Here’s Why Idris Elba Can’t Play James Bond

Just so everybody’s on the same page, Spectre will be Daniel Craig’s last Bond film. This is upsetting (because Daniel Craig is great) but also exciting because it means we’ll get another Bond. Maybe a better Bond. Maybe a Bond from a different area of London. Maybe Gold Bond. I don’t know — the options are endless.

Except the options are also heartbreakingly limited. While Idris Elba is arguably the public’s favourite to play the British spy and/or martini aficionado, the actor told Maxim in August that he didn’t see it happening — mainly because we keep talking about it.

“If I were the Bond producers and everyone was pointing me toward one actor, what’s the surprise in that?” he said. “Honestly, it’s one of those things that if it should happen, it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy; it would be the will of a nation.”

And okay, that’s fine — and it’s also not a “no.” We had hope. Despite Damien Lewis being tapped as the next man-who-introduces-himself-with-his-last-name-first, some of us still held a torch because, while we love Brody from Homeland, he isn’t Luther and/or Stringer Bell and/or any number of roles that have proven Elba to be a capable and talented actor. And we assumed everybody with even a kernel of common sense agreed.

Enter: Anthony Horowitz, author of the latest Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, who just claimed that Elba is “too street” to play 007.

“I think he is probably a bit too street to play Bond,” he said, Skyping in from the late 19th century. “Is it a question of being suave? Yeah.”

Goddamn it, man, no. No. Nope! Do not pass Go, do not collect your cheque from this next Bond instalment. This is not the way you describe actors or people in general, but it is especially actors and/or people of colour — especially since Horowitz was very quick to claim his beliefs aren’t “a colour issue” which, of course, makes it exactly that.

“For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to rough to play the part,” he elaborated. “It’s not a colour issue.”

That is what racism looks like.

Understandably, Twitter reacted and called bullshit immediately, with users drawing attention to Horowitz’s very loaded choice of words. (You know: the same kind of words Salon used yesterday while tweeting about Nicki Minaj’s Miley Cyrus call-out at the VMAs. The media’s double standard when describing the behaviour/looks/style/anything of anybody who isn’t white is very real and very prevalent.) Because here’s the thing: Horowitz understands what “street” alludes to, and he knows it enough to have to back up his claims by busting out a quick “no racist!” before launching into even more stupidity.

Which makes his words even more disappointing.

I mean, does Horowitz have final say over the Bond films? No: dude also went on record in the same interview saying that Skyfall was the worst film because Bond doubted himself (which is what made Skyfall the best film because Bond was a human, not a caricature), thus proving Horowitz might just not understand how to be a thinking human. But the thing is, he’s not the only racist man with a voice in the world, and his description of Idris Elba has a ripple effect because that’s how racism works.

Here’s the thing: we don’t need another man of privilege with a platform for hate-speak, especially since said platform is beyond capacity. But every day, whether it’s an outlet like Salon or the author of a spy series, someone manages to out-do themselves with their bigotry and ignorance, adding to the racism that’s really coming to define . . . well, history.

All we can hope is that Horowitz hears the outcry and educated himself.

Oh, and that Idris Elba is cast as Bond because he’d be fucking fantastic.

Tags: Anne T. Donahue, Idris Elba, james bond

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