Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels are the latest to be mutilated by ‘sensitivity readers’ who are apparently both shaken and stirred by just about everything.
Some of the changes are for racial language that, while I am a free speech absolutist who would leave everything in, might not be the hill to die on. However, other edits are unforgivable, with the moronic censorship teams reducing Fleming’s descriptive flair to generic, sixth form level prose. As the Telegraph reveals:
Another altered scene features Bond visiting Harlem in New York, where a salacious strip tease at a nightclub makes the male crowd, including 007, increasingly agitated.
The original passage read: “Bond could hear the audience panting and grunting like pigs at the trough. He felt his own hands gripping the tablecloth. His mouth was dry.”
The revised section replaces the pigs reference with: “Bond could sense the electric tension in the room.”
In another vaguely infuriating example:
Bond’s assessment that would-be African criminals in the gold and diamond trades are “pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought, except when they’ve drunk too much” becomes – “pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought.”
I’m not certain here if the offence is drinking itself, which is roughly 25% of what the Bond series is about, or if it’s that African criminals can’t be seen to do anything bad. Apart from being criminals, obvs.
Some of the changes in racial language were apparently authorised by Fleming himself, but I assume he would shudder at efforts like “The electric tension in the room”. This is, of course, the problem with employing sensitivity readers – apart from it being a pathetic, authoritarian, philistine idea – where do you stop?
Does Bond’s name have to be so white sounding? Isn’t it irresponsible to be so promiscuous? Couldn’t he cut down his alcohol intake to the recommended 14 units a week? While we’re here, does he have to be a spy? Doesn’t seem a particularly honest occupation.
In an ideal world Bond would be a sober woman of colour who runs a successful tech startup. While obviously ‘retaining the original spirit’ of the author’s classic works.
I jest, but the idea is probably being pitched to Netflix as we speak. Markle is the obvious choice for the lead.
Like so many woke innovations, sensitivity readers are remarkably unpopular. The appalling desecration of Roald Dahl’s works united the culture in outrage (okay, except Billy Bragg) and forced Penguin to offer a separate run of the real Dahl texts alongside the ruined versions.
Yet there are still no signs of the sensitivity reader phenomenon ending any time soon, and it’s not clear how we might go about achieving its demise. There are only so many times Camilla can intervene.
Anyway, I can’t solve it right now. I’m in the middle of an eBay bidding war for the racist version of Live and Let Die. The tension is electric.
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