The Unbearable Whiteness of Being

So there’s been a buzz lately about Idris Elba potentially portraying James Bond at some point in the future. And today there’s been a stir because the always-buffoonish Rush Limbaugh once again said something stupid. You can easily tell when Rush is saying something stupid, because it happens whenever his lips are moving. He said that Idris can’t be Bond, because Ian Fleming created James Bond as white and half-Scottish, and that’s just the way it is. He then cited numerous falsely equivalent examples to make his point, saying it would be ridiculous to cast George Clooney as Barack Obama, for example. Yes, it would. Because Barack Obama is a real person. James Bond isn’t. Therein lies the rub.

As an occasional and would-be writer of fiction, I do write characters with a picture of them in my mind, and sometimes offer a physical description to go along with it. But it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if someone were to reinterpret one of my works as a film and cast an actor of a different race to portray a character I had created (if any studios out there are reading this, hit me up, let’s talk). Ian Fleming sold the rights to James Bond long ago, and gave up any say whatsoever in how the fictional character is portrayed in fictional film adaptations of his works of fiction. Not to mention that Fleming is dead, and thus no longer gets a vote.

As Senator Al Franken correctly pointed out years ago, Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot. Nothing he says should be taken seriously and I wonder how he maintains relevance when the rest of the world has moved on beyond his bigoted and small-minded ways. Idris Elba is one of the most talented British actors alive, actually one of the most talented actors of any nationality, period. He oozes suave from every pore. He was born to be Bond. I highly recommend the BBC detective series Luther, in which Elba shows an enormous range of depth and talent. He was superb in the HBO film Sometimes in April, about the Rwandan genocide. Great Britain is a multi-cultural society. Millions of people of color live and thrive in Great Britain. Millions of Britons of African descent serve proudly in defense of the realm. Why shouldn’t this reality be reflected in the next iteration of the Bond series? It is not fiction that a black Briton could serve on Her Majesty’s secret service.

Did Limbaugh huff and puff when the stunningly gorgeous and incredibly talented black British actress Naomie Harris was cast as Miss Moneypenny? Or when Bond’s American CIA buddy Felix Leiter was portrayed by the highly talented black American actor Jeffrey Wright? Neither of these characters was originally written as black by Fleming. Yet Bond fans never batted an eye. And neither will fans bat an eye when Idris Elba steps into the role. Or perhaps Dev Patel or Benedict Wong. I would love to see Limbaugh’s head explode at the thought of Bond being portrayed by a British actor of Indian or Chinese descent.

Rush Limbaugh, why are you still talking? No one is listening.

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