So the LA Press caught “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” last night and reactions were decidedly mixed but there was an apparently unanimous opinion that it is bugfuck insane. Movieline [via ThePlaylist] compiled a list of nine shameless moments from just the first hour of the film and this one jumped out at me:
2. There are two robots in the film called Mudflap and Skids, and despite being red and green, respectively, they are voiced in a way that clearly designates them to be the “black” robots. Also, Skids has a gold front tooth (no, I’m serious) and both cannot read.
That is just magical. I can’t believe Michael Bay got away with that in not only a mainstream movie, but a massive summer blockbuster. But it’s not just magically incredible but inevitable because racism is not new to Bay’s movies. Almost all of his films have a sassy black person (preferably as an overweight black woman, but men will suffice). Even “The Island”, which is Bay’s futile attempt at a cerebral sci-fi flick, has a sassy black receptionist working at the cloning facility. It’s almost become a signature. Sam Raimi has his ’73 Olds, Alfred Hitchcock had cameos, and Michael Bay has African-Americans that will respond to Earth-shattering events with sassy wisdom. I’m convinced if he could have gotten away with it, he would have had a large black woman shaking her fist and yelling at the Japanese bomber planes in “Pearl Harbor”.
Of course, in the first “Transformers” movie we had the Autobot “Jazz” who schucked, jived, and then was promptly ripped in half by Megatron. It was…awkward. And I’m sure folks will be quick to point out that Bay’s films contain positive black characters (or positive black men; his only leading black female character was Gabrielle Union in “Bad Boys II” and even she ends up as a damsel in distress when the “shit got real”) but they don’t magically negate the negative racial stereotypes of African-Americans in his movies. I’m not trying to be the political-correctness police (nor would I want to be because I find obscene racial stereotypes hilarious in their absurdity and shameful to those who would use them) and I don’t think Bay is personally racist (it’s hard to succeed in the modern world if you’re a hardcore racist), but I think, at least as far as this one aspect of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” goes (and I personally haven’t seen the film but remain optimistic towards it), I think Bay may have gone right past “bravado” and tumbled right into “embarrassing”.