‘He’s Not A Spy’

Oh look… There’s a new James Bond film out. That’s nice… He’s plastered all over the television and mass media and all the while the whole world is busy calling him a secret agent or a spy. But here’s the truth- James Bond IS NOT a spy. Think about it- A spy works in the dark, in the shadows. He’s an enigma to the ordinary man on the street, his life is shrouded in secrecy. But James Bond walks into a room and then introduces himself by saying ‘The Name’s Bond… James Bond.’ And that’s the least offensive of his crimes when it comes to secrecy. The man is actually a disaster zone, leaving nothing but ash, rubble and dead bodies in his wake. He’s such a tornado that ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Miley Cyrus should have been the latest theme- It would have been a better choice than Sam Smith’s recording of a pig being tortured. Even Ian Fleming himself said that Bond is not a spy. He called him a tool, a blunt instrument wielded by the government when they need a dirty job doing- Interestingly, ‘Blunt Instrument’ is even the title of a piece on the Casino Royale Soundtrack.

Other spy movies have characters who are much more deserving of the title ‘spy.’ Ethan Hunt from the Mission Impossible films for instance. Ok… So wrecking half of the channel tunnel with a helicopter might not exactly be subtle but at least for most of the time he knows the value of discretion. He doesn’t walk around shouting ‘HI I’M ETHAN HUNT!’ And sometime’s you won’t even know that he’s there because of those cool (if implausible) masks he has. Jason Bourne, as awful as I found his films, has to be discreet by the nature of his situation. He can’t go around destroying whole islands as the men who are after him will find him if he does that. Even Austin Powers has more discretion than Bond. In fact, I can’t think of any spy who is less discrete when going about their business than Bond is.

All spy films are exaggerations They’re supposed to be an entertaining fantasy. Fictional spies are actually nothing like real spies. Real spying requires patience, lots and lots of patience. And waiting. And not revealing oneself by walking into a room and announcing your name. Real spies are essentially discreet data collectors, is what I mean to say. Now if every spy film was just that, men collecting information, the genre wouldn’t exist because we’d all get really bored really quickly. There are, of course, more ‘realistic’ spy films but there is still an element of the fantastical about most of them. There has to be to keep them from being dull. But regardless how realistic a spy film is supposed to be, in order to qualify as a spy the main character must still follow some basic rules. He must be discrete, cling to the shadows where possible. If he’s openly flaunting himself, announcing himself to everyone he meets and causing chaos he can’t be called a spy. He’s something else. In Bond’s case he’s a ‘blunt instrument,’ as Ian Fleming described him. So PLEASE can you all stop calling him a spy?

‘Then how do you explain ‘The Spy Who Loved Me?’ cries one person at the back.  I give a mean, vengeful stare in response.



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