Shouting Match: Giant Robots Fighting; Two Men Arguing


Hey everybody. It’s your Resident Devil’s Advocate Josh Radde here. Usually every week an FSR writer and myself duke it out over myriad topics, usually going hand-in-hand with the week’s releases. However, this week’s Shouting Match obviously had to be Bay-driven with the release of Transformers 2. And because of a host of reasons, I haven’t seen this polarizing film yet. So, I turn the debate over to two skilled linguists and douche-nozzles, Adam Sweeney and Landon Palmer, to debate the merits of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with a word-count befitting of such an epic film.

Opening Statement (Adam):


How I loathe Michael Bay. Let me count the ways. I would like to say that you’re a brave soul for applauding the latest piece of trash Michael Bay has put out, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but I’ve never been a good liar. I think it’s more a case of trying to defend a clearly guilty film, and I use the word film loosely.

What is the film guilty of? Well we could talk about how bloated this film feels, how awful the acting and story was (which flat out borrows from Revenge of the Sith at points.), or we could launch verbal missiles at scenes of Bumblebee giving a girl a golden shower, Decepticons and dogs busting a nut at our expense, a Decepticon with balls (I guess someone had to have them since Megatron was such a weak-ass in this film) or the lack of any true suspense. But it’d be too easy. Any person that claims to have credibility knows this film is the worst kind of “entertainment,” appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Instead, let’s examine the absolutely reprehensible racist and sexist tone of the film. The Autobot Twins, Lil’ Black Sambot and Step and Fetch It (That’s their names, right?) have all the stereotypes of a poor African-American. They have gold teeth, commit acts of Black-on-Black violence, fire curse words like it’s a glock and let’s not forget, they can’t read. Classy. Somewhere George Lucas is saying, “Thank you, Michael! People will forget Jar Jar now!” And we’re also supposed to believe a girl like Megan Fox would wait at home for Shia LaBeouf or that all college girls look like America’s Next Top Model? Oh and Fox doesn’t mind a little Decepticon bump and grind, right? Please.

The sad thing is that the film is going to make a killing at the box office while also killing our brain cells. You know what that means? More movies like this will be made. Allow me to throw up in my mouth for a second. Okay, better. Don’t forget that this film will be seen by tons of children. What kind of message does seeing a Transformer call someone else a punk bitch send to a child? It’s unacceptable. Bay has taken a solid concept and turned it into Night of the Living Frat Boy. Will Transformers 3 have Robot Girls Gone Wild? I can’t wait!

You’ll probably say we have to go into a Michael Bay film accepting it for what it is, an explosive, dumb blockbuster. I can’t disagree more. I should not have to compromise my morals or cinematic integrity in order to enjoy Transformers. The original series was fun, interesting and it wasn’t offensive. That’s what we Transformers fans really wanted to see. Instead we got a robot minstrel show. I’d ask if Bay really thinks we’re dumb enough to stand for this but the opening night returns already show me that a large portion of America is. The fallen, indeed.


Counter Argument (Landon):

I need to preface my impenetrable rebuttal that is going to make Sweeney’s argument my own personal roll of toilet paper with the following…

My review has been lumped on this site with Robert Fure’s several times, and while I have the utmost respect for Mr. Fure, his review and my review were simply not the same thing. Anybody who actually read my review instead of scrolling directly down to the letter grade knows that the praise I have for Transformers 2 is rather reserved and neutral, qualified by the film’s obvious lacking qualities. So I’m put in the rather odd position of defending a film that I didn’t necessarily think was good, but one that I did enjoy. And defend it I will.

That being said, go get your fucking shinebox, Sweeney.

Watching or enjoying Transformers 2 is a compromise of one’s morals? Please! We’re talking about a film that was adapted from a television show whose sole intent was to sell toys. Don’t act like the integrity of anything has been compromised here. Transformers as a franchise whole has always represented American capitalism at its most shameless, yet everybody, through the haze of nostalgia, seems to treat the original series as harmless fun and the release and success of ROTF as a sign of the apocalyptic denigration of our culture as we know it. Apparently people like to see giant robots fighting, I guess culture must be dead!

It’s true, Adam, Transformers 2 is a bad movie. I admit it. But quality isn’t directly tied to fun or enjoyment. Schindler’s List, for instance, was an incredible movie, but I can’t say I had fun. Transformers 2 is a bad movie, but I had a great time. My brain cells are still in tact, and as far as I know I came out of the film with my morals and ethics consistent with when I came in–but I’ll be the first to let you know if, as a result of seeing this move, I’ve lost my critical capabilities and start doing whatever Fox News tells me to. This movie is not harmful, and the state of cinema, and society, will be the same fucked-up institution it always was, indifferent to the dough this money rakes in.

To say this movie is harmful implies that people are stupid and unquestioning. Are you really criticizing the logic of a movie whose main draw is that it features alien robots who turn from one thing into another thing? The premise of the entire movie is illogical! People aren’t going to this movie to see a treatise on plausibility, it’s a movie about wish-fulfillment. What if you lived in a world where Megan Fox stayed at home waiting for you to call while you were voraciously hit on by another gorgeous woman, and what if this all happened in a world where your best friend was a GIANT ROBOT that FOUGHT ALL THE TIME?! That would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? You’re goddamned right it would.

Because Adam, while you and I may have seen and studied many more movies than most people, we are not smarter than the average person. And even if we were, it would be irresponsible to say so, as you have done by oh-so-bravely heralding the masses on the harm that will be done if their feeble little brains are exposed to what is basically the cinematic equivalent of a snow cone–a summer treat that, while made up of synthetic ingredients and being essentially empty at its core, makes for a delightfully refreshing, albeit fleeting, way to break the heat. People above the target age of 12 are able to recognize the silliness and the stupidity and enjoy Transformers 2 not despite that, but because of it, while remaining cogent in their intellect and moral structure. Herein lies the appeal of this film.

