I think you're a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War.
November 11, 2012 6:07 PM   Subscribe

The new James Bond movie, Skyfall, has largely been well received by critics some of who have suggested that the film is less sexist than its predecessors. Others have disagreed and stated that the new film has is quite problematic and may be "abandoning the moral intelligence of the times". Giles Coren, writer for The Times, put forth a piece that calls Skyfall "a sick, reactionary, depressing film". The Times refused to run the piece saying that "it was about James Bond and there's been too much Bond". So Coren's wife and fellow journalist, Esther Walker, agreed to run the piece in her blog.
posted by sendai sleep master (278 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just saw the movie this afternoon and the three points in Coren's article are three things I noticed about it and did not like at all.

I liked the movie but it was a step backward for the franchise.
posted by padraigin at 6:11 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Skyfall. Loved it.

If seeing a scene in a movie takes you '35 years to recover', either you're a bag of hyperbole when it comes to writing, or maybe you need to not go to the movies.
posted by jscott at 6:14 PM on November 11, 2012 [49 favorites]


I am furious that they decided it was a good idea to make Bond rape a sex slave.
posted by painquale at 6:14 PM on November 11, 2012 [47 favorites]


Oh, before I give my thoughts on the subject I want to give credit to painquale for linking The Guardian link in a previous Bond post. Thank you, painquale for the link that started this post and, hopefully, a discussion that I think needs to take place regarding this movie.
posted by sendai sleep master at 6:19 PM on November 11, 2012


Holy crap. Painquale, I assumed that you were making a joke until I read the articles.

What the hell?
posted by kyrademon at 6:20 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think I'm particularly angry because I was kind of taken in by the Hollywoodism of the scene. It squicked me out a tiny bit at the time, but I ignored it because the movie was so fun. And then, as I thought about it, I realized that there's no way to interpret that scene as anything but an aggressive sex crime, way worse than anything in any previous Bond movie. And I hate that I was suckered by the movie's charm into accepting this.

In the other open Bond thread, you can see my growing apprehension about the movie in a series of comments.

I'm somewhat interested in the fact that the movie was able to sucker me. It also suckered the writer of that Guardian article, and apparently everyone else, given that so few reviewers are mentioning the scene. I don't think I've ever been so convinced in the dangerously seductive qualities of cinema.
posted by painquale at 6:21 PM on November 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think the critic has misread the first scene with the scotch "quip." It's not that Bond is necessarily an uncaring bastard towards women, it's that he, like M, will pretend to be unemotional while using anyone, male or female, to accomplish his mission, possibly to get through the awfulness and also possibly in this scene to gain some trust from the baddie, who wants to believe Bond is just like him.
posted by zippy at 6:21 PM on November 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yep:

* Female agent in opening sequence, first characteristic we see = 'bad driver', breaking side mirror

* Then she can't even shoot straight

* By end of film she's demoted to secretary

* Strong female head of organization is replaced by a man

* Modern MI6 Headquarters no longer used - we're back by the end of the film to the building and offices as seen in the earlier bond series.

* They cast a look-a-like for the woman he was in love with during the first two films, she dies and Bond doesn't give a shit. At all.

* Most shocking of all, the most radical aspect of Quantum of Solace is ditched. In Quantum M is lectured to by a minister - basically saying that right and wrong doesn't matter any more - it's every nation for itself - this radically points the series in a fresh, modern direction - showing that the 'Britain/West as noble' trope is no longer applicable, (heck they even cast a John Bolton look-a-like as the CIA section chief). But in SKYFALL that's out the window and we're explicitly back in the realm of 'yay British nationalism' what with the Bulldog bit and Bond approving of being seen as a loyal subject in his obituary.

So while it is the most beautifully produced film in the series so far, (cinematographer Deakins work is extraordinary), it is a colossal step backwards politically.

For the first time with this series I really don't like the guy, (Bond), and am not really interested in where they go from here.
posted by jettloe at 6:21 PM on November 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


Craig's bond is still better than Connery's, but yeah. That scene bothered me in the theatre and has been continuing to bother me since.
posted by Imperfect at 6:31 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) as a guy, I thought the movie was well done over all

2) Seriously, sex worker WTF? The champagne she had out slightly implied she was looking forward to his company (not necessarily in that way of course), but why make Bond so date rapey? Did they run out of time for two lines of dialogue in the 2.5 hour movie?
posted by slapshot57 at 6:34 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought the movie was horrible for a number of reasons. It was a self indulgent, nostalgic pat on the back. It dropped its own plot halfway through and 90% of the film's character interaction took place via ear pieces and cellphones.

But most of all I hated it for its treatment of female characters. I say this as someone who really liked Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (again, see that previous Bond post for my defense of the film).

In both those films Bond makes a genuine emotional connection with two women and when he does use women as objects in those movies (and they suffer for it) Judy Dench points out how they're deaths are a direct result of his failure to see them as humans.

In Casino Royale Bond is forced to reconsider his character when he meets Vesper, a female character with a past, opinions, a scene where she lacks makeup, a job outside of Bonds field AND the ability to tell Bond not to touch her unless she wants him to at which point she gives him explicit consent. I remember when I first saw the movie I was a bit in love with Eva Green afterwords for placing such a charming and relatively depthy character into what I expected to be just another Bond flick.

In Quantum, Bond, mourning Vesper, casually uses a fellow agent for sex and she dies as a consequence. Soon after Bond spends the rest of the film in conversation with Camille, a character who is a spy, orphaned, and on a vendetta (basically she is exactly the same as Bond). By the end of the film I felt that Bond had made a connection with Camille that he had made with no other character in franchises history. There was a camaraderie between them, an understanding between two very similar people. They never sleep together but they kiss, intensely, in the film's second to last scene but it's not a sexual kiss. It's a kiss of great loneliness between two people who can't connect with others and can't find peace by killing. In other words, Bond recognizes not just that women are complex and can be fallen in love with BUT that they are also equals, no more different than him.

I don't necessarily chalk this all up to authorial intent but for two movies in a row the Bond people were slamming the character's inherent misogyny into some really interesting hurdles and creating, in my opinion, some really great movies as a result.

When I heard that Skyfall would focus on Judy Dench's M I was excited to see the character again put in a new place.

Instead Skyfall doesn't probe the character as much as it probes the icon. It's interested in Bond only as a pop-culture greatest hit and thusly everything that's not a non-subtle reference to the last 50 years of pulp is disposable. I was quite sad to see that this included the streak Craig's movies had of treating its female characters with depth.

I wanted to reiterate the last movies because, frankly, the disgusting scenes in this movie feel like a slap in the face to those films. It makes them look accidental and, as jettlejoe said, it makes me really not care about character I was beginning to warm up to.
posted by sendai sleep master at 6:39 PM on November 11, 2012 [28 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. I had no idea; my two favorite critics completely dropped the ball on this one. I was going to shell out good money to see it in 3D! Will think twice now; maybe I'll stick with "Lincoln" and "Anna Karenina" as my holiday white elephants.

Too bad; I really liked the turn "Casino Royale" took with the character, as well as the casting of Craig, who was so great in "The Mother" and other films. I sat through the other Bonds as a kid for lack of anything better to do at the time, including the ones with Connery; the emotionally dead tough guy has always been a bore for me. Guess I won't be sitting through this one.
posted by Currer Belfry at 6:42 PM on November 11, 2012


I thought Bond was always a charming psychopath? I mean, isn't that the character?

Because I'm suave it's OK for me to act like a prick.
posted by Western Infidels at 6:43 PM on November 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


Normally I might complain about spoilers in jettloe's comment, but that was actually great/ I got enough gist of the film to know it won't get my money.

Dear FlemingBroccoli Corp, please email me when you get Idris Elba into the role and finally let Tarantino direct, thnx.
posted by mannequito at 6:43 PM on November 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ack - sorry for not mentioning spoilery action!
posted by jettloe at 6:45 PM on November 11, 2012


Also, thanks for making this post, sendai sleep master. I was thinking of doing something like this myself, but didn't think I could summon language neutral enough for the front page of Metafilter.

I notice that people are using terms like "rapey", "date rapey" and "sex worker." Nuh uh, that is mincing words. He unambiguously raped a sex slave.
posted by painquale at 6:45 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the critic has misread the first scene with the scotch "quip." It's not that Bond is necessarily an uncaring bastard towards women, it's that he, like M, will pretend to be unemotional while using anyone, male or female, to accomplish his mission, possibly to get through the awfulness and also possibly in this scene to gain some trust from the baddie, who wants to believe Bond is just like him.

Yes, except:

1. Bond previously complains about M's willingness to do anything for the mission and the film either makes Bond a giant hypocrite or simply fails to engage with this paradox.

2. As jettlejoe notes the woman in this scene looks a lot like Vesper from Casino Royale and it is completely out of character for Bond not to care. One could argue that there is no continuity BUT the movie explicitly does a callback to Casino when Bond and Moneypenny are in the Casino and Bond warns her "not to touch her ear" while they communicate wirelessly (a clear reference to the opening parkour chase in Royale where another rookie agent makes this very mistake).
posted by sendai sleep master at 6:45 PM on November 11, 2012


oh I didn't really mean it jettloe, I'd hope that anyone coming in to this thread is coming in aware of spoiler potential.
posted by mannequito at 6:47 PM on November 11, 2012


Ugh, that whole plotline really killed the movie for me--spoilers follow, obviously. She was a totally terrified woman, who did not indicate any romantic interest in Bond, just wanted him to kill her abuser, so why were they suddenly having sex? It really read like a scene was missing--or conversely, that there needed to be a "victim" character so the bad guy would be EXTRA bad, and the writers were like, James Bond always sleeps with the victim ladies so he should sleep with this one too and then he'll be sad and angry and get vengeance or whatever. Though it never seemed like he was particularly sad or angry that she died. I really wish that character hadn't existed, she made me so depressed.
posted by leesh at 6:50 PM on November 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


That scene did not read as rape to me at all.

Also, I did not read the opening chase scene mirror jokes as Moneypenny being a bad driver, but rather as her being a good driver (as she clearly was).

Bond is also clearly upset by the William Tell scene.
posted by biscotti at 6:50 PM on November 11, 2012 [35 favorites]


Ugh, I hate it when someone makes a post that says "that movie sucked because it was sexist," because that just totally trumps my desire to talk about how "that movie just sucked, period."

I think I've reached the point where if you're going to tell me you liked a movie like Skyfall, I want to know how old you are so I can judge your comments appropriately. Q sucked. Moneypenny sucked. And frankly Craig sucked so bad I'm chomping at the bit to see Idris Elba take a crack at it, which trust me, is not something I would normally look forward to.
posted by phaedon at 6:51 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I felt like Skyfall was a critique of Bond films. Bond lets a lot of people die in this film, without even blinking. I'm thinking of the assassination scene in particular. I was also bothered by Bond's lack of response to the shooting of Severine. Was anyone else disturbed by M's recounting of how she had given up Silva to the Chinese, or ordered the shot against Bond? It's like they brought in John LeCarre to underscore the bleak amorality of spycraft, and we are seduced by the glamour of the film in the same way that Bond seduces everyone.
posted by mecran01 at 6:52 PM on November 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


You're right about the 'callback' to Casino Royale sendai, but at the same time Q makes a comment about not doing gadgets anymore, but since Daniel Craig there haven't been gadgets.

It's almost as if this is a reboot, following on from the Brosnan films. In addition there's the weird bit about the Aston Martin. In Casino Royale we see he wins the Aston in a bet, but in this film it's obviously been part of the whole Q arsenal from back in the day - so it's as if Casino never happened and this is the same character directly on from the Brosnans, again very weird.
posted by jettloe at 6:55 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


1. Bond previously complains about M's willingness to do anything for the mission and the film either makes Bond a giant hypocrite or simply fails to engage with this paradox.

Or Bond has come around to M's point of view in an elided action movie way, where the character's actions are enough to show a change in attitude. Additionally, it is shown in the scene before the scotch one that Bond having no interest at all in women could be a big plus.
posted by zippy at 6:55 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, this is how I read the Sévérine interactions with Bond:
  1. She likes Bond because he shows awareness of her suffering, unlike anyone else.
  2. She waits for him on the boat and welcomes his company.
  3. When she is shot Bond is in shock and acts impulsively, springing the trap that's been set for him and M.
Having read the comments here and in the other thread, I can see the other interpretation, but the way I read these scenes seemed natural to me while watching them.

Also, I do think that M does get a the main storyline. In many ways this is her movie, not Bond's.

My enjoyment of the film is probably colored by the fact that I was having a really great day overall, so I might even have liked one of the later Brosnan films.
posted by Kattullus at 6:59 PM on November 11, 2012 [23 favorites]


This was a weirdly schizophrenic film.

On the one hand, there was this constant emphasis on the idea that a) Daniel Craig's Bond is at the end of his rope, not just psychologically but physically ("it's a young man's game", etc.) and b) M's way of handling things - and by extension, her premier agent's - is no longer possible in the post-Cold War world. The main villain's scene in the glass cage, where he shows the damage done by the acid he was tortured with and explains how he was betrayed, implies a moral as well as a practical basis for seeing M as flawed, and her half-confession to Bond immediately afterwards adds to that.

I'm trying to to spoiler, but what happens to the car and the house at the end of the film - that seems also to imply something about the "old Bond" and his world.

At the same time, it's like there's this desperate need to retreat from all the ambiguity built up in the previous films and highlighted by those incidents in this film. To make M and Bond "right" in the end (as opposed to the politicians who criticize them), and to restore - literally, in the case of Moneypenny and the new boss/new headquarters - the world in which Bond was designed to operate.

It reminded me of The Dark Knight Rises - which similarly came tantalizingly close to actually looking at things like inequality and the problems of Batman's vigilantism and then just sort of swept that whole thing under the rug with a "it's all fine, we're all fine here, how are you?" ending. It's like we were seeing a physical struggle between the people who created the film and the zeitgeist shifting around them.

By the way, was anyone else totally confused by the scene with the psychologist. He says "Skyfall" - which, as far as I am aware (maybe I missed it), is never said anywhere else in the film outside the opening credits music, and Bond freaks. I honestly wondered if Craig's terse response - "done" - was some sort of in-film reference to his avowed desire to leave the franchise after this film. It just seemed weird and unexplained to me.

Bond is also clearly upset by the William Tell scene.

He doesn't look comfortable with it at the time, but there's absolutely no indication afterwards that he's remorseful over the loss of the woman's life, or bothered at all by it. And immediately afterwards he plays his "radio" trump and captures the bad guy - doesn't even look at the dead woman, as far as I could tell - I don't know, it's like folks have said upthread, it felt like there were scenes missing there. Honestly, he seemed to show more real emotion to the first woman murdered in Casino Royale - because he at least glances at the corpse and Craig's acting leaves it ambiguous whether he is truly cold or just playing to M's expectations.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:03 PM on November 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think the thing everyone's missing is that the real Bond girl in the movie is M. She's the only woman Bond loves again after Vesper. Maybe Moneypenny, but we'll see.

The reason I love CR and Skyfall is that it's catapulting the franchise beyond the sexism of the early movies by explaining why Bond treats women the way he does. The cries of sexism are the same cries I hear from people do dont understand Mad Men: the show itself isn't sexist because it portrays characters behaving in a sexist fashion. That may have been the case with old Bond, but now we're getting complex Bond. He's unhappy and miserable because he's can't indulge love for anyone because it will hurt them.

Also, I don't understand the view that the shower scene was unconsentual. He's not going to just walk onto the boat and be like HEY MINIONS, I'VE GOT A HOT DATE WITH THE LADY.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:04 PM on November 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


Bond never conformed to the "moral intelligence of the times". License to kill = no due process, for one thing. He's basically Batman:

1) criminals created backstory
2) millionaire playboy
3) secret identity
4) batcave (= Q division)
5) tricked out car

Batman is widely understood to be an authoritarian vigilante. Bond is really no different. They are both male revenge fantasies. Bond's revenge just happens to include women (consider how often sex is used by Bond as a weapon), while Batman seems to be neuter. (They could be an interesting paper there. Is it an American vs European thing? Or "adult" vs "juvenile"?)
posted by DU at 7:05 PM on November 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


That was so gross. There was totally some victim-blaming in the depiction of Bérénice Marlohe's character. (Yes, I know she's not a character, she's a "bond girl").

That scene in the casino seemed like it was setting up an interesting subplot that was later ditched (I guess for the mama drama of the Dench plot). The actress acted quite well and made it easy to be sympathetic to her plight. Also she looked like Eva Green or Rosamund Pike, not exactly relevant, but it seemed like she was going to be more of a story or subplot.

And then... the shower scene was so precisely wrong. The presumption that somehow just because he was going to save her life or "liberate" her, she would reward him somehow. Or naturally just fall in lust with the first man she met who wasn't actually a rapist.

Counterpoint, yes, he's James Bond, you can suspend some disbelief there... But seriously they had to kill her?

It was a buzzkill, as was finding out that actress from White Teeth isn't the future M but a secretary.
posted by kettleoffish at 7:05 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


What a weird movie! It felt like a moderately good action blockbuster held back by James Bond nostalgia baggage, but at the same time it was entirely about nostalgia and coming to terms with the past (in the plot and in a meta sense). The whole thing was completely at odds with itself and it's hard to suss out a coherent message.

The cinematography was honestly worth the price of admission, though.

And not casting Richard Ayoade as Q was a CRIME
posted by sonmi at 7:05 PM on November 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


The Lithgow article makes one big boo-boo. Beijing is not a location seen in the film. Shanghai is, however. That's even directly stated. Take notes, Mr. Critic!
posted by raysmj at 7:05 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't interpret the scene where Bond visits the captive woman from the casino in the shower on her boat as date rape-like at all. Their conversation at the casino was a fatalistic flirtation. She told him where she would be. When he came, apparently she didn't mind.

Judi Dench's M probably had almost equal screen time to Daniel Craig. She was the film's hero at least as much as him. The movie respected the female sex more than it had to.

The villain was homophobic though.

The Bond series is supposed to be chauvinistic in a cartoon-like, exaggerated way and politically incorrect. They are supposed to have interchangeable sex object female characters.

I didn't mind the politics, but I didn't really care for the film. I thought Craig's performance was dull, mannered, self satisfied, autopilot. I didn't care about the villain demeaning gays, but I didn't like that the motive for his terrorism was a psychological obsession with M rather than, say, megalomania. He seemed like a bad Batman villain.
posted by knoyers at 7:07 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The movie respected the female sex more than it had to.

We appreciated it.
posted by kettleoffish at 7:09 PM on November 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


At the same time, it's like there's this desperate need to retreat from all the ambiguity built up in the previous films and highlighted by those incidents in this film. To make M and Bond "right" in the end (as opposed to the politicians who criticize them), and to restore - literally, in the case of Moneypenny and the new boss/new headquarters - the world in which Bond was designed to operate.

Yeah, see, when I wasn't mad at the film I kept wondering whether it was some kind of ironic joke. Like maybe it was intentional that the end is presented as a triumph simply because all the old trappings of Bond are present even though the two clear goals that the villain had:

1. Continue possession of the harddrive.

2. Kill M

were accomplished by the villain.....but it's ok because the puffy door to M's office is back and the hat rack?

And for people who are saying that it's all an expression of Bond's inner inability to connect. I don't buy that because the last entire chunk of the movie (taking place in Bond's childhood home) is completely mis-handled if it wished to engage with the character in any depth. We're introduced to a character from Bond's childhood but the most interaction they have is a joke about Bond's shooting skills.
posted by sendai sleep master at 7:09 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't interpret the scene where Bond visits the captive woman from the casino in the shower on her boat as date rape-like at all. Their conversation at the casino was a fatalistic flirtation. She told him where she would be. When he came, apparently she didn't mind.

And there was a scene right before that where she was essentially checking her watch and waiting for Bond before they cast off. Not trying to defend Bond, but there was some preparation, although it is still Bond having meaningless sex. I mean, what happened to the woman he was with on the island?

Oh, and the Aston Martin DB5 with the machine guns dates back to Goldfinger. Finally, I thought it was pretty clear that Bond slept with Moneypenny--remember they cut to the sex fireworks?
posted by mecran01 at 7:10 PM on November 11, 2012


I'm sorry to say that I think many commenters here have given in to a quite idiosyncratic reading of the film here.

It seems to me that a central theme of the entire film is that utilitarianism (more precisely, sacrificing the rights and interests of one person in order to help the welfare of many) is corrupting and dangerous, and indeed gets in the way of authentic human relationships.

