June 30, 2009

Racist Transformers

People are criticizing the pair of jive-talkin' robots in the new Transformers movie. Some commenters offer some key points that also apply to Native portrayals.

Beyond The Twins:  Another look at Revenge of the Fallen’s Character FlawsB wrote:

I don’t care if it’s about giant robots or if it’s Shakespeare, every single thing you’re complaining about was a choice that the movie’s makers made. With a budget that big, no one made decisions without thinking about it and choosing among many options. These things don’t happen by mistake. Does anyone really expect me to believe that, given how much money the last one made, and how much they expect this one to make, that they just threw a bunch of things against the wall and were surprised by the outcome? Of course not. It may not require much thinking on the viewer’s part to watch the movie, but the same can’t be said for those who made it.

atlasien wrote:

The fact that it’s about giant robots fighting each other makes the racism even more egregious. There’s nothing necessarily racist about giant robots fighting each other. Therefore, you have to really go the extra mile in order to inject the racism. And Michael Bay did. He has no excuse whatsoever.

Jehanzeb wrote:

Michael Bay’s comment disturbs me. He doesn’t seem like he’s making an effort to understand how offensive the movie is to People of Color.

Yes, Mr. Bay, we know they’re robots, but they’re voiced by real people. When they’re given human and stereotypical traits, they’re not “just robots” anymore. The audience laughs at them because they’re familiar with the stereotypes.
Comment:  Consider any negative depiction of Indians--for instance, the cannibals in Pirates of the Caribbean. How did Jack Sparrow end up meeting maneating Carib Indians rather than peaceful Taino Indians or no Indians? Jerry Bruckheimer and company chose to portray stereotypical Indians as villains, that's how. He decided his $200 million (or whatever) movie would work best if audiences rooted for the white captain against the brown savages.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

3 comments:

Simone said...

I question decisions like this all the time..I wonder why was Sebastian,in Disney's Little Mermaid was turned from English to West Indian and why was there a group Rasta jelly fish in a tale that was written by Hans Christian Andersen??

Though Chiuaua's originate from Mexico and are named after a state in that country why do they almost always sound like Cheech Marin?

Why do most bulldogs in movies sound like stereotypical boxers or gansters? And why do I automatically know that's what they are suppose to sound like!

Why does that bee in the allergy commercial speak with Antonio Banderias aka stereotypical Latin Lover's voice?

Sooo many more whys?
(and typos that needed to be corrected in this 2nd posting!)

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is why they keep using Bumblebee in the Transformers movies. When I was a kid, nobody liked Bumblebee.

dmarks said...

"Though Chiuaua's originate from Mexico and are named after a state in that country why do they almost always sound like Cheech Marin?"

Think back to the "Oliver and Company" cartoon movie, in which Cheech himself voiced a chihuahua.

"Why does that bee in the allergy commercial speak with Antonio Banderias aka stereotypical Latin Lover's voice?"

This one is easy enough to answer. I am sure it goes back to the Mexican Bee Man comedian found on Mexican television. Outside of Mexican TV, he has inspired another Mexican bee-man on "The Simpsons".