Britney, you are no Pussy Galore. A recent Extra television report revealed that Britney Spears has had the gall to approach Barbara Broccoli, a producer of the James Bond films, with a view to becoming the next Bond Girl. (The 21st installment of the film franchise is slated for a November 2005 release.)
With Spears' brazen request on the table, perhaps it is time for a refresher on what a Bond Girl is and what she is not. A new coffee-table book, Bond Girls Are Forever: The Women of James Bond (Harry N. Abrams, $40) by John Cork and former Bond Girl Maryam d'Abo (Kara Milovy in 1987's The Living Daylights), breaks down the Bond Girl mystique.
Those who pigeonhole Bond Girls as mere sex objects are guilty of reducing complex female characters to one rather boring dimension, the authors argue. Bond Girls are the quintessential alpha females, melding masculine confidence with feminine manner.
The classic Bond Girl's sex appeal, says Graham Rye, publisher of Britain's 007 Magazine and author of The James Bond Girls, is "drawn from an air of classy sophistication, partnered with independence, intelligence and toughness and complemented by a face that turns heads -- and a great body," he said.
"There isn't a girl next door in the entire lot," Sean Connery once said in an interview quoted in Bond Girls Are Forever.
Rye reacted with horror to the idea of Spears as a Bond Girl. "Britney Spears may well be suited to an appearance in a Cody Banks movie swigging from a can of Pepsi -- but James Bond -- never! Unless 007 goes undercover as a pimp," he said.
"The biggest challenge for Britney Spears," said Cork, co-author of Bond Girls Are Forever, is that people "already have a very strong preconceived notion of what Britney Spears is -- and that is very different from audience preconceptions of what a Bond Girl is."
So what are the precise ingredients for a sublime Bond Girl?
* A Bond Girl has sex appeal. Her allure stems from her classic beauty -- tall, lithesome, elegant. Ursula Andress (Honey Ryder) rose from the sea like a knife-wielding Aphrodite in 1962's Dr. No, the first of the Bond films. Another Dr. No Bond Girl, Sylvia Trench (played by Eunice Gayson), is described in the screenplay as "willowy, exquisitely gowned, with a classic, deceptively cold beauty."
Britney, on the other hand, is already looking over the hill at 22.
* A Bond Girl is smart. Mollie Peters (Patricia Fearing in 1965's Thunderball) is an osteopath, Lois Chiles (Dr. Holly Goodhead) is a Vassar-educated astronaut (and secret CIA agent) in 1979's Moonraker. Britney is, well, let's just say she probably hasn't cracked a Dostoyevsky novel since college. Oh wait ...
* A Bond Girl is powerful. In his novel Live and Let Die, Ian Fleming describes Solitaire (played by Jane Seymour in the 1973 film) as such: "Part of the beauty of her face lay in its lack of compromise. It was the face born to command." In Bond Girls Are Forever, author Camille Paglia describes Pussy Galore (as played by Honor Blackman in Goldfinger, 1964) as "one of the most commanding, authoritative women in popular culture for the time."
Granted, Britney once sold a lot of Pepsi. But it's not quite the same.
* A Bond Girl always keeps her wits about her. So sometimes she is drugged, poisoned, shot or covered with suffocating gold paint, but she can't help that. She would never get drunk in a Vegas club and marry some shlub wearing a baseball cap. Unless she killed him afterward. Which brings us to ... a Bond Girl can hold her liquor.
* A Bond Girl is sophisticated and classy. She knows how to dress to impress and how to dress to kill; she knows which fork to use and never eats with her mouth open. Bond Girls are daughters of diplomats, royalty and top scientists. Britney thinks a corset and a python make good accessories and it wouldn't be surprising if she ate her peas with a knife.
* Most important, a Bond Girl is a man-killer. Literally, of course, but she also gets the richest, the smartest, the most dangerous men in the world. Until she tires of them, or they try to feed her to sharks, or vice versa.
Andrea Anders (Maud Adams), for example, is the kept woman of million-dollar-a-shot hit man Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With the Golden Gun (1974). Kept very well, thank you. Honey Rider in Dr. No describes to Bond killing a rapist with a black widow spider: "I put a black widow under his mosquito net, a female, and they're the worst. It took him a whole week to die. ... Did I do wrong?"
Britney couldn't even hold onto Justin Timberlake. Or dispatch him in a suitably creative manner.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.