More Than Meets the Eye
There comes a time when good men can no longer remain silent. Where sides must be chosen and ground defended. And I have chosen mine: I am with the people, not the critics. "Transformers 2" is a fun summer blockbuster.
But wow, is it racist. Much of the movie's comic relief comes from a pair of Autobot twins named Mudflap and Skids. They look like monkeys. One has a gold tooth and satellite ears. The dialect is a parody of ebonics with words lifted from gangster rap, complete with frequent threats to "bust a cap" in this or that character. At one point, they're asked to read a symbol. "We don't much like reading," they say. They're not Autobots. They're Minstrelbots. As Ty Burr smartly said, "it's the first known example of robot blackface."
But what I want is a transcript of the pitch meeting that produced them. At some point, someone, somewhere, had to tell the writers that they wanted funny robots. "Funny how?" The writes would have asked. "Funny like dumb black people," the bosses would have answered (the excuse that 'it was all improv' would be a bit more convincing if the robots weren't physically designed to look like chimps, and if neither one had a gold tooth). And Mudflap and Skids, despite being the most obvious racial stereotypes in the movie, aren't anywhere near the only ones.
The racism has been notable enough to capture the attention of the media. One enterprising reporter, in fact, asked Bay about the inclusion of Mudflap and Skids. "I purely did it for kids," he replied. Because the real danger of political correctness is that it will deprive kids of racist comic relief in movies about robots?
Paramount Pictures Photo
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