Overthinking Bond

Tangent: in the cinema, we watched the trailers. The Hobbit was the first. Now, my boyfriend is not wired to obsess over stories. So he has no idea which movies and series are coming up. So about two thirds into the trailer I saw the lighbulb over his head turn on: “Hey!”, he whispered, “he’s that guy!” He meant Martin Freeman -bless his heart.

For a director who is acclaimed for making condensed stories, I found Skyfall long. At some point I was really completely done with it, and it dragged on for another twenty minutes. But mostly I enjoyed it. It kind of passes the Bechdel test, with the minister chewing out M in front of the intelligence oversight committee. It has no scenes that made me assume it was inserted to create a spin-off video game.

(contains spoilers for Skyfall and The Dark Knight)

Skyfall gives us another take on an ageing hero. M lies that he passed the fitness test, when in fact he’d failed it -both mentally and physically. Which is what reminded me so much of The Dark Knight: Batman too was supposed to be dead. Bruce Wayne was physically not up to the task anymore. Both men are shown ‘shaping up’ for the task ahead, a task it’s not sure they’re up for anymore.

Now, these two hurt supermen could be a coincidence. Or it can be either of two things. On the one hand, narratively speaking, it’s a far more interesting movie. Since we’re told the hero is not neccesarily capable of winning, the tension rises. The other…


Now, What Do We Do

But I’ve wondered if it may say something about the time we live in. Much of the superhero mindset is based on a very clear right/wrong dichotomy which (I guess) made sense during the Cold War. But since the Cold War, we’re confused: who are the bad guys? Who are our enemies? What motivates them? And how can we defeat them? I’m inclined to think that our stories of ageing, rusty superheroes reflect a fundamental uncertainty of our position.

I guess we now live in a more fractured world then my parents did at my age. Even if there was discord between the western nations -and I’m sure there was- it was clear that there was an outside enemy to be defeated, and to keep us in line.

I’m Bringing the Party To You

Which brings me to something I absolutely loved about this film: the fact that so much of it was set in London. Bond movies were often set in exotic locations, and of course Shanghai counts as such, as does Turkey, but most of the action is set in London and the middle of Scottish nowhere. Much of the danger no longer lies in recognisable war zones: terrorism has brought that straight to our doorsteps.

The Changing Nature of Field Work

One of the things that has changed as a result of the (ongoing) information revolution is that of field work. Fifteen years ago, communications between the field and Head Quarters were sporadic. An operative would have to be trained, briefed, and let go. In the opening sequence of Skyfall we see how that has changed: M is in direct communication with Moneypenny and Bond. She gives the order to shoot herself. The relationship between each and any HQ and its field agents has been tightened substantially. This means that agents have far less room for independent decision making. Which means we need a new personality type to do it: the ability to work with/inside/around the bureaucracy will be far more important. Another result of the information revolution is the increased importance of Q. Not so much as the Creator of Cool Gadgets For Our Hero, but as a Player In The Game In His Own Right. Another reason why it may be for the best that we have a new Q. All these things mean you can’t make a spy movie the way we did anymore, not without paying in credibility. So perhaps, Bond ageing means he’ll be replaced with someone more like Q. And more like Mallory. We’ll see.

Civil Service Note

I assumed that as head of the intelligence oversight committee, Mallory was political figure. So, when he walks in on Q and his assistants using government property to help Bond above and beyond the call of duty, I whispered to boyfriend: this is what happens when a civil servant finds out that your minister has your back. You stand tall and work twice as hard for her. The relationship between the political and civil service branch deserves a new take.

Another theme that played heavily was family relations: Bond’s psych evaluation reported that he had a problem with authority (that used to be a job requirement!), based on unresolved issues with his parents. M snears at Bond that “[storing his belongings and selling his flat] is standard procedure when an agent dies without next of kin”. Silva refers to M as a ‘bad mummy’. M says at some point that “orphans always did make the best recruits.” The suggestion is that Bond’s attachment to his parents has shifted to MI6. He behaves incredibly loyal to M. He is angry at her for ordering to take the shot, but it doesn’t shake his loyalty to her, not really. The minute he sees she needs him, he returns to London. Is MI6 the only family he has?

Bill Clinton

Over at Shakesville, there were things some people wanted to say about Bill Clinton.

I’m (metaphorically) Switzerland. Have at it in the comments.

Film fest report

Recently, I had a bit of a film festival, with an epic portion of Hiddleston. Here’s the report.

