The WSJ boldly asks . . .
Then answers . . .
“With male identity, there’s a biological aspect to how we see ourselves, and for many men, the song releases feelings of invincibility and attractiveness,” said Eugene Beresin, professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School. “Men link the theme to strength, adulthood and virility. It’s like the smell of a childhood baseball glove or a father’s aftershave.”
And this . . .
The Bond theme also has a paternal tie-in. Before the current movie-rating system was instituted in 1968, most theaters prohibited teens from seeing movies with a mature theme unless accompanied by an adult. “Which means most boys saw the film with their dads, who took them as a rite of passage,” said Louann Brizendine, professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of “The Male Brain.” “The experience only strengthened the link between the song and coming of age.”
All good observations, but they don’t explain why the Bond theme hits a lot of Other Guys the way it does. Persuasion Theory, however, does.
Classical Conditioning, the simplest and oldest theory of Change. If you heard the melody line of the Bond theme just by itself with no movie, you would have some kind of reaction to it, but that reaction would likely vary widely. For example consider this YouTube of the Bond theme on a classical guitar.
Now, Ding-Dong the melody with particular images, then sequences of images – danger, risk, sex, triumph – and that John Barry orchestration with the electric guitar, wailing horns, and driving beat.
But, no. It’s not Classical Conditioning. It’s the smell of Dad’s aftershave.
Yeah. Dad’s aftershave. Geez, what it takes to be a Harvard expert.