This week, Dr. Wayne Baker welcomes guest columnist Dr. Benjamin Pratt, a literary expert on Ian Fleming’s James Bond. This year, the Bond movie series reaches its 50th anniversary. Where are the values in all of this? On Monday, Dr. Pratt explained Fleming’s fascination with personifying 7 Deadlier Sins in his novels. On Tuesday, he explored Fleming’s first two “Deadlier” sins: Hypocrisy and Self-Righteousness. On Wednesday, he focused on Fleming’s take on Violence.
Here is Dr. Pratt’s fourth column …
How far have Avarice and Snobbery reshaped our culture in their own evil images? As recently as June, Dr. Wayne Baker wrote about the ever-widening economic inequality in America as one of this year’s top values stories. That chasm exists partly because we celebrate greed as a sign we are winning in the American system. We may not celebrate the resulting upper-class “winners,” but we certainly do envy the world’s rich and famous. Ian Fleming saw these two sins as …
Twins of Power
Avarice and Snobbery
GOLDFINGER and AVARICE: Fleming said he loved writing larger-than-life myths and Auric Goldfinger, like King Midas, is a classic Fleming villain. Goldfinger is a compact package of potent greed and lust—a personification of affluenza, the excessive desire to consume money, power, people and goods. Goldfinger envisions himself in the world’s leading ranks of mountain climbers, deep-sea explorers, astronauts and scientists. He boasts that his crime at Fort Knox will be considered a mark of genius around the world for centuries to come. It is the titanic scale of this crime that finally lifts Bond’s struggle onto the mythic stage: a St. George locked in a battle to the death with the Devil. Eventually, the two foes are locked literally in hand-to-hand combat, choking each other. Bond’s fingers prevail and Goldfinger dies. It’s a potent metaphor for us today, isn’t it? Perhaps more than any of the other deadly sins, avarice has us by the throat.
ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE and SNOBBERY: In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Fleming calls snobbery “that most insidious of vices.” He was speaking from years of painful, personal acquaintance with its sting. At its core, snobbery is racism, classism and elitism. Snobbery is the jeweled head of the evil dragon, seeking status and power by diminishing the masses and attaching to the few. In James Bond’s confrontation with Blofeld, this entire novel toys with layers of social status and snobbery. Beyond the main threat from Blofeld in this case, Fleming also includes scenes in the College of Arms in London, where Blofeld is pursuing his claim to a noble title.
Is avarice widening the wealth gap?
Is snobbery still a deadly sin?
How do you respond when you encounter these two sins?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.