5 February 2014

Ian Fleming: more dodgy than average?

● Bond creator Ian Fleming’s colourful life has been dramatised at least twice before. A new series, Fleming, is having another go. This time, by the sound of it, they are focusing more on TV’s current favourite two preoccupations: sex and dysfunctionality.
Fleming’s unusual abilities meant he was relatively unsuccessful at the conventional occupations he tried, until he got into spying and writing about spying. Like many talented people, he seems to have been a bit screwed up, was rarely satisfied, and had offbeat tastes in sex. Judging by a write-up in Saturday’s Mail, the new series uses these features to turn him into a deeply flawed character.
“... it’s hard to feel any sympathy for him ... I struggle to understand the way he treated people” says Dominic Cooper, who plays Fleming.
“I wondered why she was interested in this selfish, vulgar man ... It’s tragic that these two people had to go to extremes to feel alive” says Lara Pulver, who plays his lover Ann Charteris.
Mediocracy likes to explain deviation from the average in terms of pathology. The lives of creative types or other historical figures are to be shown as tragic, damaged, full of despair, loneliness and/or iffy relationships, and characterised by dubious personality features.
But if you look at the life of the typical middle-of-the-road person from a critical perspective, don’t you find all the same things, if on a more modest scale – dashed hopes, quiet desperation, ‘love’ mixed up with other, more dodgy motives? Failed relationships, soured ambition, peculiarities of character, occasional ruthlessness towards enemies or rivals?