It is one of the most famous names in literature and film. The moniker itself carries with it a panoply of characteristics that belie its relatively few number of letters. Of course, I mean none other than the international man of mystery, James Bond. Or should I say, Bond, James Bond. In spite of a history that has often been misogynistic, Ian Fleming’s secret agent is just as popular now as he was during the cold war that spawned him. Suave, debonair, and more than a little dangerous, Bond represents the man that many men want to be and the man many women want to be with – at least as the song goes “for a little while.”
What is it about these kinds of figures that appeals to us? It is more than the exotic locations, fast cars and expensive suits. Bond represents a live-on-the-edge kind of lone wolf life that very few, if any, real people chose to live. Instead, we choose stable, almost sedate, homes, families and careers. Even the most pedestrian of travel, sartorial or domestic statement can stand out as exotic. A filled passport, tailored suit or custom home is far from commonplace. We cling to sameness, all the while living vicariously through these larger-than-life characters.
The gap between how people imagine that they might live and how they actually choose to spend their time has long been of interest. Perhaps it is the specific function of fantasy to give us the opportunity to live a life so removed from our own that we experience the thrill of it without any of the consequence. But does it ever make sense to bring our imagined existences to life? Can it ever be wise to invite pretend danger to become real? For now, I’m satisfied with a martini – shaken not stirred.