I have a very low opinion of Rush Limbaugh but I’ve always thought he was fairly smart. I don’t think that anymore. In the following audio from his show yesterday, he went on a seven minute racist tirade about the possibility that Idris Elba might be the next movie James Bond. You see, Elba is black and British and according to Limbaugh, “James Bond was white and Scottish, period.” But his concern is clearly not that Elba isn’t Scottish. And rightly so!
James Bond was never Scottish until the second to the last novel, You Only Live Twice. That was after Fleming saw Sean Connery in Dr No. So Fleming, being the total hack that he was, just went along with. So Bond was Scottish just because the first actor cast to play him in a movie was Scottish. The second actor, George Lazenby, was Australian. The third, Roger Moore, was English. The fourth, Timothy Dalton, was Welsh. The fifth, Pierce Brosnan, was Irish. And the current, Daniel Craig, is English. So it is good that Limbaugh doesn’t have a problem with Elba being English, since the majority of the actors who played Bond have been English and the majority of the films have featured an English actor.
But we do know from the very first novel that Bond is probably white. In Casino Royale, a character says, “Bond reminds me rather of Hoagy Carmichael, but there is something cold and ruthless.” (It’s funny how much that reminds me of the artless style of Ayn Rand.) I’m terrible with faces, but I do know enough to see that having a different skin color doesn’t preclude people from looking like each other. Elba does have a slightly broader nose than Carmichael — but it isn’t extreme. And it is no more out of keeping than Pierce Brosnan’s nose. As far as I can tell, Roger Moore is the best model and Daniel Craig is the worst. I wonder if Rush Limbaugh had a problem when Craig was cast for the part. “James Bond looked like Goagy Carmichael, period!”
Of course, what Limbaugh is really bothered about is that Elba might get this job out of some sense of racial fairness. Because we can’t make this about race because, as Charlie Pierce says, it is never about race. Limbaugh doesn’t like the idea that we are being forced to think in terms of race. To cast a successful and charismatic black actor as James Bond isn’t a craven attempt to revitalize what was a tired franchise by the late 1960s. No, it is affirmative action designed for no other purpose than to make Rush Limbaugh and other right thinking dittoheads uncomfortable. Those evil Hollywood liberals!
Most of his rant is a long list of famous black people with Limbaugh’s ideas for what white actors ought to play them. Somehow, he thinks that a white actor playing Obama is exactly the same as a black actor playing a fictional character in a film that is not based on any of the novels. He does mention towards the end of the rant that some people would notice that these are not the same things. But he does so, just to deflect criticism that might come, before continuing on with his list. He provides no reason for thinking that the criticism is not completely justified. That’s because the criticism is completely justified.
Limbaugh also gets sidetracked along the way with The Bishop’s Wife and the fact that it was remade with black actors in the leads as The Preacher’s Wife. Limbaugh doesn’t think this is just another example showing that Hollywood is completely devoid of any new ideas. Rather, it was some kind of payback. It was a big “Screw you!” from Denzel Washington to Cary Grant. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but Dudley (the angel) was white and English, period. It is clear that all of this is vaguely disturbing to Limbaugh but he isn’t sure why. But I am: it’s because Rush Limbaugh is a bigot. He really should spend some time considering just why black spies and angels bother him so much.
Personally, I don’t think we should stop at race — especially given that it is only a social construct. I think we should move on to different species. When they make I Was a Hypocritical Dope Fiend: the Rush Limbaugh Story, I see no reason that we should use a human for the role. But I don’t think this because I want equality among the species. I just think other species could better capture the essence of the man. Rather than going with something obvious like a domestic pig or a hyena, I thought something more accurate: a deadly virus. It does seem to be self-limiting. But it has done vast damage. And continues to do it. I image dittoheads all over the country sitting in their cars yesterday, “Yeah! How dare those Hollywood liberals upset the racial purity of James Bond! And Cary Grant!”