Recently, US radio host Rush Limbaugh said that actor Idris Elba shouldn’t play James Bond because he is black and Ian Fleming wrote the character as a white Scot. This is bullshit.
I’ll admit, as a fan of the James Bond franchise, I can see Limbaugh’s point. Casting a black actor as such a recognisable white character would throw me off just a little, I’m very used to seeing a white actor in the role, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t accept Elba in the role but I would be caught off guard for all of a day or two. Overall though, I really have no personal problem with casting a black guy as Bond, hell, I think Elba could do a decent job, while I don’t think Luther (2010-Present) is nearly as good as most people say, I’ll admit Elba was alright in it. Regardless, he can’t be bad as some other Bond actors…Perhaps a certain Australian actor who starred in what should’ve been one of the most important film of the entire franchise?
That’s right, David Niven
Limbaugh’s argument is nonsense regardless of whether or not you think of it as racist. Anyone who knows anything about the Bond film franchise knows that only one of the actors who has played the character was a Scot and that’s Connery. Lazenby was Australian, Moore and Craig are English, Dalton was Welsh and Brosnan was Irish. Of so a change from Scottish to English isn’t as noticeable as white from black but if we’ve been so loose with the nationality then why does the colour of Bond’s skin matter that much? Hell, Bond isn’t even full Scottish or half English, his mother was Swiss, something that has never been represented in the films. In fact, Ian Fleming liked the idea of a Scottish Bond so much after seeing Connery’s early films that he changed the nationality of the character to match.
I actually think that casting a black actor as Bond would be incredibly beneficial to the black acting community as a whole. Despite the fact that society has made huge bounds forward in terms of racial equality, there are still issues when it comes to equal representation in TV and film. I strongly believe that the only thing an employer should consider when hiring is that person’s skill set and character, it should never be the case that someone is given a job just because there is a quota to be filled. That is bullshit and it is no way to run a successful business. When it comes down to it, the TV and film industry suffers from all the same problems as other industries and this extends to race issues. Casting a black man as one of the most famous fictional characters of all time would be immensely beneficial to the black acting community and that is incredibly worthwhile. Who knows, maybe in 15 years we’ll get a gay Bond or even a disabled Bond.
But never a woman Bond. Because that would be stupid.
Another thing anyone who’s kept up to date with the last 30 years of Bond films knows is that the franchise has changed radically over time and continues to do so. If you compare Dr No (1962) to Live and Let Die (1973) or The Living Daylights (1987) to Goldeneye (1995) or literally any Bond film that went before it to Casino Royale (2006). How can it be considered weird for the franchise to take such a step?
So there you have it. While it might take me aback a bit to see Idris Elba or any black actor for that matter playing one of my favourite characters of all time, I welcome the move. Casting a black actor would be a bold move that fits in well with what the 30 years of Bond films have really been about, modernising the franchise and would greatly improve the position of black actors throughout show business. Limbaugh clearly hasn’t thought his comments through that much, there is no reason whatsoever for Bond to be played exclusively by white actors. Limbaugh’s views are based entirely in ignorance and frankly they betray a great deal of prejudice and ignorance. Casting a black actor as such a famous character would do so much good and for Limbaugh to essentially declare his desire to deny that to the black community is shameful, I mean, can you think of anyone else who could be so much of a douchebag to say “No, this character can’t be played by a person from a certain demographic because tradition even though it would do wonders for actors from said demographics”?