The people who are horrified at the way Bond acts in this film might productively spend a little more time thinking about what happens to him at (more or less) the very beginning of the film, and notably who commanded whom to shoot the bullet that nearly killed him, and why.

I tend to think that this movie was significantly more critical and deconstructive of the Bond myth than is being appreciated here.
posted by Mr. Justice at 7:11 PM on November 11, 2012 [31 favorites]


By the way, was anyone else totally confused by the scene with the psychologist. He says "Skyfall" - which, as far as I am aware (maybe I missed it), is never said anywhere else in the film outside the opening credits music, and Bond freaks.

Skyfall was the name on the gate to the estate in Scotland.
posted by asterix at 7:11 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't get why people were so rah-rah-rah over Casino Royale. I only just watched it last weekend at my Bond-loving roommate's request, and the plot is nonsense, the action pretty pish-posh, the dramatic tension nonexistent, and the sexism quite blatant. The most stand-out sequences involved those lengthy poker hands, which were pretty ludicrous and boring.

People seemed to be excited for Skyfall because Sam Mendes did it, but I'm not convinced that the man who directed American Beauty is capable of making a good film. That movie was so wretched (and pandering!) that it still gives me anger pangs.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:13 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


mecran01: "Oh, and the Aston Martin DB5 with the machine guns dates back to Goldfinger"

When I saw it, everyone in the theatre applauded when he opened up the garage door.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:14 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Friends of Moneypenny
posted by zippy at 7:15 PM on November 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'll go ahead and plunge into this discussion by saying that I saw the shower scene as completely consensual and Severine as pretty clearly in love with Bond, perhaps from the moment she first spotted him through the window in the Shanghai high-rise but definitely once he swore he'd try to save her, and that her death is actually the moment that galvanizes him and makes him deeply desire revenge so it's certainly a big deal and not a joke, and that I thought Silva feeling up Bond wasn't 'it's creepy because he's a Depraved Bisexual' but more 'it's creepy because he gets off to sexually harassing people' (he's the one who's raping the sex slave).

I totally agree with the criticism of Moneypenny's character arc though.
posted by capricorn at 7:21 PM on November 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


I have trouble reading the movie as being critical of Bond and M's utilitarian approach because the movie never tips its hand in that respect. It never reflects, even momentarily, on he negative consequences.

M's utilitarian ways lead to Silva's villainy but she is never treated by the movie as anything other than commendable.

And even if we accept the climax of the film (and the death of Bardem's villain) as the result of...what? A personal, non-utilitarian approach by returning home? Then what did that get the characters?

The movie doesn't take anytime to discuss the end of the villain or the goals that everyone has been striving after in the movie. It's possible the movie is operating on a critical level and it's possible that it's engaging with these themes but, as Phaedon noted above, it's hard to tell when the movie is just plain bad.
posted by sendai sleep master at 7:21 PM on November 11, 2012


Weird resonance for me. I was just watching "Family Guy", and within the space of five minutes there were two really dumb racial jokes (Seth McFarlane has clearly got some issues there; I wish someone on his staff would tell him it's interfering with the shows.)

At the first one I just said "Really?", and at the second one "Again?". Then I thought to myself that this episode could be interesting, but it's just not worth it, and turned it off. Hopefully that's what will happen more and more.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:22 PM on November 11, 2012


It was okay, but Bond (Craig) was better in his last outing, with his true boss.
posted by Wordshore at 7:24 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I tend to think that this movie was significantly more critical and deconstructive of the Bond myth than is being appreciated here.

I agree that the movie is (kind of) trying to deconstruct Bond, but the problem is that it doesn't go far enough. It tries to tell us Bond is an aging, irrelevant alcoholic with a whole pot of psychological issues while at the same time showing him doing awesome spy stuff with his Aston Martin and gadgets and getting shaved by a hot lady and saving the day. It felt like the original screenplay was a fairly critical, introspective thing and a bunch of executives came in and were like, no! It's the 50th anniversary, put in more cars and sex and patriotism! And as a result the final product kind of makes no sense.
posted by sonmi at 7:25 PM on November 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, am I the only person who got really confused when, after some guy got his brains splattered all over a Modigliani, for a brief second before the camera cut away, it looked like nobody in the room even gave a shit?
posted by phaedon at 7:27 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


The worst thing about this film was, I thought, the opening, and all the tired meta-references to fairly recent action films and films with great villains. I mean, it opens with a chase and shooting scene in a farmer's market, followed by a fight on top of a train. I suppose the latter might have been a shout-out to "Archer?"

After that, you have a villain dressing up as a cop and working his way through a subway a la "Speed" (the Tube, where a train ends up crashing in "Speed" finale fashion), a villain in a big dark room with a grand, spotlighted space for him in the middle as in "The Silence of the Lambs," then a "Die Hard"-ish scene in a glassy office building's elevator shaft, etc.

The movie seemed kind of by-the-numbers-ish to me, until the final third. Having Bond just suddenly start having sex with someone who seemed vaguely interested was in keeping with that. That was branding. (But yeah, the photography in the fight scene in the Shanghai building was gorgeous!)
posted by raysmj at 7:29 PM on November 11, 2012


I don't get why people were so rah-rah-rah over Casino Royale.

You just have to watch the last few Bond movies leading up to it to understand.
Bond had become its own parody. Casino Royale was a reset, away from that.
posted by anonymisc at 7:29 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I liked the movie very much. The shower scene seemed completely consensual to me - she was waiting for him and had drinks out for the two of them - and I thought Moneypenny was awesome. For once a woman in the chase scene was a capable driver! (and the Moneypenny backstory gave a great background to the relationship with Bond and Moneypenny--she had, she thought, killed him). Daniel Craig was gorgeous and improbably fit for mid-40s, Javier Bardem was as sexy as ever, the sets and locations were beautiful, the dresses were great, and it was a BOND movie, for heaven's sake.
posted by Peach at 7:32 PM on November 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


I saw both Skyfall and Wreck It Ralph today and I know it's apples and oranges but damned if I didn't feel like Ralph blew it out of the water.

Of course, your mileage may vary. Still, it was pretty good for a Bond film. Although I hadn't really... thought about the whole rape thing.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:33 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


That scene did not read as rape to me at all.

Right, it doesn't read as rape at all. That's why I find it disturbing. It's rape that doesn't seem like rape.

Also, I don't understand the view that the shower scene was unconsentual. He's not going to just walk onto the boat and be like HEY MINIONS, I'VE GOT A HOT DATE WITH THE LADY.

OK, let's break this down. Trigger warning and spoiler warning.

A trembling and frightened sex slave, who has been abused ever since she was a child, sees a potential savior in Bond. This, in itself, makes any relation between them immediately suspect. If a cop busts a sex slavery ring, and one of the slaves offers herself to the cop in recompense, he does something very very wrong by accepting, even though she apparently consents. There are tricky issues here about whether it's possible for sex slave to consent at all. Sex slaves have been psychologically warped to see themselves as property to be given up to those in authority. Even so, Severine gives no indication that she actually would consent to Bond's advances... he himself says that her flirtation is an act. It's the terrified act that someone puts on when their life is in danger. Even if you assume that she was capable of rational consent and that she would consent, Bond has no way of knowing any of that, and neither do we. None of her behavior gives us any indication that is true, and her backstory gives indication that it is not true.

If the two of them flirted in a later scene, in which Severine was not in immediate danger, then a romance might have been more justified. But in their very next encounter he sneaks up naked behind her when she is taking a shower. Think about exactly what interactions she has had with Bond at this point. I do not think it is remotely possible to think that this is not assault. (Again, imagine the cop who busts a sex slave ring and then moves in on one the rescued victims in the shower, one he thought was especially thankful earlier.)

And then, none of her behaviors suggest that she consents to what is happening. In fact, he points out that she is unarmed, and she says that this makes her feel naked! Yes, they kiss and presumably do more... but she has been a sex slave all her life, accustomed to playing this role. There is nothing to suggest she is moving past this.

I find it really hard to spin a narrative in which Bond doesn't rape her.

I honestly wondered if Craig's terse response - "done" - was some sort of in-film reference to his avowed desire to leave the franchise after this film. It just seemed weird and unexplained to me.

I thought he said "gun." I think it was some sort of allusion to the death of... um, Skyfall's owners (trying to avoid spoilers here), which is hinted at elsewhere, such as in the opening credit sequence.
posted by painquale at 7:34 PM on November 11, 2012 [20 favorites]


Skyfall was a shallowly-introspective hodgepodge of competing melancholy ideas. Dour and grim until the last 60 seconds. I'm assuming there will be a four hour directors cut that adds a significant amount of story back in.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:34 PM on November 11, 2012


Skyfall was the name on the gate to the estate in Scotland.

Thanks, asterix! Totally missed that.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:34 PM on November 11, 2012


Batman: My parents are dead! I'm a rich orphan that fights crime. I know all there is to know about fear.

1960s Bond: I'm an adrenalin-junkie, and I like to get with the ladies and beat up bad guys.

2012 Bond: My parents are dead! I'm a rich orphan that fights crime. I know all there is to know about fear.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:39 PM on November 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


What a sensitive flower Coren is, though why didn't he pick up on the mal treatment of Komodo Dragons and callous disregard for the historic Grand Bazaar. I hope he never sees this outrageous Moore scene
posted by Damienmce at 7:39 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Watched the first few minutes of "Diamonds are Forever" the other day. The very first time you see Bond he rips off a woman's bikini top to strangle her in order to get Blofeld's location. You've come a long way baby!
And no- the shower scene was silly but not rapey IMHO.
posted by T10B at 7:40 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Upon further reflection, I can totally understand why people would be upset by the shower scene, for the same reasons I hate everything about the Twilight series. Lady says "Help, I am in danger, save me" and man says "I will help you by having the sexy sex" and instead of saying "No, let's not have the sexy sex, how about you free me from all that" she says "I'm so lucky to be having the sexy sex with James Bond. I need strong men to save me."

I don't agree that it was a rape situation, but it was very anti-feminist.

Also, why did she have to wear heels INTO RUINS?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:40 PM on November 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


He didn't rape anyone. The woman was waiting for him on the boat with two glasses of champagne poured.
posted by BentFranklin at 7:40 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bond had become its own parody. Casino Royale was a reset, away from that.

Look, I saw Die Another Day, and while it was a shit film, at least it had a sense of humor. It was a silly, goofy, bad movie that served as a perfect excuse to eat popcorn.

Casino Royale was utterly humorless. It wanted to be "edgy" in that stupid, stupid way that modern movies seem to want but it wasn't even that. It was utterly toothless.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:41 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


In light of what we have learned since 1965, let us pause to remember Sean Connery blackmailing his physical therapist into having sex with him in the steam room in Thunderball.
posted by hyperbovine at 7:44 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah and also Bond's quip back to Silva suggests that Bond himself may be bisexual so yeah I guess I just can't see the homophobia.
posted by capricorn at 7:48 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's a James Bond movie. Anyone that goes to see a Bond flick and expects him to discuss Simone de Beauvoir and drink Smoothies with the women is bound to be a little disappointed. If Skyfall got you all twisted, for God's sake don't read any of the books. You'll have a coronary!
posted by TDavis at 7:54 PM on November 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


I was pretty much into the movie for the visuals - damn, it was pretty, and heck, I'll accept some of the cheesy 'market chase' stuff as standard for the film type - but between the 'grah, transparency bad' moralizing, the shower scene, and Moneypenny's taking on a traditional, conservative role at the end, I was just sort of a burnt-out angry on the way home from it yesterday.

The last two were just so 'let's put women in their place' (along with, as I saw others mention elsewhere the act of killing and replacing M) that the interesting part of semi-modernizing the films is dead to me. If I want to watch people use fun tech, I'll watch a heist movie. You can even still have a character that enjoys his ladies and scotch; there's no reason it can't also have empowered female characters.

I viewed Moneypenny's character in the beginning as a sort of new agent, not a poor one - he was training her up, to be an agent like him. And then she rejects it as unsafe and (unspokenly) ill-suited for women by taking a desk job. It's not like the parallel Q makes of the tech guys and the punchy guys; it's blatantly lesser.
posted by cobaltnine at 7:57 PM on November 11, 2012


I will never understand why Bond films are popular. There are better action movies; there are better spy films. Bond has always felt second-rate to me, as if the movies are their own knock-offs. It doesn't surprise me that it's luridly sexist; the Bond films always have been.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:58 PM on November 11, 2012


This movie left me deeply shaken. And yet I was not stirred.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:58 PM on November 11, 2012 [33 favorites]


twoleftfeet: "This movie left me deeply shaken. And yet I was not stirred."

I think you just won this thread.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:01 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Re: It's a James Bond Movie:

The thing is the direction the series with Daniel Craig was going in was historically, (for the series), unusual and dramatic. Now the producers have very deliberately decided to 'reset' the franchise to bring it back to what it was in the 60's. There's a reason that Moneypenny and Q are young, and the new M younger than Dench and all three of them are tied to Bond with action. They've set it to go forward for the next twenty years (or at least two more Bonds after Craig).

But they've set it up so so the series will return to being mindless action with a sociopathic lead. This is the problem.
posted by jettloe at 8:14 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


[Folks, this is a sensitive topic, and sarcasm and irony tend to be way less funny than you think they will be. Please steer away from those tactics. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 8:14 PM on November 11, 2012


I remember when I first saw the movie I was a bit in love with Eva Green afterwords for placing such a charming and relatively depthy character into what I expected to be just another Bond flick.

Dep...thy? We have an adjective form of "depth," and it is "deep".
posted by adamdschneider at 8:15 PM on November 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't get why people were so rah-rah-rah over Casino Royale.

Because Mads Mikkelsen, that's why.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:15 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dep...thy? We have an adjective form of "depth," and it is "deep".

My mistake. I was writing as I was thinking in an attempt to contextualize my feelings and opinions about this movie and its message vis a vis our culture and society.

Now that you have finished commenting on my linguistic mistake would you care to offer your opinion regarding the James Bond series of films?
posted by sendai sleep master at 8:20 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was somewhat disappointed by Skyfall but that was mainly because of the hype. It's a pretty enjoyable action movie even if it has its fair share of silly characters doing silly things. Shame they killed off Judi Dench's M, one of the best characters ever in the film series.

What I would like to see is a female Bond villain that's clever, fun, warm, absolutely deadly and motivated by something beyond narcissism, megalomania or alliance to a super evil crime syndicate. You know, a motivation that we can actually connect to (Bardem's villain got this right but didn't always come off as believable, though the final scene was brilliantly played). I would love to see Bond fall in love with Lady Bond Villain only to realize that he has met his overwoman and, therefore, his archnemisis (aha!). And to really take the piss out of Bond, Lady Bond Villain should get away with it all at the end of the movie.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:26 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was angered because it seemed like the fate of the female character was directly tied to how well she served as an object of desire. The villain even says to her "you served your purpose" or something as a justification for killing her. And that's supposed to be the villain. The movie follows the exact same logic!
posted by kettleoffish at 8:27 PM on November 11, 2012


I honestly wondered if Craig's terse response - "done" - was some sort of in-film reference to his avowed desire to leave the franchise after this film. It just seemed weird and unexplained to me.

I thought he said "gun." I think it was some sort of allusion to the death of... um, Skyfall's owners (trying to avoid spoilers here), which is hinted at elsewhere, such as in the opening credit sequence.


I think he said "done", as in he was done with the word association nonsense because by that point he figured he had failed all the tests anyway. Then later Skyfall was "done" for him too since it had been sold from under him.

By end of film she's demoted to secretary

Did she refer to herself as a secretary? I thought "administrative assistant" was the preferred title now. Also, I thought she voluntarily moved to a desk assignment so she'd be away from the pressure and responsibility of being an agent. I didn't get the impression that it was a punitive move.

I thought it was pretty clear that Bond slept with Moneypenny--remember they cut to the sex fireworks?

I think Mendes was just messing with the audience and I don't think Bond and Moneypenny slept together. I can see Bond having anonymous sex but not anonymous sex with a fellow agent. I think the fireworks were a feint to set up the surprise of who the character was. It turned out to be a reveal to both Bond and the audience but only the audience really needed to be caught unawares.

I have to say that the whole third act of the film was the worst of it for me. How did Bond think that the middle of nowhere was going to be a defensible position against an opponent who for sure was going to show up with an army of henchmen and massive artillery? Plus if Bond's people knew where he was, why didn't they send in backup for him? Would they not at least have wanted to protect the director of their agency? I hold Bond 100% responsible for M's death and the fact that he basically had guilted her into allowing herself to be used as bait. Other than Silva managing to end up dead, the Skyfall sequence was a total fail, in my opinion.

I'm having a hard time seeing how they're going to get 2 or 3 more Bond films out of Craig. It seems like he's really tired of it.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:35 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


At the same time, it's like there's this desperate need to retreat from all the ambiguity built up in the previous films and highlighted by those incidents in this film. To make M and Bond "right" in the end (as opposed to the politicians who criticize them), and to restore - literally, in the case of Moneypenny and the new boss/new headquarters - the world in which Bond was designed to operate.

Dour and grim until the last 60 seconds.

The thing is the direction the series with Daniel Craig was going in was historically, (for the series), unusual and dramatic. Now the producers have very deliberately decided to 'reset' the franchise to bring it back to what it was in the 60's. There's a reason that Moneypenny and Q are young, and the new M younger than Dench and all three of them are tied to Bond with action. They've set it to go forward for the next twenty years (or at least two more Bonds after Craig).

Spoilers and speculation to follow:

Theory: Bond dies at the end of Skyfall. It happens when he falls through the ice fighting the henchman. We are never shown him getting out.

The end of Skyfall is a fantasy running through his mind as he dies. He heroically stops the bad guy, M dies tragically making him even more heroic, everything is reset and cool. He's not a broken, bitter man in a world that has used him up and passed him by, he's a dashing super spy in a sexy, fun world.

Skyfall is the prequel to all the pre-Craig films.

The rest are just a series of fantasies as Bond drowns under that lake, his dying mind rejecting the ugly reality for a comfortable fantasy.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:43 PM on November 11, 2012 [27 favorites]


Also, her jeans were really tight.

Severine was definitely attracted to Bond--she is a Bond girl, he is Bond, and this is a Bond movie. If the movie lacked for a clear scene where this attraction was established before they had sex, that is because in Bond films it is taken for granted that Bond girls are attracted to James Bond. Sometimes all the movie is going to give you to demonstrate that attraction is a small visual cue, like a Bond girl pouring champagne, a Bond girl talking to Bond, or a Bond girl seeing Daniel Craig with his shirt off. So I have no doubt that the writers, director, and actors all intended the shower scene to be about consensual sex.

But you have a completely valid point that it was creepy to show Bond having sex with Severine--even if she was attracted to him--given that he knew she was trying to escape a coercive environment.
posted by hyperbovine at 8:43 PM on November 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm already spoiled (I have tickets for Tuesday) but I have to ask whether the scene under discsussion is really worse than the rape scene in Thunderball, when he "seduces" the physical therapist. I'm a big Bond fan, but I was completely squicked by that scene on a rewatch a couple of years ago.

(Also, as a Bond fan and a feminist: yes, they're hugely problematic, to put it kindly. I love the movies because I grew up with them but they're all massively flawed.)
posted by immlass at 8:50 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I made this in honor of it because I love 007 but also I love stupid puns.

It's neither here nor there tho with regard to this discussion.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:51 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought it was pretty clear that the sex as intended to be seen as consensual, and that the filmakers thought it was. After all, who could resist Bond? The problem is that his typical cool aggressiveness tinged with cruelty (Connery could really nail this) rarely stops for consent. The consent is assumed because, once again, the man is oh so irresistible. I am confident the filmakers didn't think about her motivation or complexities beyond the standard Bond Girl Aligned with the Villain characterization: the pathway to the villain goes right through her bed. That she was a sex worker with few prospects for survival, much less escape, one who was personally under the control of the villain who loved to sexualize torture and vice versa - the filmakers never gave a thought to the ramifications of that for her. By shorthanding and fast forwarding her interest in him, they just made muddy waters muddier.

The fact that we are supposed to assume consent does presuppose certain mindsets.

I was more upset by what they did to M at the end, when she suddenly got tentative, couldn't shoot straight, needed Bond to save her, and had to be escorted by a civilian. I don't object to her wound, but I do object to the unfilmed gumptionectomy. At the end, she was just as much a prop as Severine was, something for Bond to react to, a deep emotional tie that is severed, effectively orphaning him one more time.

