Posted on August 20, 2018

Conservatives Should Welcome A Black James Bond

Nathanael Blake, The Federalist, August 17, 2018

Apparently the internet is in uproar (or at least a mild kerfuffle) over the possibility of a black actor playing Bond … James Bond. {snip}

I don’t see what the fuss is about.

{snip} White skin is not essential to that role, regardless of what Hopkins and her ilk believe.


The Bond franchise is not a period piece, forever stuck in the age of its origin. It has moved with the times, and so the possibility of the leading man having dark skin is simply the logical product of realistic casting. There are undoubtedly black Brits successfully working as agents in Her Majesty’s real secret service. In all likelihood, there were some back when Ian Fleming created James Bond, but they were unlikely to be written up as the main character of a spy thriller. That it is now culturally possible to imagine Bond as a black man is genuine progress (and it is possible — after all, the British royal family just welcomed a multiracial American).

Hopkins complaint that “Bond is a white guy” shows her inability to separate the essential from that which is not. Many of Bond’s physical attributes have changed between actors; given the racial realities of modern Britain, why should skin color be any different?

Thus, the primary qualification for any actor looking to replace Daniel Craig when he relinquishes the role is the ability to convincingly portray James Bond. Choosing to restrict the role to actors of one race would be a mistake — whether it was done to keep Bond white or to ensure a black James Bond. {snip}

However, if the casting is fair, then there will eventually be a nonwhite actor who earns the role of James Bond. It may not happen at the next opening for the role, but it will happen someday. And we should welcome this.

If the character of James Bond is successfully played by a good black actor, it would be a blow against both the identity-politics bean counters and the white supremacists. For both groups, race is essential to personal identity. And both are wrong.

This is not to say that race doesn’t matter. It does. For historical and sociological reasons (sometimes complicated, sometimes brutally simple), it matters, in James Bond’s Britain as well as in America. To pretend otherwise is ahistorical and therefore un-conservative. {snip}

Because of this cultural legacy of wrongdoing, having the character of James Bond portrayed by a black actor would have meaning. It would provide a marker on our cultural movement away from racial essentialism and the oppression of people because of their race.

Which actor plays an iconic British superspy will be only a small part of the road to racial reconciliation, but it would have some value. If a black actor is cast in the role of James Bond, then the race-hustling identity politics types will briefly celebrate and then find something to complain about, white supremacist losers will whine online, and the rest of us can enjoy a (hopefully) good action flick. And then we can all move on, a little more confident that race is not essential to character or identity.  The essence of James Bond is not identity politics, but shooting a villain with a spear gun, making a joke, and getting the girl.