During the midst of a global pandemic, we have seen ongoing protests concerning the representation and equality of Blacks globally. On September 6th, the celebration of Idris Elba's 48th birthday reignited social media discussion about the British actor succeeding Daniel Craig as the new James Bond. Although never seriously considered for the role, many fans found the idea of Elba playing James Bond to be unacceptable.
According to a GQ article, Craig was not the popular choice for Bond when chosen back in 2005, and after receiving backlash from fans on the decision, Craig began to doubt himself. Therefore, it would not be the first time protests have emerged due to choosing a particular candidate for the role. The James Bond fan base has a history of being a tough crowd to please and have a particular image in mind when it comes to the portrayal of 007. But what does this image look like exactly?
To some Twitter users, it is not the image of someone who is Black. The racially charged backlash towards the potential casting of Elba suggests that a Black actor could not accurately portray the image of Ian Fleming's fictional British Secret Service agent. Along with other criticism, author Anthony Horowitz called Elba out as being “too street” to play James Bond on Twitter. A Saturday Night Live episode also addressed fans disapproval through call-out culture on Twitter in a segment called “Can I Play That?”
Director Antoine Fuqua stated that “it is time” to allow a non-white actor to play Bond. The Blaxploitation film era has proved repeatedly that the unsuspected person can provide additional nuance to a classic spy narrative. A 2018 survey published in The Hollywood Reporter stated that 63 percent of Americans wanted Elba as the next James Bond. However, older fans did not encourage a change in the character's race as if it took away his quality as a spy. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Elba expressed that he worried about the weight of being James Bond, especially with the majority of the negative conversation surrounding the color of his skin. The discussion of Elba becoming the next James Bond moves beyond casting 007 and speaks to a larger concern of the type of roles some audiences consider Black actors to be acceptable for.