For a number of years, the cable network TNT used to play the original Star Wars trilogy every Christmas day. In our house, it became a little bit of a competition to see how much Lucas one could stand. Myself, I usually gave out about an hour into Return of the Jedi...of course, my nicotine addiction at the time probably did as much to make me give up as did the overbearing weight of the three movies. One year, my father actually made it through all three films...I was torn between being proud of him and being jealous and a little peeved at my own inadequacy.
My Christmas memories are, as a result of this tradition, triggered as much by sci-fi as they are anything else. I never had much appreciation for the average Christmas special on television, and a few years working at various Little Caesars located in shopping centers that played carols from November 1 to January 10 made me utterly despise Christmas music...no, it was light sabres, rather than any of the traditional Christmas trappings, that rung in the holidays for me.
Unfortunately, when Lucas released the "special editions" of the original trilogy, TNT quit playing Jedi...then, soon after, they quit playing any of the movies. A small, geeky part of me died a little, and I have been searching for another weird holiday tradition to call my own.
For a few years now, Spike TV has been playing James Bond movies during the holiday season...they call it "The 008 Days of 007." I like the Bond films...if you watch them in sequence, you get a pretty good timeline of:
- the cheese of special effects
- the evolution of ethnic stereotypes
- the increasing fantasy of female body imagery
- the age and deterioration of the various principle characters...Miss
Moneypenny, for example, becomes very matronly during the later Moore
- how sexism does (or doesn't?) change
...amonst other things.
Of course, the James Bond villian is and has been a stereotype for quite a while. They never live up to expectations...Dr. No was much more frightening when they didn't show him, and you have to wonder how Communism lasted as long as it did with all the idiots working in SMERSH/KGB. Yet James Bond villians never caught on, even the James Bond villians who were not in Bond films...Buffy the Vampire Slayer even had three characters who aspired to be Bond villians...and who, hilariously enough, would debate which Bond was the best.
Like most people, I gravitate towards Connery's Bond...none of the others really strike me as having the "badass" quotient. Would anyone really be afraid that Roger Moore would take them in a fight? And none of them were very smart or tactical...it seems like an unsuspecting yet smug Bond always gets himself bonked on the head by the one bad guy who snuck up on him.
I suppose, however, that critiquing the lack of intelligence in Bond films is a little like using logic to study wrestling narratives...it ain't about that. Which is why, if I were asked to name my favorite film of all these, Moonraker would be my answer...it doesn't even pretend to be logical. Six undetectable space shuttles, a plan to kill all humans and repopulate with "perfect specimens," Jaws finding love, and more silliness...it's all so beautiful.
The women--or, as they're called in popular terms, the "Bond Girls"--are also funny. Some are skeletal (especially in the one set in Bombay), some are scary (Grace Jones, anyone?), and even the ones that supposedly have college degrees (the A View to A Kill one...who went on to That 70s Show) still talk and act like pinheads. They also follow a set pattern in terms of order of appearance and fate...the quick fling at the beginning who never comes back, the good one who gets killed, the one who turns evil, and finally, the good one who goes on to have climactic sex with James at the film's climax.
I'm not sure if it's really an appropriate film series for Christmas, though. Do the Bond films have any Christmas references (as does Die Hard, which is more festive as a result)? Yes, there is good versus evil, but do Bond's quirks, sinful as they are, ameliorate his goodness?
The one thing the Bond films do have going for them, however, is that they are stupidly addicting enough to make one not do any of the multitude of work assignments one might have hanging over one's head...and for that, if nothing else, you gotta love them...or is this opinion just my severe procrastination coming to light? I wonder...