What’s interesting about the debate around Idris Elba playing James Bond is that it actually shouldn’t be happening.
Now, I don’t mean that in the sense that Idris Elba would be brilliant as James Bond (he would be). No, the thing is that James Bond’s race doesn’t actually matter – “white guy” isn’t intrinsic to the character.
Rush Limbaugh, who I know essentially nothing about, said that James Bond was originally “a white [man] from Scotland”. That’s actually wrong. James Bond wasn’t written as Scottish in the first place.
Sean Connery is Scottish. Ian Fleming actually didn’t think that Connery should play James Bond, because he was Scottish, and James Bond wasn’t.
But in the end, Ian Fleming thought Sean Connery was such a good James Bond, he actually then wrote James Bond as Scottish because of Sean Connery.
Now, I will admit, I am not an expert on James Bond. I haven’t seen any of the films, bar Skyfall. I’ve not read any of the books. Generally, I know more about the actual iconography of James Bond, than about James Bond the character.
But I do know that there is a precedent for changing his race on the basis of an actor doing a damn good job at playing the role.
And Idris Elba would be a damn good James Bond.