Cultural Appropriation and Capitalism: Co-opting Blaxploitation in the Filmic Live and Let Die



Of the various western, popular culture images of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, James Bond films remain some of the most enduring. Based on novels by British writer Ian Fleming (1908-1964), the cinematic representations of MI6 super-spy 007 contain a revival of the master narrative - one promoting a colonial storyline replete with a white, male saviour and steeped in the hegemony and toxic masculinity common in literature from the latter half of the nineteenth century, at the height of the British Empire’s colonial expansion period. While the initial Bond films, released in the 1960s, strictly adhered to this narrative, by the early 1970s - when western audiences had changed - maintaining the format originally set in Fleming's novels and in the earlier films was no longer feasible. Specifically, black audiences were no longer willing to financially support a movie industry that either neglected or fetishised them. The result of this realisation was the film Live and Let Die (1973) starring Roger Moore "as the new James Bond, a more English, higher-class replacement for the rougher-edged Scottish Sean Connery" (Schwetman 2017, 106-7). Co-opting blaxploitation by including elements of the genre in the plot, as well as imbuing Live and Let Die with elements of African American and Afro-Caribbean culture, positions the film firmly in the category of a cinematic example of cultural appropriation. As such, Live and Let Die remains a problematic film for its incorporation of black, western cultures while promoting a British master narrative.

  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 3 Issue: 1
  • DOI: 10.24877/jbs.55
  • Published on 1 May 2020