On Friday I watched War Horse, BBC -Because Benedict Cumberbatch. I’ve never had a horse phase some girls have and it’s definitive: I do not have a military kink. I can watch Cumberbatch and Hiddleston in tailored uniforms and go ‘meh’. The fil was…okay. I don’t really respond to the human-horse chemistry, I supppose. The story brushes past several potentially interesting inter-human relationships, but nothing is worked out in great depth. Which is okay, but it doesn’t really work for me.

On Saturday I watched Thor, mainly because I enjoyed The Avengers so much. Nice enough movie about a Nordic god banished to Earth, where he has to learn about dignity in humility before he can return to become the new king of Asgurd. His brother Loki tries to stop him, wanting to become king himself, or rather to be Thor’s equal. Hiddleston does a great job. Hemsworth does not do subtlety, or perhaps he doesn’t get the chance. Coulson is Coulson.

Then I watched Warrior. I lent that movie because Tom Hardy is Cumberbatch´s friend and I trust Cumberbatch´s taste in general and his professional opinions in particular. He´s right. Hardy is a-ma-zing. I don’t understand why not EVERYONE has seen this movie. I saw Aronofsky’s The Wrestler about a year ago, but this is a completely different movie. The themes are completely different: estranged brother, domestic violence, generalised human inability to communicate, survivor’s guilt, loss of a parent. I’m crying again as I write this. Seriously: watch this movie. Rent it, buy it, download if you cannot afford it otherwise. Do not deprive yourself of this experience.

On Sunday I watched Hollow Crown: Henry IV pt 1 with Tom Hiddleston as Prince Henry. Loved it. I love the entire Hollow Crown series. I did struggle with the Shakepearean English, but the visuals were sufficiently supportive to be capable to follow the story. Interesting coming-of-age story, combined with a terrifying ‘behind the scenes’ of a monarchy.

Sunday evening I had a date with Darling Boyfriend: dinner and a movie. We went to see Intouchable. Which was great, because Boyfriend has long taken care of an invalided friend. And Boyfriend is not the most subtle person I know, even if he’s caring in his way. The story really resonated with him. I just fell out of my chair laughing. Really. I rolled on the floor of the cinema. I regret nothing. I loved it. Boyfriend ran his friend after seeing it, and his friend heartily recommends the movie too. Also: Omar Sy is seriously hot.

The Dark Knight Rises: I was hoping you’d go deeper.

Darling Boyfriend was spooked by the Auroroa shooting incident, so I went to see The Dark Knight Rises with my lovely friend M. Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It left me a bit frustrated and it took me a while to parse out why. So here are my preliminary conclusions.

I thought the opening sequence was awesome. I loved how being Batman has taken its physical toll on Bruce Wayne. I liked there were three women in the movie, particularly Cat woman and her obvious friendship with another woman. Did not like: there were hardly any women among the extras. Seriously, there were no women in the back ground anywhere. Not among Bane’s crew, hardly among the police crew. That left me wondering about Gotham’s reproductive strategy.

Gordon-Leavitt was a revelation as an actor and in my reading the actual hero. I loved how the regular humans, i.e. Commisioner Gordon and Detective Blake, are the actual stars of the show, doing their utmost to keep track of the bomb so they could defuse it eventually.When leaving the theatre, I was not very happy with the politics of the movie. Now, I’m not sure what to make of it. It is clear that Gotham is an oligarchy: most of the money and power are concentrated in the hands of few. There’s tough legislation to keep organised crime in check, which I do not read as something that belongs in a democracy. Due process, proper lawyers, and police procedure are important parts of the rule of law. This is flaunted in Gotham. Then there’s Bane. He is ***massive spoiler*** deputised by Talia al Ghul to burn Gotham to ashes. Talia wants to follow in her father’s footsteps. He isolates Gotham from the mainland and claims to return the city to its citizens. The audience knows that this empty rhetoric, that Bane has no real interest in doing any of that. He just needs to keep the citizens inside. He installs a reign of terror including show trials (presided over by Scarcrow/Jonathan Crane. I may or may not have Yay’ed when Cillian Murphy came on screen). The styling clearly refers to the French Revolution and the reign of terror afterwards. Nolan mentions returning to The Tale of Two Cities when developing this script. The obvious insincerity of the ‘returning the city to the people’, plus the lack of enthusiasm among the citizens to be given power over their town makes me believe that the movie is not meant to be a warning against revolutions or even against some form of self-rule.

