Transformers – A Cultural Decepticon

Read this review on Box Office Mojo, which I thought was great, but what stood out for me most was this paragraph:

With a tattooed, pierced Australian computer hacker, a heavyset black guy as the world’s most proficient hacker and John Turturro as an overbearing federal agent in the genre’s most overdone performance since Nick Nolte chewed scenes in Hulk, the only thing missing is foreign subtitles—but Bay tosses those in too, predictably plugging for an Asian audience.

And it flashed back something a friend said about Transformers being a movie designed to appeal to minorities. For example to him, in one of the opening scenes with the military guys speaking Spanish, he saw it as a way to earn street cred as it had no consequence on later plots in the film. I don’t know necessarily that I agree with him on that specific point, but looking in as a geeky white guy, I’m starting to think about how the development machine may have twisted and churned to generate a product that catered to all. Just as there was a pass to inject all of the product placement, could there have been someone (Bay?) adding some Latin culture here, some African-American spice there, all while making sure it got rounded out with some good ole fashioned Caucasiana?

I don’t feel alienated by a pierced Austrailian white chick and a fat black guy as hackers or a WASP as Secretary of Defense – though should we question the motives behind the casting, and potentially the situations presented within the film? There wouldn’t be anything revolutionary in a Hollywood movie trying to reach different audiences, but considering the scope and scale of the Transformers invasion, it’s something to take notice of alongside the Nokia phone inserts and GM logos. It’s been a while, so I’ll need to see it again with that kind of eye to see if any of this holds water. I may be way out there, and this may be an offensive question to ask, but I wonder how much “tokenism” was assembled in Transformers? After all, in a movie about giant robots, the only thing not “token” is the bots themselves.

For those that have seen the movie recently or still have it fresh on your minds, any thoughts?

Verified by MonsterInsights