Thursday, April 16, 2015

Harlot's Ghost Again - at the UN!

In Harlot’s Ghost, Norman Mailer’s 1991 exploration of the morally tone-deaf world of the CIA, a character offers himself for buggery as an act of hierarchic submission.

Something of that sort has just happened at the UN, where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was the one who bent over – to make a UN envoy of actor Daniel Craig, the incumbent “licensed to kill” James Bond.

What’s the logic of associating the UN with an envoy who glorifies serial killing?

Other than the fact that the British got Ban his job, nothing at all.

James Bond is a relic of the time when the British thought nothing of creating a dashing fictional character to hide in plain sight the real life Hastings Lionel Ismay (1887-1965), the man responsible for the deaths of figures ranging from Rasputin and Franklin Roosevelt to Mahatma Gandhi.

But seven decades down the pike, things have changed.

If movie hit men now are not to be seen as psychopaths they must be either semi-comic figures (Mr. & Mrs Smith) or tortured souls (Jason Bourne).

And Bond can’t be either. His character is too well established. Consider this exchange from Casino Royale:

Vesper Lynd: It doesn't bother you? Killing all those people?
James Bond: Well I wouldn't be very good at my job if it did.

And there is also the question of how people around the world perceive the British.

A poll would probably show they’re seen far more like Mr. Bean than swashbuckling James Bond.

So, from Bond’s perspective, there’s desperate need for some sort of respectable political cover.

Being a UN envoy is not exactly heavy duty political cover, but then nothing can really help when Bond is required to battle Mexican drug traffickers in his next film.

Perhaps the only hope for the seriously anachronistic franchise is for Bond to discover that M is the drug trafficking kingpin and the Queen her primary protector.

Which wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

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