A Gritty James Bond

by tkt on September 8, 2015 - 10:50pm

In her article ‘Calling Idris Elba ‘Too street’ is racist, just not for the reason you think’, published in The Huffington Post, September 1st, Zeba Blay argues that the comment made by the author of James Bond weren’t racist because of the term used but rather because of the writer’s one-dimensional view of black actors. The author states that Anthony Horowitz’s comments relates to the singular relationship that the UK has with social classes. Horowtiz named a black actor that could play Bond, a posh with a middle class accent. When he says Idris Elba is ‘too street’ he means that he only sees him through a single lens. He doesn’t look at Elba as a versatile actor, but as an archetype of the black actor suited for a single type of character. The author highlights this contrast with the current Bond actor who has played working class characters before, but that hasn’t hindered his progression or his ability to play James Bond. The author concludes by stating that saying Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play Bond may not be racist but the inability to separate each of Elba’s performances individually and labelling him as a single type of black actor surely is.


I believe that Zeba Blay’s article is a great news piece, because it spreads knowledge and does its best not to perpetrate ignorance and bigotry surrounding the delicate topic of race and racism in the filmography sphere. The article tackles an important issue, the way black actors are represented. The author does a remarkable job to demonstrate the problem and explain why there shouldn’t be an issue. I agree with the comparison made with Daniel Craig, the current James Bond, saying that Idris Elba shouldn’t be held back because of the color of his skin. Furthermore this relates to the conclusion from Diamond(1994) that ‘racial classification didn’t come from science’ (p.8) and therefore that human beings shouldn’t be hampered because of their skin color. I disagree with Zeba Blay on one point, when she says that Horowitz wasn’t being racist when he called Elba ‘too street’ to play James Bond. I think he was being racist and classist it was just veiled behind his dodgy vocabulary.


Works Cited:

Diamond, J.D. (1994). Race without color. Discover, November 1994, 1-8. 


I chose to comment on your post because I am a fan of James Bond in addition to having heard about the issue you present in the post. I completely understand your view on the situation and why you and others wold think it is racist. Personally as a finicky person when it comes to the portrayal of characters, especially when it comes to movies, I can understand that Anthony Horowitz would be skeptical. Concerning when he says that Idris Elba is too “street”, it is reasonable if he thinks that Elba wouldn’t portray the character to his liking, even though I find that he would be a fantastic choice for the depiction of Bond, however Horowitz definitely could have said it much more sophisticatedly. I disagree with your response because you say that Horowitz is being racist, my reasoning is that throughout the course we have learned that there is a fine line between racism and prejudice, racism would be closer to him saying Elba is too “black” but I believe Horowitz is trying to say that Elba is not as polished and refined as the James bond character has been sought out to be. Horowitz is definitely being prejudice though because he is assuming that Elba is not capable of playing the suave Bond like character that we all know and love, which could be untrue. In conclusion, we should be asking why Horowitz believes that Elba is “too street” instead of assuming he is just being racist because he might just believe that as an actor he is not capable of the particular type of acting required to play Bond.

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