Very few people can say that they didn't grow up with James Bond. Mr. 007 has been the ubiquitous spy in our lives for decades, long enough that a tuxedo has become synonymous with being a spy, more so than being at a black-tie affair.
You may have started your adventure with George Lazenby, Sean Connery, or maybe a Bond more recent like Pierce Brosnan. But there was always a linear history that you could rely on. Any movie in the series that you started with was probably thrilling enough that you immediately rented the entire series, caught up in a single weekend, and then anxiously awaited the next Bond film.
And you loved the titles. They were brilliant and poetic. The erotic suggestiveness of Octopussy. The romantic promise of For Your Eyes Only. The bravado and defiance of You Only Live Twice.
On screen, Bond was always bigger than life. You were in denial if you didn't admire and envy him. He was refined, smooth, and an all-around bad ass.
And you were willing to buy the image, even if it was difficult at times to believe in his toughness. Because let's be frank for a moment, Jonah Hill looks more stalwart than Pierce Brosnan. But who cared, right? Bond was Bond, for crying out loud. He was... well... James Bond!
Bringing in Daniel Craig seemed a subtle departure from the other Bonds. But the brawn of 007 was certainly more palatable now.
Fine, that's an understatement -- Daniel Craig is bad ass. But the dynasty of Bond definitely moved away from the fancy Dan in selecting Daniel, a Bond that seems closer to you and me than Pierce Brosnan ever could. And lest you think I dislike Pierce, you should know that he was one of my favorite Bonds (please don't judge me).
But the thing is, even in going more gruff, Daniel Craig still drank martinis, the proverbial tonic of refinement. And obviously shaken, not stirred. Martinis are axiomatically symbolic. Martinis can make a man fit in or stand out. At the bijou Parisian bar on Sunset Boulevard, for example, I order a martini (albeit mine is usually gin, and dirty) and the patrons across the room raise their own conic goblets for an air toast, assuming me to be a boulevardier just like them. I order the same drink at the local dive bar and suddenly I'm an anachronism that needs to get the hell out of Dodge before someone smashes a Heineken bottle on my head.
So even with Daniel Craig, I felt confident that the world was right because he still drank martinis.
Well, my devoted Bond comrades, that's all about to end. Bond will be much more plebeian when the next movie comes out. He is ditching the martini for a Heineken.
And there it is. Once again, art is slain. Yet again, the audience flaunts its hegemony over all things sacred. And the trite artists, the powerful creators that could forge entire universes, in their rapacious need to please the masses, give in and dilute an icon that may never again be able to rise above the murk of cheap beer.
I'll have to find solace in the fact that there is still Austin Powers.
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