Thursday, June 25, 2009

I don't care about "melba toast," Michael Bay.

I do care about a pattern of racist behavior that has continued from the first Transformers film. Now the racism, and sexism, is back.

Dr Boyce: Yes, The Transformers Movie Was Quite Racist, by Dr. Boyce Watkins, PhD, BV Black Spin.

Harry says TRANSFORMERS 2 is foul mouthed, racist & misogynistic! It also runs an hour too long!, Ain't It Cool News.

Jive-talking twin Transformers raise race issues, AP.

Skids and Mudflap, twin robots disguised as compact hatchbacks, constantly brawl and bicker in rap-inspired street slang. They're forced to acknowledge that they can't read. One has a gold tooth.

How does a car have a gold tooth? And why does reading come up in a film about cars?

Actor Reno Wilson, who is black, voices Mudflap. Tom Kenny, the white actor behind SpongeBob SquarePants, voices Skids.

Wilson said Wednesday that he never imagined viewers might consider the twins to be racial caricatures. When he took the role, he was told that the alien robots learned about human culture through the Web and that the twins were "wannabe gangster types."

Gangster types like Michael Corleone or Tony Montana? No?

"It's an alien who uploaded information from the Internet and put together the conglomeration and formed this cadence, way of speaking and body language that was accumulated over X amount of years of information and that's what came out," the 40-year-old actor said. "If he had uploaded country music, he would have come out like that."

It's not fair to assume the characters are black, he said.

"It could easily be a Transformer that uploaded Kevin Federline data," Wilson said. "They were just like posers to me."

Kenny did not respond to an interview request Wednesday.

Way to cash that check, Mr. Wilson.

[Director Michael Bay] brushes off any whiff of controversy.

"Listen, you're going to have your naysayers on anything," he said. "It's like is everything going to be melba toast? It takes all forms and shapes and sizes."

If the racism wasn't bad enough, the sexism makes me physically ill:

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Review
, by Tara Meacham, Associated Content. Emphases mine.

You might have noticed that this Transformers film not only contains some poignant stereotypes of black people, but also that the movie is loaded with women. Most of them have fake boobs, push-up bras, and exist solely for the purpose of being sexualized in one way or another on a college campus. If they're not such women, they might be one of a few others—like the protagonist's mom, a typical empty nest middle-aged white woman ridiculed for wanting to have sex with her husband and stupid enough to purchase pot brownies without knowing what they are.

[ . . . ]

There is also Fox's character, Mikaela Banes, a female capable of fixing bikes and hot-wiring cars. She chooses not to go to college because she isn't a bimbo like all of the women that go there (because obviously college is not for smart people or women who think education might help them in life). She stays home to take care of her dad and mind the bike shop while Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) goes off to school on the East Coast.

She does other useful things, such as: run around in slow motion for a full five minutes at the end of the movie after taking off a protective layer of clothing in the desert, land her face on another male character's crotch, open her mouth a lot, appear with inconsistent amounts of collagen in her lips, flash her underwear while getting changed in the front yard, and attempt to be compared to Xena. Her secondary objective seems to be tagging along to help her boyfriend save the world; her primary objective involves getting him to say the L word and keep him away from fem-bots with anal probes.

Fox has a few key scenes in the film. In Egypt, she randomly dons a scarf over her mouth for a moment, because clearly the stereotypically fundamentalist Muslims all around would have been horrified at the sight of her uncovered mouth when her boobs could hardly be contained.

However, Fox does not play the most interesting female character in the film. That task falls to an unnamed female student in an astronomy class. Her job is to pick up a discarded, half-eaten, tossed-on-the-floor apple upon the command of the professor, who tells her to eat it. This degrading display is so horrific that I can't even be sarcastic about it.

Kudos to all involved. The Transformers franchise is now the front runner for the newly coined Rogen/Apatow Award for Excellence in Perpetuating White Male Privilege.



Asian Americanist said...

A robot has a gold tooth in the same way that a robot has a beard. Which isn't surprising considering that the Quintessons mostly seem to have beards.

Besides, assuming that a robot has teeth, why couldn't it use another metal for repair purposes? Why does Optimus have flames on his alternate form, if it isn't strictly necessary? Maybe the robot just likes it.

And reading comes up in the movie because Sam starts hallucinating and writing Cybertronian symbols and wants to decipher them.

Did you watch the movie to verify that the movie actually is racist/sexist/etc?

It seems odd that the movie perpetuates the previous movie's sexism/racism etc. Is it in the competent Epps? Or the more highly skilled than the white person hacker Glenn? Is it in the skilled hacker and shotgun wielder Maggie? Or the chick that can fix cars and actually grows somewhat by the end of the movie? Are hot women not allowed to be smart and strong? Is Glen loud? Sure. Are any black people loud in that fashion? I'd say that you could find examples. Unless the issue is that no black people are ultra-competent hackers or soldiers. Is that the issue?

Is this specific movie racist? From the descriptions, probably. But, given the general audience reaction I'd say the issue is more that Bay and Orci and Kurtzman and Kruger are giving people what they want. And I'd want to watch the movie before judging. And frankly, I'd be wary about trusting whatever Harry Knowles says about anything.

Considering Carbombya, it's still a step up.

As for Kenny's statement, c'mon, it's pretty clear the type of "gangster" he's talking about is more The Shield than Scarface.

Bianca Reagan said...

"giving people what they want"?

What kind of people want sexism and racism in their movies? And why should it be handed to those people, while simultaneously shoved in the faces of a tentpole movie audience who did not sign up for onscreen bigotry?

I did not see the movie for the same reasons that I didn't see the first one: it look ridiculous and implausible, as well as sexist, and, as I later learned, racist.

Asian Americanist said...

The kind that gave it 281M worldwide in less than five days.

As for the movie, it is ridiculous and implausible. It's a movie about robots that transform. That's inherent in the concept. And, it's a strike script which hurt a lot of movies this summer.

As for sexist, not really. Are the majority of women good-looking? Yeah. So are the guys; I don't recall a criticism that Jonah Hill would have made for a better comic relief dormmate than Ramon Rodrigues. I doubt that Duhamel or Marsden or Tyrese were hired because they're going to win Oscars.

As for racist, exactly what are you basing it off of if you haven't actually seen the movie? The Twins can't read the symbols, though none of them except for Optimus or Jetfire (and the other Seekers, but that's neither here nor there) could. That's a plot point.

So all are the other robots racist caricatures of black people? I can understand the argument that the film is racist, but it's ending up more attribution than reality. They're more Spongebob crossed with moronic teens than "the black." Frankly, I'm disappointed. For such a big hoopla about them being racist, I expected it to be a lot more blatant.

Stephanie said...

I haven't seen the 2nd one. But I didn't think the first one was sexist. Megan is hot and wears skimpy outfits but the guys are hot and shirtless. Plus she was cool and knew a lot about cars. She wasn't just the dumb girl running around screaming "save me" from what I remember?

It's been awhile but I don't remember throwing my hands in the air and screaming in annoyance and Megan Fox usually annoys me and she didn't. :) ha ha!