I’m a stickler for immersing myself in local literature while in foreign lands. It goes without saying therefore, that while in London recently I soon sourced a copy of the Daily Mail.
Buttressed by stories about scantily clad soapie stars was a piece on things that ordinary Britons had never experienced:
19% have never been inside a McDonald’s restaurant
30% have never bought a takeaway cappuccino or latte
28% have never watched the X Factor on TV
The stat I honed in on centred on Bond. James Bond. Apparently 9% have never seen a Bond film.
Now I may have been into several McDonald’s dining establishments and seen X Factor and bought a coffee (albeit for someone else - I’ve never imbibed myself) but I’d not seen a Bond film either.
And I haven’t owned a car (like 18% of Britons) or skied (like 68% of them) or wired a plug (like 17% of them). I in fact, don’t know what it even means to wire a plug. Hell, I only changed my first light bulb last week.
I’ve never had a driver’s license, let alone a car, I’ve never smoked cigarettes, or marijuana for that matter, yadda yadda: I’ve already accepted that I’m probably not much like an ordinary Briton anyway. (Not that statistical everydayness is any huge aspiration).
But, I write about film and television. And gender. How had I not seen a Bond film? It seemed vaguely preposterous. Preposterous and effortlessly rectifiable.
There are lots of angles I could have written this piece from having now watched - and stayed awake through at least most of - Skyfall. More stupid Turkish stereotypes, evil bisexuals, barely-surface-scratched-homoerotica, Daniel Craig’s very peculiar running style and my compete and utter perplexity that any woman could find such a jerk attractive. Instead, I’m going to focus on this notion of a Bond film being deemed important to the collective experience.
Is having seen at least one Bond film important?
If so, important to what exactly?
Is it an experience more important to Brits than to Australians?
What is it about a Bond film that is deemed as important and akin to the everydayness of, say, sending an email (something, incidentally, that apparently 16% of Britons haven’t done)?
Dad was recently lamenting that he’d watched a quiz show where a PhD student contestant answered a capital city question wrong. Dad though this was heinous. He then said - before I’d even opened my mouth - “you probably don’t think that it matters because you can Google it.”
I actually wouldn’t have said that. My response would have been something about a PhD not being any guide to intelligence. And then I’d have mentioned the Google Effect.
But the root of Dad’s argument is simply that some things need to be taught in school; that some things are so important that everyone should know them. I’m not sure I agree - at least, I’m not sure I could agree on the list of what’s importance - but I was thinking about this while watching Daniel Craig sneer around Istanbul. Around Shanghai. Around London. About this idea of common knowledge and common experiences.
I don’t feel more well-rounded as a person having now watched a beautifully shot but far too long film with a gauzy script.
I certainly don’t feel more educated as a scholar of film and gender. Nor do I feel more connected to my paternal British heritage.
I have however, sharpened a deep-seated loathing of Craig. Daniel Craig. I guess that’s something.