By David L. Morris II
The article Shaken and Stirred: A content analysis of women’s portrayals in James Bond films by Neuendorf, K. A., Gore, T. D., Dalessandro, A., Janstova, P., and Snyder-Suhy, S. explores how the depiction of women has changed over time in a series of male-dominated action films. Specifically, it looks at 195 female characters in 20 James Bond films. Because women in films are typically portrayed in negative, stereotypical ways, there is concern that this repeated imagery is likely to have an impact on the viewers.
The first three research questions proposed by the authors dealt with the timeline of Bond films. They were curious if the physical characteristics, sexual activity, and the amount and level of violence against female characters had changed over time. The final research question had three separate subsections: an examination of whether there is a tie between the roles women play, how they look, and ultimately if these are precursors to that character being killed.
The authors of this research decided to use a research tool called content analysis. This tool is used much in the way that scientists use experiments to gather data that can then be reviewed in order to draw some conclusions relevant to the research questions. With content analysis, a group of individuals, in this case eight grad students, watched the films and recorded what they witnessed. In order for the grad students to watch and record information similarly, the authors created a codebook. This codebook was basically an instruction manual of what it is they were looking for. The grad students were looking for things such as the relevance of the female role in the film based on screen time, demographics, and physical characteristics.
After all eight coders had watched all of the 20 films, their code sheets were compiled together to form a dataset. That dataset was then processed through several statistical models in order to look for correlations and patterns that might provide insight into answering the research questions.
The data showed that as time went by there were more female characters, and that they became more sexually active in the films. Also increasing as time progressed was the female characters likelihood of being the victim of bodily harm. Physical characteristics such as hair changed progressively in accordance with time period. However, body type was consistent in all the films. This body type of course was unrealistically thin.
The authors believe that through their findings women are continuing to be portrayed as highly sexual and also as disposable. Of the young, attractive, and slender women of the Bond universe, nearly 20% end up deceased by the end of the film. It is the authors’ belief that there is a strong link between sex and violence that evokes stronger emotions in male viewers of this kind of content. This is based on the lack of changes in women’s depiction in the Bond franchise and its ongoing success.