Sunday, June 28, 2009

Transformers. Yes, the robots were racist!

I loved Transformers when I was a kid. I like to think of my childhood as a sort of golden age for cartoons. Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats, Batman, The Animaniacs. Hours and hours of time that I could have spent learning how to play the cello, and instead I was watching animated creatures wield swords and plot to blow up the world.

I saw the first "Transformers" movie, and was mildly disturbed by Jazz, who spoke in a very specific urban/rap/black male voice and diction. And then he had to die! That aside, Shia LeBeouf was amazing and I love him and I loved Optimus Prime, so all was forgiven. That, and the fact that as a thinking, cognitive, socially and political aware Black woman in America, I am so consistently assaulted with racist imagery that it is just a matter of course.


"Transformers 2" was not as good as the first. I still enjoyed it. Shia LeBeouf makes the movie, and I would watch him read the phone book. I don't really have much to say about the movie, because like I said earlier, as a Black woman in America who won't completely shun modern culture, ala the Amish, I really just have to put up with certain insults. What insults in particular?

First of all, the complete objectification/glorification of Megan Fox was simply ridiculous. On the other hand, what else is Megan Fox working with? She is a beautiful White woman, with a great body and a porn star vibe. Guess what? For the sake of her career, she would want to be objectified. I can imagine that when she brags about her 20 inch waist, or when she is posing on the cover of Entertainment Weekly looking quite suggestive, that the last thing on her mind is whether or not she is being objectified (perhaps she is even hoping for it!). And of course, because this is Visibility, I will ask my dear readers, all fourteen of you, why couldn't her character be a Black woman? Is Megan Fox the best actress? No? She is really, really pretty. Why couldn't they find a really, really pretty Black girl who is a passingly decent actress? Nobody knew who Megan Fox was before "Transformers ", so it's not like she was a star. But really, I digress.

The twins. The racist little autobot twins. The embarrassingly, awfully racist twins. I don't care if they weren't human, they took their clues on how to be human from the worst of how to be "black". Optimus Prime takes his cues on how to deal with humans from world leaders. The other autobots sound like stately, strong men (read White men). Starscream, Megatron and Soundwave (all Decepticons) all sound like intelligent and devious robots, taking their cues from intelligent and devious human voice patterns (read White men). Even the evil she-bot Alice (a decepticon who can disguise herself as a human) figures out how to be a sexy she-human (read White girl).

So why is it that the two bots who seem to be the most bumbling and idiotic, who seem to know the least about their own Transformers history, who are ILLITERATE, who disappear when the real battle happens, sound like ghettoized Black men? So the real heroes sound like articulate white people but the comic relief idiots sound like Black men? Even if they are robots, not human, it is still racist because presumably, even aliens who come to earth from a gagillion light years away, know their place within the race pantheon of America. If you are ignorant and trifling, then of course you identify with the Blacks.

But, here is where I differ with most people.........


So what? So there are some blatantly racist images in one of summer's blockbusters, from one of Hollywood's most successful film franchises? So? So Michael Bay (the director) denies it? So? So most White people think that it is fine and dandy? So?

The last people who can be upset about it are Black people. Not Black people. Do you know that Harvey and Bob Weinstein (look them up) started a film company, called Our Stories, headed by Tracy Edmonds (Babyface's ex wife, Stanford grad), specifically for telling the stories of Black America, presumably in a positive light? Do you know that the first film was "Who's Your Caddy"? A film so rife with racial stereotypes and bad acting that even other Black people didn't go see it, despite the fact that it featured Big Boi! How about "Obsessed"? A film that was just plain bad, but did so well at the box office that Beyonce is now considered a legit actress. Beyonce wishes she could act as well as Megan Fox. I can't even begin to point to Mr. Tyler Perry. "House of Payne" and "Meet the Browns" rely on more cooning and shucking and jiving than a minstrel show, and yet, those two shows have a loyal viewing public. Yet, if anyone points out the inherent (I so want to use the N word right now, but we don't know each other that well so instead I will use another word) low brow humor, then other Black people come out of the woodwork to defend Tyler Perry and everyone else. They label the critics bougie, stuck up and out of touch. When one states that Beyonce is doing Black women and Black actresses a disservice by having such incredibly poor diction and acting skills, once again, one is criticized as being snobbish and unfair to Beyonce, just because she sounds uneducated.

Well, in the words of the most esteemed Malcolm X, the chickens have come home to roost. Look at what all that shucking and jiving has brought upon us. It is open season now, people. We opened the barn door and now we want to wonder what happened to all the cows. Okay, perhaps that last analogy fell flat, but my point is, we have abdicated our responsibility for our own positive image throughout the world, and this is the result. For the past decade or so, Black writers, filmmakers, actors and most importantly AUDIENCES have been the reason why the image of Black people in America has been so incredibly backward and stereotypical. We as Black people have really only wanted to see each other shucking and jiving and farting and being loud and ignorant. We as Black people think that it is hilarious! Side splitting! So why are we mad when other people think that it is funny as well? Equal opportunity humor, I say. If we can prance around in our dirty laundry, laughing our asses off, then why can't everyone else join in on the joke? It's so funny, right? Right?


  1. Luv the post. Very timely and relevant.

  2. Thanks Anon!

    Appreciate you reading!

  3. *ahem*

    Keep posting, darlin'. It works when you work it. :)