Monday, June 29, 2009

The Political Underpinnings of The Transformers

Michael Yglesias points out that Hollywood director/producer Michael Bay uses Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen as subtle anti-Obama political commentary. Bay, according to Yglesias, hits hard on Obama's political appeasement of enemies, now the Decepticons, and how Obama's strategies have destroyed our international allies. Money quote:
After all, though the film doesn’t dwell on the point, one critical turn in the storyline comes when a heroic Major in the United States Army (or possibly Air Force) decides to disobey orders and mutiny against a civilian operative specifically sent by POTUS to take command of the operation. But what’s more, this is no rogue special forces officer, he’s clearly supported in his action by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who elects to turn a blind eye, and leave President Obama (who’s named specifically) in the dark as he cowers in fear in an underground bunker. Obama, you see, has ordered American forces to attempt to appease the Deceptecon threat by halting all collaboration with the Autobots, and agreeing to turn Sam Witwicky over to the forces of evil. By defying Obama and staging what amounts to a coup, the military saves the day.

What’s more, the film appears to indicate that Jordan and Egypt share a border right near the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. For this to be the case, of course, Israel would have to be wiped off the map. The film doesn’t specify how this horrific turn of events took place, but I think we can take for granted that Obama’s cowardly of a settlement freeze is ultimately responsible.

I haven't seen the movie - I enjoyed the first - but everything I have read gives this sequel less than stellar reviews. Now, I am even less inclined to go.


Calissippi said...

bay's working with a worldview and particularly a view of america as the world's police/savior that is terribly outdated and potentially dangerous...those who actually sympathize with it or are attracted to it probably believe that autobots and decepticons actually exist

A Faithful Reader said...

There is an old saying that "saying it doesn't make it so." Depicting the actual President in a work of fiction is not new. Any resemblance of the "President" depicted and the actual President is usually non-existent. However, the movie industry knows what we know, and that is that its portrayals do tend to influence our views to various degrees. The movie industry’s freedoms of expression allows such distortions and lies to be depicted, and all we can do is use our freedoms of speech to express our low option of such distortions of the truth. Perhaps the biggest stretch here is that a Chair of the Joint Chiefs (especially Admiral Michael Mullen) would subvert the direction of the President - shades of Honduras.

Matt F. said...

I actually read something about this that I think is probably the case (can't remember where it was unfortunately). Aparently Bay met President Obama on the campaign trail and Obama was familiar with his movies. Bay just thought it would be cool to use the real president in his movie. As a frequent movie goer I am familiar with Bay's movies, and I think I can say with some confidence that he has no political agenda in the story. I believe this because it seems he has no agenda in his movies, including acting, plot, characterization, or entertaining anyone over 15 years old. Most likely the movie had an unnamed president at first, but Bay thought it would be cool to give Obama a shout out.

Brandon W. said...

Drew--ignore the reviews...listen to Seth and me instead. Haha no seriously, it's like the first, just more so. As I recall, both Transformers movies got their share of "thumbs-down" reviews...but anyone looking for plot or character development in what amounts to an extended commercial for the toys of my childhood is kind of setting themselves up for disappointment anyway. Personally, I thought the 2nd movie was a blast.

Yglesias's post was pretty sily, though. That "critical turn" he cites? The same thing happened in the first film...the same Special Forces guys disobeyed the bureaucrats (and of course, were vindicated by subsequent events).

These movies are pretty formulaic: the "adults" (read: political figures/authority figures) will always be clueless, and the younger characters (and allies) will always be in the know--pretty standard feature in stories marketed to kids.