Nobody’s Done It Since: How May Day Changed My Game
By Alexa Day
My love affair with James Bond ended when the Powers That Be sent Pierce Brosnan packing. The affair began with Roger Moore. The year was 1985, the film was A View to a Kill, and I was 12.
I think a woman develops a certain affection for her first Bond, but Sir Roger, as much as I love him, is not the reason I adore this movie. For a preteen girl trying to figure out where on earth she belonged and what to make of the world around her, A View to a Kill is all about May Day.
Played by the one-of-a-kind Grace Jones, May Day was exactly the heroine I needed at exactly the time I needed a heroine. She dressed to impress – or at least to be noticed – with bright colors and backless dresses. She knew how to handle her business. She singlehandedly calmed a skittish racehorse, handed Bond’s ass to him on a fishing rod, and jumped from the Eiffel Tower with a stylish parachute, and that was just in the first half of the film.
By the time I was 12, I’d learned a hard lesson of life: The more you can do, the less popular you’ll be. Bear in mind, I was growing up in a world before Buffy but after Cleopatra Jones. In this dark time, a 12-year-old black girl had very few lady bad-asses to admire, and even fewer of those had men in their lives. In the films of my youth, girls like Stacey Sutton (poor Tanya Roberts), girls whose placid minds were untroubled by thought, seemed to get the guy.
But on top of her killer wardrobe and lethal talents, May Day had a boyfriend. A blond boyfriend. And the man doted on her. He kissed her hand while they hung out at the lake waiting for Bond to drown. He watched her get downright giggly over the view from his blimp. They were a well-oiled machine combing his estate looking for Bond and later burning down San Francisco’s City Hall. They were good together.
Okay, let’s stop for just a second. I will acknowledge that Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin was probably not the ideal boyfriend. He was a genetically engineered megalomaniac with pretty deep-seated psychopathic tendencies. I get it. But I challenge you to look at the positives.
Max had his own money. He had his own place, which came with its own servants’ quarters. He was pretty sharp. He had a plan for the future that ostensibly included May Day. I see a lot of non-megalomaniacs out there who can’t manage all that. I would suggest that the megalomania is more of a long-term relationship issue, something to work through as it causes trouble.
Just think about this like a 12-year-old for a second. Max is looking pretty good now, right? I mean, the man had a blimp with his name on the side. That’s pretty persuasive stuff. I was all ready to be May Day.
Even when things went bad between her and Max and he tried to kill her, I wanted to be May Day. A breakup like that might have rendered another woman utterly useless. May Day went out the way every scorned woman dreams of – she became the instrument of her ex’s downfall. James didn’t foil Max’s Master Plan. May Day did. And she made damned sure he could see her doing it.
Today, I’m a somewhat jaded 40something in a world my 12-year-old self only dreamed of, filled with stories where black women kick ass, take names, and get their swirl on, too. I still haven’t become May Day (yet), but I’ve always thought A View to a Kill is very much her movie. Each time I see it, the romance writer in me can’t stop wondering about the doomed relationship between her and her blond megalomaniac. I know May Day got the resolution that was perfect for her. But maybe one day, I can write a better man for another inimitable woman.
Are you following Lady Smut? We don’t have a blimp yet, but I like our chances for world domination anyway.