What ultimately makes a hack a hack, rather than an artist, is that his or her work serves to reinforce existing norms, rather than to say anything truly thought-provoking or subversive. Turn off your brain, question nothing, thanks for your ten dollars.
And the disturbing part is that, as long as you’re reinforcing those norms, you can expose children to the most vile kind of shit, and parents won’t complain. I made this post solely because these two reviews of Transformers 3 dovetailed in that direction:
Perhaps it’s time to have this conversation at some level of our culture that going into a movie deaf and blind to messages like “women are things” and “Arabs are evil” and “African-Americans are scairt” is exactly what Bay and his co-producer Steven Spielberg (for shame, man) want you to do, hope that you do, because imagine what would happen if anyone with any kind of infant moral compass were to notice that they’ve taken their 9-year-old to a movie this ugly and hateful.
Transformers 3 is pitched as a “family movie” and the film studio carefully disguises it as such with misleading movie trailers showing a story about kid’s toys. (Okay, I still have an Optimus Prime robot…) Young kids were abundant at both screenings I attended, taking in the images with little ability to filter the message.
I’m not one to engage in “think of the children!” rhetoric, but that’s exactly it – the conservative moralists who are constantly shouting, “Think of the children!” are probably the least likely to have a problem with exposing children to the rampant sexism, racism, and jingoism on display in Bay’s Transformers movies. Because what those moralists fear far more is raising children who think critically about such things. Because that’s not what good capitalist drones do. So remember, kids: Turn off your brain, question nothing, and give Michael Bay your ten dollars.