My chosen topic was Women and Film and I undertook research, which focused upon how the representation of women in James Bond films have changed over the course of the franchise. I thought the Internet would be a good source as it is reasonably reliable, up to date, allows me access to a wealth of information although you have to refine your search to gain access to information appropriate for you. I decided the most efficient way to browse would be using various search engines.
By refining my search to “representation of Bond girls/women in Bond” I found a number of useful sites, which discussed the topic I was focusing on fairly well. I found an extremely helpful article in the online magazine on the Ian Fleming website (http://www. ianfleming. org/mkkbb/magazine). Entitled “What’s Love Got To Do With It? ” by David Morefield (November 2002) it gave a very good insight into how the changing roles of Bond girls throughout the franchise have impacted on Bond’s character.
I also found a written piece by Michelle Adams entitled Bond Girls: Gender, technology and film (March 2003), which I found very interesting as the writer had used a large amount of American newspaper and magazine articles as sources and offered a lot of critical commentary on the analysis of representations of Bond girls. There was a bit comparing the girls in Bond to the roles of women in society at the time, which I found extremely interesting, although the article did not discuss this topic as much as I would have liked.
Based on Adam’s article I decided that I should consider the social roles and values of women in contemporary society during the Bond franchise. I could then see if there were any significant changes and see if this in fact had an impact on the Bond franchise. This was a difficult task as I the Internet provided me with an endless number of sources and information to browse through. Ultimately I did gain a lot of the information I required through a combination of the website http://www. people. virginia. edu/~pm9k/libsci/womFilm. tml and the sociology book “Haralambous and Holborn ‘Sociology’.
These sources did offer me some of the information I required into how the roles and representation of women in society had developed. The Sociology textbook talked about important turning points in society such as the Equal Pay Act in 1970. These two sources did have limitations. They were very generalised and didn’t specify much on how roles of women in contemporary society affected their depiction in media and film as much as I would have liked.
The Internet was also a valuable source for retaining newspaper articles, which I believe are an excellent resource as they offer reliable, academic input with usually unbiased views and journalist ethics. I found www. mediaguardian. com very useful. I knew the Guardian would be one of the best newspaper sources, as it is known for its credibility and reliability. They also discuss contemporary ideas e. g. comparing Bond girls with the denotations of women in many modern films – “Girls, girls, girls” by Jeanette Winterson. I discovered useful articles such as “Oh James… by Shawn Levy and “Girls, girls, girls” by Jeanette Winterson, which discussed the changing representation of the Bond girls and gave a lot of critical and opinionated commentary on this topic. I found this very useful as it addressed my topic question directly.
I thought books would be a vital source for my secondary research, as they are usually reliable and academic sources. I searched the database at my local library and searched on the website www. amazon. co. uk for books relating to the girls in Bond. I also searched for the books listed in the bibliographies of the articles I had discovered.
I managed to get hold of books such as The Essential Bond (2000) by Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall and James Bond: The Secret World of 007 (2000) by Alastair Dougall but they both didn’t really offer any commentary on the roles of the women and just focused on their character. I also managed to discover two other books, which specialised on the topic of Bond girls. The first, The James Bond Girls (1999) by Graham Rye gave me a good insight into the diversity of each role of every Bond girl and their limitations in every Bond film up to The World is Not Enough.
But this book was not entirely useful as it was not up to date and focused mainly on the careers of these women before and after their appearances in the Bond franchise. The other book Bond Girls are Forever (2003) by John Cork and Bond girl Maryam d’Abo was extremely useful as it documented how the representations of Bond girls have developed. This book also enlightened me that there was a documentary made by the same Bond girl, d’Abo, also entitled Bond Girls are Forever in which she interviews a lot of the Bond girls and people associated with Bond to get their view on the representations of Bond girls.
