James Bond: Spectre

5 Dec

Manifesto

[Spoiler alert!]

Dear High School Jennifer,

You don’t need a sexy man in a tuxedo to validate you, love you, or save you. Looking for a man to do any of these things only makes you just as bad as the men who objectify women: you’re depending on someone else for your self worth.

Recently seeing the latest James Bond installment, Spectre, only strengthens my conviction. In the movie, James Bond runs around the world, trying to protect the gorgeous blonde Madeleine Swan in an effort to chase her from the movie’s villain. Swan starts out seemingly strong and independent, but in the end, she turns out like almost every other fair maiden: saved because she is beautiful, saved because she is pure (she wears white for much of the film), saved because one man decides she’s worth saving.

Seeing this conjured memories of once feeling worthless, and thus, I am writing to you today.

For you, I think it all started one February night in high school when you went to the movie theater to see the Pierce Brosnan James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough. It was a depressing winter in your industrial hometown, you were intellectually bored, you were impressionable, and you couldn’t wait to move somewhere more exciting. So you escaped through your movies, especially the international Bond movies. You watched the handsome Brosnan save the world and get the girl, and for those precious two hours, the movie enchanted you.

In the days and hours that followed, you daydreamed of how a cheesy, black-tie romance would rescue you from the confines of a seemingly dreary life.

You got a crush on James Bond. And that’s okay. It’s how you tolerated the mundane.

But, my darling, you took it too far, and it followed you. Throughout your college years and well into your 20s, you fantasized about a dashing man who would make you feel that you were worth saving.

Never mind that while you were fantasizing, you were excelling in school, making lovely friends, and exploring new interests that made you a more interesting person. But you didn’t appreciate that about yourself because you dismissed the men who found those qualities attractive in you. Instead, you focused on the fact that the men you found handsome and charismatic didn’t find you attractive, even though you judged them in the same way many of them judged you – on outward appearance only. At the same time, you complained that they didn’t give you a chance because you didn’t look like a Bond girl. You were constantly disappointed and romantically lonely because you thought you were undesirable.

You focused on what a small, select group of men thought of you. I wish someone had told you that any man who looks for a physically attractive woman to boost, and in many cases, construct his ego, is not worth your time. I wish someone had told you that those men don’t matter. Those men are stupid.

I wish someone had told you that you can’t depend on anyone else to make you feel valuable. You failed to look inward and realize that you were already an interesting, beautiful woman and you didn’t need a man to tell you that.

And so, don’t let your recent viewing of Spectre make you fall into your old way of thinking. You have come such a long way in building your emotional strength; don’t let this movie make you feel like a less than stellar woman. Just because you don’t look like Grace Kelly, don’t have a sweet accent, and are not the desired object of men around the world, you are not less.

In fact, you are more because you are free from the constraints that shallow measures of beauty bring: madmen chasing you, relationships that are doomed because they are primarily based on physical attraction, and a dependence on a type of beauty that is, and always will be, fleeting.

But there is one thing you must learn from this movie, and it’s very important: a woman should always be able to save herself. That means learning life skills like knocking a good punch, shooting a bulls eye, and outsmarting the best of them so you can get the bad guy the first time around – without help from James Bond.

Sincerely,
Future Jennifer

P.S. If you haven’t yet picked up on my subtle nudging, I’ll say it more clearly here: I think it’s time for you to give up James Bond and spend your time on movies and literature that celebrate female strength, rather than patronize it.

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