For a while I thought Blake was meant to be the champion of democracy, as tacky as that sounds, because he and Commisioner Gordon are the ones that organise the resistance. I’m leaving aside the question whether the police force is an ideal breeding ground for democracy. Blake and Gordon were doing some form of organising for and by the people. However, Blake ends up giving up on democracy/rule of law police work -the due process, full researching all the facts, even the ones that might exonerate someone. That was deeply disappointing. I get it ***massive spoiler*** it’s meant to set him up as Robin, perhaps to a new Batman? I really think the Nolans could have dug a little deeper in the politics of this. It doesn’t have to be ‘democracy is awesome’ but now I’m a bit disappointed.

There’s another theme that was potentially interesting but disappointingly developed. Trust. Which comes in two versions. The one is a larger, social issue: the notion that when you develop a technology, somebody will find a way to weaponise it. Call it the Nobel conundrum, if you will. Wayne enterprises has developed a sustainable, clean energy source, but Bruce refuses to put it to use for the city because he fears it might be weaponised. This strategy is a failure and Bane and Thalia Al G’ul get a hold of it anyway. Bruce’s unwillingness to share technological knowlege is mirrorred in his lack of emotional sharing with other humans. He’s emotionally completely sealed off. So when he has to trust someone, he puts his trust and nucleair bomb in the wrong hands.

I’m really certain there’s something there, I just can’t really put my finger on it…

Damien Hirst, or what it means to be an artist

So, I went to the Damien Hirst retrospective at the Tate. Many thanks to my lovely cousin. Next time, we’ll also Tate Britain, I promise.
On the escalator I casually pointed out to Darling Boyfriend that David Hockney and Damien Hirst were mentioned on the wall as sponsors of the museum. Which amused us tremendously.
The retrospective covers the basic themes of his work, the dots, the prepared animals, the medicine cabinets and the butterflies.
Boyfriend mutters that it’s Not Okay that an artist is rich, as a workshop that houses an extra shark without trouble, and has assistants do his work. Just like Rembrandt, I retort, though quietly wondering if it was indeed Rembrandt. I ask if he’d rather have a poor artist who can’t produce as much work as he comes up with because he lacks the resources. Boyfriend looks at me as if I’m a weirdo.
Boyfriend has a bit of a shark fetish, so he was rather smitten with the sharks. I rather liked the commentary on the performance of medicine. But most of his work makes me smile a little, or even laugh out loud. ‘I see what you did there’, in internet speak. Because I understand what he is doing. I understand the imagery. I get it. It’s funny or or not, it’s relevant or not. But I understand.
Which is nice and all, but it’s not enough to make it great. When art is absolutely great, it leaves me speechless, unable to articulate what it is about the work that moves me, hits me. It’s a physical experience, not a cognitive one.
I had that visceral response only to his butterfly paintings. I find them… moving. And I don’t know why.
Which is exactly how it should be.


Ik ben grotendeels neurotypisch, en ik heb het daardoor tamelijk gemakkelijk.

1. I have never been told, because of my neurology, that I am incapable of feeling pain.

2. If I have a medical problem, I do not worry that my doctor will dismiss it as part of my neurotypicality.

3. When attempting to purchase health insurance, I know that I will not be rejected because I am NT.

4. If I am bullied or abused, people will not assume that my neurology means I am at least partially to blame, or that the abuse would stop if I tried harder to behave like someone else.

5. I can assume that police officers will not become alarmed at my natural body language and find it necessary to subdue me in advance of any wrongdoing.

6. I do not have to carry a special card or bracelet with me to explain my natural body movements or the sounds I naturally make.

7. I am not considered more dangerous and more likely to commit a crime because of my neurology.

8. People of my neurology are not generally considered burdensome to our families or to tax-payers.

9. Nobody will murder me because of my neurology.

10. If I am murdered, my murderer will not be let off because my murder was deemed “an act of mercy,” or given a light sentence because of the stress caused by interacting with me.

11. I do not have to fear that important decisions about my life will be made by others who are considered more qualified based on their neurology.

12. I am not expected to accept seclusion rooms, restraints, or neuro-enhancing drugs as conditions of my educational experience.


13. For a child of my neurotype, everyday teaching of the skills they will need to live in this society is called education or parenting—not therapy, treatment, or intervention.

Eerlijk gezegd, als ik nu 10 jaar oud was, had ik waarschijnlijk op sociale vaardigheidstraining gemoeten.

14. If someone of my neurology can do something well, I will not be punished for being unable to do the same thing well or at all.

15. People do not constantly tell me that I need to work on the things which I am very bad at, at the expense of things which I am good at and enjoy doing.

16. People who have power over my education will probably not decide that, instead of receiving the academic education most of my peers receive, it would be best for me if my time in school were spent learning non-academic “skills.”

