Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Politics of Transformers

The politics of Transformers? "What politics?" you might ask. Perhaps you only see Transformers as a butt-kicking, if slightly cliched, action movie. Well, my friend, you are hopelessly naive. Just ask Libertas:

The films politics are decidedly pro-American, pro-military, and even *gasp* pro-freedom. Bay’s affection for the American military is obvious in every scene they’re in. They are uniformly portrayed as heroic, extremely competent, selfless, and even kind to Arab children. The theme of the film is spoken out loud more than once: No sacrifice, no victory. And the Autobots have come to liberate us from the terrorist Decepticons because the Autobots believe freedom is the right of everyone. Yes, there is a gentle, somewhat affectionate jab at Bush, but Jon Voight’s Secretary of Defense makes it clear at every turn that the President is running the show.

Steven Spielberg and Bay both exec produced, but make no mistake about it, this is a Michael Bay film all the way; from the booming score to the editing and camera shots. It’s not smart (why does Sam have to save the world by getting that cube to the top of a building when an Autobot could do it in two seconds?), it’s far from perfect, but you’ll have a great time and more than a few hearty laughs despite the lulls. And after all the relativist junk we’ve been suffering through, it does mean something to watch the fight for freedom portrayed with valor, good and evil distinguished, and the dreaded-until-needed military industrial complex save the day.

Am I complimenting the film’s politics because I agree with them? Maybe. Regardless, the world view presented in Tranformers is more than just one that I happen agree with, it’s also new, refreshing, daring, and counter-culture — which counts for something in storytelling.
In the comments, Planetsuz adds his take:
... [I]t was great in one scene when the covert ops guys with the John Turturro character are at odds with the Army soldiers. To defuse the situation Jon Voight says to the covert agents, “You better do what he says. These guys don’t lose.” or words to that effect. Could that be a statement to Harry Reid and all of the Democrats who keep dishonoring our military by saying we’ve lost in Iraq?

I agree completely. Let's face it: Transformers had to be a conservative movie. If liberals had been in charge, humans would have been down on their knees worshiping Megatron faster than you can say "surrender monkey." Then the Cube would have turned every Best Buy and Radio Shack in the country into a Battlebots arena. (If you saw the movie, you know what I'm talking about.) Unfortunately, it turns out that one of the screenwriters of the movie has a blog. And this is what he has to say about the matter:
All this reveals is two thing -- first, this sort of culture score-carding is idiotic. It's way, way beyond wet-brained. The Variety review, for example, pointed out how Optimus Prime sounded like Bush when he said "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings." What the reviewer plainly does not know is that is the Big Guy's catchphrase, and if I'd left it out of the first draft a mob of people in cardboard transforming costumes, led by Seth Green and his now full-sized and deadly Robot Chickens, would have gibbed me. I didn't sit there and say "You know what, I should use this movie as a way to express the righteousness of an international crusade of liberation and nation-building." And although I can't speak for Kurtzman and Orci, I don't think that was their gig either.

Second, hopefully this may slooooowly spin you around to the idea that being "pro-American, pro-military and even *gasp* pro-freedom" are not just conservative values. Progressives are also pro-American, pro-military -- in my first draft, the Army guys actually have bigger role, although they're a little grungier and working-class than all shiny and model-y -- and *gasp* pro-freedom. We just believe you serve these values in different ways. Demonizing each other is a way the Bastards in Suits try to jkeep the game going, and keep their little scams in place, so we don't suddenly notice that we're all on the same side, we all support the troops. we all rather like each other, and despite our many disagreements maybe we'd like all the professional hate-mongers to bugger off now, please.
Darn. And I had thought I had another True-Blue Red-Blooded Conservative movie to put in my collection next to Patton.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This has to be the most hilarious thing I've ever read. I hope you are sarcastic, because you just said "screw off" to a guy that said "let's all get along".