The academics of a ‘Bond Girl’

By in Culture

The Martlet (University of Victoria)

WATERLOO, Ont. (CUP) — Lisa Funnell has a long history with James Bond.

“I grew up watching the Roger Moore movies with my dad,” said the Wilfrid Laurier University film studies professor. While completing her master’s at Brock University in popular culture, Funnell got involved with writing about Bond academically.

“Why not write about the most popular, longest running film franchise there is?” she asked. This idea grew and flourished into what would become a very successful career researching and writing about the fictional spy.

Two of Funnell’s soon-to-be-published academic articles delve deep into the world of the British super-spy James Bond.

The first, an essay titled “Negotiating Shifts in Feminism: The ”˜Bad’ Girls of James Bond,” will be published this March in Women on Screen: Feminism and Femininity in Visual Culture.

The second article is titled “ ”˜I Know Where You Keep Your Gun’: Daniel Craig as the Bond-Bond Girl Hybrid in Casino Royale” and will be published in the Journal of Popular Culture in June.

Much of her current research on Bond regards the representations of female characters, specifically the “Bond girl” and “Bond villain,” and the way they can be traced throughout the franchise.

“At first, James Bond was given two different types of women. There was the good girl — or ”˜Bond’ girl — who emerged in the 1960s with liberal sexual identities. She was good because he could domesticate her.

“The villains too had liberal sexual identities, however, they refused to be domesticated,” she continued. “They laughed at Bond. That’s how the initial relationship was set, good girls versus bad girls, and James Bond in the middle.”

So how has the franchise changed?

“I have argued in my article that [Daniel Craig] represents a more American model of heroism. James Bond previously was a libido-based hero, his masculinity was based on his ability to bed women,” she said.

Craig’s portrayal of Bond is a shift away from what Funnell calls the “British Lover Model,” into a more “Hollywood, body-based model.”

“I would argue he’s also a bit of a Bond girl in it — he’s the one who comes out of the water in a bikini and lies on the beach to be gazed at.”

For this reason, Funnell feels Craig represents a completely new kind of hero for the series.

The Bond franchise’s place for women has also evolved, as Funnell pointed out.

“Looking at the 1990s re-emerged Bond girl, who is an Americanized action woman, they’re post-feminist heroines,” she explained.

As for the end of her Bond writing career, it’s not yet in sight.

“Every time they release a film I feel compelled to write another paper and see where this franchise is going in relation to where it’s come [from].”

Funnell says there is simply not enough literature studying 007.

“There are gaps, [and] for me as a scholar, you want to find those gaps and fill up the space.”

The next installment, Bond 23, has an official release date of Nov. 9, 2012, with rumours of Javier Bardem playing the villain opposite Daniel Craig’s Bond.

As for Lisa Funnell’s opinion on the franchise’s sexiest Bond?

“Pierce Brosnan takes it. There’s just something about him.”

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image: Danielle Siemens/The Sheaf