After a lot of searching for this rare DVD I got hold of it and found both the book and the documentary to be very valuable to my research as it addressed the core of my project. They also both went into detail into how shifting contemporary social attitudes to women affected the roles and representations of the women in James Bond films. I did realise however that since the interviewer and co-writer, d’Abo was a Bond girl herself that she would have a certain amount of bias. So I trawled through the documentary and book searching for the facts regarding the changing social attitudes to women and took notice of them.
I also dismissed the parts, which I deemed as biased opinions of d’Abo. However I feel d’Abo held up a very strong argument regarding the positive development of Bond girls through the franchise and I examined her arguments very closely. Her co-writer in the book John Cork seemed to have a more neutral view and did point out when certain representations of Bond girls were negative, something which d’Abo did not do lightly. I felt the most obvious way to begin my primary research would be by getting hold of all twenty of the James Bond movies and performing detailed textual analysis on the representation of the women in each movie.
I was fortunate to get hold of the DVD versions, some of which contained some good extras with brief interviews with some of the Bond girls, as the producers would call them, although the topic of the actual representation of these women in the films were never really focused upon. I decided the best way to view these films were in chronological order as it would be more easy for me to analyse how over time the representation of the Bond girls had changed. When watching the Bond movies a lot of the secondary research I had done made sense as I could notice certain comments and trends particular critics had written about.
Because I had done some of the primary research before watching the movies I was clear on what themes regarding women to look out for. I made notes on four main themes regarding; Bonds relationship and treatment of the women, the roles of the women in the film (how key they were to the plot), and the social depiction and life of their character in the film and their sexual relationship with Bond. After making notes on these subjects for every film I found I had compiled very useful analytical notes, which clearly indicated how the representations of the Bond girls had changed through the series.
Another form of primary research I undertook was a questionnaire. I first schemed out the particular opinions and information I hoped to receive from the questionnaire (e. g. I wanted to discover the general opinions people have of Bond girls) and I then constructed the questionnaire accordingly. I first piloted the questionnaire first to make sure the wording made sense and to give me an evaluation. I had to make some changes including shortening the questionnaire and making it more direct, the feedback I received informed me that the first draft was too long and the subjects were losing interest.
When I had finally created my final questionnaire I was aware that to make this research method most effective I would have to hand out the questionnaires to a range of people who were the prime audience who watched Bond films. I researched the prime audience using www. 007. com and consequently handed out twenty copies, divided between males and females mainly of the social classes B, C1 and C2 and between the ages of 15 to 55. I supervised the subject while they filled out the questionnaire allowing them opportunity to ask any queries or problems they had with the questionnaire.
I asked both open and closed questions so that I could receive qualitative and quantitative data. I ensured my closed questions were appropriate to my project as I asked questions such as “do you think the roles of the women in James Bond films have developed over the franchise? ” I also often followed up these closed questions with open questions, such as “if yes, give a reason why”. This allowed the subject to provide their reasons for an answer, which provided me with very concise and useful opinions.
I also asked questions such as “choose one word you would associate with the girls in James Bond” which gave a chance for people to give their valuable insights. The quantitative data results I received were very interesting, for example 90% of subjects agreed that sex was key in the representation of Bond girls. Overall I was pleased because I got some excellent feedback from the questionnaires providing me with some excellent insight into the current opinions and views of people on Bond girls.
I also decided I would email the official James Bond website (www. 007. com) and a women film website (http://www. people. virginia. edu/~pm9k/libsci/womFilm. html) writing a letter explaining my project and asking for their opinion on how they think the representation of the bond girls have developed and changed during the course of the franchise. This way I could get a response from people close to the Bond franchise and from general women in film and make comparisons and contrasts in their opinions.
The official Bond site creators provided me with some websites I had in fact already accessed through browsing and did not offer too much new insight into the topic. The women film website creators did offer some advice on how to set about research and gave a few opinions about women and film, which was interesting. So ultimately I found that by using a range of primary and secondary research I was able to obtain a range of information, which helped give many views and opinions regarding my question.