The echoes in the Moneypenny situation were there. I am withholding judgement to see if she becomes whatever the VP of spies is called or a secretary. I am not optimistic.

I will say that movie was filmed beautifully.
posted by julen at 8:51 PM on November 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


Now that you have finished commenting on my linguistic mistake would you care to offer your opinion regarding the James Bond series of films?

You are correct to call me out for being a jerk. Not the first time I've wished I could delete a comment.

To answer your question: I did not exactly grow up with Bond. The Living Daylights is one of the earliest movies I can remember seeing in the theater, and I watched a few of the Connery movies on TV growing up (Goldfinger most prominently), but I didn't really develop a "relationship" with Bond until Goldeneye, the Nintendo 64 game of which was my most played game freshman year of college. I loved that movie, but felt like the quality dropped off a cliff with the rest of the Brosnan movies. They didn't have good villains or plots, and Brosnan himself just didn't seem into it.

Then Casino Royale came along and was a total breath of fresh air. It got me interested again. Then Quantum of Solace came along and it was just so...flat. I was hoping this one would get them back on track, but (ironically, given my jerkitude) your comments in this thread have made me more or less abandon that hope. I'll probably just skip it.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:52 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah and also Bond's quip back to Silva suggests that Bond himself may be bisexual so yeah I guess I just can't see the homophobia.

The scene strongly implies that Silva actually dislikes anything physical -- which he references again at the end of the film -- and that he was just caressing Bond to fuck with him. Seemigly unaware that in a previous film Bond seemed to enjoy cock and ball torture.

I think the champagne was intended to signify that the sex with Sévérine was consensual. But that didn't prevent it from being super-creepy, especially as she is trembling in the shower until she realizes it's him. And as much as I think this is a film that doesn't present Bond as being a hero so much as a damaged child, I don't think that scene was intended to reference Bond as being a problematic character, but instead to just be a traditional Bond sex scene. Sam Mendes has said that he wanted to reintroduce a lot of classic Bond elements, but felt they had to be earned. I don't think this was earned at all.

Her death, however, does reinforce the film's central thesis that the spy game necessarily involves seeing people as disposable. She is given so much backstory that she seems like a character who's life Bond would defend. And, one expects, were it not for the fact that Bond's long-distance aim is off, he would have shot the shotglass from her head and saved her. But, instead, she dies, and he does not do anything to save her until she's dead and he has a tactical advantage, in that the only other superspy on the island -- Silva -- has just emptied his gun.

I think Mendes was just messing with the audience and I don't think Bond and Moneypenny slept together.


The slept together. They all but say so when they are talking in the casino. He says something about what he can do with his hands, and she says something like "You don't need to remind me."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:04 PM on November 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow, Giles Coren sure is a tender lad. The sexiest scene in the movie made him feel "physically sick," and he's been recovering from another Bond film for 35 years. This is not a man who should watch films with more than a G rating.

I am furious that they decided it was a good idea to make Bond rape a sex slave.

Uh, they didn't. She's not a sex slave, and hasn't been for years. And he didn't rape her - there's absolutely nothing in the film to suggest rape. There's just typically implausible Bond seduction - in this case, perhaps a little more implausible than usual. Bond is a fantasy. He's the guy who can make any woman swoon for him just by showing up. In this case, naked in a shower. Bond would not show up naked in a shower if the woman in the shower didn't already want to have sex with him - because that wouldn't be Bond. Regarding the author's dissatisfaction with Moneypenny's reward for chastity, I read the shaving scene as having implied a post-cutaway liaison, but I may be wrong about that. What I'm not wrong about is that Bond did not rape that woman. That's frankly just reading a political agenda into a film for the sake of being satisfied at your own outrage.
posted by Dasein at 9:04 PM on November 11, 2012 [25 favorites]


You just have to watch the last few Bond movies leading up to it to understand.
Bond had become its own parody. Casino Royale was a reset, away from that.


The James Bond movies have always been parody.
posted by gjc at 9:20 PM on November 11, 2012


Bond is a fantasy. He's the guy who can make any woman swoon for him just by showing up. In this case, naked in a shower. Bond would not show up naked in a shower if the woman in the shower didn't already want to have sex with him - because that wouldn't be Bond.

Ok, even if this was the case, it says nothing but bad things about James Bond even as a piece of entertainment. The problem becomes that if the filmmakers treat the character as automatically getting what he wants just because he is Bond it completely deflates any tension in the films.

If the filmmakers can't even create the illusion of Bond being a character separate from his out of film status as an icon then it leads, as it does in this movie, to a lot of absurd things. This movie ends with M dead and the whereabouts of the harddrive that started the whole adventure completely unknown. In essence the heroes have completely failed. But the end of the movie is treated in a triumphant fashion simply because it assumes that any finale to a Bond film will be triumphant.

I guess what I'm trying to say is if we say "whatever Bond does is Bond-like because he is Bond" it no longer puts the onus on the character of having to be cool and stylish and charming. Just because he's Bond doesn't mean what he does is automatically sauve. If you can't place any random character in his place and have the given scene play as cool or charming then the filmmakers have not written Bond correctly.

Bond isn't cool or charming because he's Bond. He's cool and charming because the things he does would be cool and charming regardless of who did them but he happens to do them all the time.
posted by sendai sleep master at 9:20 PM on November 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Was anyone else disturbed by M's recounting of how she had given up Silva to the Chinese, or ordered the shot against Bond? It's like they brought in John LeCarre to underscore the bleak amorality of spycraft, and we are seduced by the glamour of the film in the same way that Bond seduces everyone.

Yes, yes, yes. This movie read as far more nuanced and acknowledging of its problematic parts and history to me. As one example, much of the film casts Bond as merely a gun to be used by clerical beurocrats. In that light, Moneypenny has made a step up rather than a step down. She's not a gun to be fired as she literally was at the beginning, but the person that aims the gun. There's no indication whatsoever that she was demoted. She's just shrewd enough to see who wields the real power.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:20 PM on November 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


Saw it in Imax tonight. Two points:

1) I also saw the shower scene as consensual. But I don't think actually think that whether the filmmakers intended for it to be consensual helps.

2) I've seen a good bit of praise for the photography, but not nearly enough, IMO, for the music. These two songs, in particular, from the Shanghai sequence, were great (the second one covers the cut from London to Shanghai... the moment of the cut is the best part).
posted by gsteff at 9:21 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, yes, yes. This movie read as far more nuanced and acknowledging of its problematic parts and history to me. As one example, much of the film casts Bond as merely a gun to be used by clerical beurocrats. In that light, Moneypenny has made a step up rather than a step down. She's not a gun to be fired as she literally was at the beginning, but the person that aims the gun. There's no indication whatsoever that she was demoted. She's just shrewd enough to see who wields the real power.

See, the more I think about it the more I'm willing to consider this kind of reading of the film.
posted by sendai sleep master at 9:22 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was anyone else disturbed by M's recounting of how she had given up Silva to the Chinese, or ordered the shot against Bond?

Isn't this the same M who left Peirce Brosnan's Bond to be tortured by the North Koreans and argued against trading for his freedom? Bond knows the game - he's totally expendable if it's in the national interest. All her agents are. I'd be a lot more disturbed if they made M the tender woman who couldn't make the tough, manly decisions the job calls for. M's like Thatcher, squared. Or, was. Judi Dench will be missed.
posted by Dasein at 9:34 PM on November 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I thought it was pretty clear that the sex as intended to be seen as consensual, and that the filmakers thought it was.

Yeah, the filmmakers obviously didn't mean to film a rape scene, I'm sure that's true. But they did.

I don't buy that the champagne is important. Obviously, having a bottle of champagne at the ready in the real world does not imply consent. So why does it allegedly do that here? I don't think it does at all. The filmmakers might have intended it to be a symbol of consent, but I don't dispute anything having to do with the filmmakers' intentions. And I doubt they really thought that much about it anyway.

She's not a sex slave, and hasn't been for years.

Isn't she Silva's sex slave?

And he didn't rape her - there's absolutely nothing in the film to suggest rape.

Nothing? She's a sex slave. It's pretty much stated outright that she has been raped and abused in the past. I'm not the one forcing the issue onto the movie. Once it's a part of her character, it colors her interactions with others.

That's frankly just reading a political agenda into a film for the sake of being satisfied at your own outrage.

No, it's not. Please don't do this.
posted by painquale at 9:35 PM on November 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


What I'm not wrong about is that Bond did not rape that woman. That's frankly just reading a political agenda into a film for the sake of being satisfied at your own outrage.

You don't agree, that's fine. But it's not fair to assume that the people you disagree with are arguing in bad faith. The portrayal of woman in films and rape culture are legitimate concerns, and it's pretty rude and obtuse to dismiss these criticisms as just "being satisfied at your own outrage."
posted by Toothless Willy at 9:38 PM on November 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's rape that doesn't seem like rape.

At a certain point, if it doesn't seem like rape, including to the character allegedly being raped, that's because it's not rape. Rape is non-consensual sex, not sex that doesn't tick off the boxes in someone's feminist sex chart.
posted by Dasein at 9:38 PM on November 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


But it's not fair to assume that the people you disagree with are arguing in bad faith.

I think an awful lot of what passes for critical analysis is just people enjoying that most PC of emotions: outrage (and its related emotion, offense). They may be genuinely enjoying it - I'm not saying it's bad faith - but I think that's what's going on.

No, it's not. Please don't do this.

That sums up how I feel about Giles Coren's tortured article, so I guess we're even.
posted by Dasein at 9:50 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


[If you do not like or want to participate in this kind of conversation, you are welcome to go to another thread. Telling people they shouldn't have conversations or opinions is not going to fly here. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 9:52 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Female M in general bothered me as soon as she was introduced. I was excited for her and then:

Film 1: becomes first M to be truly vulnerable. --> Film 2: Bond profoundly violates her space and identity --> Film 3: she's is apparently made even more vulnerable/killed?

For me all that's much much worse than keeping M Male.
posted by tychotesla at 10:01 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rape is sex where the woman fails to give consent, not sex where the woman screams/punches/does other things that are immediately obvious to the movie viewer. And if anybody is looking for a quick definition of rape culture, "a woman pouring a drink for a male acquaintance implies an automatic invitation to surprise sex" is pretty much it.

Aggressive, dubiously consensual sex, often used as a weapon as mentioned above, has always been a part of the Bond franchise. But that was back when the dominating cultural idea was that most women could never admit that they wanted sex, so it was totally normal to have to "convince" them, and if Bond did it with more aggression and callousness than most people, that was just how Bond did everything. But in the modern world, which has at least partly caught up to the idea that women are people and rape is a real thing, you have two choices: you can either embrace that aspect of Bond's character and what it says about him, and explore what it means to make action movies about a pretty evil guy, or you can chuck it and revamp the Bond ultimate-seducer trope to let him have sexy sex in exotic locations with hot women who want him. (And why should that be so hard, anyway? Seriously, who is going to turn up their nose at a scene like that?) The franchise has to shit or get off the pot here.

About people enjoying outrage: I don't enjoy watching rape-glorifying scenes in movies. Sometimes they do actually make me feel a bit sick; not sure why this is a strange reaction to have. That doesn't preclude enjoying talking about them, but that's not the same as enjoying outrage.
posted by ostro at 10:11 PM on November 11, 2012 [23 favorites]


I didn't read much of this thread because I haven't seen it yet, but I've always thought that Goldeneye was one of the more rather introspective Bond films. The big bad being his friend and comrade, who straight up mocks him for being a murderer and a womanizer.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:25 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can see Bond having anonymous sex but not anonymous sex with a fellow agent.

Well, yeah, if it's a fellow agent, it's hardly anonymous, is it. And it wouldn't be the first time, see Agent Goodnight from The Man With The Golden Gun.
posted by radwolf76 at 10:36 PM on November 11, 2012


tychotesla - Dench has been playing M since the Brosnan days. Not sure what her story was like in those films as I've only seen Goldeneye. At 7 films in total I think that gives her the longest run playing a single character in the Bond franchise.
posted by Sandor Clegane at 10:37 PM on November 11, 2012


(films 1, 2 & 3 above being the Daniel Craig films in case that wasn't clear. I just read that Dench was in previous films, which I don't remember at all!)
posted by tychotesla at 10:38 PM on November 11, 2012


And he didn't rape her - there's absolutely nothing in the film to suggest rape.

Nothing? She's a sex slave. It's pretty much stated outright that she has been raped and abused in the past. I'm not the one forcing the issue onto the movie. Once it's a part of her character, it colors her interactions with others.


With all due respect, the James Bond character pretty much established that he was not "part of the pattern of people that would rape her" by offering her a way out in the bar scene. You saw the way her face lit up when he offered her help, and she in turn gave him vital information on how to reach Silva. The shower sex scene - which makes it clear to her that Bond was strong enough to not be killed by Silva's men - could just as easily symbolize her liberty.

Outside of that, there was nothing forceful or non-consensual about his approach. Or at the very most, you could say this is a matter of differing taste. Maybe you reject the idea that sneaking into a woman's apartment and walking into her shower could be regarded as seduction. And in the real world, I would probably agree with you. But this is a movie, with a well-established character known for shitting where he eats, and she clearly smiled when he entered the shower.
posted by phaedon at 10:42 PM on November 11, 2012 [8 favorites]



For me all that's much much worse than keeping M Male.
posted by tychotesla at 10:01 PM on November 11 [+] [!]


but Dame M *has* a significant character depth and plot role. The male Ms in the past may as well have been cardboard cutouts.
posted by Bwithh at 10:42 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting review here "SKYFALL: conformity, rebellion and the British post-colonial trauma, c. 2012"
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:44 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sandor Clegane. That's kind of surprising to me. I did an entire bond marathon last summer with at least 3/4ths of the movies. And yet somehow the impression I remember getting of M's role was exactly what I wrote above. A sense of indignation that this was the point at which M being vulnerable was explored.

Not sure if I should rethink that or not. It is certainly true that the reboot has treated Bond much more vulnerably too. So I guess I feel better about that?
posted by tychotesla at 10:47 PM on November 11, 2012


By the way, please don't make me defend this movie against criticism any further. I fucking hated it.
posted by phaedon at 10:48 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


but Dame M *has* a significant character depth and plot role. The male Ms in the past may as well have been cardboard cutouts.

Male M's being cardboard cutouts is a fine tradition in Bond movies. She could have been the same and I wouldn't have blinked.

My problem is that female M is mostly explored as a human in terms of vulnerability, as with most every other woman in that world. I guess it's the context really makes this feel wrong to me.
posted by tychotesla at 11:00 PM on November 11, 2012


?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another good review discussing issues of consent and the general treatment of women in Skyfall at Abigail Nussbaum's Asking the Wrong Questions.
posted by Georgina at 11:20 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought the movie was crap, and not just because of the William Tell scene, which was dreadful.

Mendes always makes terrible choices as a director. It's hard to watch this film and not have your belief in what's going on on the screen constantly be challenged.

From the very beginning SKYFALL seems to just be style over substance. A car chase in the crowded market where Bond rams another car repeatedly? I don't buy it. A motorcycle chase where the villain crashes through a stainglass window through which he cannot see what's on the other side? I don't buy it. And then he lands in that motorcycle in a crowded market without hitting anyone? Don't buy it. In the opening five minutes there were like 10 of these things.

And of course these continued on and on non stop to the very end. (Baddie doesn't kill Albert Finney when he walks in the room even though he seems to shoot every inconsequential character up to this point--when it would be so easy and when it would hurt Bond or, possibly, M, the two people he wants to kill? Ridiculous.)

The movie was garbage for 12 year olds. Worst movie I've seen this year.
posted by dobbs at 11:30 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wonder how many more action movies this year are going to have villains that intentionally let themselves be caught so that they can spring a ploy from the inside of a clear plastic prison. I'm going to put the over/under at 2.5.
posted by painquale at 11:40 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can we talk about Albert Finney's character? Problematic depictions of gender aside, Finney's gameskeeper character really encapsulates what's wrong with this movie.

This old man is there, in this manor, and he is approached by all the other characters as though he had been stored in a closed for 30 years and was expected to wait until this very moment to pop out. He is a character devoid of any reason except to utter one or two lines of expository dialogue. He is supposed to be from Bond's past and yet the extent that Bond interacts with him is to allow for a joke about the fact that he doesn't know that Bond is a spy? He's supposed to be a father figure? Maybe?

I'll be frank, he seemed like a David Lynch character. He exists almost solely to make you question the intent of the movie and his reactions to emotional situation are nearly non-existant.

There's the whole movie, right there. Half the time it seems to rely on the audience knowing particularly what kind of movie it is but the other half the time it ships in elements from planet WTF and expects you to roll with them all the same.

Also, did anyone else happen to recall that Finney was the actor who played the bad doctor who created the program that lead to the creation of Jason Bourne in those movies?
posted by sendai sleep master at 11:51 PM on November 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


TDavis: "Anyone that goes to see a Bond flick and expects him to discuss Simone de Beauvoir and drink Smoothies with the women is bound to be a little disappointed. If Skyfall got you all twisted, for God's sake don't read any of the books. You'll have a coronary!"

Yep. Probably a bad idea watching a Bond movie and expecting something like thoughtful discourse.

James Bond movies and books are also worth avoiding if you are looking for something that isn't as idiotic as a box of dull nails and as painfully stupid as an accidental amputation.
posted by koeselitz at 11:52 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


TDavis: "Anyone that goes to see a Bond flick and expects him to discuss Simone de Beauvoir and drink Smoothies with the women is bound to be a little disappointed. If Skyfall got you all twisted, for God's sake don't read any of the books. You'll have a coronary!"

Yep. Probably a bad idea watching a Bond movie and expecting something like thoughtful discourse.

James Bond movies and books are also worth avoiding if you are looking for something that isn't as idiotic as a box of dull nails and as painfully stupid as an accidental amputation.


I apologize, I'm thread-sitting my own thread here and I will move on after this.

That's the thing though, I didn't think Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were great art or anything but I felt that they were making gestures towards intelligence when a lot of big movies are moving in the complete opposite direction. They weren't necessarily "thoughtful discourse" but they were closer to it than any of the other Bond films and Skyfall's reversal of that course makes them feel like such a waste, relatively speaking.
posted by sendai sleep master at 11:57 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought the movie was crap, and not just because of the William Tell scene, which was dreadful.

Not to mention the blatant Apocalypse Now helicopter-with-a-loudspeaker ripoff. Which by the way was shot far less cinematically than the move it took the idea from. Don't even get me started. I'm half-shocked a bevy of doves didn't fly around the church in slow motion in the last scene.
posted by phaedon at 12:02 AM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh man, that video that Western Infidels linked to is completely awesome. Here, I'm going to link it again, because everyone should watch it. "Because I'm suave, you can suck it / I'll ski on your lunch if I want..."
posted by koeselitz at 12:10 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


He didn't rape anyone. The woman was waiting for him on the boat with two glasses of champagne poured.

I'll remember this useful tip for the future. Drink pre-poured? Licence to non-consensually fuck.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:11 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sometimes spoilers are a good thing. If they kill off Judy Dench's M, I do not want to see that film. I'll just be here loving her 'Christ I miss the Cold War' speech - an actual example of a woman being more than a Bond girl - and avoiding the heck out of this new one.

Craig is good, but without Dench, there's no anchor to the movies' sexism. This woman doesn't want to know.
posted by Kit W at 12:28 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've found all the James Bond films to be horribly sexist, and that is almost the entire reason why I refuse to watch them.

The other reason is because I just legitimately hate the character 'James Bond'.
posted by Malice at 12:31 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Skyfall's greatest crime is that it was boring, illogical and apparently even a trip to its ancestral home wasn't enough to help it find its identity.

It's boring because Bond should have some angst, but not be angst ridden. We, the viewer, don't really want to enquire too deeply into Bond's psyche because by any standard he is a psychopathic rapist whose survivor's guilt plays out as unfettered aggression and dismissive puns as a form of post-orgasmic relief.

It's illogical, utterly illogical, because field officers become secretaries, hardnosed intelligence chiefs become scared little old ladies, and because the smart tactical move when faced with a well equipped enemy is to retreat to an isolated house with two guns and wait for them to come. Judi Dench appeared to have formally retired from the role halfway through the movie. I don't think a former Nazi prison camp guard or the epitome of immortal evil would pass any decent security vetting either.

Why are we discussing Bond and feminism? If you didn't know that all women not only want to have sex with Bond, even if they don't themselves know it, and fall in love with him in a thrice then you haven't been paying attention for the past 50 years. We're discussing this new, angst, post-feminism Bond because the producers have told us that they've done away with the old one.

But this new Bond, whose great services to womanhood seem to be not slapping them before shagging them, not smoking before kissing them and having the decency to wear tight swimming trunks, isn't even a real fictional man. He's a composite fictional man. He's got Batman's baggage, Bourne's training and Matthew McConaughey's personal trainer. He is a police photofit of a character. In trying to make him something, he stops making sense to anyone.

He drinks Heineken. Very obviously. And did I mention his watch? The irony of new Bond with all his back history, back rubs and newly discovered love for his mother country he's now a citizen omega of the world. Owned and paid for by Chinese teenagers drinking their first beer and successful midwestern sales reps buying a status watch. As the producers make lots of enthusiastic noises about his deep character and 50 year history on screen they're selling him off, piece by piece. Bond has always had some product sponsorship, don't get me wrong. But new Bond isn't a reset in narrative terms despite the tortured forelock tugging about his previous life as a dinosauric cockwaver. It is a wholesale reset in commercial terms, a blank slate each time upon which we can market anything.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:45 AM on November 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


Am I going crazy or was there not a post in the past week or so that had a mashup video of Bond fighting Bond? Searching Metafilter didn't bring it up. Google gave me this video, which is awesome in its own right, but not what I'm thinking of.

(actually I think that video is better than the one I remember, but I liked the campy, video game style of the other)
posted by mannequito at 12:55 AM on November 12, 2012


As of quantum of solace, James Bond had killed 352 people.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:01 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know about Bond, but it was good to see Coren appearing in his wife's blog. He should switch more of his pieces there - maybe all of them.
posted by Segundus at 1:03 AM on November 12, 2012


The shower scene was the one part where reality broke for me.

I think in this case, the fact that we're able to debate whether or not the sex was consensual is proof that it is not clear-cut, i.e. not obviously consensual. With what the director presented us, we'd need to know more, hear some other lines, get in their heads a little, to really know for sure.

The director (Mendes) could have easily given us this however. The guard said that they were taking off and Eve clearly showed her disappointment at not being rescued. We, the audience, would take it to mean that he had in fact not arrived. BUT, if in the next scene she were to change her expression and make eye contact with Bond hiding behind a door or something, we'd still get the "ok, it's going to be alright, Bond's actually here and she knows it" and then she could sexy walk to the shower, slipping her robe and all would be ok. Sort of. I mean, I still don't approve (for the same reasons that champagne glasses aren't consent), but it would show slightly more of her intention and agency, as well as preserve this silly Bond branding element.

As it was, you have a broken woman at her absolute most vulnerable. Physically, she's naked, in a tiny, private space with low visibility. Emotionally, she's missed her last and only chance for escape from her hellish life (which, incidentally, she cannot rescue herself from). That ship is, literally, sailing. I don't know about you, but it could be the amalgamation of every fantasy man I've ever dreamed of opening up that shower door and I'd still react like a firecracker set off inside a bombproof safe. The movie does not consider this, and in that sense, treats the woman in this scene not like a human with normal reactions, but like an object to bond. And not even a normal object, but one that just submits. I mean really, at the very least you'd expect a sexy, "ooh, oh!" as if to say, "ooh you're here in the shower with me now." Like people do.

As for the champagne glasses = not an invitation to sex. Neither is ordering the lobster or whatever other silly symbols serve as innuendos for desired activities in the immediate future. We know those things to index potential sex, but they're not evidence of consent for actual sex. Actual consent is consent for actual sex. And we shouldn't substitute anything else in its place, nor send the message to people who may look to Bond as a role model of sorts that sex works this way.

There's one more implication that I think is particularly insidious here. It's that it couldn't be rape because we know Bond to be a good guy, and the good guys wouldn't do such a thing (and the good actors, good directors, and on wouldn't let such a thing happen). Unfortunately for all of us in the real world, even with good intentions, rape can and does still happen. As does the representation of rape. Or ambiguously consensual sex. Or just bad messaging (i.e. the perpetuation of rape culture). This is how it happens.

And so that's why the movie broke for me where it did. I had to consider all of this and I didn't really want to be going there in the middle of an action film. Fortunately, I returned and immensely enjoyed the rest of my film/day/evening.

Also, I do not think that Bond and Eve had sex per se; it was just a close shave.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:04 AM on November 12, 2012 [19 favorites]


I thought it was a really crap movie. As in, I was actually embarrassed to have enjoyed any of it. I did like the previous two Bond movies, I recently saw "Quantum of Solace" again and it was much better, much more coherent than I remembered it being. It continued themes from 'Casino Royal' in ways that were rewarding for the viewer (or at least me).

This one, though was really incoherent and, just - wtf? The previous two, with the invention of the evil super-group (I will Google it later, promise), and M's reminding Bond that he was responsible for the deaths of the people he killed, really was a step forward. This was all big jumps backward - as though someone decided that there should be no step forward... and etc. and etc.

What baffles me is that anyone thought this was an improvement. The killing of Severine was especially brutal and flat - we no longer live in the world that can allow a character as she is drawn, be treated like that. 'Sex Slave' is no longer some 'kinky thing' that makes a Bond Girl even more sexy, it's an evocation of monumental horrors and misery. You call up that world/life, you better be willing to do something positive with it. Her death was a continuation of the sloppiness of her character's treatment.

And, the whole blowing up the ancestral home bit - it wasn't even his home anymore! Someone else bought it! He was blowing up some strangers crazy-awesome new mansion on the Heaths. Imagine that phone call!

And Commander Bond was so removed from his 'past' anyway, as in his childhood is not an aspect of his character, his time in the war is (in the original books, at least).

I thought it was often a lazy, shiftless piece of movie making. Which is funny 'cause when I first saw 'Quantum of Solace' (really a very stupid, for being incomprehensible, title for a movie) I thought it definitively pooped-the-franchise. This one though, I can't see anything positive coming out of this 'new' thread.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:02 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Haven't seen the film, but Coren's piece is just so badly written, I find it hard to care about what he says.
posted by daveg at 2:43 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting to note that this is this same Giles Coren who played child rape for cheap lols on twitter a couple of years back. Always been a bit leery of the guy since; hopefully this represents a genuine attitude adjustment.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:52 AM on November 12, 2012


Blah blah blah spoliers - don't read the internet about a movie if you don't want them. Definitely don't read this post.

Something I find incredibly interesting about the linked article and this thread is the unspoken expectation of movie viewers to have everything drawn out and baldly explained for them, as if dialogue is the only means available to a filmmaker to communicate.

The shower scene is a good example; because we aren't witness to Sévérine giving the sort of explicit verbal consent expected by, say Antioch College, people are assuming no consent. But it's clear in the shower scene that Bond has been on the boat, in the room with Sévérine outside what we're being shown; when he steps into the shower, her reaction isn't the reaction any sane person would have when another person surprises them in the shower - the look on her face is one of anticipation and delight - only the sort of reaction one would have if one knew one was being joined in advance.

That's the obvious stuff. The more subtle stuff has to do with the glass walls. Bond and Sévérine "meet" separated by a series of glass walls and air in the assassination scene. The building in which Bond kills Patrice is a series of nested or possibly adjacent glass cubes, which gives Bond some trouble getting to Patrice - incredibly frustrating since Bond can see everything that's happening but can't just take a straight line to get where he needs to be, then ultimately is separated by the street in between the two buildings from Sévérine. (Bond also choses not to kill Patrice until after Patrice has completed the assassination, because Bond actually needs the assassination to take place, so he can figure out who Patrice's employer is. The film is, in many ways about how Bond uses other human beings in a very disturbing way - we're invited, many times, to compare Bond and M to Silva, because one of the big themes of the film is what sort of person the job turns an agent into - a pretty incisive interrogation of the whole series, if you ask me).
So when Bond joins Sévérine in the shower, they are finally in the same glass-walled room, touching, in natural light (candles) as opposed to being separated by glass walls lit by the artificial light of the Shanghai LED advertisements - that's an invitation to see contrast, but also to see Bond and Sévérine as alike - both agents in the service of masters who require them to become something other than compassionate human beings, and both people who have willingly chosen that service because of their pasts. We know Sévérine's past and her pain - it won't be until later in the film that we understand how similar it is to Bond's (they're both without family, and have both been recruited precisely because of their lack in their lives).
In short, the scene suggested to me that they were equals, meeting as such.

If you missed Bond's anger and pain at seeing Sévérine die in the William Tell scene, I encourage you to watch it again. I immediately thought of Vesper, and Craig does a really good job of making Bond look like he's on the verge of tears. At the same time, the film is also inviting us to compare Bond and Silva - the fact is that Bond has been using Sévérine to get to Silva. Sévérine knows that, right away, and chooses to help Bond anyway. But the film isn't expecting us to admire Bond for using her - it wants us to see him in a morally complicated light - to compare him to Silva, and I'm not sure the film's goal is for us to conclude Bond's choices were morally good, but rather to give us insight into how deeply his occupation has damaged him, a fact that is constantly discussed in terms of his physical state, which is acting as a synecdoche for his emotional and spiritual state. He watches Sévérine die and is angered by it, but at the same time he led her to almost certain death. He used her, like he uses pretty much everyone, and Sévérine is in no way the first "Bond girl" to suffer because of him, but unlike many of the Bond girls in the past, we are allowed to see the consequences. But remember, too, that this has already happened to Bond - M ordered the shot that killed him, and we are meant to see this parallel between Bone and Sévérine.

The next time we see glass walls, it's Silva inside a glass room which is inside a glass room, and this time the lighting is the result of the blurring effect on the outer room's walls that gets deactivated when M and Bond arrive to interview Silva. This is meant to remind us both of the assassinations and shower scenes but also of Bond's psych evaluation, so that when Silva removes his prosthesis and we see his disfigurement, we're meant to understand that all of them - Bond, Silva, M and Sévérine - have been disfigured by their work, and we're left to question whether the cost of that work is really worth it. We're definitely meant to understand that the kind of work being done by MI6 is not admirable work, and wonder if it is even necessary work, but Bond is not meant to be admirable in this film.

Part of the reason Moneypenney's "demotion" is no such thing is because, in the film, she's the only moral agent who continually chooses and voices what we like to see as "good" - her hesitation at the trigger because of what it might do to Bond is proved correct, and Bond's anger is directed toward M, who didn't trust him to complete the mission. Moneypenny's choice to leave the field for a desk job is the only sane choice for a human being who wants to retain her humanity - in a film that is so obviously about that choice, to the point that it is openly discussed by Bond, Silva, M and Mallory, it seems strange the Eve's choice to leave the field would be seen as some example of sexism instead of what it really is: an example of the only good choice.

The film's final act is frustrating in a number of ways - it was too much like Home Alone or any episode of the A-Team for my tastes, and I feel like the filmmakers choked at the end and didn't let the film exact from the characters the toll it had been implying all along their work cost them. The metaphor of the stone house vs the glass walls was overwrought, I thought, as was the obvious metaphor of destroying the artifacts of the past - Skyfall, the Aston Martin, "gadgets," and M herself. When the first two acts of the film were so subtle and morally complex, the end was a little disappointing, but it was not, as has been suggested, "rapey" or sexist.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:08 AM on November 12, 2012 [77 favorites]


I love your analysis, eustacescrubb. I think what you have to say about choices, the glass walls and the parallels between the characters is spot on. It's all there. But in an action ride, we need some things to be a little more bald-on-record than normal. Otherwise we just miss it.

I do disagree with this, however:

"But it's clear in the shower scene that Bond has been on the boat, in the room with Sévérine outside what we're being shown; when he steps into the shower, her reaction isn't the reaction any sane person would have when another person surprises them in the shower - the look on her face is one of anticipation and delight - only the sort of reaction one would have if one knew one was being joined in advance."

Because when the guard comes in and says they're setting off, her expression is one of disappointment and loss, as if all hope is gone. Bond isn't there. And then both we the viewer and her the subject (object?) get to go, "ooh, of course he is there!" It doesn't make sense to extrapolate backwards and say, "based on her reaction she must've known he was already there, and therefore ok with him stepping into the shower and all."

If it's the case that she already knows he's there, why can't they just show a little hint of it, to remove any ambiguity and not have to have this discussion about sexism and consent?
posted by iamkimiam at 3:23 AM on November 12, 2012


What bugs me about the commentary is that people seem to have missed something in the commentary. M was incompetent. I need to make a blog post of my own on this. But from the opening scene where M was getting in the way of the operatives in the field because she was panicking through her holding contempt for the very idea of civillian oversight and considering it nothing more than a nuisance to her being unable to shoot straight she was a liability throughout the entire film. About the only thing she did that wasn't incompetent was corrupt and dishonest.

(I'm trying to avoid spoilers here hence being vague)
posted by Francis at 3:25 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think I'll pass on this film. Never really liked Bond films, and got waaay more entertainment reading this thread than I think I'd get back from sitting in a movie theatre for 3 hours watching cardboard characters and 'epic' action sequences.
posted by panaceanot at 3:26 AM on November 12, 2012


Something I find incredibly interesting about the linked article and this thread is the unspoken expectation of movie viewers to have everything drawn out and baldly explained for them, as if dialogue is the only means available to a filmmaker to communicate. The shower scene is a good example; because we aren't witness to Sévérine giving the sort of explicit verbal consent expected by, say Antioch College, people are assuming no consent.

It's not an assumption, it's an inference. It is true in the fiction that when Bond appears in the shower, she hasn't seen him since the casino, and we know this for the sorts of reasons that iamkimiam mentions. She poured two glasses of champagne, but never gets to serve them, and then she goes to take a shower when she thinks Bond is not coming. I think you are misreading the scene.

when he steps into the shower, her reaction isn't the reaction any sane person would have when another person surprises them in the shower - the look on her face is one of anticipation and delight

I guess I should see it again, but I do not think this is true. In any event, if she does have a muted response of anticipation and delight, I don't think it's that relevant... Bond's already ambushed her while vulnerable without prior consent. Plus, she is well-trained in not having the reaction "any sane person" would have when surprised while naked. She is a sex slave.
posted by painquale at 3:39 AM on November 12, 2012


why can't they just show a little hint of it, to remove any ambiguity and not have to have this discussion about sexism and consent?

Because (and thank god for this), they're not under any obligation to cater the filmmaking toward the politics of any particular demographic. I'm much more annoyed that Bond survives over a full minute underwater in the freezing lake than I am that we're not shown the flirting-leading-up-to-sex before the shower scene. We all know Bond is good at flirting. And I don't think it's unclear that Sévérine genuinely wants to have sex with Bond. All that's missing is the moment where she verbally says "yes." And honestly, if the issue here is consent then nothing short of Sévérine saying "will you please have penetrative intercourse with me" technically counts as consent, and I daresay no one is expecting that to ever make it into any movie, Bond film or otherwise. Add to that the fact that either of them could, in many US states, bring rape changes against the other because they were drinking right before the sex, and it just highlights how silly this line of thinking can get when we're talking about a work of fiction. So unless you're really thinking that Bond and Sévérine weren't having consensual sex, then the objection is to the film not presenting consent using tropes acceptable to a certain demographic, and I just don't think that's really foremost in the filmmakers' minds.

I think you are misreading the scene

Right on. I think you are. I can't see how Bond would surprise her in the shower and she wouldn't at least be startled. I concluded that it therefore wasn't a surprise. I'm not sure if there's anywhere to go from here.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:51 AM on November 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


She is a sex slave

Wrong - she is a former sex slave who works for Silva because she's beholden to him for freeing her, which makes her a different kind of slave, but the fact that she's no longer a sex slave, and hasn't been for years, is explicitly stated in the casino scene.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:53 AM on November 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


the eXile: Skyfall: Die, Bond, Die
The explicitly stated moral of the film is, “The old ways are the best.” In honor of the 50th anniversary of Bond films, the whole movie’s a tribute to the glories of Bonds Past, and to doing it old school. This is more classic genre stuff, because action films generally, even the most high-tech ones, find a way to old-school it, casting off unsatisfactory long-range weaponry and computerized gadgetry for knives and kung fu kicks and fisticuffs. They often have to get very contrived to manage it, as Skyfall does. There are big laughs to be had in the much weaker second half of the film, watching the narrative struggle to shove Agent 007 back into the Bondian past—look, it’s the Aston Martin!—and then ever further back to a kind of wishful Tory paradise—look, it’s the wilds of Scotland, where English toffs go to rip off Celtic warrior culture and get kilted and primal!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:02 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


In most traditional "romantic" fiction, the hero is a powerful, physically dangerous individual, who is a source of threat to the heroine yet strangely alluring to her, whose overwhelming passion for the heroine pays little attention to her own volition.

Every time we see this pattern: in Twilight or James Bond or Fifty Shades or whatever, we all act surprised and start complaining about what terrible people Stephenie Meyer or  E. L. James or Sam Mendes are for having a romance scene which is borderline abusive, just like all the other romance scenes.

This problem, if it's a problem, goes much deeper than any individual book or movie or writer or director, it's something deeply embedded in our culture.

Moving on to Skyfall in particular, it's possible for a book or movie to be morally offensive and still well-crafted. Skyfall currently scores 91% on Rottentomatoes and 81 on Metacritic: good for an action movie. If you're willing and able to overlook the problematic stuff, I think it's a pretty good movie.

Every so often, the Bond movies try to be more like the novels. James Bond becomes more like the book version: an emotionally dysfunctional, cold-blooded, semi-alcoholic killer. The gadgets disappear in favour of action that depends more on the skill of the individual than picking the right device out of your dinner jacket. This is one of them. If you prefer the more light-hearted ones, you should give this one a miss. 

Personally, I like both types. I grew up with Roger Moore as Bond, so the gadgets are big part of the appeal to me. I think there has to be a kind of cycle though, otherwise the movies just get sillier and sillier until you end up with the invisible Aston Martin Vanquish; after that you do need a bit of a reboot to get back to a level of silliness that's fun but lets you suspend your disbelief.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:49 AM on November 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Theory: Bond dies at the end of Skyfall. It happens when he falls through the ice fighting the henchman. We are never shown him getting out.

Well he dies at the beginning too. We never see him climb out of the river after being shot twice and then falling a hundred feet into the rapids. Towards the end of the movie he says that his hobby is resurrection. I thought that it was the filmmakers winking at the concept that any human could survive all the hazards that Bond has been through in the last fifty years.

For what it's worth, I loved the movie in a similar way that I loved The Avengers. It managed to be a good action movie and at least partially a commentary on action movies. Bond is still Bond; he's really a comic book character and he's as realistic as Thor or The Hulk so if you go in expecting le Carré, you're going to be disappointed.
posted by octothorpe at 4:50 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Villainous Hair
posted by octothorpe at 4:54 AM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you missed Bond's anger and pain at seeing Sévérine die in the William Tell scene, I encourage you to watch it again. I immediately thought of Vesper

If your argument in favor of Bond's being capable of loving woman is to bring up fucking VESPER, I can't help but think it's already fallen apart. A woman who at first claims to be put off by Bond's blatant sexism only to be "won over" by, what, his playing poker?, only for there to be a twist and she's stealing his goddamn money, only then there's another twist and she's actually trying to save his life. At no point is she a strong character, at no point is Bond given any reason to care for her, and at no point does he.

My roommate and I remarked while watching Casino Royale that Vesper's an odd character in that she's a shitty female character at her INTRODUCTION, and then they make her worse, and then they make her worse again, and then they kind of double down on the worseness and let two conflicting versions of "worse" be true at once.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:57 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think the Javier Bardem character was supposed to have hair that bad. My understanding is that Andrew Lloyd Webber was teed up to write the title song, but when the producers gave that to Adele, he was pretty keen to be involved and so they asked him instead to take on coiffing duties.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:15 AM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


That or they meant to cast Taylor Negron.
posted by fleacircus at 5:23 AM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Plus, she is well-trained in not having the reaction "any sane person" would have when surprised while naked. She is a sex slave.

I think you need to go back and watch the film again. You are reading a ton into the ambiguity that a Bond film typically leaves, all of it towards one particular point.

Sévérine may have been a former sex slave (again, not spelled out other than in Bond's monologue) but it's clear in this film that she is much more than that now. She's negotiating with assassins on her bosses behalf and bringing people to his fortress. She carries a gun and clearly uses it if she's "naked" without it. She has well-trained bodyguards and is in charge of retaining 5 million euros.

