Op-Ed: Leave Lashana Lynch Alone And Learn To Embrace Change Or Let Go
The conversation about who will be the new James Bond will never cease and continue to enrage my spirit until Daniel Craig’s Bond reaches the end of his story in No Time to Die – which keeps getting delayed because we are in a global pandemic.
In the midst of the chaos of which conventionally attractive white British actor will take on the mantle, there have been a number of unnecessary detours, namely about whether Bond should have a race and gender change.
This particular point of view is popular amongst folks who wish to have more diversity within one of the most popular intellectual properties. An understandable position, but one that just does not work with Bond and overlooks other possibilities for the growth of the franchise. However, the most obvious reason for James Bond to remain a white man is that he is a womanizer that benefits greatly from white privilege. And, we love him for it, that is who he is. A douche bag that sends women to their early graves as soon as he sleeps with them and wears nice suits as he kills a ridiculous number of people in foreign countries. However, the idea of James Bond being a man of colour has become a generally accepted idea, with Idris Elba as the ideal choice. The man is sexy enough to unite us all, I suppose.
Then there is the side who wants James Bond to become Jamie Bond or perhaps Jane Bond? In this scenario, it would fundamentally change the original intentions and influences behind Ian Fleming’s creation. It is also just not it. Longtime Bond producer Barbara Broccoli put it best:
If you have been paying attention to the recent Craig-era Bond films, there is already a woman in the perfect position to be spun off into her own 00 stories, and that is Eve Moneypenny (played by Naomie Harris). However, since folks are way too enamoured with Bond, they skipped past comments from Broccoli suggesting that Bond will not be a woman but that a woman can lead the franchise. Many did not allow for that idea to settle at all, which led to recent developments that are most troubling.
Lashana Lynch was cast in No Time To Die, alongside Ana de Armas, Rami Malek and returning cast members like Naomie Harris, and Lea Sedyoux. Upon her casting, many seemed to believe that Lynch and de Armas would be this film’s Bond women (women solely created to look good, banter with Bond and potentially die). That is until tabloid media – eager to set up a Black woman to be absolutely devoured by rabid racists – revealed that Lynch would play the new 007. At the time, the framing and spread of this news were both misleading and intentionally devoid of context.
So, here it is, the context: Lynch will play Nomi, an agent assigned to the 007 title when Bond goes into self-exile with his love Madeleine Swann (see Spectre for more information). Supposedly, her job in the film is to either convince or aid Bond with a pressing new mission against Safin (Malek). However, the film still centres on our boy Bond, as it is a Bond film (insert GIF of Beanie Feldstein enunciating, “It’s the titular role.” in Lady Bird).
That’s about all the context we have, plus whatever clues are in the trailer. Ideally, the rest would be learned upon watching the film – but in an era where people are obsessed with knowing every detail about a production before watching it, this has led people to run with this casting news as if it is definitive proof that James Bond is being replaced. Some even willingly ignoring that Bond is still very much alive and in the movie himself. Again, ignoring Broccoli’s comments about a woman leading the franchise, but not as Bond. The 007 title is not exclusively for Bond and if one ever gave the books a chance, they would learn that the 00 designations are assigned to many agents.
As soon as the news broke, Lynch, like so many women of colour who boldly step into white-dominated spaces, received an avalanche of abuse – resulting in her deleting her social media accounts to protect her well-being. In an interview with Yrsa Daley-Ward for Harper’s Bazaar, she discussed the issue. Lynch spoke of how seriously she took on the role of Nomi, what Nomi stands for and that the character will not stand in the shadow of Bond. Candidly, she explained that the outrage wasn’t personal, any Black woman would have been subject to the abuse, and that is a sad reality.
Most of those who stand against progression in the overly white film industry often cry about how women and PoC should just make their own works. Well, we do and most of you don’t support us the way we support you. So, to gain a footing in an industry that values monetary success over quality narratives, women and PoC need to make headway in blockbuster cinema – which is still very male and very white. Even with recent adages of women and PoC as secondary players or villains, very few are actually leading blockbuster projects. However, that is changing and that change is coming to the Bond franchise.
Bond is still a mainstay. MGM (whether they be public about it or not) is actively looking for Craig’s replacement. Bond will most likely be played by another white man, or if the heavens deem it right, a man of colour. In the meantime, Nomi and Eve Moneypenny (who deserves better) are poised to take over. In what capacity? Who knows. We may see a Hobbs and Shaw type spin-off where Nomi continues her adventures as a newly minted 007, which are independent of Bond’s antics. Or she may find herself on the small screen. Whatever their plans are with Nomi and Bond is yet to be known, and all will be revealed sometime in this century.
If you find yourself itching or spinning out into a rage because the thought of a strong and beautiful Black woman being given the spotlight for a little while after 60 years and seven white James Bonds, then you need to find new things to love. Or you can let go of the ridiculous misogynoir that you are harbouring inside and embrace the potential of seeing a new hero and new stories that help your beloved franchise continue growing.