Can a classic serious action movie dealing with espionage, adventures and vengeance (among others) be enjoyed in the same level by both men and women? More specifically, does the James Bond adoration transcend both genders? In Goldfinger (1964), James Bond’s mission starts out with the task of finding out how Auric Goldfinger operates his gold-smuggling business. This particular edition of the film series brought glamour to espionage in action movies. It also boasted of Bond’s car, the Aston Martin DB5, which would be the classic 007 car.
Meanwhile, in Licence to Kill (1989), Bond is in Florida as best-man at his friend’s wedding. After some cinematic action, the bride is murdered and his friend is crippled by sharks. Bond went on to seek vengeance for his friend, and journeyed through action sequences in the process. Could it be possible that both of the movies above were enjoyed in the same level by both men and women? In Laura Mulvey’s essay, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, she states that the human ego is very important in achieving the experience of pleasure.
In movies, therefore, the ego of the viewers has to be fed and pampered, so that they can truly enjoy the experience of watching a motion picture. In effect, Mulvey was saying that to feed and pamper the ego of viewers, they must first see their persona in the main protagonist: James Bond. He has a mission. He is trustworthy. He delivers. He triumphs over his enemies all the time. Men can easily relate to that. After all, in the family, the man is commonly regarded as the one “in charge. ” However, the scenario is largely different for many women.
Mulvey says that the audience has got to identify with the characters and effectively find themselves as comparable to the protagonists in the movie. Only through identifying with the characters can the audience become able to participate in the visual or oral message in the movies. While it is true that women may not relate to the persona of James Bond, the women in Bond’s life could have an exciting effect in the women’s imagination and perhaps trigger a pleasurable viewing experience. However, everyone knows that the woman is not the main protagonist in James Bond movies.
Women are always playing nothing more than supporting roles. In this case, once again, the man’s ego is well-fed and pampered because they are able to relate to the facet of James Bond’s very macho appeal, which is that of a man who may need women’s help and inspiration, but is fundamentally accomplishing missions in his own way . The women, on the other hand, may fall in-love with James Bond, and may be wrapped by the warm feeling of being adored. But to say that women are enjoying James Bond movies in the same level as men is unacceptable. For one, the ego of a woman is hardly fed and pampered in the Bond movies.
As Mulvey says, “The presence of woman is an indispensable element of spectacle in normal narrative film, yet her visual presence tends to work against her in the story line” (203). Mulvey is simply saying that it is not enough for a woman to be present in the film for women audience to appreciate it. While women’s emotions may be tickled, she will always realize that she is never as good as the main protagonist. Ergo, the satisfaction of ego between both genders is simply not the same. Therefore, I don’t think that the James Bond experience offers equal viewing pleasure to both men and women.