At no point is it explicitly said that she's a sex toy for her boss, and her pain could be easily explained as:

1) She works for a man who is ruthlessly killing many people and is a clear psychopath;
2) She has no way of getting away because he is all knowing and will find and kill her.

That would leave any person not feeling terribly free, remorseful and wanting a white knight to get her out. She clearly uses sex as a power tool, but at no point is there a clear indication that she has to.

Further, her boss introduces the possibility that he's not even sexually interested in her - the sincerity and sensuality of the way he plays with Bond suggests he's comfortable touching a man like that. Bond clearly isn't, his off-hand joke aside.

So ignoring the fact she set up a romantic scene for Bond, and ignoring the fact she was clearly not phased by the fact he was in her shower, I think it's extremely presumptuous to try to fill in all of these gaps with a backstory that isn't clear in order to paint this as a non-consensual encounter.

Bond films are full of ambiguity and treating this as a cut and dried rape case as you did right out of the gate is, I think, a stretch.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 5:31 AM on November 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


This problem, if it's a problem, goes much deeper than any individual book or movie or writer or director, it's something deeply embedded in our culture.

This. All deep analyses aside (and eustacescrubbs' was amazing), the problem is that Bond is the ultimate male fantasy, and meant to be the ultimate fantasy, and it's self-perpetuating. Movies like Bond movies help perpetuate the "you know when she wants it by the look in her eyes / she always wants you" ideas that then stew in the culture and turn back into expectations for the next Bond movie.

Something that is a hard thing for many of us to understand is that in large swaths of the country, they do not understand consent in the way that we here do. They don't believe it has to be explicit. They don't even believe it has to be on offer - that "women say no when they mean yes." It's vile, awful shit - but it is absolutely still present in the country, and I daresay the world.

If we are complaining that Bond movies aren't reflecting the new morality of modern times, I would urge us to look at whether the morality of modern times is all that different, on average, and whether or not it reflects the Bond movies instead.
posted by corb at 5:44 AM on November 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


From the blog:

You might also like: Mrs. Coren's Chicken Pie!
posted by mr vino at 6:01 AM on November 12, 2012


Interesting to note that this is this same Giles Coren who played child rape for cheap lols on twitter a couple of years back. Always been a bit leery of the guy since; hopefully this represents a genuine attitude adjustment.

I agree with the thrust of the blog. It's just a shame it was written by Giles Coren. You're right to be leery of him. He's an average contrarian and an attention seeker.

There's some very good points there, it's just a shame they're baked in the usual silly hysteria (that last paragraph is hilariously vitriolic).

The thing with Coren is that he'd probably quite like to be Charlie Brooker. But at least with Brooker you get there's a sense of innate decency or humanity behind his writing that elevates him above stock-mildly-amusing-irony-jock.

Coren will be seeking attention again in a few months with something. God knows what.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 6:06 AM on November 12, 2012


He drinks Heineken. Very obviously.

A year ago I heard it was going to happen but then I didn't see it in this film and I didn't hear him order one. I saw someone else drink a Heineken while Bond was having a martini. Did I fall asleep in this boring mess of a movie?
posted by dobbs at 6:16 AM on November 12, 2012


I would love to see Bond fall in love with Lady Bond Villain only to realize that he has met his overwoman and, therefore, his archnemisis (aha!). And to really take the piss out of Bond, Lady Bond Villain should get away with it all at the end of the movie.

Her name is Irene Adler.
posted by condesita at 6:18 AM on November 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


He didn't rape anyone. The woman was waiting for him on the boat with two glasses of champagne poured.

I'll remember this useful tip for the future. Drink pre-poured? Licence to non-consensually fuck.


In real life? Of course not.

But in a Bond movie? That's one of the conceits of the franchise. Bond has a reputation; Bond is a dangerous man. It is part of the canon that if Bond goes into a woman's room, it is to sleep with her, to kill her, or to be killed by her. The women in the Bond universe know that.

And, to repeat myself, the Bond movies are parody of the spy film genre. They always have been.
posted by gjc at 6:23 AM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just a secretary?

Secretaries have access to information at upper levels of the organization, and know what's happening elsewhere in the organization. Also, they network with other secretaries.

Now they are called administrative assistants.

The first thing you learn, and learn really fast, when starting any job is that the secretaries really run everything. Piss them off and they don't have to do you any favors.

/defenseofsecretaries
posted by datawrangler at 7:35 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


BEST BOND EVER!
posted by mrgrimm at 7:39 AM on November 12, 2012


Secretaries are important. Nurses are important too. You just don't find an awful lot of doctors who go through the training and then decide to take a job as a nurse.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:45 AM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't see how the Moneypenny thing, in the context of a Bond movie, could be construed as offensive. All they're doing is giving us an origin story for one of the series' recurring characters, with a bit of fan service in her surprising reveal at the end. I suspected as much once she mentioned a "desk job." Sure, as a trained agent she seems overqualified as M's assistant, but then again perhaps not--as datawrangler points out, it's a powerful position in its own right. But again, they were just trying to surprise us that a "new" character happens to turn out to be someone we knew all along. Ta-da!
posted by muckster at 7:54 AM on November 12, 2012


That's one of the conceits of the franchise. Bond has a reputation; Bond is a dangerous man. It is part of the canon that if Bond goes into a woman's room, it is to sleep with her, to kill her, or to be killed by her. The women in the Bond universe know that.

Okay but can't I be bothered by this premise?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:55 AM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I can see Bond having anonymous sex but not anonymous sex with a fellow agent.

Well, yeah, if it's a fellow agent, it's hardly anonymous, is it. And it wouldn't be the first time, see Agent Goodnight from The Man With The Golden Gun.


Despite having been on two "missions" with Eve, he claimed not to know what her name was. Therefore, if sex had happened it would have been anonymous--or at least nameless--on her part.

Now, maybe Bond was just being silly to try to save face with a conquest he hadn't expected to see again, or maybe it was his way of throwing some game once he realized that the woman he had "hit and quit" while out in the field with her was now in close proximity to his boss.

However, Mary Goodnight notwithstanding, I'm choosing to believe that this Bond wouldn't have screwed a neophyte fellow agent (who I think he seemed to regard somewhat protectively, like a student) under circumstances which could later come back to bite him job-wise. There was nothing to be gained from it and plenty to lose given that he was still on shaky ground with MI6. Plus, it's Bond canon that he and Moneypenny never progress past flirtation in spite of her eagerness to take things further.

Her name is Irene Adler.

Heh. Maybe Robert Downey Jr could do a cameo in a future Bond film as a Holmes descendant.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:09 AM on November 12, 2012


If your argument in favor of Bond's being capable of loving woman is to bring up fucking VESPER

No; my argument is a response to the contention that Bond doesn't care about Sévérine's death; clearly he does. Love isn't really the issue here.

At no point is it explicitly said that she's a sex toy for her boss

My understanding from the first scene between Bond and Silva is that Silva prefers men anyhow. I suppose he could be bisexual, but that's not how I read it when I was watching. That was one of the other things that made the character of Silva as mirror of Bond so fascinating - Silva was treating Bond the way Bond treats women in general - very ready to use and kill him, but not before a quick roll in the hay. Silva is Bond, just a little nuttier. It's (again) part of why I think the film's not sexist - it's using the various parallels to invite the viewers to think about what kind of guy Bond is, and what his occupation has cost him, and others.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:13 AM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


To put it another way: the film makes no bones about the fact that Bond is sexist. But I don't think the film is uncritically celebrating that fact - it's examining it, and maybe setting us up for a reinvention of the Bond tropes for future films. At the very least, the film doesn't let Bond get away with his behavior without it costing him, and those he cares for, dearly.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:15 AM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think Severine is Silva's agent sent to get Bond to the island. Her back-story is (at least partially) made up to set her up as a damsel in distress so that Bond will come to her rescue. Her seducing him is part of that fiction. Maybe Bond knows it and plays his part anyways, maybe he doesn't and really does want to rescue her. If this is the case, then the sex is consensual since she it's part of the assignment.

The consent is fucked up at best. The point is that these are all fucked up people living in a fucked up world where everything is murky. The whole point of Severine is that Silva needs a way to get Bond to come and capture him so he can proceed with his plot. Severine is the tool he uses to get that accomplished. Heck, she might have thought everything was part of the plan up until Silva shot her. They both might have underestimated Bond's callousness and assumed that he would spring his trap after Silva explained the game. Instead, since he had no more real use for her, he shot her to push Bond over the edge.

I think that her surprise at getting shot might have been the first genuine reaction she displayed.
posted by VTX at 8:18 AM on November 12, 2012


I don't mind Moneypenny deciding that a field agent's life is clearly one that will end in agonizing death or incipient craziness, and opting for a powerful position back at the office. But I do mind that you're never really shown her thinking that through. She's really clearly not too upset about shooting Bond (and he's not too upset at her shooting him - all part of the job). We're never really given any indication in the movie that she's questioning her position. Bond says that the duties of a field agent are not for everyone, but he doesn't say it in a pointed tone, but rather flatly, and she doesn't seem to take it as a statement that she should herself reconsider. But then, we get all the stuff in the end, where she's made a choice, and it's a plot point, even if it's a small one...but it's unearned. We see her move from helping Bond beat people up to sitting in a typical secretarial location with a lot of callbacks to former Moneypennys who were, simply, secretaries. So instead of her decision being a commentary on who holds the real power, the man with the gun or the person back at HQ saying "fire the gun," it reads as her taking a lesser role for unspecified reasons. I think this sort of interpretation game has to happen a lot in the movie. I, personally, can read the movie in a lot of ways that make it more acceptable...and boy, will I...but I think I'm the one doing the work to shore up gaps where the movie slipped up or made bad decisions.
posted by PussKillian at 9:22 AM on November 12, 2012


As of quantum of solace, James Bond had killed 352 people.

Apparently, he has slept with about 55.
posted by relish at 9:25 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


if she does have a muted response of anticipation and delight, I don't think it's that relevant... Bond's already ambushed her while vulnerable without prior consent

Oh, come on, painquale. You are being totally dense on purpose. By this logic, if I surprise my friend by leading them into a dark room and turning the lights and everyone yells, "Surprise!" for their birthday, then this could be considered non-consensual ageist harassment and I could get sued and fired. You are borrowing the legal concept of "prior consent" and totally ignoring the context, intentionally. And it's not fair to do that. Because even though you can't establish "prior" consent in the movie, it is more than obvious that there was consent, despite the fact that it was a surprise and she happens to be a hooker.

Her response, by the way, was not muted and the scene was preceded by an arrangement - get past the bodyguards, meet me on the boat and I'll take you to Silva. (And since we're both really hot and available, let's bang on the way over there.)

As for Moneypenny, well fuck it. If they didn't fuck when the fireworks were going off, then why the unbelievably intimate shaving scene.
posted by phaedon at 9:41 AM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think I'm the one doing the work to shore up gaps where the movie slipped up

Yeah, I do feel like the editing around Moneypenny's scenes wasn't as good as it could have been. I was well into the film before I realized who she was and that she wasn't a mole for Mallory.

then why the unbelievably intimate shaving scene.

That's a callback to a Bond tradition - Bond and Moneypenny stay flirting but never consummate the relationship.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:52 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought it was cool the way Bond winks at Mallory during a gun fight.
posted by and for no one at 10:17 AM on November 12, 2012


Oh, come on, painquale. You are being totally dense on purpose. By this logic, if I surprise my friend by leading them into a dark room and turning the lights and everyone yells, "Surprise!" for their birthday, then this could be considered non-consensual ageist harassment and I could get sued and fired.

If everyone's naked and they then expect sex and you just met the friend, then yeah, it obviously is. I think you're ignoring context.

Knock it off with that "dense on purpose" stuff. I think you guys are making stuff up about how it's not assault because hey, it's James Bond, obviously the genre implies that women in the fiction automatically know about him and and his ways, so her being naked provides tacit consent. We know about Bond's ways, but it is not true in the fiction that women automatically consent, even given genre conventions, and it is not true in the fiction that she knew he was there. I suspect audiences coming to this topic before reading this thread, unaware of this debate, would fully agree, and the only reason to deny them is if you're politically motivated to deny the conclusion that Bond is a rapist. If I'm being dense it is purely unintentional.
posted by painquale at 10:21 AM on November 12, 2012


it is not true in the fiction that she knew he was there.

I think the only persons who can state that with authority are those who wrote, directed, or acted out the scene in question. Unless you are one of those individuals, you are simply stating your opinion. And that's fine, but it's just your opinion and not a fact.
posted by palomar at 10:31 AM on November 12, 2012


It's a movie universe. The audience is asked to fill in some things. My personal take is that a fun, consensual interaction is what is being telegraphed here; if they wanted to make it appear otherwise, or even appear ambiguous, they certainly have ways to do that with two talented actors and lots of cameras. Of course the framing of this particular scene as behind a foggy wall removes a lot of that possibility and it also prevented my wife from seeing Daniel Craig's willy wally, to her dismay.

Just a personal take, but I think any view on the situation has to acknowledge that we are looking into a window on a movie universe.
posted by ftm at 10:38 AM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


politically motivated to deny the conclusion that Bond is a rapist

This gets the political motivations in this thread pretty backwards, it seems to me. How anyone could watch that scene and think that Sévérine is anything but a willing participant is a mystery to me. Her body language is so clearly consensual and unalarmed that it's just a total stretch in my opinion.

In the same way that I think a lot of the sting has been taken out of the the word "racism" by its use by the left as an all-purpose putdown of much of mainstream politics and society (and its redefinition to insulate leftist politics from potential application), the risk here is that when you start labelling scenes like that "rape" and movies like Skyfall part of "rape culture," people just tune you out. Worse, you diminish the power of the word rape to alarm and engage people. Rape is a horrendous crime. The shower scene in Skyfall was tender, beautiful and hot, all at the same time. If it really is rape, then...what does that mean? That I'm not as opposed to rape as I thought I was? I don't accept that. I would strongly suggest that making some portion of mainstream society shrug its shoulders or roll its eyes at the suggestion of rape is a pretty counterproductive result for a column that aspires to be progressive.
posted by Dasein at 10:41 AM on November 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


If I'm being dense it is purely unintentional.

Well I think it's ok to call you a little bit dense, please don't take it too personally. I'm not outright attacking you, I'm entertaining your points. I would argue this rape point further with you, but unfortunately I think the movie fails to show that there was a deep chemical attraction between the sex worker and Bond. This would further the point that you're the one making stuff up on purpose to make this look like outright assault.

Which is to say, despite her exquisite looks, the conversation by the roulette table was a real yawner. And having seen the movie, I still don't get exactly who the fuck she is. And you are right, Bond's moves are well known to the audience. The fact that it appears to you that they are not well known to the character is a testament to a shitty script. I'm surprised Lindelof didn't write that scene. That being said, I don't think the movie was trying to slip us a mickey. This doesn't rise to the level of controversy.
posted by phaedon at 10:44 AM on November 12, 2012


A year ago I heard it was going to happen but then I didn't see it in this film and I didn't hear him order one. I saw someone else drink a Heineken while Bond was having a martini. Did I fall asleep in this boring mess of a movie?

It comes up near the beginning, after the opening sequence. He's lying in bed with the girl who saved him from the water after his fall, and is holding a Heineken placed very, very obviously.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:49 AM on November 12, 2012


it is not true in the fiction that she knew he was there.

What the audience sees is 1) Severine waiting around with two glasses and a bottle of champagne, 2) Severine naked, and 3) Bond coming into the shower to join her. With these simple facts it's possible to tell a number of consistent stories. Severine might have already known that Bond was on board during scene #1--he could have been hiding from the guy who came in to tell Severine that they were ready to leave. Bond could have showed up somewhere between #2 and #3--this is the option that makes the most sense to me, given that she doesn't seem remotely surprised to see him. Alternatively, Bond sneaks into the boat while she's showering, takes his clothes off, and joins her, which is a seriously weird and creepy thing to do. You could argue that her lack of surprise is simply due to the iron control over emotional reactions that everyone in the Bond universe seems to possess.

These options all fit the facts at hand. Really, I think this is a sign that the scene was terribly directed. I seriously doubt the director intended to convey that Bond surprised her naked in the shower, but the fact that the possibility comes to mind is a problem, and a problem they should have fixed. Add in the possibility that Severine might have been helping to set Bond up, which was sort of obliquely suggested, and I have not the slightest idea what the characters' motivations were or what the relationships between her and Bond was like.
posted by IjonTichy at 10:50 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


...when you start labeling scenes like that "rape" and movies like Skyfall part of "rape culture," people just tune you out. Worse, you diminish the power of the word rape to alarm and engage people.

This is the upshot of the thread. As a female fan of the Bond franchise, I have to agree with ftm's wife that the scene was far too PG--where's the willy wally?
posted by condesita at 10:54 AM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'll admit, the shower sex scene rubbed me the wrong way in that, "Gee, another time Bond has creepy casual sex with a lady." Having gone through the exercise of watching all of the Bond films fairly recently, this isn't really a new thing. It's part of the antiquated "charm." I didn't think it was rape, I did think it was stupid but also very common within the Bond universe.

I also agree that this film was as much about M as it was Bond, but I also don't see her death and the new M being a man problematic. Moneypenny's arc was poorly handled and sort of unnecessary to introduce her in that way, but whatever. I'm not going to lose sleep over it and it doesn't really make me like the film less. (I do like the reading that she's preserving her humanity, that and her working relationship with Mallory, I'm OK with it.)

The Heineken placement in the beginning was more jarring than I expected. My friend and I turned to each other immediately with a WTF look at that bit.

I'm conflicted though, because I really think the Bond franchise (films and books) are fun but also problematic. As a woman should I not enjoy them for what they are because women are usually portrayed poorly? While I think some of this discussion is interesting and somewhat productive, I tend to wonder why do people expose themselves to things they know will annoy them? (Other than sometimes it's fun to be upset? I know this why I usually try to avoid a lot of pop science fiction stuff that drives me insane.)
posted by kendrak at 10:58 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I get it too, kendrak. I'm a massive fan of the Travis McGee books (thus my username) and they are great but also frequently problematic in generally the same way as the Bond movies are. I think my initial reaction to the shower scene was similar - I didn't think rape, but I did roll my eyes. The movie could have been tightened up, but given the length, I don't think they used the time very wisely. They could have fixed things easily, but I bet nobody noticed the issue.

Mostly, I really enjoyed the movie, but Casino Royale is still my gold standard.
posted by PussKillian at 11:03 AM on November 12, 2012


Look, I think the big problem (not the only problem mind you, the movie has a lot of them) is that the movie attempts to continue the more realistic and dramatic tone of the two previous Craig films while also trying to make the addition of the fun and somewhat self-parodying elements that were largely defined by Moore's films.

So the audience (or at least I) get all those signals that because he's Bond and smooth and makes jokes that women are going to sleep with him and it can all be taken in a lighthearted manner. Even if he's doing something like sneaking into a shower. This may have worked in the movies of Moore and even the Bosnan flicks not because those movies happened in an earlier time with different politics but because those movies spend each moment from the title sequence to the ending "Oooh, James" line building up Bond's world as kind of loopy, pulpy and being filled with boobs and guns and men who base their entire persona around particular minerals. Female characters functioning as meer perfunctory sex was still objectionable in the sense that a lot of the media landscape is objectionable due to being tilted mostly towards male teenagers BUT it was much less creepy to accept it on a "because he's Bond level" because, as gjc points out, Bond movies were basically exploitation flicks.

The problem is that Skyfall wants to mix Bond's pulpy elements with the realistic and self-critical tone that has been informed by the Bourne movies. The problem is they don't mix as much as they sit next to each other and allow the viewer to watch one movie or another.

If you choose to watch the movie as a reality grounded thriller then all the Moore-Bond elements seem weird, creepy, and out of place, like a clown wandering around an abandoned parking garage. Watch it as a lighthearted, pulp romp and all the self-criticism the movie may be attempting to put forth seems to lack earnestness.

So, look, why a lot of us are getting bent out of shape here isn't because we think Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig were sitting around and one of them said "why don't we have Bond sexually assault this woman?" No, I think they WERE trying to put down what most skeptical folks here are picking up. It's just that the movies tone and purpose for its entire 2.5 hours is so all over the place and confused that by the time the shower scene happens I wasn't even particularly sure what set of Bond rules this movie was playing by.

