More or less what I was going to say, although I wasn't going to go after Malcolm or Obama.
It's fine with me so long as:
Brad Pitt gets to play Malcolm X
George Clooney is Barack Obama in the inevitable biopic
and Jack Black is the new SHAFT !
It all makes perfect sense
Indeed, a white Shaft? No, John Shaft is a product of his environment and a natural reaction to the antiquated notion that only a white man can be a hero, and that the role of black actors in the seventies was limited to playing muggers and pimps.
Let Bond be white. Let him continue to "kick and chop his way through the minorities of the world" (Time, 1973), representing the British attitude. You can make John McClane black, or cast Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin (the best part of Daredevil); in fact, the coolest bit of casting in Die Hard With a Vengeance was Graham Greene as a NY cop. Just a cop. No feathers in his hair, no "my people" - just a cop. That's affirmative action.
James Bond is a product of the (once) predominantly white British class system. Fleming was a racist snob, but 007 was only a snob. There is no need to make him black - just make another Shaft, and cast Daniel Craig or Christopher Eccleston as the villain.
I'd be inclined to disagree with you. Does Bond as a character speak to "whiteness" in the same way that he speaks to ideas of masculinity or British nationalism, or that Shaft speaks to "blackness"? Would Idris Elba as Bond be a greater departure from the series' roots than, say, GoldenEye's use of BMW? I'm skeptical on both counts (though your mileage may vary).
I don't know that I'd conflate phenotypical whiteness the way you do either. Does Bond cease to be a white character when played by a black actor? Well, does Bond cease to be an English character when played by a Scottish, Australian, or Irish-American actor? You could argue yes, but in that case we've been in dangeroush watersh for a while.
The main issue as I see it, and the thing I'm amazed is rarely brought up, is that a black actor would present barriers to some fans imagining themselves as Bond. Which is pretty much the point in the end, ain't it? In all the pages and pages and pages of Idris Elba/Colin Salmon threads that have flooded internet forums for years, no one opposed to the idea has come out and stated this. Maybe they fear it would be interpreted as racism?
I don't know that it comes, on the whole, from racism. Fans were livid about Craig's blond hair after all - some apparently still are - so fans are just being their usual weirdo selves in that regard. I remember someone bursting a vein about Jinx no longer being black in 007 Legends, so you have to expect that any kind of change is liable to incur wrath (if that answers your glasses question, Dustin). But yeah, probably there's a bit of racism insofar as blacks not being seen as enviable vessels for the kind of class fantasizing that Bond movies are all about.
There simpy remains too much fondness for Transatlantic Bond puttering about in German roadsters in what amount to American action movies to assume the objection to Idris Elba is merely one of "tradition".
I'd be interested to know what you think, though.
Edited by Zographos, 19 February 2013 - 08:34 AM.