A Title Can be Everything: Clickbait and ‘Bond 25’

Reading Time: 5 minutes

007

The upcoming installment of the famous James Bond franchise, Bond 25,  has been featured heavily in the last 48-hours after the press reported that Lashana Lynch would become the new 007. Naturally, this created a lot of outrage in all the usual places on the internet like comment sections and mainstream conversations – but what exactly are they complaining about?

The source for a majority of the outrage regarding this particular news stems from the way news is written and spread online. Clickbait culture is not a foreign concept to the world of journalism, with outrageous headlines and stories being used to ensure sales of newspapers. This much is true of modern journalism too but on a macro level, with anyone being able to purport themselves as a journalist/blogger or content distributor. The issue with this is that quite often that many people will focus on the headlines by themselves without reading the full article, particularly if it’s shared through social media sites.

tomorrow-never-dies-feat

It’s not a real surprise that headlines framed to suggest that a Black woman is “replacing” James Bond or “tapped as the new 007″ in Bond 25 would create an influx of clicks and shares for those publications. Even though Lynch’s casting in the film had already been official knowledge.

It’s well known that there are many people who hate the very concept of a woman of color, and in this case, a Black woman, having a lead role in a predominantly white-male franchise. For those people, the headline itself promotes shares and automatic anger that fuels the site’s traffic and social media reach.

But in addition to the angry “fans,” there are also those who celebrated Lynch “becoming James Bond” with equal fervor given the importance of representation in media. Where the title appeals to those looking to be angry, it also appeals and gets the hopes up of those who rightfully have called for more representation on screen. Once again, driving traffic and social media reach.

tumblr_inline_nxkl6d0f3K1t6wivs_1280

The truth of the matter is that Lynch is not in fact playing James Bond but instead was reported as portraying an MI6 agent assigned the 007 code-name. 007 was originally introduced as James Bond’s code-number in Ian Fleming’s original Bond novel Casino Royale and is his designated 00-status during his current employment under that particular branch. All that the number represents is that Bond is currently that particular holder with a license to kill. In fact, in the novels – Bond was even briefly given a different number ‘7777’ in You Only Live Twice.

To top it off, Bond is quite often is in and out of service in a variety of media involving the character. The press release for Bond 25 even confirms this. James Bond, having left active service, is brought back in to deal with a new and dangerous threat. Which makes it perfectly reasonable for Lynch’s MI6 agent to have completed her first official kill mission and be given that designation by M.

Based on Daniel Craig’s previous comments, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this were to be his final major outing as James Bond in the central hero role – and I very much doubt he would care that much about what his designation number is. Especially if he has the backup from an extremely reliable 00-agent, played by Lynch, by his side, who could potentially lead the franchise in the future.

007

There’s also a surprising amount of people who still incorrectly believe in the idea that James Bond is somehow an MI6 identity passed on throughout the years to multiple men. Firstly, there are two distinct Bond timelines with the first starting off with the first cinematic MGM outing Dr. No and ending with 2002’s ‘Die Another Day‘, and the other portraying Daniel Craig’s Bond through Casino Royale to the current Bond 25 film. In the first of these timelines, the role is played by numerous actors (Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan) but they represent the exact same man.

The main evidence for this theory stems from a line uttered by George Lazenby that goes “this never happened to the other fellow”. This was an off-the-cuff line that the actor himself used to repeat on set for levity and was more of a nod to the audience than anything else. In the exact same film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, we see Bond look over items collected over his previous adventures. Bond is married, and his beloved wife Tracy is killed on orders from Blofeld. This is later followed up in Roger Moore’s outings, in which the secret agent visits her grave and takes revenge on the SPECTRE leader.

But more importantly, during both Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig’s runs, we see Bond briefly go rogue from MI6. Surely, if this was a name handed down to the following holder of the handle ‘007’, he would have used his actual name while on the run?

It would also be a tremendous shame to waste such a fantastic set up of MI6 key-characters such as M (Ralph Fiennes), Eve Moneypenny (Naomi Harris), Q (Ben Whishaw), and Bill Tanner (Rory Kinnear), so why waste that universe by simply rebooting once again? If we are introduced to a new 007 agent played by Lynch, then it would make more sense to follow her journey in this world we’ve already grown attached to, perhaps with Craig as the new ‘M.’

007

We know that contextually through both the source and adapted materials that there is no reason why there couldn’t be a new 007, regardless of their gender or race. “Hot-topic” subjects which go against the so-called status quos are more likely to be picked up on when trying to promote and share a story.

So what happens next for Lynch in Bond 25? – hopefully, we’ll find out when the film comes out. One of the most genuinely frustrating parts of this whole news item is that this story would have been even better to have watched unfold on-screen, as opposed to a smart-phone screen. The Bond franchise is one of the most popular pieces of British and worldwide cinema, its 50+ year existence being a testament to the world it has built within our imaginations. But much like Bond’s many futuristic gadgets, it’s great to see his world also looking forward – and more representative of the nation he protects.

It’s going to be fascinating watching a new 007 rise from her first kill to helping save the world mission after mission in Bond 25, much like audiences have done with Craig’s Bond since 2006 – while also capitalizing on the success of the MI6 squad seen throughout the previous films.