Is it playing by the Craig Bond rules where every woman he touches dies somberly? If so the scene doesn't just come off as creepy in the usual James Bond treats women like objects kind of way. It comes off as way creepier because this is a totally unrealistic scene in a movie that asks to be taken seriously half the time and in a serious universe this would seem like sexual assault.

So, to summarize my long windedness:

As phaedon has pointed out, this movie is plain bad. It's bad because it wants you to give it the leniency you would offer a dumb, fun, pulp flick while demanding that you applaud and consider its thematic gravitas and desire to probe the cultural implications of itself. There's a sex slave.....and now Bond is jumping on the head of a komodo dragon!

What you end up with is a movie whose serious points seem like jokes and whose light hearted elements seem creepy and objectionable even if that impact was entirely unintentional.
posted by sendai sleep master at 11:14 AM on November 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


For some reason, that review reminded me of the old CapAlert movie reviews.
posted by eas98 at 11:40 AM on November 12, 2012


capricorn: "Oh yeah and also Bond's quip back to Silva suggests that Bond himself may be bisexual so yeah I guess I just can't see the homophobia."

I dunno. After the rope/chair scene in Casino Royale, I am unsure how Bond could be sexual in any sense.
posted by Samizdata at 11:58 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Newsflash: A Bond film is sexist!
Crazy, I know.

Carry on.
posted by Rashomon at 12:09 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nick Harkaway, author of The Gone-Away World, gives a review that I feel sums up my thoughts on the movies, saying that:

"So many people apparently love this movie. I don’t. I don’t hate it. But I do think it’s barking mad."
posted by sendai sleep master at 12:09 PM on November 12, 2012


Haven't seen this latest flick yet, but for those who are put off by the product placement-y aspects - interestingly, this is present even in the books in a weird way. Bond is a character who is very particular about things - he has a particular preference in drinks, pistols, breakfast, how he likes his eggs cooked, he has his own blend of tobacco and specially made cigarettes. It's striking in the books just how specific in preference, brand conscious, and slavish to routine the character is written to be.
posted by stenseng at 12:44 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Makes me wonder about Bond's business card. Raised lettering, subtle-off white coloring. My god, there's even a watermark. Commander Bond, James Bond. British Psycho.
posted by muckster at 12:52 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


eustacescrubb: "I think I'm the one doing the work to shore up gaps where the movie slipped up

Yeah, I do feel like the editing around Moneypenny's scenes wasn't as good as it could have been. I was well into the film before I realized who she was and that she wasn't a mole for Mallory.

then why the unbelievably intimate shaving scene.

That's a callback to a Bond tradition - Bond and Moneypenny stay flirting but never consummate the relationship.
"

Truthfully, I always read Moneypenny as loving Bond, but refusing to commit as she didn't want to risk losing him due to the danger of his job, as well as wanting someone more stable and less dangerous.
posted by Samizdata at 1:08 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bless you Metafilterians - great post and thread.

I am still thinking about Skyfall days after seeing it - so that says to me that the film succeeded for me.

Visually: Both the gorgeous opening credits sequence and the striking imagery in Shanghai guarantee that I'll buy the DVD of this movie so that I can see them again. Hell, after reading eustacescrubb I may have to see it again in the theater.
posted by Euphorbia at 1:19 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If we are going to nitpick, I was surprised by Kincade's use of a flashlight while escorting M to the church. This guy's the gameskeeper (and supposedly knows the lands around the estate like his bedroom), and he can't understand that a light dancing around the moors is going to attract attention.

That and the demotion of Moneypenny to mere desk-sitter was plain insulting. She should be an intelligence analyst or something more worthy.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:51 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


If we are going to nitpick, I was surprised by Kincade's use of a flashlight while escorting M to the church.

Indeed. I know the new Q doesn't like gadgets, but he couldn't even rustle up a pair of night-vision goggles?
posted by IjonTichy at 1:54 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


the only reason to deny them is if you're politically motivated to deny the conclusion that Bond is a rapist

Or because we saw the film and came away with a legitimate and wholly different interpretation of the film's "text."

it is not true in the fiction that she knew he was there

It's fiction so nothing is true and the fact that you're unwilling to allow that other viewers saw the same film and didn't read what you did in that scene for legitimate reasons means I don't think you're being a charitable interlocutor -and I think I'll stay uninterested in what you have to say about this until you knock off the ad hominems and address us like adults with minds capable of interacting with the film in complex ways.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:54 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


If we are going to nitpick, I was surprised by Kincade's use of a flashlight while escorting M to the church.

Agreed. At first I assumed that it was a trap, or that he was going to get closer and the flashlight was going to be attached to one of those beautiful black labs.
posted by ftm at 2:11 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Female agent in opening sequence, first characteristic we see = 'bad driver', breaking side mirror

I don't remember the setup for breaking the first side mirror, but she clearly broke the second one intentionally, making her an excellent driver.

By end of film she's demoted to secretary

She chooses to take an office position, she isn't demoted. And her boss is the head of the entire organization.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:22 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


She chooses to take an office position, she isn't demoted. And her boss is the head of the entire organization.

Sure, and like many things in Skyfall, there can be explanations that make logical sense, but not so much emotional or character sense. There's a big chasm between "field agent" and "office secretary," filled with jobs that don't involve firing a gun but aren't just typist duties, either. It's one thing for someone who aspired to be a field operative to decide that life isn't for them; it's another for that person to decide to become Moneypenny. One is more believable than the other.
posted by chrominance at 2:34 PM on November 12, 2012


Spoilers abound in my comment below.

I disagree that Bond raped that girl. I disagree with people making up a backstory for her and then getting offended by their own interpretation. She isn't featured on screen long enough, and she's got chilled champagne and a boatload of henchmen waiting. Was she in the shower not expecting Bond, or did she deliberately go into the shower when she'd heard he'd arrived? Also I can't recall the tattoo on her wrist in the shower scene. I did note that she quite deliberately angles the tattoo at Bond at the bar while holding her cigarette, so it doesn't strike me as something she was ashamed of. If anything her message to Bond is "kill these three guys and you can have me on my boat later."

Bond goes to the boat not knowing if it's a deathtrap or not. It's probably not, because what sort of top level assassin gets a casino chip as payment and has that chip in a special compartment in his equipment? And then they are waiting for whomever turns that chip in. It's a setup all around. We are halfway through the movie and Bond, and we, don't know the villain's name yet. And therein to me was the real problem with the screenplay. It was another one of those "evil mastermind" films where the planning of the plot and hiring of the expendable henchmen was probably a bit more interesting than the hero saving the day.

I did think showing that Q, M, and Moneypenny were code names for positions in the organization was great, but the major copout was showing how Bond wasn't. (With his childhood home and parent's grave.) I actually was thought that the Moneypenny reveal at the end was terrific because it implied that the Moneypenny in all of the other films was competent field agent in her own right -- a sort of empowerment via retcon that the series needs. I just wish Skyfall hadn't copped out in making Bond appear to be the same person (thus 80 years old) while showing all of the other supporting roles to be just that, roles.
posted by Catblack at 2:46 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's fiction so nothing is true

I disagree that there is no such thing as truth in fiction. It is true in the fiction of Sherlock Holmes that Holmes is a human, and it is false in the fiction that he is an alien.

You are right that I unfairly imputed political motivations to others. At the very same time, I was complaining that Dasein and others were doing the same things to me, so I apologize for that and wish I could that sentence back. (I never meant to include you as a target anyhow.)

I disagree with people making up a backstory for her and then getting offended by their own interpretation

I am not making up a backstory.
posted by painquale at 3:00 PM on November 12, 2012


Slavoj Žižek, 1999: "A similar tension between rights and prohibitions determines heterosexual seduction in our politically correct times. Or, to put it differently, there is no seduction which cannot at some point be construed as intrusion or harassment because there will always be a point when one has to expose oneself and ‘make a pass’. But, of course, seduction doesn’t involve incorrect harassment throughout. When you make a pass, you expose yourself to the Other (the potential partner), and her reaction will determine whether what you just did was harassment or a successful act of seduction. There is no way to tell in advance what her response will be (which is why assertive women often despise ‘weak’ men, who fear to take the necessary risk). This holds even more in our pc times: the pc prohibitions are rules which, in one way or another, are to be violated in the seduction process. Isn’t the seducer’s art to accomplish the violation in such a way that, afterwards, by its acceptance, any suggestion of harassment has disappeared?"
posted by ed at 3:12 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pardon me if I don't look to Slavoj on how to interpet gender and sexual power dynamics.
posted by Catchfire at 3:16 PM on November 12, 2012


Yeah, Slavoj Zizek may have many other sterling qualities, but anti-sexism/feminism is not among them.
posted by corb at 3:18 PM on November 12, 2012


I'm not sure I'd call the shower scene rape exactly, but it was much more squicky than sexy for me. Severine seemed scared out of her wits when she realized that she wasn't alone in the shower, and collected herself when she realized that it was Bond. A simple quippy variation on "May I join you? before stepping into the shower would've gone a very long way towards making that scene less problematic, I think.
posted by peppermind at 3:19 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Isn't it possible that she was selected by the new M to be his admin because he wanted someone with some experience as a field agent? We saw him pick up a gun and I can see him thinking that he wants his admin to be comfortable doing the same.

We don't know what kinds of responsibilities M's admin has. We see Dench's M involved in live field operations, I see no reason why M's admin wouldn't do similar things for smaller, lower priority, less dangerous missions that don't rate quite high enough to require M's personal attention.
posted by VTX at 3:21 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Severine seemed scared out of her wits when she realized that she wasn't alone in the shower

This is why we may never come to consensus about the shower scene ('we' meaning Metafilter) - I read that scene completely differently - she seemed to me to know Bond was already there and I remember being taken aback that she wasn't startled at all. All of this probably means that our various reactions to the scene probably reveal more about each of us than about the film itself.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:29 PM on November 12, 2012


It'd be really helpful if we had the video online. I remember her being startled as well.
posted by painquale at 3:43 PM on November 12, 2012


eustacescrubb: “This is why we may never come to consensus about the shower scene ('we' meaning Metafilter) - I read that scene completely differently - she seemed to me to know Bond was already there and I remember being taken aback that she wasn't startled at all. All of this probably means that our various reactions to the scene probably reveal more about each of us than about the film itself.”

Well, I guess we should say this – it's pretty clear that nobody involved in making the movie saw it as rape. They clearly saw it as consensual, right? And that seems to be the argument – that, within the context of the James Bond universe, Severine was a wholly willing participant in the sex, and was quite happy that it happened. I don't think it's really possible to argue against that, actually.

I think the thing people have problems with here is where the fiction says something about life in general. Every fiction says something about reality, even if they're only using it as a jumping-off point to describe an ideal. James Bond is most definitely an ideal of some kind; he's held up as both a hero and a sex symbol. That much seems clear to me, anyway. And the difficult point is that, within his universe, there is pretty much no such thing as a non-consenting woman. He can walk into a shower uninvited and she'll "know" beforehand that he's there, or will instantly show her consent through body language. And the message here seems to be that the ideal world is one in which all women are always immediately consenting to any advances the man makes, even in situations where it would seem to many to be hideously inappropriate (like, say, a former sex slave who probably has some healing to do).

This is something we talk a lot about in the context of romantic comedies, for what it's worth. There's a lot of discussion about the way that, in romantic comedies, men are often pulling grand stunts in the name of love which are in fact highly manipulative and sometimes even criminal in the context of real life. The sexism is in the idea that there's something romantic and desirable about near-coercive (or sometimes even coercive) manipulation.

In the case of James Bond, the ideal is apparently that there's just never any coercion necessary – that consent is always implied and always given. I think it's pretty easy to make a case that that's an unhealthy ideal.
posted by koeselitz at 3:54 PM on November 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


It'd be really helpful if we had the video online. I remember her being startled as well.

Yeah, throughout this thread I've tabbed at least twice, been at the point of typing in Youtube.com, and then remembered, "oh, right. Fuck."
posted by AdamCSnider at 4:18 PM on November 12, 2012


And, again, this assumption of consent seemed really weird when you compare it to how this world was set up in the last two movies.

One scene in Casio Royale does a good job of pointing out Bond's sexism while maintaining the adventure/blockbuster mood AND it even suggests a hint of psychoanalytical "Bond has to sleep with other men's wives" without doing something as literal as.....I don't know, blowing up his childhood home.

Another (which i don't have a link to but if you happen to, you know, bump into it it takes place at precisely the hour and a half mark in the film) has Bond attempt to work the exact kind of "look into my eyes, I'm Bond" wish fulfillment that we're talking about. Eva Green's character tells him to fuck off with a large helping of disdain.

Again, not ideal for most bits of culture, but it was still nice to see the character forced to evolve. With that being the groundwork for Craig's run so far large parts of Skyfall seemed a bit out of left field.
posted by sendai sleep master at 4:52 PM on November 12, 2012


My take on the agent turning out to be Moneypenny was that the film was creating a strong-female backstory for what used to be just a yearning decorative deskbound sex-object in the much older movies.
posted by Peach at 5:01 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like the discussion of whether it was rape or not rape misses the point here. It's also something we can't determine, in the same way we can't determine what happened in these characters lives just before the scene as presented to us began. We only have what we're shown, with all its suggestions about how the rest of the story fills in. The point is that there is nothing in the actual scene that seeks to obtain consent or even implies that it has been warranted, previously or otherwise. The outcome of whether or not a rape occurred is actually somewhat irrelevant, in the sense that the problem (the lack of seeking, confirming, or showing consent) occurred (or didn't occur) a few steps before. We aren't given enough information; we just can't know.

"...within his universe, there is pretty much no such thing as a non-consenting woman."

I think there's definitely some truth to this, for this the ideal Bond world. And as the world exists for him, he does not need to seek consent. It's a bit different out here in the non-ideal real world, however. And it's not a distinction that occurs to most people while they're watching an action film.

"Every fiction says something about reality"

And this is where the clash lies. We're supposed to empathize and relate to the characters at the points when their realities align with ours, but to also know where the fictions begin and end. It's a fairly straightforward task when we're dealing with, say, the loss of a parental figure (an unambiguously sad reality) or a rooftop jump with chasing motorcycles (a thrilling but unlikely fiction). It's much more nuanced when we're dealing with navigating the intricacies of relationships, short-lived or otherwise. Is this scene something we should relate to, or is it a fiction? It's both. What does the fiction part say about our reality? What does our reality impose upon the gaps in the fiction? How do we make the distinctions and how can we expect someone watching this to tease it all apart? To know which to internalize and which to fantasize. To emulate or reject. And on.

This is where the message goes awry. The fiction requires that consent never need be asked. The reality requires that it needs to be represented in some form. There is overlap; it can be done. It can even be done in a way that preserves Bond's take-what-he-wants sexist image. It can be done, but it wasn't. And people noticed that. It's not the end of the world, but yeah, it's obvious that there's a bit to say about it. From many perspectives.

I say all this from the view of someone who absolutely loved this film. I thought it was fantastic, exceeding all of my expectations (which were fairly high, as I had been listening to Kermode's podcast review of Skyfall on the way to the theater). I was completely blown away by the first action sequence, mesmerized by the opening credits, captivated throughout and to the bittersweet end. But yeah, I guess you could say something bothered me just a little about that one scene...
posted by iamkimiam at 6:26 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


The fact that there are around 200 comments here I think proves what a good movie it is -- most Bond films have been entirely forgettable, and that includes the Connery classics. This one is a beautiful mishmash of a few different subplots, which are all knotted up by editing decisions that none of us are privy to. For example, in the vein of so many Bond films of yore, I wouldn't be surprised that Severine was, at one point in the development/shooting process, revealed to be in cahoots with Silva to lure Bond to the island, in which case her absurdist execution was well-deserved. But then again, maybe not -- Sam Mendes is a very smart man, and he co-wrote the script (or at least the story), and he could have made Severine "good" just to prove a point about all the previous Bonds' senseless, sometimes gleeful snuffing of sexual conquests.

And for those who are up in arms over the shower scene, consider this: I interviewed all the principals in the movie for a (shitty) magazine piece I wrote last week. Berenice Marlohe, the French-Cambodian actress who plays Severine, was the most remarkable of the bunch, because instead of talking up her next project or kissing ass like a normal person, she used her newfound, and perhaps fleeting, fame to call journalists' attention to the current trial of a Pol Pot co-conspirator in Cambodia. Ends/means and all that.
posted by turducken at 7:23 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I guess you can be bothered by whatever you want, but why the hell are you watching Bond movies, then?

Something being a known quantity doesn't excuse its failings.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:35 PM on November 12, 2012


The outcome of whether or not a rape occurred is actually somewhat irrelevant, in the sense that the problem (the lack of seeking, confirming, or showing consent) occurred (or didn't occur) a few steps before. We aren't given enough information; we just can't know.

I agree with you and koeselitz in broad stokes; there's something really creepy going on here no matter what. But I do think that something stronger is needed than just saying that there's an epistemic problem and we can't know whether consent is given. It's not just that consent isn't shown; it is shown that there is no consent.

I think we have a trilemma. Either (1) Bond was on the yacht and the viewers don't have knowledge of consent that takes place off-screen, or (2) there is no consent at all, or (3) the genre makes it true in the fiction that women are so psychologically unreal that they automatically consent to Bond.

I thought from the movie that (1) was clearly and straightforwardly presented as false, but given other people's comments here, I'm not so sure... I think I will need to see the scene again. I didn't really think of the possibility that the movie could be interpreted so that Bond and Severine encountered one another between the casino and shower. If my memory is right, then I suspect it can't be, but I accept that maybe I am wrong.

(2) and (3) are both terrible and give us leave to indict the filmmakers. In (2), within the world of the fiction, Bond does evil and we are expected to identify with him; in (3), Bond is perfectly good, but the filmmakers are to be admonished for making a fiction in which women are basically automatons. It seems like others here are going for (3), like when koeselitz writes, "within his universe, there is pretty much no such thing as a non-consenting woman" and iamkimiam writes, "The fiction requires that consent never need be asked." But I don't think the genre conventions can possibly be this strong. This movie stretches them to a snapping point. What if Bond were laying in wait in the bushes and popped out to attack someone? Would we be meant to accept that he did no wrong because he is the protagonist of a genre movie? That's essentially the kind of scene this movie presents us with. At some point, the convention has to break. Women are robbed of autonomy to such an incredible extent in interpretation (3) that it is difficult to understand anything about the world of the movie whatsoever.

Additionally, by bringing up the very notion of sex slavery, the movie erodes the genre conventions to such an extent that they cannot be relied upon. Women might have been objects in Connery's Bond movies... but there weren't any trembling sex slaves. In previous movies, rape just wasn't a part of the world. This is not the case here.

I feel like the discussion of whether it was rape or not rape misses the point here.

I don't know... I think it's important whether the scene depicts a rape or not. Over the years, women have become more psychologically full-formed in genre fiction, and as this happens, Bond-style acts of machismo turn out to be vicious. The shower scene in this movie is qualitatively different from those in previous Bond movies, I think, and it is important to point this out instead of dismissing it as more of the usual Bond sexism.
posted by painquale at 8:35 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: And the message here seems to be that the ideal world is one in which all women are always immediately consenting to any advances the man makes,

The message is probably, "hey do we really need another establishing shot and some throw away sexy one-liners?"


shakespeherian: I guess you can be bothered by whatever you want, but why the hell are you watching Bond movies, then?

Something being a known quantity doesn't excuse its failings.


You'll notice I didn't agree with you; I didn't offer an excuse. But since you feel that way, surely you understand you're going to be disappointed every time?
posted by spaltavian at 8:39 PM on November 12, 2012


I think I was unclear. Sexism in a film is a problem whether I watch it or not.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:43 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Painquale: It's not just that consent isn't shown; it is shown that there is no consent.

No, it isn't. We would have to know everything that happened between the casino and the shower. You explicitly mentioned the possibility that we don't in your so-called trilemma.

You're taking absence of evidence as evidence of absence. (Not that I agree there's no evidence.)
posted by spaltavian at 8:46 PM on November 12, 2012


Spaltavian, please don't be so hostile. I accept that if a meeting happens between the casino and shower, there's no problem. But I don't think the movie leaves much room for that possibility. Severine is disappointed when she doesn't get to serve the champagne.

