And she doesn’t even get to tap that ass

I saw Skyfall this weekend. All in all, I found it entertaining, exciting, and better than Quantum of Solace. But, like any person with an awareness for the institutions of patriarchy and racism, I found it difficult to turn off my brain.

Naomie Harris is Skyfall’s quasi-Bond Girl. “Quasi” because people will argue that she plays Eve Moneypenny, neither villain nor sexpot. She is pretty and smart and black.

And she shaves James Bond’s face.

Aside from Daniel Craig’s whiteness, did no one else think of The Color Purple during this scene? I did. Maybe being a Cultural Studies major in college ruined me—analyze everything; deconstruct everything; be wearied by everything—but the idea that a young, beautiful, intelligent agent is reduced to performing such a menial task, a servant’s duty, for her white male counterpart makes me bristle.

Even worse? I don’t even think she got to tap that ass. When Bond sleeps with the sex slave of the villain later in the movie, we know they got it on. It was blatant, another exhibit in the Bond Museum of Sexploits. But Miss Moneypenny? She just shaves his face and then, they tell us, helps him get dressed.

I get it, shaving a guy’s face in the context of an already absurdly over-the-top action movie can be construed as sexy. I guess? But at least let her get some booty. Why should the damsel-in-distress-exotic-white-woman have all the fun? Bond is not the only character with a libido. His desire is fulfilled by the exotic white woman, while Moneypenny’s is left unsatisfied. I bet if Moneypenny had known she’d be playing the chambermaid when she walked in Bond’s hotel room, she’d say Mr. Bond can shave his face his damn self.

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6 thoughts on “And she doesn’t even get to tap that ass

  1. Although I thought it was a bit degrading that she was reduced to performing these task, I must say that the character of Miss Moneypenny was always like this as far as not having a physical relationship with Bond. Even in the previous films where she is portrayed by white actresses.

    • oliviaacole says:

      Yes, but I always take issue with focusing on what Bond characters (and Bond himself) were like “traditionally,” as the films and their characters continue to change and evolve. My greater point is that Moneypenny is cast to the side; she performs an act that can be interpreted as both menial and intimate, yet there is no payoff for her. Bond gets laid by the exotic white woman later on, but Eve is in the office, at the desk, unfulfilled. I observe it as a larger view of the whole housewife vs. hussy archetypal crap. Eve is intelligent, beautiful and not a “hussy” as far as we can tell; she stays “home” at MI6, choosing to retire from the field. She is rewarded with Bond’s trust and admiration, but not his sex. The exotic white woman running around half-naked gets the D instead. (And she is punished, indirectly, for it.) No one is fulfilled but Bond. Nothing new there lol

  2. literatepress says:

    If your Cultural Studies degree ruined you (which I don’t believe), my English Lit degree messed with my brain just as much. Always looking for symbolism, I am, even while I try to live in what the book or the film is actually saying. You texted me that “What happens onscreen is what matters,” but I was struck by what I took to be an homage to one of my favorite Hitchcock films: “To Catch a Thief.” Made in 1955, the film coyly alludes to a sexual encounter between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly by coyly panning out their window to a phenomenal fireworks display accompanied by soaring music. In “Skyfall,” after the shaving ends and the faces of Bond and Moneypenny draw closer (and closer) together, the camera coyly (and I didn’t think this was possible in 2012) shows us fireworks to suggest sex. Slave to symbolism that I still am, I took this shot to mean that there was indeed some tapping taking place. No…?

    • oliviaacole says:

      Good catch! As you can see in the long and rather tiresome debate that is currently taking place on Facebook about this subject, there is some discord about whether they actually had sex. Some folks are saying she rejected his advances, a nod to her power and independence, which I disagree with. I really don’t know what to think about it now lol

  3. Ranier Keith says:

    Well… my $.02
    Bonds “sex” isn’t really worth anything. Being intimate with James Bond isn’t a reward when he uses it as a weapon. Moneypenny came across to me as “above” his best efforts, which kinda added value to her as a character. All the other women in the movie are slaves to his charm where she has a brilliant armor of sorts. James Bond represents a masculinity removed from it’s intimate core enshrouded in an armor thats shines despite it’s rust. It’s like the misogyny found in rap music (it’s anti-woman but the bitches love it).

    They flipped it, in so much as turned the power dynamic from his charm (and in his hands) to her decision (you can’t know why im really here Mr. Bond). MoneyPenny used to chase James, and now it’s …. eh….. different.

    As for helping him shave, She SHOT the nigga, the least she could do is help him with his baby-face game. :D

    I hope they didn’t get it on because James Bond is a woman’s “fool’s errand” and it would diminish her as a character to pursue that particular errand.

    Have I erred?

    • oliviaacole says:

      Well said! I still maintain, however, that a woman defying sexist expectations of sex (that’s a lot of x’s lol) doesn’t have to be, herself, UNSEXED. Although I’ve kinda come to realize that Moneypenny’s role here was very complex and her relationship with Bond was the same, I do still see the tired old whore vs. housewife thing going on here. And this really turned into an argument about sex and gender when I meant it as a racial critique. But that’s for another rant, apparently ;)

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