Skip to content
26 June, 2009 / Erik

Transformers Week: Day Four

Michael Bay is a racist. Pure and simple. It is, with sadness, that he uses the vehicle of the Transformers films to propagate stereotypes and images long abandoned by even the most hateful of hate groups. Yes, I’m referring to the Shuck ‘n’ Jive bots.

53_71646_5cdc4999761a773No, Bay is not making people confront provocative imagery because Transformers intended audience is children or infantile adults.

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is that legendary abyss we are warned not to stare into. Instead of looking back, it shows you all of the worst human impulses suddenly portrayed with heroic virtue and slow motion shots. Plot: robots smash things while fleshy people are shown to be weak-willed, obnoxious, and despicable. Apparently, Decipticon Leader Megatron is merely the pawn of a Transformer known only as “The Fallen.” His wish is to annihilate planet Earth and convert its sun to a source of power. Considering the way the film plays out, I see his point.

53_71646_95d46c105f50f0cVisually, this is the dullest of Bay’s output. At one time, you could at least say the director of “Bad Boys” and “The Rock” made pretty pictures. Once, he was capable of immaculate cinematography. Now, all of that has been completely lost in the wave of explosions, interchangeable effects, and a stable of stock compositions and sets. There is no more innovation in the work. It is simply the work of someone making due because effort makes no more money than resting on one’s laurels.

But by far, the film’s biggest sin is the portrayal of, well … damn near everyone. In particular, though, the Shuck ‘n’ Jive bots are just a shocking testament to how small-minded, obtuse, and hate-filled the director actually is.

The film itself can almost be read as a three hour epic on the horror of being human. Besides his clear hatred of black people, Bay also fears women, his mother, old age, and his own testicles. Between the “hot chick” who Transforms into a cross between a Decipticon and the “Species” alien, the hot mom shtick, and the main character’s unwillingness to say “I love you,” one can only assume Bay is just now, at 44, entering puberty. Indeed, the main character, Sam, attempts to put away his Transformer toys and go to college. However, the college presented in the film makes one wonder if Bay actually ever attended classes anywhere on Earth. Of course, the film ends with the man-child Sam accepting his fate playing with toys.

If Spielberg was Peter Pan, who is Michael Bay? He has no appreciation for the sense of awe and wonder Spielberg holds onto, saccharine though it might be. Instead, Bay is amalgam of every selfish, crass, hateful notion we consider “childish.” His white hot fear of the Other, any other, might even reflect the mindset of a person deeply troubled. All of this would be forgivable if not for the amount of actual children seeing adults — and even robots — still behaving as children.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t help but wonder what this film would be like if the Transformers were actually in it. Moreso than last time, the Transformers are guests in their own film. The Autobots are quickly corralled under cami-netting so Sam, his girlfriend, and Hispanic Stereotype can go on their quest. The Decipticons, despite having more dialogue this go around, are presented no differently then an out of control weather phenomenon in a Roland Emmerich picture. Divorced of any distinct personalities, it is sometimes hard to tell Megatron apart from his nameless subordinates during the final battle. Other than Optimus Prime, none of the Transformers are portrayed as anything but special effects.

That isn’t to say the films should slavishly follow any particular Transformer story of antiquity. The key difference between Bay’s films and every other product is the focus on the robots. Slight as they might be, there are characters in the old cartoon and the show was clearly about them. We, as children, accepted that reality and we might still. We don’t need miscellaneous G.I. Joes or even a reluctant hero to become engaged with the war between the machines. You’d also think someone who more readily identifies with machines, like Bay, would be able to do that.

poster_blackfaceWhich brings us back to the Shuck n Jivebots. Bay has stated, “I don’t know if it’s stereotypes — they are robots, by the way.” Which, to me, indicates he fundamentally does not understand the very concept of the Transformers or his own prejudices. On a similar note, the film gives us a bureaucrat who messes with the G.I. Joe squad assigned to the Autobots. He pulls rank and says, “my authority comes from the president.” Turns out, Obama sent this imperious stuffed shirt to coral those pesky Autobots. We learn Obama is the president in passing, but the way a member of his staff is portrayed, in combination with the Shuck ‘n’ Jivebots, can’t help but leave one with a very strong impression of Michael Bay’s true feelings on race relations.

This is merely just the largest assault on one’s sensibilities. There is also the Transformer that humps Megan Fox’s leg, the farting SR-71 Blackbird, casual homophobia, a robot with nards, and Jon Turturo’s upsetting underpants. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is not a movie. It’s a collection of fever dreams from a boy’s mind at the onset of puberty; unsure why he likes girls now more than robots and utterly terrified of the things Transforming between his legs. It could be interesting material if not for this admission from Bay: “I purely did it for kids.”

Clearly, he hates children as well.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: