In many ways, James Bond is an artifact from a different era; his was an era where morality was shaped not by how you treated others, but by which side of the Cold War you were on. Ian Fleming’s original spy was something of an autobiography, since Fleming himself served in World War II as an intelligence officer, but since then, it’s snowballed into a huge franchise where the only consistent are the character names. James Bond, to cross my cultural references, is something of a Time Lord. He’s reincarnated as an entirely different individual every so often, and we’re perfectly okay with that as viewers.
Most of the men to play James Bond were white, as well. And as rumors of a new James Bond circulate, some maybe surprised to learn that the man who may be tapped as a replacement is not.
Idris Elba may be your next James Bond. And, predictably, Rush Limbaugh — being the critic of all things cultural that he is — has a problem with this.
See, in Limbaugh’s world, having Idris Elba — a man who caught flack from racists before for playing Heimdall, a Norse God, in Marvel’s Thor — is like casting George Clooney and Kate Hudson as Barack and Michelle Obama in a presidential biopic. It would be like casting Kelsey Grammer as Nelson Mandela.
“James Bond is a total concept put together by Ian Fleming. He was white and Scottish. Period. That is who James Bond is, was,” Limbaugh fumed, adding that, “But now [they are] suggesting that the next James Bond should be Idris Elba, a black Briton, rather than a white from Scotland. But that’s not who James Bond is and I know it’s racist to probably point this out.”
Actually, it’s not just racist, it’s stupid as well. And here’s why:
- Black Scots exist.
- Roger Moore is English. Pierce Brosnan is Irish. Geroge Lazenby is Australian. I know Americans like Rush are bad at geography, but just trust me on this, right-wingers: England, Ireland, and Australia are not Scotland.
- Casting George Clooney and Kate Hudson to play Barack and Michelle Obama? Would that be like casting John Wayne to play as Temüjin? Would that be like casting Christopher Lee to play as Muhammad Ali Jinnah? Casting the MIT Blackjack Team as mostly White in 21? And that’s before we get into the stupidity of comparing real people to fictional ones. But don’t worry, because I have plenty examples of fictional characters of color being Whitewashed as well.
- Let’s face it: the real reason that this makes Rush feel uncomfortable is because this means there might be a Black man on screen sexing up White women.
So yes, Rush, your preemptive denial of racism does not, in fact, make you any less racist. What it does is the exact opposite — of course, if there was anyone who didn’t need help seeming racist, it was Limbaugh.
Listen to the remarks below: