Monday, August 24, 2009

More about Racism

One of the many criticisms I’ve heard about the latest Transformers / Michael Bay explosion fiesta is that it was racist. I didn’t see it myself, but that’s more likely to mean I’m a clueless dork instead of being so far above prejudice that I don’t even know what it looks like. The movie introduced a pair of characters named Mudflap and Skids, and many people reacted by saying they were a negative stereotype of black people, or possibly Hispanics (I’ve heard both claims).

Picture of Mudflap and Skids:

You get no points for noticing that their faces are primarily painted black. Come to think of it, there wasn’t a Caucasian robot in the whole movie. But it reminded me of the way people look at rude tourists and assume they are American (or I’ve been told Japanese if they’re ethnically Asian). Nice white people are obviously Canadian, or possibly German. Is it the same thought process here? They nicknamed the characters The Twins, not The Negroes or Los Hermanos, and they didn't look or sound like any black or brown people I know. Are the complainers just assuming that anyone who is cantankerous, ill-mannered, uneducated, talks with an odd inflection, and has gold earrings and teeth must be African-American? Or Latino? Or Captain Jack Sparrow?

Picture of Captain Jack Sparrow:

Of course, I also heard the Trade Federation dudes in Star Wars were supposedly racist stereotypes of the Chinese, and I didn’t see that either.

Picture of Trade Federation dudes:

Picture of typical Chinese people:

Are we, as a nation, going to tolerate this? By which I mean bickering about the details of a movie which was, let’s face it, fairly stupid, but arguably more intelligent than the other Hasbro assault on the senses, G. I. Joe. Spoiler alert – the makers of that bomb didn’t know ice can float, or assumed anyone dumb enough to watch the movie didn’t know either.

Feel free to discuss in the comments section. If anybody needs me, I'll be out goose-stepping around the neighborhood wearing white sheets to improve my visibility and illuminating the area with a flaming lower-case letter "t".


Avitable said...

Those robots felt racist to me. It was the gold teeth, the ghetto speak, and the fact that they were both dumber than dirt. Maybe not racist, because you couldn't tell from the accent if they were Latino or black, but it was classist.

And Star Wars? An alien race with slanted eyes who can't say the letter "l"? Yeah, that's not racist at all.

Jay said...

I haven't seen the latest Transformers movie, but I've heard lots of people say they thought it was racist.

Hit 40 said...

Oh... I am tired of folks labeling cartoon characters racist. And, trying to decide the sexual orientation of bugs bunny!! Get a life.

NYD said...

I can't wait for the shit people are gonna say about District 9

Enemy of the Republic said...

Don't plan on seeing Transformers--might see District 9. I didn't see anything racist (like you, I could have missed it) in the Star Trek movie, but I think in the first series, the Klingons were Russians and the Federation relationship with them mimiced the Cold War. But Star Trek was pretty progressive for the 60s.

Prata said...

I wouldn't classify those robots as racist, they were definitely speaking to a particular class though. Undereducated urban teens/young adults/whatever. Michael Bay even said he was looking to create to characters that "young people could identify with". Wait, what? So young people can't identify with wanting to be a hero, to do the right thing, to seem/sound/be educated and the like? Really? So today's youth is all about ebonics and being unintelligent.

Yah...I know my child isn't like that. He can't identify with characters that speak or act in that way, because he doesn't speak or act that way. He laughed at those characters and called them dumb, because that's what they were...dumb characters in my mind designed as some sort of comic relief. I don't think Transformers needs comic relief, it was a somewhat serious story lol. Fighting for survival and preserving life opposite the Decepticons which wanted to extinguish life for their own preservation. That sounds pretty intense to me. But that's just me.

Prata said...

A forum post of an article highlighting my mention of what Michael Bay said about the Twins.

Kathy B! said...

I guess I don't notice these things because I don't view the world that way. I think people who "notice" do so because they themselves like to "label" things... and so they find things.

I don't see the racism, but then again I don't go hunting for it either.

Robin said...

people are tools.

Grant said...

Avitable - I think some white dork with a marketing degree invented those two to appeal to a broader audience. In T3, look for Le Kawai, the lesbian midget Jewish Korean with a Native American headdress who turns into a Saab.

Jay - if a lot of people are saying something on the Internet, then it must be true.

Hit 40 - Bugs is obviously a straight guy. But I wonder about Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robbins.

NYD - why, do the aliens remind you of a particular race?

Enemy of the Republic - confusing Star Wars and Star Trek may get you beaten up by a crowd of red-shirted ensigns brandishing light sabers.

Prata - Michael Bay understands the youth of America as well as he does serious drama. He should stick to explosions.

Prata - it's a good thing that you included that link, because unsubstantiated opinions on a blog are in direct violation of federal regulations.

Kathy B! - or maybe you are as naive as me sometimes.

Robin - that's for certain.

dr.alistair said...


fuck, i`m a white guy. i can`t even think racist or the psychic race police will bust me just for thinking about it.

good job i didn`t say nigger.

sorry,i meant nigga`

Ricardo said...

I avoided GI Joe because it just looked awful. Some hot babes in it but I can do without the flick.

I recall the Star Wars uproar about the racism an a friend of mine remarked about how he too thought those transformers were racist. He did not like the film. I don't think it's a grand conspiracy. I will however say that such arguments were true from about the old Disney films. There's depictions of racism in those for sure.

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