Shared Stories

James Bond stories are so much fun. I’ve never read the books, but I enjoy the films. However, it seems the more I think about them, the more I think that they aren’t really anything special.

Let us briefly consider, from an exegetical standpoint, the films Tomorrow Never Dies and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. A man well trained, in both social and martial arts, faces off with a very wealthy villian bent on world domination. Hostages are taken. Ruses and double crosses abound. The villain is at the very brink of acquiring the coveted resources, but at the last moment our hero defeats the malefactor in hand-to-hand combat and the world is saved. These two stories (and inumerable others to boot) fundamentally share a common structure, but they take place in very different environments.

With James Bond, we have a British MI6 agent that gets romantically involved with every woman in reach. China and Russia are major players. Advanced digital technology is the coveted resource. Naval and air warfare are backdrop for the conflict, and our hero has all manner of gadgets at his disposal.

In Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, we see a man who gets into a lifelong romantic relationship (against his mentor’s advice). The Confederates States of America and the Union are the teams. Silver is what everyone wants. Steam engines and horse-drawn carriages are popular, and we have an ax that turns into a shotgun.

So all this makes me wonder how many other stories are simply re-cloaking of the same ideas and fundamental struggles? The protagonist could be faithful and good-natured, Lincoln, and a part of us longs to be like that. Or the protaganist could be reckless and a playboy like James Bond, and we are fascinated by his response.

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