I watched this film again after many years and was supremely entertained. After it was over, I had this thought. I bet that some twat out there probably thinks this film is racist.
Sure enough, a rudimentary Google search turned up all kinds of hits. So allow me to present a counterpoint view to the racism cops and culture cops who seem intent on destroying anyone’s ability to simply enjoy a piece of pop entertainment without a cloud of guilt.
One of the standard arguments goes like this. The villains are black. The hero is white. Ergo, RACIST!
The plot of the film involves 007 investigating the murder of two agents who were killed by a drug lord. The film also involves an inner city crime boss and henchmen and contains some Hollywood portrayals of voodoo culture and ritual. Naturally, Bond makes it with a black woman, too. In short, Live and Let Die is loaded with Blaxploitation imagery and archetypes.
So case closed, right? It’s just another racist piece of shit, yes?
Not so fast.
First off, films are first and foremost, entertainment. They’re generally fun. This is especially true of the entire James Bond franchise. Even if you are presenting a dramatic and serious work, you still have to have an appreciation for the fact that you are out to entertain.
If you are one of those sanctimonious assholes who think black people will be “harmed” by these portrayals, consider the possibility that you hold a condescending view of blacks and that you are the fucking racist.
Second, Bond films are well written stories with vivid characters and witty dialogue. They are stylish and sexy to boot. Broadly speaking, these are positive qualities in art as far as I’m concerned. Furthermore, good and evil are not traits on which any race has a monopoly. The only measuring stick which should be applied is whether the character is well written and serves the dramatic arc of the story.
But if you really want to split hairs, the worst thing about this film is not the portrayals of black characters. It’s that Bond represents an absurd caricature of government excellence.
I mean, come on. Bond lives a life of exceptional luxury. He has unlimited access to the most advanced technologies and they all generally work very well. His exploits take him all over the globe. That’s a hefty tab for the taxpayer.
The problem is not that the drug lord was black. It’s that the government has criminalized drugs and that’s a great way to disenfranchise and demonize blacks. This film is merely portraying what the government has been doing for years in a stylized and campy way and portrays Bond as being on the “good” side of the fight.
Furthermore, this was a professional endeavor. These were professional actors who voluntarily chose to play these roles.
So basically, culture cops, it comes down to this. If it really bothers you, watch something else. It would be preferable if you could simply seek out the art that affirms your values 100% or just admit that you are joyless fucks and you are intent on destroying fun for everyone else.
To everyone else, it’s Bond, man. And it’s the kind of film that doesn’t get made anymore. If the culture cops succeed in their seemingly endless quest to find racism and -ism du jour in everything, we may see less of these kinds of films.
You know. Films that are fun and entertaining.