Week 5 Discussion Questions

  1. Postmodernism is characterized by a subversion of established ideas, humor and self-awareness. Where do we see instances of self-awareness and self parody in “You only Live Twice”? How do these enhance the narrative for the viewer? What does the viewer need to be aware of and understand to “get” the joke? In other words, what elements of the series that it once took seriously it it now making fun of? 
  2.  As Jennifer Swift-Kramer states, in “Casino Royale,” Peter Sellers “was aiming to pull off a multiple role in a new way, by fracturing his performance to include drama, comedy and sheer abstraction on two separate yet related tracks simultaneously. Sellers finally settled on a deflected interpretation of the Bond persona and its increasingly heavy baggage: Playing someone playing a character.” One could argue the same is true for Connery in “You Only Live Twice.” In what instances is his Bond “someone playing a character”? How does Connery infuse the role with self-referential comedy and utilize Jameson’s idea of ‘pastiche'(“mimicry…without any of parody’s ulterior motives”[Jameson 17]) while at the same time keeping it from becoming a complete farce like “Casino Royale?”
  3. Chapman points out that “the Bond films, from Goldfinger onwards, contribute to the obsession with technology by fetishizing it.” We’ve seen that technological innovations and gadgets were important in the first films, but do they take a more central role in “You Only Live Twice?” How are they used in the narrative? Also, how is this rise in the importance of technology connected to Bond’s journey to Japan? In fact, there seems to be an overall fascination with objects and products in the Bond films. Where do we see product integration, technological or otherwise, in “You Only Live Twice” and how does it contribute to our understanding of the film?” 

Week 2: Bond as a modernist figure

Through the sexist code, Bond is interpreted through his relationship to heroine throughout the films. A “representative of norms of masculinity and femininity”(Bennett 24) is presented through the interactions between the two gendered characters. For instance, in ‘Dr. No,’ Bond leaves his card with Sylvia Trench in order to suggest that she take the active role in pursuit. Here, male masculinity becomes passive; women become magnetized to the nonchalant nature of the smooth agent.

In the imperialist code, Bond becomes infused with the idea of British neo-imperialism and nationhood. Premiering during the Cold War, these films infer “the imaginary possibility that England might once again be placed at the centre of world affairs during a period when its world-power status was visibly and rapidly declining”(Bennett 19).  This reinvented British hero is emblematic of the desire for Britain to regain its global position. Through the respectful language of the ‘colonies’ (‘yes sir’ ‘Captain’), the British Bond is refashioning   the nation in a postwar supremacist position.

            Lastly, the phallic code interprets agent 007 through a set of pseudo-sexual relationships. Bond’s nemesis utilizes masochistic torture as a means of emasculation. Furthermore, homoerotic tension is displayed between evil genius Dr. No and James Bond; this conflict can only be achieved through violent means as No is defeated ultimately by a nuclear reactor.  Loosely defined queerness is punished as to reaffirm the supremacy of heterosexism.