This is the fifteenth essay in a 24-part series about the James Bond cinemas co-created by Sundog Lit. I encourage everyone to read the other essays, comment and join in on the conversation about not only the films themselves, but cinematic trends, political and other external influences on the series’ tone and direction.
Of [In]human #Bond_age_ #15: The Living Daylights - Bizarro Bond in a Brave Old World
by James David Patrick
By definition a litmus test is a simple test of the alkalinity or acidity of a substance using a strip of litmus paper. The term is often bandied about in politics when interrogating a potential candidate for public office, the answer to which, theoretically, would prove telling about his/her potential appointment or nomination. During the last round of U.S. Supreme Court hearings, you couldn’t turn on cable news without hearing it. The “Litmus test” question has also become a favorite figurative term in the spheres of social media and speed dating. For our purposes we’ll concern ourselves only with the former. You may use the latter on your own time. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
In the context of social media, especially in the Twittersphere, where characters come at a premium, and fair, in-depth explanations are often supplanted by brevity and histrionics, the notion of the litmus test has gained popularity (even if people don’t know they’re necessarily engaging in litmus tests) especially when discussing movies, music, video games, etc. The takeaway here is that lists are fun and catalyze all sorts of conversation.
I became more aware of the unspoken litmus test phenomenon when one of the great movie gurus on Twitter – @bobfreelander of the website Rupert Pupkin Speaks – posted a friend’s three-movie litmus test on his Facebook page. He had shared the list because it contained Joe Dante’s The ‘burbs, an infamous “flop” whose reputation has grown over the years as audiences are finally, after more than 20 years, discovering that the flick is wickedly funny. So it goes that if you’re a big fan of The ‘burbs, you might use someone else’s opinion of the film to gauge their character/taste in movies. I started to think about my own Three-Movie Litmus Test (capitalized for officialness).