Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Let's Talk About James Bond

I'm disappointed in Barnes and Noble. Their recent post "The Most (In)Famous Mary Sues in Fiction" has garnered a lot of scorn from me.

First of all, Mary Sue is basically an idealized character, often one representing the author. Prime example by the author:
Fanfic Mary Sue saves Dumbledore’s life with the world’s greatest healing charm, is proposed to by Mr. Darcy AND Captain Wentworth at the same garden party, and possesses striking green eyes that Peeta Mellark can’t stop staring into.
Good topic! Great example! I love this idea. There are definitely plenty of appalling MarySues around. The blogger mentions the following list is comprised of MarySues in published fiction (not fan fiction). Okay, still on board.

The blogger leads off with James Bond. A fairly legitimate choice, since he's definitely perfect in every way.

If Casanova mated with a particularly ruthless robot, their child would be James Bond. He’s refined, clever, mad successful with the ladies, and able to keep a cool head in any situation. Just once we want to see Bond getting hit in the nuts with a football, or yelling at a Starbucks barista about soy milk.

No. No. No. I'm disgusted by this synopsis.

Casanova? Sure. ROBOT? Hardly. He keeps a cool head, as she says, because that's what he's trained to do. That is his job. So what if he's mad successful with the ladies - he's hardly the only character in fiction to do that (uh, helloooo, you just named Casanova. And what about Don Juan? eh eh?). Also: BOND'S WIFE GETS KILLED. Yeah, so, he can't always get what he wants.

Bond doesn't play football, so he can't get hit in the nuts. However, did you read or see Casino Royale? The man's balls were beaten to a pulp, to the point that he really believed he would never get an erection again. I think that counts. Plus, he gets violently, physically abused in almost every book/movie. He's not running around, saving the world without a scratch. Now, if you wanted to critique how he knows how to operate any kind of vehicle ever, I could see why that's a bit of a stretch...

He won't shout at a barista because he would never lower himself to drink coffee from Starbucks, he has his own coffeemaker at home, and he eats/drinks at the work cafeteria when in the office, and I'm fairly certain his coffee order wasn't complicated to begin with. Finally, he's a true gentleman that doesn't shout at someone serving him. Let's be real, here, people. Bond doesn't squash the little people (they hardly exist in his world) - his secretary is a perfect example.

I feel like this was written based on faint (very faint) idea of the film version of Bond and absolutely no clue as to the true fictional nature of the man - and that's coming from someone who has only read three or four of the books.

I'm also really annoyed that, if the idea of the Mary Sue is based on the AUTHOR becoming the perfect character, the author is missing from this particular writeup. There has been so much speculation (and so much published) about the life of Fleming (womanizing and secret wartime spy) and the spies he worked with and/or wrote about, the whole "Mary Sue" part of the argument is lost. Sure, sure, that might be guessing at authorial intent and assuming so many of the things about the author, but, in theory, the Mary Sue involves the author. So, instead of a well-thought argument, this blogger is just basically picking on the characters.

I briefly glanced at the rest of the list, disagreeing that Charles Wallace is at all a Mary Sue, because he clearly isn't perfect, otherwise they wouldn't have to save him. Not to mention, if you're going to pick on Charles Wallace, you should probably pick on Old Father Time from Jude the Obscure, too.

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