I bet if you asked most people coming out of the theater whether Bond and Severine met between the scenes in the casino and in the shower, they would say no. At the very least, it is worth pointing out to those people that if they think that is true, then they should also believe they witnessed sexual assault.
posted by painquale at 8:54 PM on November 12, 2012


Severine is disappointed when she doesn't get to serve the champagne.

You mean the champagne she intended to serve Bond alone, in her bedroom, in her nightclothes? Or do you think her intention was to slip into business-causal attire when Bond arrived? Maybe the champagne was just to get the mental juices flowing during their rousing game of Scrabble?
posted by spaltavian at 9:22 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, spaltavian, I (and I'm sure a lot of others) find it problematic/wrong when ambiguous things like clothes and alcohol are assumed to be shorthand for consent.

That aside, even if we are operating, as koeselitz was saying, in a Bond universe/genre where those things ARE understood to be equivalent to consent we are then presented with a really strange choice of editing that creates this problematic scenario.

We see Severian, as you said, alone in her bedroom with champagne and in a bathrobe. She then looks disappointed and the film cuts to her in the shower. Because the film cuts and the last scene emphasized the lack of Bond's presence we as an audience kind of have to assume he doesn't see the champagne, or the look of disappointment etc. Which means he sneaks up on this woman with no idea of whether she wants to have sex with him or not. A lot of us see this as problematic on a moral level but, even if you don't see it that way, I think we might be able to agree that it at least seems unlike the Bond character, no?

I mean, it's not charming and it's not done via smooth talking. Even if the sex is consensual it's not even "earned" in the same way prior Bonds have "earned" sexual encounters. As evidence I submit two similar shower scenes from the Connery and Moore eras. In both scene A and scene B there is a recognized breach of decorum (and possibly an actual threat) evidenced by the woman questioning Bond's presence in the bathroom and by the other woman confronting him with a gun. So, even if this we assume that there is no sexual assault in the Skyfall scene might you agree that Craig's Bond fails or refuses to recognize a line that Connery and Moore's Bond felt disinclined to cross?

If someone does read it that way then it suggests that the sexual politics in Skyfall could be construed as less progressive than what is presented in the movies of the 60's and early 70's. Regardless of what labels one attaches, can't you see why someone, (like myself and other commenters in this thread) who believe that such a back step may be happening on a canvas that reaches millions around the world, feel the need to approach it critically?
posted by sendai sleep master at 10:12 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


BentFranklin: “He didn't rape anyone. The woman was waiting for him on the boat with two glasses of champagne poured.”

PeterMcDermott: “I'll remember this useful tip for the future. Drink pre-poured? Licence to non-consensually fuck.”

spaltavian: “This is an embarrassingly dense retort, and I can't imagine you're actually dimwitted enough to think this was a response to the point made, so why did you waste everyone's time?”

What? It seems like you're just insulting people for no reason here. BentFranklin said there was consent, and as evidence of the consent pointed to the two glasses of champagne. Even if you believe that there was consent, that is flatly not an indication of said consent – is it? Is it not kind of off to claim that, if I pour two glasses of champagne, even in expectation that another person will show up, then I am explicitly consenting to sex with that person? Maybe calm down about this a little.
posted by koeselitz at 10:16 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting how this thread has become dominated by "rape or not?" comments and opinions. Everyone I've talked to who's seen the movie, even if they enjoyed themselves while watching it, has come away troubled by the scene when the girl is shot (the William Tell scene). Not troubled as in "made me think about an uncomfortable idea" but troubled as in "ick, that was nasty."

Anthony Lane has been talking in his reviews lately about the coarsening of our sensibilities through the more and more extreme and thoughtless violence in our movies. This seems to be an excellent example. There have been a few comments here about that scene, and how it could have been different, that the movie didn't actually need to show the murder of a young woman whose primary emotion throughout is terror. But of course it's more exciting to argue about whether the sex was consensual or rape.
posted by kestralwing at 11:37 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know that it's more exciting. The discussion here is obviously not the same one your friends are having, but that doesn't mean it is less valid. This happens to be the discussion because it was a significant complaint in one of the original links, and, as a result, it is a complaint this FPP highlighted.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:50 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Guys, please direct your comments to the subject matter at hand and try not to single out individual users. Thank you.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:44 AM on November 13, 2012


the movie didn't actually need to show the murder of a young woman whose primary emotion throughout is terror.

This is it in a nutshell. Well, part of it at least. The character is one who, from the first piece of info we have from her, is in a compromised position - ( her bodyguards (we are told) are acting to contain her, not protect her). And we don't get any further information that might suggest to us that she has chosen this

And then Bond kind of just waltzes into her shower without it ever being established that she has any kind of real agency. That she has the power to say, 'No thanks Secret Agent' and then decides 'Yes, Secret Agent.' This is gross. Then, despite all her warnings and her clear apprehension, Bond clomps right into the den of the bad guy, bringing her, pretty unwillingly but helpless to change events, along with him. Where, as she had foretold, she dies. That is fucking wildly unsatisfying. It's also a crazy indictment to the kind of man Bond is. He brings her to her death - not collaterally, as with so many other 'Bond Girls'. He literally brings her to her death and then, though I think Craig does manage to squeeze a fraction of a moment of sorrow and disgust and anger into the scene, he gets away and never seems to think of her again.

It is wildly shitty movie-making and watching it I was very surprised it was not left on the cutting room floor.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:20 AM on November 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


koeselitz and iamkimiam:

Yes, I agree - the more interesting discussion centers around the kind of hero the Bond series has presented to us, and whether or not the recent films starring Craig have managed to achieve their project of making Bond less of a white boy's fantasy while also inviting critique not just of Bond but of the culture that produced him - which was 50 years ago, when British and American imperialism, racism and sexism were still very much taken for granted. And I agree that the shower scene is clumsily-done, with the result that the potential for that scene to be part of the film's overall critique of the Bond narrative (and our hero fantasies) is lost.

The scene seemed perfunctory, in that regard - it wasn't especially sexy (the Moneypenny scene where she shaves him is waaaaay sexier, for multiple reasons).

From Bklyn:

It's also a crazy indictment to the kind of man Bond is.

I think that is one of the central points of the film. We are not being asked to admire Bond, but simply to see him for what he is.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:42 AM on November 13, 2012


A single, Archie Bunker, who can handle a weapon, and fight. Won't be seeing this one.
posted by Flex1970 at 8:05 AM on November 13, 2012


I think there's a lot in the film that suggests that we're not being asked to admire Bond. That being said, plenty of the usual coolness/fantasy cues are still present and put forth in earnest or are being put forth with irony that is not immediately obvious.

All of this makes me want to know more about the production. Did Mendes or Logan (the writer) attempt to make it more critical of Bond? Did Sony or The Brocolis attempt to move the story/script in a direction that was more marketable?

I think the big question really is whether one can actually make an Anti-Bond movie or whether all the familiar tropes predispose an audience to glamorize everything the character does.
posted by sendai sleep master at 8:06 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I object to the indictment of Eve's character-- I can't believe anyone could consider her anything less than a masterful driver because she smashed a couple of mirrors, the second one as a deliberate comeback to Bond's insinuation. Did you not watch the rest of that scene? And if you think she made a bad shot, under that much pressure, you know nothing about shoot. That she could hit either man would make her a skilled shooter. She missed because the movie needed her to do so.

She participated in a close-quarters shootout while evacuating innocents in the scene in the middle, while most of the room was losing its shit. This was the kind of event, too, that might've turned her away from field work.

And as for her demotion to "Secretary?" She's the personal assistant to the Director of MI-6, with a security clearance to match his. She made a smart career move instead of electing to return to dangerous field work. Not to mention that her new boss had seen her actions in the previous scene. His "Secretary" will shoot to kill without flinching; sure makes you feel more confident about opening your door, knowing she's out there.

Some of you don't watch Bond movies, apparently, enough to know that about half the the Bond girls don't make it to the closing credits. Eve's going to be in future movies, one hopes. That's hardly a demotion.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:15 AM on November 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


The scene played out like this for me:

Girl in shower, girl is sex slave and will do what is required, man gets into shower, girl does not know who man is and assumes the worst, trembles, man speaks and is recognized as Bond, girl relaxes and turns willingly to him.

There is a ton of baggage there but after actually seeing the scene for myself I think it is pretty clear once she knew it was Bond and not a henchmen she was very pleased.
posted by M Edward at 9:19 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


And the message here seems to be that the ideal world is one in which all women are always immediately consenting to any advances the man makes.

No, this is an action movie set in a fantasy world where all kinds of unrealistic stuff happens. In this particular instance it's that consenting to sex doesn't need to be said, all parties involved just know.

So in that sense, this is showing an ideal world. One in which consent never needs to be stated because everyone is so good at reading body language that it doesn't need to be said.
posted by VTX at 9:29 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the problem with Moneypenny is that sure, her decision makes sense in a lot of ways - but I'm the one that has to think of them, because the movie doesn't show me why she changes her mind. She's out in the field, handling challenges, being badass and doing what she can, and then abruptly she's in a role we're all familiar with and which in the previous Bond movies has been pretty empty and definitely secretarial. I can totally change my headcanon to make the decision perfectly logical, but the hard work is all on me because the movie failed to give any hint of why she might do such a thing.

Severine's death was heartbreaking. Like I said upthread, I didn't go, "Oh, geez, this is rape," but I did give a massive eyeroll, and it carried through to how absolutely discarded she was at the end there. If you're going to set up a trembling, terrified woman - and the actress did a good job with that, all the "I can barely control my face because I'm so scared" in the casino - we empathize with her and hate Bond a little bit for being too empty and quippy about her when she died.
posted by PussKillian at 9:30 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, this is an action movie set in a fantasy world where all kinds of unrealistic stuff happens. In this particular instance it's that consenting to sex doesn't need to be said, all parties involved just know.

Right, but the issue is that they spent the last two movies and large parts of this one establishing the setting as less fantastic and establishing the characters as having more interior complexity. In this case the realism was put forth by giving this particular woman a harrowing backstory that happens in the real world.

Yes, sexy scenes that function in this way are part of the Bond genre but when placed in the newly established, more real, setting it seems off.

It would be like if one of Nolan's Batman films opened with a guy establishing that he has to steal a load if bread to feed his family and then, while he's doing this, Bats swoops in and wrecks his face with 100 grand of Wayne tech merchandise.

Unless the movie makes an effort to show why this is necessary or how Batman is wrong then this decision makes it look like The filmmakers expect us to delight in what is clearly Batman being an ass. Again, it feels off.
posted by sendai sleep master at 9:52 AM on November 13, 2012


I dunno, PussKillian, I thought for a minor character, the Moneypenny arc was handled well. She's not "being badass and doing what she can," she shoots a fellow agent and believes she's killed him. Sure, there's only a line or two about how "field work isn't for everyone," but isn't that exactly the cue we need to know why she makes her decision? I don't think it merited a whole soul-searching scene -- we can imagine the rest.
posted by muckster at 9:52 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think, muckster, that would be the case if she wasn't seen in the field between her mistakenly shooting Bond and her decision to leave fieldwork. In the intervening scenes we see her competently operating in the field and seeming to enjoy it. I think this complicates the theory that she left after feeling either guilty about Bond or feeling ill-suited to field work. I suppose I just politely align my opinion with pusskillian in that I think your theory is certainly viable but it requires a lot from the viewer.
posted by sendai sleep master at 10:16 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I may change my mind after seeing the movie again, but I remember Bond delivering that line very flatly, not pointedly, and her not being too bothered by it. She took a difficult shot, it failed, he was more mad at M for not trusting him to win the fight as opposed to her shooting him. And then she helps him in Macau, without expressing any sort of discomfort about it. I don't think I needed a long scene with her pouring her heart out...a quip, an expression, something quite minor would probably have done. Even a pointed look at the door before she lets him through to see the new M, and something along the lines of, "He was taken with my actions in the courtroom, and I figure I'll be happier here/have more room to grow here/less likely a chance of being killed horribly here...

On preview, what sendai said.
posted by PussKillian at 10:22 AM on November 13, 2012


PussKillian I think the problem with Moneypenny is that sure, her decision makes sense in a lot of ways - but I'm the one that has to think of them,

And that's a good thing. Do we really need a dumber movie when it comes to gender politics, just to make sure no one can possibly be offended?

abruptly she's in a role we're all familiar with and which in the previous Bond movies has been pretty empty and definitely secretarial

We don't know what the role will be in the coming films, though. I doubt she'll have as little to do as the previous incarnations of the role.

sendai sleep master: Ok, spaltavian, I (and I'm sure a lot of others) find it problematic/wrong when ambiguous things like clothes and alcohol are assumed to be shorthand for consent.

Movies only work with context. In real life, it would be problematic because we actually experience a full 24 hours of each day, including parts that would be very boring to film. It wasn't shorthand; it was an establishment shot. It gives you a lot of information in a short time frame, in a way that's not very boring.

Similarly, they have a quick shot of Big Ben so you know Bond is back in London, rather than show his 14 hour plane ride.
posted by spaltavian at 10:33 AM on November 13, 2012


i am confused as to how the Moneypenny thing is now seen as a super sexist thing, despite the fact that the role of Moneypenny has been consistent for 50+ years...maybe i missed it, but were people this upset during Samantha Bond's time as Moneypenny?

unless they are allowing Mendes to make sweeping changes to Bond canon (which i doubt is allowed, at least by this director) Moneypenny was never going to suddenly become a field agent, much less an 00 agent...

also: the fact that anyone points to the chase scene at the start of the movie as showing that Moneypenny is a bad driver is looking for things / reasons to critique Bond -- and is not living in reality.

Bond has more than enough things to focus on when you want to critique the franchise, why are people grasping at straws like this?
posted by knockoutking at 10:47 AM on November 13, 2012


I don't know that I need a dumber movie, but I'd prefer a movie that has thought about its characters and what it's trying to say about them. Instead, they gave me a character whose motivations don't really make sense. If Moneypenny had been sitting in front of a computer outside M's office from the beginning of the film to the end of it, her character would have been boring, but it would have made sense. Tribute to the old movies, blah blah. Flirt with Bond, sexy comment, in you go to the office.

Here, they've tried to freshen up that role, but they've done it in such a weird way that it reads as incoherent for me in a way that feels like something got lost in the editing somewhere. Maybe if they hadn't put her in Macau, where she clearly is not doubting this "field agent" business at all. Maybe if they had had some connection between Mallory and Moneypenny in the courtroom. Maybe if they'd had her look doubtful or anything but uber-confident about her status as field agent. Maybe if they'd thrown in a line about M needing an assistant who could kill five people before they breached the door, I don't know.

She COULD have felt bad about shooting Bond. It would make sense. But all the dialogue between them suggests that they both regard it as one of the hazards of the trade and she DIDN'T feel bad about it.

Really, I don't know what gender politics have to do with the issue. Anybody who is "har har lady driver can't shoot better get her a job in the typists pool" is reaching really far in the opposite direction.
posted by PussKillian at 11:11 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously, though, between the fight in the Shanghai skyscraper and the shaving scene, I got more than my money's worth from the movie.
posted by PussKillian at 11:12 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


spaltavian: “Movies only work with context. In real life, it would be problematic because we actually experience a full 24 hours of each day, including parts that would be very boring to film. It wasn't shorthand; it was an establishment shot. It gives you a lot of information in a short time frame, in a way that's not very boring. Similarly, they have a quick shot of Big Ben so you know Bond is back in London, rather than show his 14 hour plane ride.”

So what were they trying to establish when they introduced Severine as a former sex slave? And is the viewer really expected to utterly ignore the real-world resonance that introduction has?
posted by koeselitz at 11:42 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


So what were they trying to establish when they introduced Severine as a former sex slave?

First and foremost, why she's willing to turn on Silva almost immediately: she only is with him to get out of a horrible situation, and would happily help Bond to kill him. In a lot of older Bond movies; the moll often wouldn't have any reason other than being instantly seduced by Bond. Here, the character is acting rationally and has some implied inner life. I do wish we saw more of it; but it this is actually a full fledged character. Compare to Pussy Galore, who had no reason to flip other that Bond's charm (to which she claimed to be immune).

Secondly, just about every Bond character has a grotesque, tragic or outlandish backstory. Bond and Vesper were orphaned. Silva and 006 were betrayed by MI6. Dr. No lost his hands. Le Chiffe's eye. Zorin was East German-KGB science experiement. Renard's bullet.
posted by spaltavian at 11:58 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The quip by 007 immediately following Severine's exit is pretty controversial in terms of its meaning, according to the Wittertainment (recently on the Blue for their new Youtube channel) podcast, as listeners and 2 sets of hosts (Nominal hosts Mayo and Kermode and relief team "Boyd and Floyd.") contribute different interpretations of that line. It's at the point where Kermode is kicking himself for failing to ask about it when he recently spoke with the Director, and has promised to do so at the next possible opportunity.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:09 PM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the whole, I'd say that the film is (on one level) about Bond films. When he opens the garage door to reveal exactly the same car the character was given in 1964, it moves into a meta-fictional state, becomes almost wholly a film about Bond films. The end of the film explicitly refers to two notorious low points (the return-to-the-ancestral-Scottish-home from the camped up 60s Casino Royale and the invisible car from Die Another Day (also an Aston Martin - this one is invisible because Silva can't track it)). Then both these symbols of the past are completely obliterated.

Following the total destruction of the past, ironically, what falls into place is the status quo of the old Bond films - M, Moneypenny and Q. But whereas previously the characters were seen as abstracted from the action - an administrator, a secretary and a boffin - Skyfall has set out to demonstrate that they are all capable of taking action themselves. So whereas traditionally, Bond has a measure of distain for them, the new team have shown themselves to be worthy of his respect.

For what it's worth, probably not very much, what I thought was meant by the scotch line was that it was perfectly obvious that Silva was going to kill Severine, and the whole set up with the scotch was unnecessary - a stupid game, and a waste of the scotch that was spilled, all other outcomes being equal. I find this somewhat echoed by the scene in the chapel, where Silva's desired outcome and what actually happens are materially identical - both Silva and M dead. But what changes is the significance: Silva doesn't get to play the game his way. It's a difference of value rather than fact.

I've always found that part of a Bond film - the killing of the Moll - to be deeply unpleasant, and I've been going to see them since 1972. Something in the way the film is set up means that all Bond cliches need to be covered, including that one. I think it's interesting that this particular version goes out of its way to make it as nasty as possible. Perhaps Mendes dislikes it as much as I do. The whole sequence is a lot more complicated than it seems - one thing that struck me very strongly was the expression on Severine's face when she realises that Bond is there to get Silva. On the one hand she is performing a fake smile for the benefit of the henchmen who are watching from the other side of the room. But through that mask, we can see a wave of genuine emotion, though whether it's fear, or joy or enthusiasm is ambiguous.
posted by Grangousier at 1:07 PM on November 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


Grangousier-- along those lines, I think Severine recognized, in Bond, a possible game-changer. He didn't turn out to be any kind of way out of the life for her -- stepping over the obvious pun here-- but he certainly seemed like a possibility; she already recognized him as the guy who threw a known-to-her skilled assassin off a building. She did mention to him when and where she'd be in the form of a deadline-- seemed like an invitation to me. After he got one of her guards eaten and 2 more beaten, it's reasonable to suppose she might be apt to sleep with him.

I suppose this woman only ever gets raped if one subscribes to the social-justice theory of things, but, safe to say Bond, and people who think Bond is his own form a justice, do not.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:46 PM on November 13, 2012


Michael Wood wrote an interesting review of Skyfall in the London Review of Books that doesn't touch on the shower scene but does address the change of tone that has been part of this discussion:
When Daniel Craig took on the role of James Bond in Casino Royale (2006), there was much talk of the real thing. Here at last was the mean, lethal, almost banter-free figure we thought Ian Fleming had invented, the ruthless, funless fellow we imagined we had always wanted. He had a licence to kill but his real licence was his angry work ethic. He was going to get the job done and nothing would distract him. He looked more like Robert Shaw, the great villain in From Russia with Love, than like any other Bond. He was unshaken, unstirred; dogged not feline, a terrier who made us wonder what those sleek, overdressed catlike figures had been doing these 44 years. Even his smart suits looked like overalls done by Dior – well, by Lindy Hemming, as it happens. When he said, ‘Bond, James Bond’, he was not just identifying himself as other actors had done. He was correcting the record. He was James Bond, the others were impostors, Algernons or Benedicts or something from a quite different branch of the family.

