The Transformers Rant
“It’s really amazing that a lot of people liked the movie. Some dude from my college who is on Myspace asked me to explain why I didnt like it. I was like, how can I even begin to explain that this movie is bad to someone who likes it. It’s like someone walking over to you and asking you why you don’t like to eat dog shit” – email I received
I have seen several movies lately, the most recent being Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was notable for three reasons: 1) it is an astoundingly creepy movie, commendably so; 2) Harry looks like he should be playing striker in the English Premier League at this point, he’s so old; 3) we used our tickets to get 10 percent off our post-movie meal at a local diner.*
Previous to Harry Potter, I saw Transformers, a trauma into which I have delved slightly on this blog.** I will attempt to discuss this experience further, but I’m not sure the scars have completely healed, so you must forgive me if I falter. This was the single worst piece of film-making I have ever seen, without question. Though I stayed until the conclusion of the 2 and a half hour a[xxx]tion of the ideals of humanity and the good of the civilized world, I would rather watch the only film on which I have walked out — Problem Child 2 — on loop, with my eyes jammed open, than revisit Transformers in the theater. I would rather find a time machine, travel to the instant before I was to buy my ticket and break my kneecaps—both of them—to prevent me from seeing this film, and then stab myself in the eyes just to be sure I got the point across. I would rather watch NASCAR with Bill O’Reilly or date Ann Coulter. If Hillary Clinton ran for president on a “No Transformers sequel” platform, I would vote for her. Twice. In each election.
With its pornographic, incomprehensible violence; its mosaic of plagiarized scenes from Top Gun, Batman, The Matrix, Armageddon and Independence Day, to name, oh, about half; to its jerkoff message of American greatness brought to you by the U.S. military, Hasbro, about 15 people who should be/are supermodels, Autobots and Ford, the movie might as well be entitled An Open Letter to al Qaeda.*** Or, better yet, why not just call it Bullseye? This is the low point in American/western “culture” as I know it, edging out George W. Bush’s re-election, in which less than .5 percent of the world’s population decided that the remaining 99.5+ percent deserved to be miserable because they preferred a President who was “like them” instead of one who was “qualified to lead the world.” Unfortunately, the Transformers phenomenon cuts across party lines, meaning something closer to 1 percent of the world’s population has decided they’d rather sit in a movie theater and masturbate to explosions, Megan Fox the American flag than develop a cogent thought on, well, anything. We can’t save us from ourselves—that much is clear—so maybe toys can do it! Whoopee!
We are literally worshiping toys. Not ideas. Not greatness. Not even goodness or averageness or mediocrity or Kansas City Royals-like futility. Toys. Things of play. The Transformers movie isn’t the start of this; my friends remember individual Transformers episodes and characters from the 1980s, and I have no idea how they do this. Crap like that was supposed to be amusing and disposable (I watched the cartoon religiously), but it’s the trash on which we’ve built our society. Sometimes I think I’m the crazy one, and then I see Transformers, and I realize that it’s not that everyone has lost their goddamn mind: it’s that they don’t work anymore. This is normal. It’s normal to go to a movie theater and watch controlled detonations on sound sets with pretty people running, all slowed down so that you can take in every inch of it in the most overwhelming sensory manner possible. Harry Potter is the world of one woman’s incredible imagination, and stimulates the brain as much as the eyes; Transformers was dreamed up by Hasbro executives who wanted you to spend money on their toys instead of, you know, buying healthier food or something. Not that health food was all the rage in the 1980s, but it’s not like we’re getting smarter. We’ve just stopped acting like idiots in a very small way, but we still destroy the planet (and argue about it?!?!) and give millions of dollars to an asshole like Michael Bay, a man whose defining feature is his ability to hold a giant mirror up to us and show us, exactly how vapid and soulless we are.
* Had I done this with Transformers, I would feel the absolutely tiniest bit better.
** I also saw Rashomon, and it was excellent.
*** It is worth noting that the entire movie would have been redeemed if John Turturro had been dressed as “The Jesus” from The Big Lebowski in his role as a bizarro over-acting FBI agent. Transformers would have been instead been exposed as a critique of our society, and a brilliant one at that. Alas.