A Black James Bond… Really?

Richard Roundtree as the original Shaft.

I can see it now. Tomorrow morning when I check my comments, there is going to be one in all bold caps. It will read:

“DEAR HILL1NEWS EDITOR,

I DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE, BUT I’M GOING TO FIND YOU, AND WHEN I DO, I’M GOING TO SMACK THE EVER LOVING SMITH OUT OF YOU.

SINCERELY,

HIS MOST EXALTED AND HIGHEST  IDRIS ELBA FAN”

Idris Elba

Okay, I deserve that, but please hear me out first Sapphire. I love 007 as much as the next person, but 007 is a “white British secret service agent.” He was created by Ian Fleming in 1953. I think you need to do a little research. Ian wrote this fictional account in the same time period as the Nottingham race riots. The end of the Second World War had seen a marked increase in African-Caribbean migrants to Britain. By the 1950s, white working-class “Teddy Boys” were beginning to display hostility towards black families in the area, a situation exploited and inflamed by groups such as Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement and other far-right groups such as the White Defense League, who urged disaffected white residents to “Keep Britain White.” Ian never wrote any black character into his James Bond novels. There were no black secret service agents in the Queens service. As far as Ian was concerned, all any black man could do was buy my books and shine my shoes.

Samuel Jackson as Shaft

But believe me I get it. It’s very tempting to have such an iconic character played by a black man. I mean the character is a ladies man, handsome, virile, strong, able to leap a building in a single bound and kill a rock with a stare, what not to like. It’s all good, until the day someone comes up with the idea of making a white “Shaft.” Sapphire we getting into unknown territory here. Who do you think should play the Shaft? Lets see.. theres George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr or Chris Hemsworth, just to name a few… excuse me for a second please, while I throw up in my mouth. Okay… thanks.

Cultural appropriations when it comes to portraying some characters just won’t work. We have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. How would you feel about a white Malcolm X or Dr Martin Luther King Jr.? Yep the one argument that most inevitably comes up is what about Jesus and Cleopatra. Well the short answer is they have been portrayed as white since before television, ain’t no big leap to keep doing it on the silver screen. In this day and age we don’t need 007, when there is probably a black 008 in the queens service, just waiting for a gifted and talented black “Ian” to write about the agent that takes his Jack Daniels, straight, but lightly stirred with a cinnamon stick.

You really want to see this Shaft?

 

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