James Bond Books Get Woke Makeover - Here Are the Words 007 Can't Say in Updated Editions


It’s difficult to call the “Austin Powers” series of movies a one-joke franchise, but at least most of the first film derived much of its humor from a single gag repeated over and over again:

A 1960s super-spy, frozen in time and unfrozen 30 years later, would find the kind of things he could get away with — culturally, anyhow — severely curtailed.

In situation after situation, the titular spy, played by Mike Myers, found himself up against what was then known only as “political correctness.” (“Woke,” blessedly, was still only the past tense and past participle of the verb “to wake” when the first film came out in 1997.)

“Oh, behave!” may have been one of Austin’s frequently-uttered catchphrases, but the joke was that, over and over again, he couldn’t. Har har.

You can tell that satire hasn’t aged well when it’s been lapped by reality in the race of life, despite being given a rather significant headstart. James Bond, whose adventures laid the foundation upon which Austin Powers was built, will have his exploits re-described quite differently when Ian Fleming’s spy novels are re-released later this year — and it’s all thanks to “sensitivity readers,” the same nebulous group of bowdlerizers recently guilty of gutting Roald Dahl’s comic chops.

Secret Service Scrambles to Shift Blame After Trump Shooting as Backlash Hits Hard - 'Nobody Contacted Me'

According to a report by the U.K. Telegraph, while Fleming’s series of spy novels will be reissued in April to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the release of the first — “Casino Royale” — some passages will be changed or removed altogether.

Each of the books will come with a disclaimer to warn readers that any sort of unpleasantness indicating the books may have been written 70 years ago has been removed for their convenience, lest they potentially be triggered by the fact that things were, you know, different 70 years ago.

“This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace,” the disclaimer reads.

“A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”

Does the woke crowd ultimately want to destroy America?

It’s worth noting, first off, that these updates seem particularly confined to one area entirely: “The changes to Fleming’s books result in some depictions of black people being reworked or removed,” the Telegraph reported.

“Dated references to other ethnicities remain, such as Bond’s racial terms for east Asian people and the spy’s disparaging views of Oddjob, Goldfinger’s Korean henchman,” the report noted.

“References to the ‘sweet tang of rape,’ ‘blithering women’ failing to do a ‘man’s work,’ and homosexuality being a ‘stubborn disability’ also remain,” it added.

(Just in case you were keeping track of how your sensitivity readers are doing at home, I suppose.)

For instance, take “Live and Let Die,” where Fleming’s 007 believes African criminals in the gold and diamond racket are “pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought, except when they’ve drunk too much.”

Watch: Bill Maher Calls Biden 'Too Hard to Look at' During Debate, Says 'Election Is Over' After Trump Dominates

Now, those would-be criminals are “pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought.”

In another scene, Bond visits a Harlem nightclub and was less than thrilled at the spectacle of a strip tease — or rather, the men glaring at the strip tease itself.

“Bond could hear the audience panting and grunting like pigs at the trough. He felt his own hands gripping the tablecloth. His mouth was dry,” the original read.

Now: “Bond could sense the electric tension in the room.” Yes, one imagines he did.

Imagine: You can’t publish a description of lust-crazed men hooting and grunting at a stripper in a nightclub as “pigs” in 2023 if that nightclub happens to be in a black neighborhood, but you can publish a book called “In Defense of Looting.”

Our society is decadent and doomed, and “sensitivity readers” are on board for the ride. .

Another passage from the visit to the Manhattan neighborhood, in which Fleming describes a couple having a fight using accented language Fleming called “straight Harlem-Deep South with a lot of New York thrown in,” was taken out entirely.

In addition, all references to the n-word have been removed, either replaced by “black person” or “black man,” but sometimes just excised entirely.

But not that “stubborn disability” talk. Are we about to see battle royales break out between black studies and queer studies departments at universities all across the English-speaking world? I believe that’s what the kids like to call “intersectionality,” after all.

Of course, it remains to be seen how changing the language in book written 70 years ago will help a single black person alive today, but it’ll certainly help our cultural knuckle-rappers accumulate even more power over what we in the West can and cannot have said in the past.

“We at Ian Fleming Publications reviewed the text of the original Bond books and decided our best course of action was to follow Ian’s lead. We have made changes to Live and Let Die that he himself authorized,” the company which owns the rights to Fleming’s work said in a statement.

We’ll see whether this lasts and for how long, however.

The Telegraph broke the news on the week after it was announced publisher Puffin was reissuing children’s author Roald Dahl’s best-loved works after considerable expurgations from the “sensitivity reader” crowd; fat kids were no longer to be called “fat” in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the Oompa Loompas were no longer to be described as tiny, “old hags” were no longer described as such, and witches in disguise had their professions upgraded from cashier to scientist, inter alia.

However, Puffin backtracked somewhat after a significant uproar ensued. As the U.K. Guardian reported, Dahl’s own words were discovered, in which he promised never to write again if any publisher changed the language he used while he was alive, or send a “crocodile” from beyond to devour them if it happened after his death. The company will continue to issue the books with the original, un-bowdlerized language, as well as the “sensitive” versions.

Thus, the question remains: Will Fleming’s work be reissued as it was initially published, or will he be turned into a for-real Austin Powers? Stay tuned. One thing is for sure, though — the two worst words that can ever be involved with a classic novel these days are “sensitivity reader.”

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , ,
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture