Michael Bay Not Convinced Illiterate, Ebonics-Spouting Transformers Robots Are All That Offensive


Once the dust settles on the critical evisceration of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and long after all the money is counted, it's likely the only thing most people will remember from the embarrassingly overblown Paramount sequel are Mudflap and Skids, whom you read about first on Movieline. For it seems the notion of two developmentally disabled, blinged-out robots who are incapable of reading and who speak exclusively in an African-American urban patois has -- amazingly enough -- struck a nerve.

In an AP piece called "Jive-talking twin Transformers raise race issues," reporter Sandy Cohen examines the troublesome nature of these supporting players, who are frequently likened to that other racist CGI monstrosity, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace's Jar Jar Binks.

She approached Bay with the concerns, who responded with a meagerly mounted defense, before crumbling under the realization of what he'd unleashed upon the planet and speaking only in cryptic, snack cracker metaphors:

"We're just putting more personality in," Bay said. "I don't know if it's stereotypes -- they are robots, by the way. These are the voice actors. This is kind of the direction they were taking the characters and we went with it."

Bay said the twins' parts "were kind of written but not really written, so the voice actors is when we started to really kind of come up with their characters."

"I purely did it for kids," the director said. "Young kids love these robots, because it makes it more accessible to them." [...]

"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."

We doubt Bay's detractors will likely be satisfied with his argument that the derogatory duo were created to appeal to the brazenly racist tastes of the all-important, 9-and-under toy-buying demo. Between this and Brüno, 2009 should make for an interesting summer as far as Hollywood minority images go. But that's nothing compared to 2011, when Transformers 3's Blowout and Diva -- a swishy pair of hairdryer and disco ball Autobots who insist on calling each other "girlfriend" and telling Optimus Prime to "talk to the hand" every time he gives them an order -- are introduced to the world.

· Jive-talking twin Transformers raise race issues [USA Today/AP]


  • yarmulke says:

    In other news...Melba Toast's everywhere are revolting against the notion that a world full of nothing but themselves would be the least bit boring.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    “I purely did it for kids, because our demographic research has shown the only thing a kid loves more than MUTHAF**KIN’ GANSTA PIMPS is Megan Fox’s exposed vagina.”

  • rodger says:

    I've read Bay's emails: illiterate characters in his movies are a subconscious cry for help.

  • filmprinzBG says:

    I have not seen the movie but Bay has offered racist caricatures of black folks before. In The Rock (1996), you will recall that the black man that was manning the cable car -- during the Nick Cage car chase of Sean Connery -- gave a mush mouth Amos and Andy tinged speech about he was gonna "kill some muthaf&%$r" for blowing up the car in the aftermath of the. Then in 2003's Bad Boys II you will recall the scene where Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are in the electronics store and, once again, there is a black person, this time a woman, who thinks the two are gay and gives the same type of attitude, I think she said you motherbleepers need Jesus. Then in The Island (2005), as Scarlett Johannsen and Ewan MacGregor are hanging outside a skyscraper by the thinnest of fabric, another black guy, a construction worker (played by Mark Christopher Lawrence-thank you IMDB.com) rescues the pair and spouts out another Mammy-esque mush mouth line straight outta Gone With the Wind, "Jesus must loooves you, child." So when I see a Bay film I always look for that black actor to deliver what is now a signature Bay racist statement.

  • Inhaler says:

    Considering the voice actor for Mudflap and Skids (the ethnic-flavored robots in question) was voiced by Tom Kenny - a Caucasian male, this is an interesting case of CG blackface.
    At the very least, the voice acting could have gone to Kenan Thompson or Nick Cannon. I think the insult to the injury is that all the "jive-talk" is coming from the same throat that bestows Spongebob Squarepants upon the world.

  • snickers says:

    Those ugly creations are quickly becoming known as the "Sambots".

  • NoWireHangers says:

    If Bay's blaming this one on the voice actors is he suggesting that they CGI'd in the gold tooth after the fact?

  • NoWireHangers says:

    If Bay's blaming this one on the voice actors is he suggesting that they CGI'd in the gold tooth after the fact?

  • JudgeFudge says:

    I have a feeling that this somehow isn't Tom Kenny's fault. The man has done SO much voice talent work for children's programming, and his work on Mr. Show implies that he is well aware of streotypes and their connotations in pop culture (btw, Ellis D. Trails, ftw).

  • JIII says:

    It's hard for me to believe the kid angle as well because I doubt any parent would let thier kids see this with the amount of language in it. When was the last time Spongebob called patrick a pussy??

  • sweetbiscuit says:

    “We’re just putting more personality in,” Bay said. “I don’t know if it’s stereotypes...."
    Maybe someone needs to inform him that these are, in fact, stereotypes, which many creative people don't have to rely on to convey "personality." Sadly, he wouldn't be able to hear anyone over the sound of his bazillions of dollars.

  • Dyrkness says:

    Yet, Eddie Murphy can do it in a kids' movie and it's "A'ight".

  • Dyrkness says:

    Shrek, that is.

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