Top 10 stereotypes in every Michael Bay film
Now I’m not above enjoying a Michael Bay film, in fact The Rock and Bad Boys are two of my favourite action films but the characters in Bay’s films are, and I write this is in the nicest possible way, bottom of the gutter stereotypes. I admit, I like cultural jokes if they’re funny and witty but there are times where Bay goes past whatever line good-natured ribbing ends at and ventures into the ridiculous. With the trailer for Transformers Dark of Moon hitting the ‘net recently and Bay conveying in the press that he’s pushing for a return to the mood of the original Transformers film (which fills me with dread), let’s hope he cuts out a few of these stereotypes.
They have a passing resemblance to simian species, they act like idiots and if Autobots had IQ’s they’d probably be in the low forties. Is this a comment on the Neanderthal behaviour of the on-line community? Could it be a comment on his own films? Is the presence of Mudflap and Skids a comment on the relentless dumming-down of culture where we squabble over petty things and erm…”pop a cap” in someone’s ass? Nope, they’re lazy, ever so slightly racist caricatures that Bay somehow thought were fit for the big screen. How they came to be without someone noticing this beggars belief but even if you thought they weren’t racist or degrading, they’re grossly unfunny. Bay’s already stated that they won’t be returning to the franchise. Thank the maker.
The Hot Girl
In Michael Bay’s world women are hot. Even the dead ones (Bad Boys II morgue scene). Venture in and you’ll find no sign of the ugly stick tarring the fresh young faces of the women who inhabit his world. Make your way past the neon lights and lens flares and you’ll find only the most photogenic, the most perfect specimens that money could buy.
Bay’s camera ogles these girls with an adolescent sensibility that would be more fitting for the Red Shoes Diaries. Mega-Fox, Scarlett Johansson, Rachael Taylor and double-barrelled surnamed Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley have all fallen prey to Bay’s leering eye. They will not be last to do so.
The Black guy
Jazz, what did they do to you? Not only they rip you half but they turned you into walking, talking ‘black’ stereotype. I don’t mind the break-dancing, I’m pretty sure Jazz (voiced by Scatman Crothers in the cartoon) was prone to fits of dancing but did you have to say “what’s cracking little bitches?” before giving yourself a hug and trying to look cool? This overt stereotyping is not something that’s specific to Jazz, whether its the Haitians in Bad Boys 2, Sgt. Epps (Tyrese Gibson) or Whitmann (Anthony Anderson) in Transformers, they all feel as if they’re defined by their stereotypes and never emerge as being layered characters, just a shallow interpretation of one.
Can I get Hoo-rah? If there’s any director that’s posited a pro-America, pro-military stereotype in the last ten years then its Bay with his fetishization of the military. They usually arrive in the form of two types; one is a blustering-ball buster the other is a macho-man, trigger-happy, one dimensional patriot who (usually) lays waste to anything and everything. Looking at Josh Duhamel’s character, there was more depth to Capt. Lennox in the first film (however superficial) with the addition of his wife and baby than there ever was in sequels. I thought you were meant to add substance to characters in sequels, not take it away?
Perhaps the funniest moment in Revenge of the Fallen was when Shia La Beouf’s Sam Whitwicky asked about on the tightness of some frat boys’ shirt and, without blinking, they responded that their shirts were the tightest they could find. There was a similar ribbing of a jock in Transformers where the scourge of Sam’s affection for Mega-Fox was cussed for his pea-sized brain. If Bay’s films were some sort of educational material I would have learned that Jocks and Frat Boys are the dimmest, most vain and vapid people on this earth. In a weird way Bay may be right about that.
I half debated putting this in because it featured the great (and he is, in a completely over-the-top manner) Peter Stormare. But, it deserves its place on this list. With the two Russian characters in the form of Cosmomaut Lev Andropov from Armageddon and Alexei in Bad Boys II, Bay (and Stormare) absolutely mug/ham/chew the scenery for all its worth. Imagine if they were brothers, you might have to dial 999 for the amount of mugging they would do.
Like everything else in his films, actors that play gangsters in his films play them larger than life and that is exemplified by Stormare’s Alexei, Jordy Mollà’s Johnny Tapia and Tchéky Karyo’s Fouchet. Always dressed stylishly and with a fierce temper to boot, they aren’t the worse kind of stereotypes in Bay’s films. However as a result of their ever so slightly camp nature and large than life attributes, they’re not particularly threatening either. Perhaps Karyo’s Fouchet could get away with it but he doesn’t seem to have any other colour in his wardrobe other than black so perhaps he is stereotypical.
The crazy person
Any person playing a character with some responsibility is an inch away of being completely crazy. Rainn Wilson had already crossed that line in Revenge of the Fallen, Joe Pantoliano in Bad Boys 1 & 2 is on the verge of going ballistic (then again that is a trait common in most police movies). Either way they’re crazy or very close to being crazy and these larger than life characters seem populate every single one of his movies. Look at Steve Buscemi’s Rockhound in Armageddon, he had space dementia and that condition doesn’t even exist!
Here’s a sample of some words directed at Latin characters in Bay’s films
Marcus Burnett – Where were y’all last night?
Mike Lowery – Yeah, why don’t you just tell your cousins to bring the s**t back?
Detective Sanchez – Yeah we tried to, but you know what? We came up with a problem… your mama snorted it up!
Well at least he had a comeback for that one, what about this one?
Mike Lowery – Hey, isn’t it low tide?
Marcus Burnett – Yes, I think it is.
Mike Lowery – Don’t you have some relatives that you need to go pick up?
Detective Mateo Reyes – You went too far on that one.
The Old person
They’re crotchety, they’re old, in some cases they’re robots with beards and they say the darndest things. Yep it’s old people in a Michael Bay movie! If they’re not suffering from incontinence then they’re probably raving lunatics who say things such as “Itchy, wretched rust in my arse!” or “Johnny…is she a negro?”
Words fail me.
What other stereotypes do you think are worthy of being in this list?