In a recent James Bond novel, conservative critics have condemned the portrayal of former President Trump and other conservative politicians in a story about an international plot against King Charles III. Author Charlie Higson had been given authorization by Ian Fleming Publications to write a book to celebrate King Charles III's coronation. Higson had promised that the book, titled "On His Majesty's Secret Service," would include elements such as sex, violence, cars, a colorful villain, and of course, Bond himself.
However, in early September, conservative culture critics from various outlets criticized the novel for incorporating modern “woke” political messaging. Ross Douthat, an opinion columnist for The New York Times, wrote an article titled "How America Made James Bond 'Woke,'" in which he argued that the novel juxtaposed a progressive version of James Bond against a caricature of conservatism. The plot revolves around Bond protecting King Charles III from a plot created by a super villain named Aethelstan of Wessex, who can be described as a Brexiteer and right-wing populist.
Douthat pointed out that Bond, known for his womanizing behavior in the past, is now involved in a romantic “situationship” with an immigration lawyer who is allowed to sleep with other men. Bond's mission in the novel is to travel to Viktor Orban's Hungary in order to infiltrate a right-wing conspiracy and prevent a terrorist attack during Charles's coronation. Douthat lamented that the novel is yet another example of “American-style wokeness” spreading throughout English-speaking countries.
Joel Abbott of NotTheBee, a satirical humor website, wrote a similar review mocking the book for pandering to far-left cultural politics. UK politician David Kurten also criticized the novel, sharing an excerpt that described a villainous conservative character known for promoting COVID conspiracy theories and making anti-trans comments. Bond also notices a lack of diversity and disabled representation among the villainous group.
Another critic, Niall Gooch, wrote a scathing review in The Spectator, titled "Meet the Awful New Progressive James Bond." Gooch argued that the main villain in the novel is a clear reference to Nigel Farage, a prominent Brexit proponent and former UKIP leader. John F. Trent, a writer for Bounding into Comics, summarized the novel as portraying white men who oppose wokeness as the villains. Trent quoted another excerpt where the right-wing figures discussed topics such as global warming, the Great Replacement, and Muslims.
In an interview on "The Bond Experience" podcast in May, Higson explained that the real modern equivalents to Bond villains are conservative political leaders and their financiers. He argued that the polarization of politics and the rise of populist far-right nationalism are causing instability in the world. Higson specifically criticized the conservative government in the UK for its "dog whistle culture war politics" and mentioned former President Trump as someone who has destabilized the United States.
Overall, the latest James Bond novel has sparked controversy among conservative critics who accuse it of promoting woke political messaging and vilifying conservative politicians. The portrayal of right-wing figures as villains and the novel's focus on diversity and progressive themes have drawn significant criticism from multiple conservative outlets.
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