Skyfall Stands Tall... and Proud?
(NOTE: Character spoilers -- NOT plot spoilers -- follow.)
Any scifi, comics or pop culture nerd longing for gay heroes to choose from is living in a relative Golden Age. Between your Shatterstars and Jack Harknesses, your Batwomen and (probably) Meg Griffins, we're culturally in LGBT character hyperdrive. These characters are, with increasing speed, taken seriously and crafted with depth, complexity and sincerity.
But maybe some of you in the LGBT community are evil (#bornthisway) and aching for a role model of your own. Some of you are loudly screaming "WHERE MY GAY VILLAINS AT, BITCH?" (Example: You scream this while placing a bomb in a disco ball; the ball will explode with glitter anthrax at the beginning of a kiki.) While gays are often portrayed as edgy, hyperbolic exaggerations of the worst gay stereotypes (*cough* Andrew from Desperate Housewives *cough*) you don't often see a really formidable gay villain that you can take seriously. Not even Mr. Belvedere had the sense of menace he should have. Wesley nor Bob Uecker never seemed truly scared enough.
Thus one of the many true successes of Skyfall, the latest in the 007 franchise, is Javier Bardem's portray of Raoul Silva. The success is achieved on so many levels.
First off, his gayness works like a cobra flaring its skin flaps. (What? This isn't a science dissertation. YOU look up what they're called.) From the first moment Ruaol Raool Raul Silva walks on, you know he's gay. Awesome. While this is annoying to me on shows like Glee, where it's usually the immediate and sole defining characteristic of the gay "character," it actually serves a purpose here. Because you know the gayness is a secondary characteristic to the fact that this fucker is pure evil. He can be as bleach blonde fancy as he wants, and you're still more wary of the fact that he could slice your throat any second. It makes him more dangerous because he wants you to underestimate his manliness.
Second, if sex is power, Silva's gayness is almost a Fuck You to Bond. I mean, we love Bond because he can do any mission, any spin kick, any woman. Great. Silva uses sex the same way. In his opening scene, he basically expresses: The same world I hold in my hand is the one I will now use to give you a sinister HJ. Silva is flamboyant gay because James is flaming straight. Game on.
Third, it's the truly clever way Bardem uses effeminate mannerisms to make light of the over-the-top nature of action dramas. He scoffs a bit ladylike when James makes one of his surprise, inevitable, death-defying comebacks at the end. But the hey-girl-hey-ishness to turn the tables. It basically says, "I'm drama? You're the one who just killed all these dudes with your bare hands. I'm kiiiiinda above it." It's done well.
And these are just the LGBT equality victories for a movie with so many more relevant victories for the viewer looking to see maybe the best Bond flick ever. The wins are achieved on many fronts, from fight choreography to Bond nostalgia to suit tailoring, with Judy Dench, Daniel Craig and Bardem all slyly stealing the spotlight exactly when they're supposed to.
Just like a LGBT person, sexuality shouldn't be the only thing you know about them. But it can be a fun thing to know about the person. It works the same way here. It's to the compliment of this movie that you're usually going too busy biting your nails or punching the air to think about this sort of thing.