The future of James Bond is far from black and white

“James Bond author sparks outrage after daring to have an opinion.” Quick, someone start a petition…

Yet, I also said this: “To paraphrase the great philosopher Ali G: Is it coz Idris is black?”

If you’re attempting to solicit a reaction from an increasingly reactionary and volatile social web, it’s best to leave them both shaken and stirred.

Ian Fleming was from a different era, when MI6 agents were recruited from Oxford and Cambridge, often beginning with a polite tap on the shoulder. Those with a swathe complexion were the type most prized, since their everyman appearance allowed them to blend in almost anywhere in the world.

Times have changed, and since the SAS do not discriminate based on racial type, it’s difficult to mount a credible argument against an MI6 operative being of African descent.

Yet, this is the iconic fictional character James Bond we’re talking about, here. It isn’t the first time Idris Elba’s name has been bandied about as a replacement for the inimitable Daniel Craig, the current James Bond, and Anthony Horowitz, author of “Trigger Mortis”, the most recent antics of Mr. Bond, has an opinion on this:

“For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part,” Horowitz told the Daily Mail. “It’s not a colour issue. I think he is probably a bit too ‘street’ for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah.”

What, you don’t like his opinion? I don’t agree with Horowitz, but I wouldn’t express to disliking his opinion, as that’s something else. Since there’s no overt racist intent to his comment, whether you might like or loathe what Horowitz said is of dwindling importance.

But the reaction on the web beggars belief. Time and again, the group think consensus appears to be: “If your thoughts are not the same as our thoughts, they are, in effect, illegal — and if not, they should be, damn it!”

What’s perhaps more ridiculous is the fact that Horowitz has been compelled to apologise for having and then expressing an opinion.

As an author, I have certain characters who would suffer were their ethnic background to change. Jo, the main protagonist in A Darkening of Fortune, is of Arabic descent, and his background relies on this, to the extent that should he be changed to — for example — Caucasian, or Afro-Caribbean, the whole novel would collapse.

So I’m able to see both sides of the argument, here. What do we take from this? The future of our suave and sophisticated secret agent James Bond, much like the character himself, is far from black and white.