Is there anything better than a James Bond movie? Well how about a James Bond movie with a transgender James Bond?
Wait, what? You don’t think that’s better? I’m sorry, but I really think you need to check your cis privilege. Transgender people in roles where they’re characters who weren’t originally transgender makes anything better. Just don’t ask a straight person to play a trans individual, or else you’re a vile bigot.
In the latest piece of evidence that there’s literally no piece of art or pop culture that liberals claim cannot be improved upon if it’s politicized (provided the politics are theirs, of course), a top British actor says that the next 007 should be a trans male.
Now, of course, the role of the British super spy is usually played by a high-profile actor and there really isn’t any trans actor of that stature at the moment. But that’s just fine as far as Dominic West is concerned. In fact, West (best known for playing Jimmy McNulty on “The Wire”) doesn’t even think the next Bond should be an actor at all. Why not just put a high-ranking transgender British soldier in the role?
How could this possibly fail? And by “How could this possibly fail?” what I actually mean is, how could this possibly avoid being a total disaster?
According to The Times of London (subscription required), West wants Hannah Graf — the highest-ranking transgender soldier in Albion’s army — to take over from Daniel Craig after he completes his fifth and final film as Bond.
“She’s a beautiful blonde girl who could be Bond,” West said. “That’s actually a brilliant idea. They should have a transgender Bond because there are a lot of transgender people in the army.”
Wait, what? Want to run that one by me again? Nearest I can tell, nobody at The Times asked a follow-up question inquiring about the specifics of West’s self-described “brilliant idea.” Instead, we were treated to a description of how the actor became acquainted with the individual he says should be the next Bond.
“West met Graf after he appeared alongside her actor husband, Jake, a transgender man, in his latest film ‘Colette,'” the paper noted.
“When The Sunday Times told Graf, who has done a tour of Afghanistan, that West had recommended her for the role of the fictional secret service agent, she was ‘taken aback.'”
Well, join the club. I’d like to thank Graf for patriotic service, but I can’t think of a single person on God’s green earth who would rather watch Graf in the role of Bond instead of, say, Idris Elba. (Who, as we all know, should clearly be the next 007. If you disagree, I’m sorry — you’re wrong. This is scientifically provable, folks. Get with the program.)
“I’m very flattered that Dominic thought of me. I don’t think I’m going to become an actress any time soon, but there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a transgender Bond,” Graf said.
Graf also said that now that there’s a female Doctor Who, there ought to be a female James Bond, too.
“We’ve seen too many men in hero-type roles and women playing second fiddle,” Graf said.
“I think it would be amazing to have a woman who is more than capable of being a hero in a story. A woman Bond would be a great role model for girls.”
I don’t know how familiar you are with “Doctor Who,” but let’s just pause for a second and delve into geekery.
The character of The Doctor, an extraterrestrial being who’s able to traverse epochs due to his/her mastery of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff (and possession of a very capable telephone booth), can discard their human form when they’re dying and take on a new one.
This is a convenient plot device whenever an actor decides they’ve had enough of the character (or the BBC decides they’ve had enough of said actor), but it also allows The Doctor to be pretty much whoever the producers want. Not only do the characters’ bodies vary, but their mannerisms and personalities do, too. This means that The Doctor can be anyone — male, female, white, black, Asian, gay, straight, transgender, British, Armenian, whatever.
While the actor who plays 007 may change, the variance in the character itself isn’t all that great. Bond is a womanizing Britisher who enjoys drink and danger. He isn’t an introvert. He doesn’t suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. He’s not the kind of person who stays home all weekend and binge-watches “Black Mirror” on Netflix. He’s not transgender. He’s not a woman.
In the realm of fiction, all of these things are character traits. They’re neither positive nor negative. If you personally have these traits and/or want to see them represented more comprehensively in film and television, that’s fine. You don’t get to demand that an established character — particularly one so affixed in the firmament of popular culture — be permanently altered for reasons of political correctness.
In my case, I’ve been open in my writing about the fact that I suffer from fairly severe clinical anxiety. That doesn’t mean my life would be in any way improved if the next Bond movie had several scenes where 007 was in his psychiatrist’s office trying to dial in his pregabalin dosage so as to reduce side effects without risking panic attacks. I wouldn’t feel any level of wider cultural acceptance if we were to see Bond filling out a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy worksheet after he sinks a rogue nuclear submarine using the torpedoes on his specially modified Koenigsegg.
That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be other characters in other works of fiction who suffer from anxiety disorder. In fact, it would be very odd if there weren’t, the same way it would be very odd if James Bond was one of the characters who did.
For perfervid virtue-signalers like Mr. West, however, that all isn’t the point. Established characters must be changed to fit their agenda because it demonstrates the power that they have. After all, if this idea were so important and so bankable, surely West and Graf could put together a movie in which a transgender super-spy similar James Bond tries to save the world from some permutation of Dr. No.
This gambit wouldn’t work, mind you — mostly because Graf almost certainly can’t act but also because nobody’s going to see a movie simply because it’s making a very ham-fisted cultural point. A Bond movie in which Bond was transgender would also meet the same box office fate, but it would prove that the entertainment industry was willing to sacrifice an entire franchise on the pyre of social justice. And that’s what’s really important, right folks?
We all know who James Bond is, but more importantly who he isn’t: He isn’t transgender, female, nebbishy, vegan or Russian. In the case of most of these characteristics, nobody would seriously posit that the next 007 ought to embody them. In the case of transgenderism, however, this fundamentally unserious point has managed to gain some sort of traction because it sounds nice and tolerant.
It just doesn’t sound at all watchable.
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