About James Bond fandom

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Over the decades, James Bond fans have gotten into spirited debates.

I’ve been on the receiving end of such debates. People I once thought were friends have unloaded on me.

That’s how it goes. I’ve been accused as rooting for James Bond films to perform badly at the box office.

Is that true? No. Still, it happens.

People like to think there’s a “James Bond Community.”

That’s a nice idea. It evokes how fans from many walks of life can come together.

Yet, it doesn’t always work out that way. There are fans representing many generations. Some of those fans believe they *know* more than others.

What’s more, some of those fans disagree. Their positions erupt into disagreements that are difficult to reconcile. What were once friendships are disrupted, never to come back together.

That’s life. That can occur with any long-running enterprise.

007 questions related to being a James Bond fan

001. Do we know any more about Bond 23 than we did three months ago? Not really. Eon Productions co-boss Michael G. Wilson has been quoted as saying a new film might occur “soon,” but he provided no dates, no details. In the space of three months, Eon said work was suspended indefinitely, a U.K. newspaper called the project “cancelled” and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. has gotten extensions on making debt payments and remains a Hollywood pauper.

002. Should I be pessimstic or optimistic? Until MGM’s situation is more clear, it’s hard to be optimistic. MGM, which controls half the Bond franchise, supplies the cash from which everything else happens. But some fans go the other way and say it may be a decade before the next movie comes out. For now, that sounds extreme, but who really knows?

003. What do James Bond experts say? Depends on the expert and how much he/she really knows. There’s a lot of heat and not much light right now.

004. How do I pass the time and still engage my passion for 007? You can still easily find the original Ian Fleming novels. Raymond Benson’s novels are being reprinted. Jeffrey Deaver has been commission to write a new 007 novel to be published next year. There are video games coming out. You can still watch DVDs of the 21 Eon 007 films, Never Say Never Again and the 1967 Casino Royale. There are alternatives.

005. What’s annoying about being a Bond fan? Here’s one possibility: the Know-It-All Fan. This is the person who claims an inside connection and that they simply know *more* about it than you do. All fandoms have this, but James Bond fandom has been more corporate than many others. If you encounter such a fan on a message board, you may even try to inquire just *how* they know this, but the Know-It-All Fan will scoff with never answering the question.

Comments by the Know-It-All Fan raise two possibilities: 1) the Know-It-All Fan doesn’t really know (bad enough) or 2) the Know-It-All Fan does have a connection at least of a sort. But with No. 2, that means Know-It-All Fan is, essentially, in the pocket of James Bond filmmakers (or whoever). This type of Know-It-All Fan’s isn’t going to jeopardize that access. Their primary interest is maintaining access, not full disclosure.

006. How do you deal with Know-It-All Fan? It’s tempting to call Know-It-All fan out. Ultimately, though, it’s going to be fruitless. You should either ignore them or just nod as if you were listening.

007. Gee, this is kind of grim picture of James Bond fandom. Why continue being a fan? We’re in a lull (maybe an extended lull, maybe not) in the film series. Thus, there’s not much new on the film front other than MGM’s debt situation, etc. In other words, nothing much fun to change the subject. But, as we said, there are alternatives, including new books and video games. And James Bond is still James Bond. If you like 007, all of this is worth putting up with. It’s just how you choose to go about it.

Daniel Craig in…GoldenEye? This video game just seems wrong

Later this year, there’s a new version of the GoldenEye video game coming out. Except, instead of a James Bond resembling Pierce Brosnan (who starred in the 1995 movie that revived the 007 franchise after a six-year hiatus), it has a Daniel Craig Bond. There’s a trailer out and it looks like this:

Now, HMSS gave Craig a number of good reviews when Craig made his 007 debut in 2006’s Casino Royale. And while HMSS wasn’t as enthusiastic about 2008’s Quantum of Solace, many of our reviewers still gave Craig high marks.

Still, trying to pretend Brosnan never appeared in GoldenEye just seems wrong. In the mid-1990s, it wasn’t a cinch that Bond would ever be back. Eon Productions had been in a long legal fight related to 007 television deals struggling Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc had made. When a film finally went into production, the future of Bond was riding in the balance. When the film was successful, fans seemed to hail Brosnan as the savior of the franchise. Fifteen years later, some fans question whether Brosnan was an acceptable Bond or not.

Regardless of how one feels about Craig or Brosnan, this video game seems to go too far. What’s next? Daniel Craig in a Goldfinger video game? On Her Majesty’s Secret Service?

007’s defeat to Tara Chace, what it means

Yesterday, James Bond went down to defeat in a vote of fans at the Mister 8 Web site. It got us to thinking about the nature of fandom and how one fandom can vary to another.

For some fandoms, there’s a sort of intimacy. Tara Chance/Queen and Country writer Greg Rucka used Twitter.com to urge fans to vote for his character and it apparently contributed to Tara outpacing 007 258 votes to 56. It was a case of a creator reached out directly to his audience. There are other examples of this. The makers of the two Iron Man movies used comic book conventions to help sell the movie to fans, helping to create positive word of mouth before either film opened. This general model goes back to Gene Roddenberry talking to college audiences in the 1970s to keep Star Trek interest strong, eventually leading to production of new movies and television series.

Meanwhile, a post on this weblog got linked in some of the Twitter postings, which generated traffic for us. One tweet in particular said in part:

Bond fans predictably, “who cares?”

That’s a reference to one of the responses to our post from yesterday.

Bond fandom is more like a series of corporations, where some fans argue who was the first “professional fan” Eon Productions never went the fan convention route until 1994, part of an effort to revive fan interest after a hiatus in making 007 films that began in 1989. There’s never been a lot of direct outreach to fans. That doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong, but Bond lacks the direct connection between creators and fans found elsewhere.

The creator of the Mister 8 site, in a response to one of our posts said his “May Madness” competition” among fictional spies is, “all a lark, in good fun.”

He’s right. It makes some amusing reading. But it also shows different fandoms operate, and that can be interesting to observe, as well.

UPDATE: For those unfamiliar with Tara Chace and Queen & Country, JUST CLICK HERE.

To view an article from the HMSS archives about The Sandbaggers, the inspiration for Queen & Country, CLICK HERE.