The Right won the battle of ideas in the late 20th-century, rendering Marxism so rapidly obsolete that states which had openly avowed their communism were happy to embrace the market and seek Western capital. But has the West also won the battle of images? This is an important question in an increasingly cosmopolitan political culture that takes its idioms, aspirations and views from visual sources, particularly television and film. Here there are two challenges: the destructive and sociopathic, or at least anti-social, character of much of the visual material produced within the West; and the decidedly mixed way in which a predominantly Western-dominated media is perceived elsewhere in the world.
This makes all the more fascinating the worldwide popularity of a film franchise celebrating the career of a white male British government agent-named James Bond-who combats and defeats evil challenges to the Western democratic and free-market order. The Bond films-and there are now twenty in the official series-are free of all sociopathic suggestions (unless one happens to share the views of militant feminism), and every one ends in a victory for the West. The series also pays homage to one of the oldest operating bilateral alliances in the world, that between the United States and Britain. The Bond films, and the Ian Fleming novels which were the source of the character and some of the plots, thus offer us an opportunity to see how perceptions of that "special" relationship have changed over the years-from both the British perspective (mostly in Fleming's novels) and the American one (mostly in the films).