Real men: Sam Smith’s emasculation of the James Bond theme

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Celebrity Studies, 2019, 10 (3), pp. 436 - 440
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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. In Spectre (2015), British pop star Sam Smith contributed the James Bond theme The Writing’s on the Wall and in so doing was accused of emasculating the towering figure of Bond who has been the epitome of ‘manliness’ since the franchise’s inception in 1962. In this article I argue that Smith Smith’s voice discomforted many of its critics because it penetrated the Bond universe with its passivity, revealing the enigmatic nature of masculinity in a franchise that has attempted to rebrand itself as an authentic representation of masculinity in the current moment. By giving Bond an ‘authentic’ voice, Smith’s theme song laid bare Bond’s emptiness and, in the process, undermined Smith’s own claim to authenticity. I argue that the weight of the franchise’s history precludes any real, deep-rooted, authentic ‘unveiling’ of Bond’s character. As such authenticity is impossible, Smith’s Bond might have challenged Bond’s masculinity on the surface, but ultimately it could not disrupt Bond’s elusiveness.
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