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James Bond's Penis

Miller, T. (2001) James Bond's Penis. In: Lehman, P., (ed.) Masculinity: Bodies, Movies, Culture. Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group, New York, USA, pp. 243-256.


The James Bond books and films are routinely held up as a significant contributor to, and symptom of, imperialism, sexism, Orientalism, class hierarchy, and jingoism-even as the first form of mass pornography (Baron 1994,69-70; Bold 1993; Drummond 1986,66-67; Moniot 1976, 29; Denning 1992, 225). And so they are. But frequently in a chaotic manner that is more complex and contradictory than teleological accounts of a phallic, hegemonic hero will allow. In this chapter, I follow up some previous work on men and culture, using methods that are comparatively rare in screen studies but are available in both popular culture (Cohen 1999; Paley 1999) and social theory (see Miller 1995; 1998, 101-40; and 1993, 49-94; for anthropology, see Beidelman 1997; for film, see Lehman and Hunt 1999 and Lehman 1998). These methods are not beholden to the unsaid, the repressed, or the hermeneutic turn. Instead, they are mundane, positive knowledges that work with conventional public truths as commonsense ways of making meaning. I will contend that (a) far from being the alpha of the latter-day Hollywood macho man, as per Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Wesley Snipes, Bond was in the avant garde of weak, commodified male beauty; (b) we can see this in the history of his penis; and (c) psychoanalysis doesn't help us to do so.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group
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