17. I can reveal my neurology to my boss and coworkers without fear of losing my job.

18. I can ask for technical or social support on the job without being seen as a troublemaker or charity case.

19. People do not automatically assume that the best place for me to live is an institution.

20. The majority of people who make the laws of my nation share my neurology.

21. The services that I need to survive not only already exist, but even if I use those services on a 24-hour basis, I will still be considered independent.

22. When I need help performing a particular task, I can ask for help without having to produce documentation to prove I actually need help with it. The help will most often be provided in a manner I can understand, and will not be considered an inconvenience or an act of pity.

23. No one sees my neurology as being in need of elimination or cure.

24. If I am visibly upset, people generally assume something must have upset me, and will generally try to help me.

25. People do not suggest that groups that are made for the benefit of people of my neurological type be led and ruled by people of a different neurological type, because mine is seen as inherently incapable.

26. I have never had to take a single test that determines, for my entire lifetime, whether I get to communicate.


27. My family, friends, and significant others are not told that I am incapable of relating to other human beings.

28. If I am an adult, I can be a sexual being without the assumption that any partner attracted to me must be a predator or pedophile.

29. I am never told that I should not have children lest I pass on the genes that cause them to share my neurological type.

30. No one speculates about whether I am competent to raise children based solely on my neurology.

31. People do not assume that living in the same household as me is inherently “tragic” or “devastating,” or that my family, friends and partner will need a support group to deal with living with me.

32. I will not be asked to leave a public place, or to change where I live, because people are uncomfortable with my neurotypical behaviors.

33. If I am unhappy, people do not automatically assume my unhappiness is the result of me being who I am.

34. My opinions on social mores and societal issues are not dismissed based on my neurology or on the assumption that I am incapable of understanding how these things work. Likewise, my gender identity and sexual orientation are not discounted because of my neurology.

35. I expect people to presume intellect and competence with me.

36. If I fail, most will encourage me by telling me that I will ultimately succeed.

37. If I fail to understand autistic people, this is attributed to a deficit inherent in autistic people rather than in me.

38. If I have a particular talent or ability, I can demonstrate that talent without being called an “idiot savant” or my talent being called a “splinter skill” or some other demeaning word.

39. The definitions of rude and irritating conduct were developed by and for people with my neurology.

40. I am not praised for acting less neurotypical or punished for acting more neurotypical.

41. I am not expected to alter or suppress my natural ways of moving, interacting, or expressing emotion in most circumstances.

Ik zeg veel dingen niet: mijn reacties worden vaak als ervaren als niet-sluitend aan de voorgaande mededeling. Ik heb regelmatig een heel aantal associaties die voorafgaan aan mijn niet-passende reactie.
42. If I fail to alter or suppress my natural ways of moving, interacting, or expressing emotion, I do not fear public ridicule or exclusion because of this.

43. When prospective parents and others speak of wanting a “healthy child,” I know that they mean a child like me.

44. People don’t accuse me of grandiosity or derisively dismiss it if I suggest that some admirable historical figure might have been neurotypical.

45. It is considered good for people who are not like me to try to act more like me.

46. My natural movements and traits are not used by my peers to ridicule others of their neurological type, either jokingly or maliciously.

47. I am never told that the fact I have a certain cognitive skill means that I am lying when I say I lack another cognitive skill. Nor am I dismissed as incapable of things I truly can do because I lack certain cognitive skills.

48. I can discuss my interests at length without this being viewed as a “symptom.”

49. When I communicate, people do not gather in crowds around me and gawk.

50. My behaviors, abilities, and skill levels at age 2 or 3 are considered indicative of an immature phase of life that will pass naturally, not as representative of my prognosis for the rest of life.

Definition of terms

Majority: The dominant group.
Minority: (1) A racial, religious, political, national, or other group thought to be different from the larger group of which it is part; (2) A group having little power or representation relative to other groups within a society; (3) a member of one of these groups.
Neurotypical: (1) Having a type of neurology that is expected and/or favored by the society in which one lives. (i.e., having a “normal” or “typical” brain, and the typical sensory processing/body movements/facial expressions associated with a typical neurological system.)
We: (1) The people who helped to create this document—most of us autistic or with other less typical neurology; (2) those who support the recognition of human rights for autistic people and others with less typical neurology.


In The Observer van 4 september 2011 liet Cumberbatch optekenen:
“”I’d love to transform my body into some ridiculous war machine,” he says, with a twinkle. Don’t bet against this cerebral character actor reinventing himself as an action hero, given half the chance.”

Een slechterik uit Star Trek dus.

In de Q&A over Sherlock afgelopen mei werd hem gevraagd wat hij zou willen doen. Hij begon over Kavelier & Clay.

Ik leef in hoop.