which brings us back to the age old question, “What’s wrong with being sexy?” Just the other day, super-cute punk pin-up Mandy Morbid addressed this very issue on her blog (NSFW!!!), and her post gave me much to think about. As I’ve said before, I sometimes wonder if “male feminist” is an oxymoron, because it’s not always easy to establish a healthy working relationship between my conscience, my intellect and my “dumb stick”. Theoretically, as a writer, I have the power to reinforce, revise or subvert traditional representations of men and women, and with that power comes the responsibility to do as little harm as possible.
But who should be the judge of what is, or is not a “harmful” or degrading representation of women? According to Morbid, “only women themselves have the right to decide that and only on an individual, personal, subjective level based on personal taste which may have nothing to do with feminism and/or sexism. Images you’d like to judge as debasing, others might find empowering… Many, many very smart women see those images and enjoy them or ignore them or have any mix of reactions to them and simultaneously reject all the crap our culture tells them about their worth and value as human begins and as sexual beings and come to their own healthy-happy conclusions based on their own experiences, personality, biology, observations, etc., etc. Not the conclusions of anyone else, and certainly not the conclusions of what some dude on the internet thinks is the academic-acceptable-non-harmful-mainstream conclusion… Women and men both need to get over this stupid fear of woman’s physicality and sexuality and its manufactured Victorian dangers to individual and society’s “long term” health, happiness and stability. It’s a fallacy more damaging than some sexy pictures somewhere ever could be.”
Obviously I want to believe her, because I quite like seeing sexy pictures… but I still feel guilty about writing scripts which might create sexy pictures of my characters, because I worry that I’m just being pervy (or “typing one-handed”, as a friend of mine once put it). Sigh… I do wish reality weren’t so damn subjective sometimes!