Shaken Up, Not Stirred

In my experience, people tend to resist a change to their routine with all of the power at their disposal.

This is because routines mean comfort and predictability, while change puts us in a place of inconvenience and vulnerability.  We innately turn to routine for safety and refuge, and instinctively understand that change is exciting… If not downright dangerous.

This week “the people” voiced their negative opinion about a change to the predictable routine of Her Majesty’s greatest secret agent:

It was revealed that James Bond will drink a Heineken beer during his 23rd mission: “Skyfall”, which will hit theaters this November.

This is a shock to many Bond fans who are used to their hero ordering a Vodka Martini, “Shaken, not stirred.” It’s one of the most predictable moments of a James Bond movie, which is to say that it’s the most predictable moment in a series of events that are as obvious as Lemony Snicket’s are unfortunate.

For the uninitiated, 007 spent nearly 40 years operating out of a routine so predictable that it’s almost “un-credible” that he survived so many outings… especially being so careless about dropping his real name.

The first 20 Bond movies opened with a glimpse at a completed mission, then an excruciating performance of one the year’s most mediocre pop tunes, accompanied by any number of barely clad silhouettes whose lady parts were cleverly obscured by things like gun barrels, or cigars, or bubbles.

When this was finished, James Bond received a briefing about an insane villain,

Given a demonstration of silly gadgets that you are supposed to forget about,

Travelled to an airport where he met and “fraternized” with a perversely named female accomplice,

Got waylaid by a vocally impaired henchman,

Killed the henchman while slipping in a wry “joke”,

Infiltrated the villain’s lair,

Went “undercover” with a perversely named villainess,

Was recaptured so the villain could reveal the details of his plan,

Escaped using gadgetry you’d “forgotten” about,

Disposed of the mastermind with a killing joke,

Then sailed off on a champagne cruise… in the arms of whichever woman managed to survive the movie.

This Bond formula wasn’t just male fantasy, it was also a pretty accurate reflection of behavior that men felt they should be able to get away with under duress, in the respective decade that each film was released in:

Sean Connery’s 1960’s Bond was a charming brute who took what he wanted, when he wanted it. Women, minorities, and “the gays” just had to deal with it.

Watching a Connery Bond is like talking to your grandpa; it’s a lot of fun, but you shouldn’t repeat anything you witnessed to certain people… or out loud actually.

Roger Moore’s 1970’s Bond was a silly playboy using humor and toys to disarm even the most aggressive of feminist ideals. His “tongue in cheek” winking to the camera let everybody know that “we’re just having a good time here folks”.

Watching a Moore Bond is like hanging out with your middle-aged, single uncle; he claims to be having a good time, but it is as believable as hangliding while smoking.

Timothy Dalton’s 1980’s Bond struggled with the new “aids crisis” era’s demand for sensitivity and monogamy. He enjoyed getting to know girls while attending the symphony, operating computers, and used words like “detente” and “glasnost”.

Watching a Dalton Bond is like hanging out with pretentious yuppies who prefer to shoot the foreigners they are mimicking.

Pierce Brosnan’s 1990’s Bond overindulges in every excess that privilege can offer, while attempting to maintain a moral high-ground… because he breaks the rules for “the good team”.

Watching a Brosnan Bond is like being strapped into a gas-guzzling luxury SUV that is attempting to jump a pit of starving children, while the driver eats a meal made from Bald Eagle heads and Faberge Eggs.

The films performed well until the year 2002, or as I call it, “The year Jason Bourne stabbed 007 in the heart with a pen.”

Which brings me back to the topic of change.

When Daniel Craig took over the role of James Bond in 2006, the producers had to leave behind the familiar routines that audiences took comfort in; because  4 decades of formula had made James Bond the least dangerous man on film.

Fans immediately complained that the new “Blond Bond” didn’t look the part, and by that they apparently meant “didn’t look like a middle-aged man from a 1970’s liquor advertisement.”

In restarting the franchise, they reset Bond; allowing him to change and grow as the movies progressed.  This meant that 2006’s Casino Royale was critically acclaimed as well as widely seen.  The film didn’t just make money, it made new fans, especially among women who previously hated the Bond pictures.

The change was inevitable, and it led to growth for everyone who wanted it.

There are people who lament change to their formulas.  These are the people who take refuge in the routines that have carefully crafted.  They only want growth when it fits comfortably into their routine.

Sadly, this is when change is almost guaranteed “not to happen”.  For any of us to achieve personal, relational, or financial growth, we must leave the comfort of the familiar and embrace the excitement and danger of the new.

In the same way that he has added car after car to the list of vehicles he’s operated, James bond will also add a Heineken to the already insanely long list of beverages that he’s savored over the years, and the movie will be better for it…

…because people won’t expect it.

Each of us experiences the changes that being alive brings.  In turn, these changes bring us opportunities to resist, by carrying on with business as usual, or to grow by accepting the challenge and rising to meet it.

How we rise not only defines our achievement, but reveals the amount, and quality, of living that we will grow to enjoy.

Life, with it’s inevitable changes, can truly be lived at the level that it is received- but it will be a life filled with percieved suffering and complaint.  In contrast, life can also be lived at the level that it is “grown to”, which is a life defined by effort and achievement.

Because change is guaranteed,
but growth is not.

2 Responses to “Shaken Up, Not Stirred”

  1. MattB April 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    Good word via sneeky cultural medium. Furman formula at its best. Thanks.

    • Jon April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      The formula is getting less dangerous over time!

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