James Bond had just saved the world, again. And, like always, he decided to celebrate by having a good time with a gorgeous woman rather than return to London's intelligence office for a debrief. Nothing can distract Bond during a post-save-the-world romp. Nothing. Not even a call from the prime minister herself, Margaret Thatcher.
The final scene in 1981's For Your Eyes Only cuts to No. 10, Downing Street, where the formidable stateswoman is doing her usual routine — you know, making dinner while wearing an apron, scolding her husband for picking at food while she is attending to official government business — to personally congratulate the spy. Even the Iron Lady gets flushed while speaking to Bond (who is not actually on the phone, being replaced by a parrot. Classic move.), adjusting her hair bashfully mid-conversation. The characterization will pain those who think of Thatcher as a feminist icon.
But then, this scene will pain anyone with a taste for comedy:
According to IMDb, Thatcher has been depicted as a character in 44 different movies and television shows, several of which are biographies of her life and her tenure as head of the British government. This popularity isn't that surprising--heads of state are common fodder for entertainment. In comparison, IMDb lists 32 characterizations of Tony Blair. Ronald Reagan has been depicted in 46 variations; John F. Kennedy has 88. Abraham Lincoln is at 326, and that's not including video-game characters.
The depictions of Thatcher in popular media run the gamut familiar to most polarizing politicians. The British satrical show Splitting Image depicted her as a schoolmaster, talking to her Cabinet members as if they were incompetent schoolchildren. In serious works such as The Iron Lady, the Thatcher character (played by Meryl Streep) gets the nuance it deserves. Across media, she has been the subject of songs, the topic of plays, and included in many books. The Associated Press has a more thorough roundup of her cultural impact here. But perhaps her cultural significance is starting to wane, as many on Twitter thought Cher was dead upon seeing the hashtag #nowthatchersdead on Monday morning.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.