By Alyson Jurgovan
Anthony Horowitz, author of the new James Bond novel “Trigger Mortis”, recently made statements to the Daily Mail that actor Idris Elba would not be a good fit to play 007 in a film adaptation of the novel because he is too “street.” Horowitz went on to say that it was not a color issue, rather “a question of being suave.”
This type of statement, in its simplest form, implies serious racial undertones. What does ‘street’ mean? When we hear this word we do not think of sophisticated James Bond types, we think of thugs, hoodlums, and rough-around-the-edges types.
Nothing about Idris Elba is even remotely applicable to being rough-around-the-edges. In fact, Idris Elba is a very clean cut, dapper and classy man. Idris, however, is Black.
Taking this into consideration, Horowitz’s comments become that much more problematic. Perhaps Horowitz could not bear to have his original image of 007 tarnished. All of the iconic 007’s of the past have been played by white actors: Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery, to name a few.
Previous points considered, 007 has always been a handsome and charming white male. According to Horowitz, Idris Elba could not fit this mold because he is a ‘street’ black male.
Many may doubt Horowitz intended his comments to be viewed with racial undertones. However, it is imperative that we consider what his comments imply and what this type of language means for the bigger picture.
It is dangerous to have things like this said in the media. Sure, Anthony Horowitz is allowed to have this opinion if he so chooses (as narrow-minded as it is), but once he vocalized that thought and it was then published , it became fair game for the public to interpret.
Somewhere out there sits someone having their morning coffee, reading the Daily Mail, thinking ‘You know what, he’s right. Idris Elba is too street to be 007.’ That person unknowingly (I should hope) is encouraged by Horowitz’s comments to keep their James Bond classically Caucasian.
This isn’t about pioneering to have a black James Bond. It’s about being conscious of the bigger impact and meaning of the language we use, especially in the media. Once a stereotype is put out there, the ignorance of that statement can become just as substantial as the paper it’s published in.