The film (directed by Martin Campbell) was well paced, and organised the old tropes elegantly around the new engine. But by the end it was already beginning to feel tired – with how many more Bond movies to come. It looked good, it was good, but there was some kind of misapprehension lurking in it. Quantum of Solace (2008), directed by Marc Forster, seemed a bit stodgy, but thoroughly faithful to the old-new premise, the labours of the travelling, rough-’em-up bulldog. It was only when I saw it again a few weeks ago – since this is the Bond movies’ fiftieth anniversary year there are places in the world where you can’t see anything on television except Bond films – that I understood. Craig and his directors thought seriousness was a virtue. They had brought a Stanislavskian notion of intensity not just to acting but to fiction. The idea was for Craig to be James Bond and to show us he was no one else. It wasn’t just a matter of dropping the wisecracks and the various excesses of style, running from Connery to Moore via Dalton and Brosnan, or to put it too speedily, from sardonic to camp via brooding and flighty. It was the assumption, which we all half-fell for, that a real James Bond was a good idea. It wasn’t an idea at all, it was a delusion. Why would we want a real James Bond, and what did we want when we thought we wanted him?
posted by Kattullus at 2:54 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right, but the issue is that they spent the last two movies and large parts of this one establishing the setting as less fantastic and establishing the characters as having more interior complexity. In this case the realism was put forth by giving this particular woman a harrowing backstory that happens in the real world.

Bond also gets shot in the chest keeps going like it was minor annoyance. They haven't abandoned all fantasy elements. I maintain that if the film makers wanted us to assume consent. If they wanted it to be a sexual assault it would have been made more obvious.
posted by VTX at 2:58 PM on November 13, 2012


The shower scene debate is so strange, as it's clear no rape takes place.

Sévérine in the room on the boat, in her robe, with a bottle of champagne chilling in an beautifully ornate ice bucket, along with two wine glasses. She does seem to be waiting and looks disappointed when then boat has to leave. Then it cuts to her in the shower and a mysterious figure entering the room. I think that's the only part that's slightly creepy, the mysterious figure as she's showering.

Anyway, her eyes are closed, her back to the shower door and the figure enters the shower, we see its Bond, who begins touching her. She does seem somewhat cautious at this point, knowing there is someone in the shower with her, but it could be because she knows its Bond and what that means for her future, i.e. she's making an attempt to get her "master" killed and that's a stick situation. Either way, once he speaks ("I like you more without your Beratta"), she clearly turns to him, smiles, kisses him and they happily begin making out as the music swells.

One could say many things about that scene but rape isn't one of them. The sex is consensual.

If one wants to discuss Sévérine's past and how that may affect her views of sexuality and casual sex, that's fine. But to insist that she can only be a thing and never have the agency or desire to enjoy sex is a particularly narrow point of view.

Otherwise, my biggest problem with the scene was how the hell did Bond get on the boat? There was a lot of that sort of handwaving throughout the move. Stuff just happens, with no explanation as to why.

The intent of this movie seems to be get Bond to the classical point from the pre Daniel Craig era. Bond was born, grew up and became the cold and calculating agent we've always known, silently angry that all the women that he ever loved left him. I had thought they were rebooting the character for modern times, but it seems not or at least not as much I liked. Judi Dench as M was great and she'll be missed.

Oh, Bond and Moneypenny had sex. But now that M is dead, they won't. Bond needs that at least one woman he cares for to be stay alive. If he got too close to her, he thinks she'll get killed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:16 PM on November 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also, this information for IMDB is depressing:
"When MGM announced plans to release this film during November 2012, producer Barbara Broccoli said that the series "will go on to other different stories from now on" after the two previous Bond movies. As such, this film is not a direct follow-on from Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale. Director Sam Mendes said that 'Skyfall' does "not connect" with those two previous Bond movies. Mendes has also stated that the secret criminal organization Quantum from those two films does not feature in 'Skyfall'."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:23 PM on November 13, 2012


Bond needs that at least one woman he cares for to be stay alive.

"They dont think it be like it is but it do"
— James Bond
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:27 PM on November 13, 2012


Imho, Bond was conceived as a product for pubescent adolescence and slightly immature adults.

Mature adults who would like to read about how a master spy actually operates are suggested to read "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov and then to watch the related TV production.

In the novel you'll see how Bond's childish coolness becomes evident by contrasting it with by the cold cynicism of Pontius Pilatus and his Head of Secret services. The political, criminal implications of their machinations actually reflect reality. I warn you, it's not for people who want to remain innocent. The whole novel is an absolute masterpiece of world literature and exactly because it's not a canned, predigested explanation of what's going to happen - as opposed to a rough 90 percent of movies - it actually makes you think while entertaining you.
posted by elpapacito at 4:33 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Otherwise, my biggest problem with the scene was how the hell did Bond get on the boat?

Inside a fake alligator, natch.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:40 PM on November 13, 2012


Severine told the men on the boat to let him on. She needed her bodyguards at the casino to try and kill him so Bond could prove his worth, after that, she told Silva's men to leave him alone. Silva needed Bond to come to the Island and capture him but couldn't make it too obvious.

It's the same reason that Bond retreated to a house in the middle of nowhere. Anyplace with more backup would have involved other agencies and Silva would have known about the trap. He would have disappeared and waited for another opportunity when he could create more of a tactical advantage. By making such a poor choice about where to go to keep M safe, he provided a target too tempting for Silva to pass up. Bond knew their chances were slim but that's kind of his specialty. Also he though he had a lot more guns (and presumably explosives) stored there.
posted by VTX at 5:55 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: "Otherwise, my biggest problem with the scene was how the hell did Bond get on the boat?"

Bruce Wayne was headed back to a besieged-and-military-blockaded-Gotham from some hole-in-the-ground prison and gave Bond a lift, because you know, orphans have to look out for each other.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:18 PM on November 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I did think showing that Q, M, and Moneypenny were code names for positions in the organization was great, but the major copout was showing how Bond wasn't.

I totally agree. I thought that when they mentioned "Silva" wasn't the character's real name, they were implying agents like him (and Bond) used long-term pseudonyms, but that was squashed by the final act.
posted by Amanojaku at 6:19 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moneypenny wasn't a code name; and it's always been know that Q and M are code names. "M" comes from "C", which is what the head of British intelligence, "Control" would write on documents.
posted by spaltavian at 6:50 PM on November 13, 2012


"I like you more without your Beratta"

No no no--I'd forgotten about this until you kindly reminded me, but this was my favorite line in the entire movie, and it went like this: "I like you better without your Beretta."
posted by muckster at 11:36 PM on November 13, 2012


Finally saw the movie last night and I really liked it. It was a Bond fan's Bond film, for old school Bond fans, which may or may not be an audience worth cultivating. I like to think my late father (who was my companion in Bond-film watching on TV as a child) would have really liked it.

The shower scene didn't seem significantly more rapey than the average Bond "seduction" to me, and was less rapey IMO than the scene in Thunderball that really squicked me. There was a lot of presumption in him getting naked and joining her in the shower, but if you accept the Bond premises, that wasn't out of character or particularly presumptuous (see: champagne) given the situation, nor did her response to him joining her, once she realized it was him, seem negative. You (generic) don't have to accept the Bond premises, of course, and there are a lot of good reasons to reject the way the movies are built. But if you don't like the premises of the movies, they're probably not for you, even if you theoretically like the property. That's exactly how I feel about the two later Nolan Batman films.

Also I was surprisingly less disappointed by the climax than I expected. I'm glad I kept my expectations low. That helped.

(One of the things I've been pondering and that I think the Craig Bonds touch on but don't entirely explore is the damage that Bond's sex life does to him. He's in the privileged position, no question, but part of being James Bond is fucking women on command. The movies generally operate from the position that this is a blessing, but realistically, that's not the case.)
posted by immlass at 8:38 AM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


(One of the things I've been pondering and that I think the Craig Bonds touch on but don't entirely explore is the damage that Bond's sex life does to him. He's in the privileged position, no question, but part of being James Bond is fucking women on command. The movies generally operate from the position that this is a blessing, but realistically, that's not the case.)

Something I thought Casino Royale (the film) quickly glossed over that Casino Royale (the novel) very strongly implied was that it's actually Bond's inability to have sex after he's tortured that leads to his love for Vesper: she is, quite simply, the first woman he's ever really had to talk to. Yes, they banter before that, but it's just flirting. In the book, it's clear that Bond's convalescence is much longer than it seems in the movie (understandably; it would be dull to watch) and they spend all that time getting to know each other and doing things that aren't boning, because that's all he's capable of. The rest of us typically have to do things like talk to our partners before they'll sleep with us; not Bond, at least until Vesper.

That's also why he cares for Judi Denche's M: he can't use sex to keep her at bay; and why he may even tell himself that he prefers her male replacement. But we, the viewer/reader (like Fleming, who sympathized but did not lionize) know better.

The thing I think Skyfall implied well is that it's not just women Bond has had cause to fuck on command. His quip to Silva about it not being his first time suggests that he kills people for a living and finds a way to live with it; sex with whomever the mission dictates isn't much of a hurdle at all.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:22 AM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


His quip to Silva about it not being his first time suggests that he kills people for a living and finds a way to live with it; sex with whomever the mission dictates isn't much of a hurdle at all.

Traditionally it's been women but agreed, there was definitely a nod to Bond having had sex with men there. Which was nicer than some of the previous quips in Bond films on that subject and also led to some public schoolboy quips between my husband and me. (See: Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt.)
posted by immlass at 9:33 AM on November 14, 2012


Also, he went to Public School.
posted by Grangousier at 9:33 AM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


there was definitely a nod to Bond having had sex with men there

I didn't take it quite that way. To me it seemed like Silva was using same-sex physical contact as a psychological weapon to try to unnerve Bond, and Bond turned the tables on him by demonstrating that it didn't bother him. I don't care and Bond's response was badass either way, I just read it differently.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:28 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah; I read that as them both playing head games. Silva's true orientation could be anything; he was messing with Bond, and Bond was parrying for the upper hand. It was a classic Bond quip, it just didn't sound that way because of the subject matter.
posted by spaltavian at 1:07 PM on November 14, 2012


painquale: I am furious that they decided it was a good idea to make Bond rape a sex slave.
What a load of utter, misandrist nonsense. Grown women are capable of agency. So-called "feminists" that promote the attitude that sex is rape until proven elsewise - like you and Andrea Dworkin - are a major part of the reason that many pro-equality people disdain the term feminist.

The movie made it patently clear that she welcomed his touch. She invited him to her quarters. She melted into his touch. By contrast, whenever her "handlers" were present she visibly trembled with fear. She was a sex slave to the villain, who happily and completely voluntarily took Bond to bed as a lover - but you would deny her even the pleasure of the only kindness she had apparently known since age 12, because it involves (boo! hiss!) a penis entering a vagina.

This sort of sex-negative thinking makes me furious.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:59 AM on November 15, 2012


However, if you want something of reasonable substance to criticize: how about the AWFUL Hollywood trope of a homosexual or lesbian psychopath? Who invariably attempts to rape the hero/heroine? Moreover: he has a mommy fixation. Thank you, repressive idiotic Freudian myth-promoter.

Fuck you, Skyfall writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan, for that one. That stupidly homophobic tiny feature of added nothing to the plot as a whole, and even if it was part of the original Fleming story (I have no idea), it should have been excluded much as outrageous racial stereotypes would have been (hopefully).
posted by IAmBroom at 8:15 AM on November 15, 2012


Another ridiculous criticism: Michael Lithgow's review (the "abandoning the moral intelligence of the times" link above):
Added to this is ... a villainy that isn’t white – Bardem’s supervillain, prostitutes and gangsters.
Bardem's main "prostitute" - his sex slave - is white; only the ones working the Shanghai casino are nonwhite. Most of the gangsters in his employ are white, outside of the three who work in the Shanghai casino. Raoul Silva (birth name Tiago Rodriguez) himself is pale-skinned and blond; from all of this I presume some of his ancestors fled Germany circa 1945.

Tally: villains are mostly white people; Michael Lithgow must have left the theater after the komodo dragon scene an hour in.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:37 AM on November 15, 2012


jettloe: * Female agent in opening sequence, first characteristic we see = 'bad driver', breaking side mirror

* Then she can't even shoot straight

* By end of film she's demoted to secretary
The first point I disagree with: it's a typical "Oh, well" Bond joke, and could as easily been him breaking off the mirrors. I think the point was to show she was a bit greener than he was - able to do all this high-powered driving, but not quite as well, and needing the older agent's & older boss' expertise to assist her along the way.

The second point is moot: the movieviewer sees that she did all that was humanly possible to make that shot, and in fact refused to take it until forced. Later jokes about "bad shooting" fall flat in the face of Bond's obvious ineptitude as a marksman; he is the really bad shot (at that point).

The demotion to secretary infuriated me, though. A skilled field agent shouldn't opt for a desk job as a secretary. She should be a top trainer, or analyst.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:43 AM on November 15, 2012


painquale: I find it really hard to spin a narrative in which Bond doesn't rape her.
How about this one: she willingly had sex with him, just as she appeared to.

Radical, I know. But sometimes women do that, even if they've been abused.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:53 AM on November 15, 2012


mecran01: Was anyone else disturbed by M's recounting of how she had given up Silva to the Chinese, or ordered the shot against Bond?
You are supposed to be disturbed by that. It's one of the major narrative points of the movie, written in heavy magic marker: M is an amoral, emotionless taskmaster who will sacrifice anyone for her goals - which fortunately are "Keep Britain and the Free World safe" (safe on the global scale, if not in your car-chase-filled marketplace).

My read of the moral conclusion on that:
Is it required for her job? Probably.
Does it make her heroic? Probably.
Does it make her a good person? Not particularly.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:05 AM on November 15, 2012


[IAmBroom now might be a good time to wrap up commenting for a bit and let some other people comment.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:07 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The demotion to secretary infuriated me, though. A skilled field agent shouldn't opt for a desk job as a secretary. She should be a top trainer, or analyst.

It wasn't a demotion, she chose to be the secretary to the head of the agency. She has the same boss as she would as a field agent, but doesn't have to shoot people. Which probably factors into the decision to get out of field work.

Killing an enemy is one thing. Being somewhat of a pawn and shooting another agent, even by accident, is another aspect entirely.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:06 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


even if it was part of the original Fleming story (I have no idea),

It wasn't based on any of Fleming's stories; Casino Royale was the last one that hadn't been made into an (actual) Bond film.
posted by spaltavian at 11:07 AM on November 15, 2012


The movie made it patently clear that she welcomed his touch. She invited him to her quarters. She melted into his touch.

If you read a story about a cop in the real world who busted a sex slave ring and then sneaked up behind one of the newly-freed slaves in the shower, then even if she prepared champagne and "melts into his touch," we should think he is doing something morally problematic. I'd call it rape and maybe you wouldn't, but at the least, you can agree it's messed up, right? I think the only way to claim this isn't an exact description of the scene in the movie is to say that there's some weird Bond movie magic going on. (Actually, it's a little worse in the movie... Bond hasn't yet freed her.) I think that normal spy genre conventions aren't enough to supply that movie magic. You'd pretty much have to think of the movie as a piece of magical realism.

This isn't general sex negativity; it only applies to victims of sex slavery. If a cop had sex with a newly freed sex slave and declared that he should be lauded for providing her with "the only kindness she had apparently known since age 12," we should rightly be pissed off, even if we are normally super sex-positive. I don't have an Andrea Dworkin like view of sex, so don't lump me into that position, thanks.
posted by painquale at 12:38 PM on November 15, 2012


Just FYI Andrea Dworkin is in fact awesome and commonly-held notions of her view on sex and sexuality tend to be highly distorted.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:49 PM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


That could be. TBH I only know the caricature of her.
posted by painquale at 12:50 PM on November 15, 2012


If you read a story about a cop in the real world who busted a sex slave ring and then sneaked up behind one of the newly-freed slaves in the shower, then even if she prepared champagne and "melts into his touch," we should think he is doing something morally problematic.

Hey, that's totally understandable and valid viewpoint.

But that's not rape and it is not what occurred in the scene from Skyfall.

I think the only way to claim this isn't an exact description of the scene in the movie is to say that there's some weird Bond movie magic going on.

Well Bond didn't bust a sex slave ring, she clearly sets out two glasses and bottle of champagne, takes off her Beretta and doesn't use it even if it happens to be nearby and clearly enjoys the fact that Bond is in the shower with her.

Is that messed up? Perhaps. But Bond and her operate in a messed up and dark, so them agreeing to have sex with each other doesn't come off as wrong in that sense. YMMV.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:53 PM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, change the story so that it is more parallel. The cop only promises to free a slave; he hasn't actually busted a ring or even freed her yet. She is terrified, and tells him to come over so they can plan how to take down her captor. She pours champagne, and when she thinks he isn't coming over, gets in the shower. Suddenly, he is there.

In the real world, that would seen as super messed-up assault, even if she immediately appeared to reciprocate afterward. I agree that the scene in the movie doesn't come off as wrong, but that's the danger of movies. They portray messed-up and dark situations as glamorous, when really, they are seriously wrong.

There are plenty of porn movies out there that are subtle rape or assault fantasies, but people who watch them would not identify them as such. The movies glamorize assault and hide the messed-up nature of what is going on. This is an assault fantasy, and it is done skillfully enough that it does not feel like one.
posted by painquale at 1:28 PM on November 15, 2012


Ok, change the story so that it is more parallel.

If you have the change the story, then that's not the scene portrayed in the movie and I don't understand what point you're trying to make.

Ultimately, we may have to agree to disagree about our interpretations of that scene.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:51 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


painquale: There are plenty of porn movies out there that are subtle rape or assault fantasies, but people who watch them would not identify them as such. The movies glamorize assault and hide the messed-up nature of what is going on. This is an assault fantasy, and it is done skillfully enough that it does not feel like one.

This is a total sidebar, but that's pretty close to the Dworkin point of view. I've not read a lot of her, but what I have is very interesting, and if you're interested in the philosophy of consent, there are few better thinkers out there. Admittedly she's my sort of thinker since she uses literature a lot to explain her thinking. Anyway, tl;dr, Dworkin is brilliant and is worth checking out.

posted by Kattullus at 1:53 PM on November 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


<3 Dworkin
posted by shakespeherian at 1:58 PM on November 15, 2012


If you have the change the story, then that's not the scene portrayed in the movie and I don't understand what point you're trying to make.

I was trying to change the cop story to make it more like the scene in the movie.

I gave a story about a cop and said that the cop's behavior was abhorrent. You said that it wasn't relevant because the Bond scene had elements X Y and Z. So I was trying to add elements X Y and Z into the cop story to show that his behavior was still abhorrent.
posted by painquale at 2:20 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I get what you were trying to do, but disagree that they scene you described matches the scene in the movie.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:24 PM on November 15, 2012


The World Is Not Enough: Why does the planet's No. 1 spy never go to the really dangerous places?
posted by homunculus at 4:24 PM on November 15, 2012


The Bond Villain’s Lair: Skyfall’s Abandoned Island
posted by muckster at 1:24 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you read a story about a cop in the real world

Neither the of scenarios you present are even remotely similiar to the scene in the movie. The most obvious difference is that she was not "just busted out" of slavery; getting out is why she's with Silva in the first place. That she's not in a good position whne we meet her is an understatement; but the scenario you keep insisting on doesn't match what's happening emotionally, chronologically or thematically.

You also are totally denying her agnecy is the matter; she brought Bond along to kill Silva. She invitied him back to the yacht; you keep forgetting she sent the events in motion. Which is why she is clearly relieved that it's Bond in the shower.
posted by spaltavian at 9:31 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Secretaries are important. Nurses are important too. You just don't find an awful lot of doctors who go through the training and then decide to take a job as a nurse.

Who knows how this will change with Obamacare. Hey-oh!
posted by Apocryphon at 1:19 AM on November 22, 2012


The Bond Villain’s Lair: Skyfall’s Abandoned Island

Previously.

Eventually.
posted by homunculus at 1:32 AM on November 22, 2012


Skyfall: The New Bond Girls.
posted by immlass at 6:25 PM on November 24, 2012


Just saw the movie last night, and I have to say I totally disagree with those characterizing "that" scene as "Bond raping a sex slave." It seemed very clear to me that she was a former sex slave who had invited Bond to her place for the purposes of sex and collaboration.

I think you can find more casual, pervasive, and damaging sexism on TV every day.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:43 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


What do Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises and a hamburger have in common?
posted by homunculus at 12:57 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


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