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]