Students shaken, not stirred by invite

After viewing every James Bond movie ever made, partners in crime Josh Kushins and Matt Bradford said one thing was missing: a female action hero who is not dominated by Bond.

The two Speech seniors will be the only undergraduates to attend the “Point Blank: Tough Guy Film and Culture” conference this weekend in Tucson, Ariz., focusing on gender roles in action films.

“Traditionally, it’s very rare of undergraduates to attend an academic conference,” said Prof. L.S. Kim, a visiting Radio/TV/Film lecturer.

Enrolled in Kim’s action genre class Fall Quarter, Kushins and Bradford each wrote papers on gender issues in James Bond films. After Kim’s teaching assistant told her about the conference, Kim suggested Kushins and Bradford submit a paper for it.

The two were shocked they were chosen.

“It’s a great opportunity and an honor to have been selected,” said Kushins, who added that Bradford and he are able to attend the conference because of funds provided by the R/TV/F department.

Gender issues need to be addressed in the four decades of Bond films because film is a sign of the times, said Kushins and Bradford, who call themselves “Bond aficionados.”

“It’s interesting to see how film reflects and affects our culture,” Kushins said.

Although the female character in “Tomorrow Never Dies” has her own action scene, which Bradford said is rare, she ultimately loses out to Bond.

“She kicks ass and has amazing moves, but because it’s a James Bond movie, she has to be captured and saved in the end,” Bradford said. “The female role hasn’t changed as much as the producers would like you to believe.”

Though Kushins and Bradford said they prefer the production side of film and aspire to be screenwriters, Kushins said analyzing a film is key to production.

“Understanding film and understanding the constructs of film gives you a more complete knowledge of what you’re doing,” said Kushins, an nyou staffer. “Ideally, we’d like to see in our own films some of the erroneous gender roles propagated in the past corrected.”

At the conference, Kushins and Bradford will present their papers as one combined paper and participate in a panel discussion called “The Tough Woman.”

Kim said Kushins and Bradford’s participation in the conference illustrates what education is all about.

“Ultimately, it’s pushing the assignment of a class beyond the requirement,” she said. “As a professor, the ideal is to encourage and support a student to push their paper into a higher form, a publishable form.”

Three graduate students and one R/TV/F professor also plan to attend the conference this weekend.