I am a stickler for immersing myself in local literature while in foreign lands. It goes without saying, therefore, that while in London recently I soon sourced a copy of the Daily Mail.
Buttressed by stories about scantily clad soapie stars was a piece on things that ordinary Britons had never experienced:
19 per cent have never been inside a McDonald's restaurant.
30 per cent have never bought a takeaway cappuccino or latte.
28 per cent have never watched the X Factor on television.
The stat I homed in on centred on Bond. James Bond. Apparently 9 per cent have never seen a Bond film.
Now I may have been into several McDonald's dining establishments and seen X Factor and bought a coffee (albeit for someone else - I've never imbibed myself) but I'd not seen a Bond film.
And I haven't owned a car (like 18 per cent of Britons) or skied (like 68 per cent of them) or wired a plug (like 17 per cent of them).
In fact, I don't know what it even means to wire a plug. Hell, I changed my first light bulb only last week.
I've never had a driver's licence, let alone a car. I've never smoked cigarettes - or cannabis, for that matter, yadda yadda. I've already accepted that I'm probably not much like an ordinary Briton anyway. (Not that statistical everydayness is any huge aspiration). But I write about film and television. And gender. How had I not seen a Bond film? It seemed vaguely preposterous. Preposterous and effortlessly rectifiable.
There are lots of angles I could have written this piece from having now watched - and stayed awake through most of - Skyfall. More stupid Turkish stereotypes, evil bisexuals, barely surface-scratched-homoerotica, Daniel Craig's very peculiar running style and my complete and utter perplexity that any woman could find such a jerk attractive.
Instead, I'm going to focus on this notion of a Bond film being deemed important to the collective experience.
Is having seen at least one Bond film important? If so, important to what exactly? Is it an experience more important to Brits than to Australians?
What is it about a Bond film that is deemed as important and akin to the everydayness of, say, sending an email (something, incidentally, that apparently 16 per cent of Britons haven't done)?
Dad was recently lamenting he'd watched a quiz show where a PhD-student contestant answered a capital city question wrong. Dad thought this was heinous.
He then said, "You probably don't think it matters, because you can Google it."
Actually, I wouldn't have said that. My response would have been something about a PhD not being any guide to intelligence. And then I'd have mentioned the Google Effect.
But the root of Dad's argument is simply that some things need to be taught in school; some things are so important that everyone should know them.
I was thinking about this while watching Craig sneer around Istanbul. Around Shanghai. Around London. About this idea of common knowledge and common experiences.
I don't feel more well-rounded as a person having watched a beautifully shot, but far too long film with a gauzy script. I certainly don't feel more educated as a scholar of film and gender. Nor do I feel more connected to my paternal British heritage.
I have, however, sharpened a deep-seated loathing of Craig. Daniel Craig. I guess that's something.
Lauren Rosewarne is senior lecturer at University of Melbourne school of social and political sciences.
This article was first published on The Conversation.
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