About those James Bond alcohol studies

Daniel Craig’s 007 enjoys a few (hic) Vespers.

There’s nothing like using a popular entertainment figure (James Bond) to draw attention to a serious subject (alcohol abuse).

This month saw a study about Bond’s alcohol consumption in the 24 Eon Productions films get a lot of publicity.

That study, published by the Medical Journal of Australia may have sounded familiar to 007 fans. Its conclusions were pretty much the same as a 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal about the literary Bond.

Summary of the 2018 study: “James Bond has a severe chronic alcohol problem. He should consider seeking professional help and find other strategies for managing on-the-job stress.”

Summary of the 2013 study: “James Bond’s level of alcohol intake puts him at high risk of multiple alcohol related diseases and an early death. The level of functioning as displayed in the books is inconsistent with the physical, mental, and indeed sexual functioning expected from someone drinking this much alcohol.”

The new study says Bond has 109 “drinking events” in the 24 Eon films combined, or more than 4.5 per movie.

According to the 2013 study, the literary 007 puts his cinematic twin to shame. “After exclusion of days when Bond was unable to drink, his weekly alcohol consumption was 92 units a week, over four times the recommended amount. His maximum daily consumption was 49.8 units. He had only 12.5 alcohol free days out of 87.5 days on which he was able to drink.”

That was based on an analysis of the Ian Fleming novels and short stories. The Spy Who Loved Me novel was excluded because ” as it is written in the first person by a waitresses involved with the criminal underworld, and Bond appears for only eight hours as a peripheral figure.” The collection of the Octopussy and The Living Daylights short stories was excluded ” as it is not one coherent detailed story.”

While writing about a serious subject, the two studies do engage in a bit of humor now and then.

2013 study: “In fact, the author Ian Fleming died aged 56 of heart disease after a life notable for alcohol and tobacco excess. We suspect that Bond’s life expectancy would be similar…We conclude that James Bond was unlikely to be able to stir his drinks, even if he would have wanted to, because of likely alcohol induced tremor.”

2018 study: “Similarly, the workplace culture needs to change; to start with, M should no longer offer Bond drinks in workplace settings. Further, MI6 management needs to redefine Bond’s job to reduce his stress levels. More field support and a stronger team approach are needed so that his duties do not weigh as heavily upon him. This may reduce his need to take excessive individual responsibility for mission success, and lessen his drive to pursue missions when off duty (ie, as a rogue agent) and personal vendettas.”

A final thought: When you’re an academic, getting your research published in scientific journals is important. This may not be the last time that 007’s drinking habits become part of academic studies.