I recently heard about Daniel Craig complaining about being James Bond.
James Bond is a fictional character that has always been white. Ethnic minority actors in the West have never had the opportunity to play a hero that the majority white audience look up to and want to emulate. James Bond has everything – the women, the lifestyle, the adventures and the gadgets.
In a context where black actors like Idris Elba have been called ‘too street’ to play James Bond, in the racist vocabulary that the Western men that control the image of James Bond use, like the writer Anthony Horowitz, Daniel Craig’s complaints are emblematic of white privilege in our society.
The white majority in the Western world have opportunities that are never given to us, the ethnic minorities. They reach the epitome of achievement in creative industries like acting, fashion and music where British Asians, particularly British Asian men, are practically invisible. And when they get there, their sense of entitlement is so absolute that they will complain about it. It is a burden for them to be an idol.
Daniel Craig represents everything that is wrong with Western society: hubris, a sense of unending entitlement, lack of gratitude for what they have and insensitivity and blindness to the political dimensions of their privileged situation in the world.
In a world where people are starving and in danger of their lives, why emphasise the racial dimensions of Daniel Craig’s complaints which I am reading into the situation and some would argue are not ‘really there’? Celebrity doesn’t matter, does it? Why play the race card? It could also be argued that films are ultimately meaningless. My response to these complaints is that in the same way that James Bond has always been white and no-one non-white has been allowed to play the role, in the same way that the masculine ideal in the West has always been white, in this same way the brown man or the black man has generally always been relegated by the West and the Western imagination. This is reflected in general patterns of employment in Western countries and in dating statistics where the British Asian man is at the bottom of the table in terms of desirability and is a crucial social issue. The creative industries are just one small slice of a general social problem in the West.