I could never be friends with someone who hated James Bond.
I mention this because earlier this afternoon my brother and I had the AWESOME experience of seeing “You Only Live Twice” on the big screen (if you are looking for a good reason to move to Portland, the prevalence of $3 second-run theatres that serve world-class beer and pizza you can eat at your seat might interest you). If you’re trying to remember which one is “You Only Live Twice,” it’s a Sean Connery one, and it’s clearly the one that most of the “Dr. Evil” character from Austin Powers is based on. It’s also CRAZY. It’s set in Japan, so a huge part of the plot hinges on Bond disguising himself as a Japanese person, which is A) totally ineffectual because he still looks exactly like Sean Connery, and B) just barely a step above blackface in terms of its offensiveness level. Oh, and there are fleets of lovely, scantily-clad and submissive Asian women doing things like seductively bathing Bond and his male colleagues in the hot baths, or giving them massages. There are also sumo wrestlers, ninjas, and a space shuttle that eats other space shuttles. It was AWESOME. But it definitely made me think about all the reasons that you’d hate it if you were a person who takes these things deeply seriously. And I dislike people who take themselves too seriously, which is why I can’t be friends with someone who doesn’t like James Bond movies.
Well, that’s not true. I’m cool if you don’t like them because they’re cheesy, or because you don’t like action movies (although who DOESN’T LIKE ACTION MOVIES?), or you’ve just never seen them. I can’t be friends with you if you don’t like them because you find them offensive. To me, that one small thing indicates to me a wealth of information about other personality traits you will have that I dislike, which is why so many of my friends are boys who like football, and so few of them are feminists.
The reason this frustrates me is this – I believe that we do still live in a sexist and racist world, in many, MANY ways. I hate that women only make up like 2% of Congress, and that in a nation where Spanish will soon overtake English as the most-commonly-spoken language, we are still ruled by rich old New England white guys. That does legitimately bother me.
BUT IT IS NOT JAMES BOND’S FAULT.
I guess I always feel like when people get bogged down in the little stuff they miss the big stuff. When you start harping on books and movies, or slang terms, or whatever, it just seems like a colossal waste of time. Pick your battles, people. I care about real sexism – like the kind that makes it harder for women to be CEO’s than men. And I care about real racism – like the kind that makes people of color way more likely to get pulled over by the cops than white people. But I just don’t get that riled up about the trifling surface stuff. I don’t know.
I draw the line at some of it. “That’s so gay” bothers me because it seems, more often than not, to be the kind of thing you say offhand because you actually DO believe (even subconsciously) that gay = bad. Ditto “retard”; as someone with a developmentally-disabled family member, and as someone who spent a great deal of time pushing around my mom in a wheelchair, seeing the way people looked at her when she was hunched over and couldn’t talk, it’s hard for me to ignore that in this world plenty of people who think of themselves as perfectly nice people in fact DO treat the disabled with a tremendous lack of respect. So that stuff makes me mad, and if you ever say it in front of me you absolutely will get my Glare Of Death. But, for example, my sister is always on me for my trivial use of the word “Nazi,” which I’m working on because I know it annoys her, but for the life of me I cannot put it in the same category. When I say that, for example, the saleslady was totally a Nazi about letting me touch the merchandise, it does not mean that SHE WAS ACTUALLY A NAZI. It does not mean that I really, truly, honestly associate her strict overbearing manner with evil human beings who slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent people. It does not mean that I think being snapped at by a store clerk is on par with the Holocaust, or that I’m anti-Semitic. It’s just one of those things you say. Unlike “that’s so gay”, which seems often to be borne out by behavior that matches the saying. I don’t know. Maybe it’s all subjective.
I also feel, with the sexism thing, that there’s something almost patronizing about feminist political correctness. Do I want to be paid the same as a man would get paid for doing my same job? Of course. But that’s different from like “Let’s tiptoe around and make everything exactly the same so that women’s feelings don’t get hurt,” which is how a lot of this stuff feels to me. I feel pandered to by feminists. Not about the real stuff – things like women’s suffrage, or the recently-passed Lilly Ledbetter Act, or sexual harassment in the workplace – but about the stuff that’s just stupid and makes us all look whiny. Like, “Let’s sue to make them lower the physical requirements for firefighters to admit more women.” We watched an episode of “Dateline” or something on this topic in high school, and it made me nuts. Look. Say I’m a mom whose house is on fire and you’re running in there to save my kid. Do I care about your gender? No. I care that you are strong enough to carry out my unconscious twelve-year-old and my German Shepherd. I care that you have passed an incredibly rigorous series of physical and mental readiness tests so that I trust you will save my family. After that, your gender/sexual orientation/ethnicity/number of tattoos/religion/hair color are all spectacularly, equally irrelevant. You are there to do your job. Can you do your job? Great. Then your gender shouldn’t matter. To me, THAT is what equality between the sexes means. Not, “Do we have exactly the same number of women as men in this workplace?” This is an area where I’m sure Wacko Feminist Attorney Gloria Allred and I will never see eye to eye, as long as she continues to demean women by insisting that we need standards lowered for us so we can have whatever job we want. Or that we are so hypersensitive and humorless that we can’t find James Bond AWESOME.
Because I do not want to live in that world.