Race, Casting and Story

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Media Diversified

by Dan Whisker

The comedian Athena Kugblenu recently delivered a comedic routine addressing the implausibility of Idris Elba’s black James Bond (black James Bond is inevitably in the long, slow passport queue at Moscow airport; local law enforcement agencies the world over vigorously object to a heavily armed black man in their jurisdictions). Of course, for all the Daniel Craig era’s gestures towards realism – usually interpreted as a greater emphasis on the literary Bond’s “cruelty”, the Bond films are fantasies. Bond never queues at passport control. The question is, what are they fantasies about? Here, I approach this question, and try to get a sense of what the recent spate of ‘race bending’ controversies in relation to casting can tell us about how ‘race’ works in pop-cultural stories.

It is perhaps only a slight co-incidence that Idris Elba has already been involved in some public dispute about another…

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