And as for the race issue, thanks for being living proof of thing #101 that white people like to do. I’m sure your anger is very real…Let me back up because I know you’ve been taking this beating pretty hard. There’s certainly an argument to be made about the potential offense of these characters, but it’s not in calling Transformers 2 a “robot minstrel show,” and it doesn’t even really reflect on the movie as a whole. Who’s to say that these bots weren’t thought up as the target audience for the movie itself, suburban white kids? What culture do suburban white kids inappropriately appropriate most? Hip-hop culture! And what do adolescents do to hip-hop? They dumb it down to a spectacle of slang and vacant appropriation! If anything, these ‘bots represent a meta-commentary criticizing the very audience watching the film by allowing them to endorse a despicable caricature that has become a particular adolescent poseur culture (not based within the realm of race, but age) that praises the inarticulate and the anti-intellectual (remember, the ‘bots aren’t illiterate, they just don’t like to read)…Anyway, if you use my argument against me as a straw man, which you will, there’s no reason why two potentially offensive supporting characters should deem a movie as a whole despicable. Look at Mickey Rooney’s role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It’s a horrendous blotch on the history of cinema, but it’s a blotch that doesn’t extend beyond his supporting role, as the movie as a whole remains beloved to this day. Two minor characters ain’t the whole movie, buddy.

And as far as the sex and profanity goes for a kids’ movie, I have to ask what you watched as a kid, because I’d trade in the trauma I experienced watching Atreyu drown to death or Raphael going into a coma any day for the comparatively harmless T&A and dirty words in Transformers 2. Don’t worry, Adam, kids can handle it. I just hope one day you won’t be the dick parent that won’t let his kid watch fun movies.

There are popular movies out there that are harmful, and some of these movies make a farce out of minority cultures (Bringing Down the House and Crash for example), using labels of harmless fun or an attempt at self-righteous social finger-waving to reinforce existing stereotypes. Transformers 2 is not one of these movies. You might not like it personally, but it’s nothing to get your feathers ruffled over. Just leave it be and let the rest of us have fun.


Rebuttal (Adam):

Impenetrable rebuttal? Ha. Using my argument as toilet paper? The only reason that sentence made sense is because your argument indeed does remind me of shit. Funny, so does Transformers 2!

I read your review, Landon and my question is this: How does a film you know is horrible get a B-? I’d be scared to see what an F film would be for you. You say that Bay is concerned only with entertainment. If so, maybe he should find a new profession because there was very little entertaining about this film. You said it yourself that the robots are almost all interchangeable, the human performances are robotic themselves, the film is uneven throughout and is flat out bad. So what does it say that you enjoyed it after all of that? Maybe Bay has found his target victim, a person who is willing to be beaten over the head with stupidity. Bravo, sir.

As far as the shinebox comment, I’d rather shine shoes than lick the boots of one of the worst directors around. Make sure you dry clean that Transformers shirt to get the jizz stain out. Or don’t. Maybe it will help us distinguish which robot is who finally.

I have no problem with robots fighting, even if Bay still hasn’t learned how to edit properly in order to get the most out of the fight scenes. It’s what surrounds those scenes that I think is horrible. In fact, Bay is so dumb that he put the most climactic fight scene IN THE MIDDLE of the film. And he can’t even leave the Transformers alone without trying to compensate by putting balls on one of them. Little dick syndrome and mid-life crisis much?

And of course Schindler’s List wasn’t fun! If it was then you’re severely fucked up. But was it a well made and interesting film? Yes. You don’t go into a film like that expecting to have a barrel of laughs or eye candy. You do in Transformers and by that standard it failed miserably.

Nobody is claiming that your brain will be warped from watching this film but thanks for twisting my words. Are you sure you don’t work for a cable news network? Take a media and pop culture class and you will learn that one’s ideals are directly affected by the messages and images they are constantly sent through forms of media, religion and family. So what message is this film sending? Objectifying women is okay, poking fun at African-Americans is justified as long as you can blow shit up. Umm, sorry. It doesn’t work that way.

There have been plenty of movies that featured robots where the story defied plausability from our world perspective AND was good. The original Star Wars trilogy comes to mind. How about Terminator 2? Wall-E, Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey… need I go on? You can have fun with characters and not have to compromise the story. As far as the idea of robots befriending me being cool, I am going to pass if the robots like pissing on people or take on the character traits of 50 Cent.

Save the “We’re all equal” logic, please. I don’t think I am better than anyone else. Having said that, I would say the masses of film critics have spoken out and said this movie is pathetic. Does my background in film and exposure to more films than the average moviegoer make me more qualified? Hell yes, it does, just like a doctor is more qualified to give a heart transplant than I would be. I don’t think it makes me better than anyone, just more qualified to explain my position. But nice attempt to rally the masses, Pancho Villa. How many Reject readers agreed with your review again? And no, your mother doesn’t count. Do you defend the racist aspects of The Phantom Menace too? I am going to check and see if your profile pic has you slanting your eyes, because that is always hilarious, right? Oh wait, let’s not give Bay any ideas for part 3.

And Heaven forbid a White person be sensitive to racism. If anything, White America should be more sensitive to the potential racist aspects of the projects they create. And don’t try to pawn this film off as an attempt to poke fun at White America. Michael Bay isn’t that smart. You compare this film to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a classic and say that two minor characters don’t make a whole film. That would be fine if the Autobot Twins were the only trangsression against the film, but we both know it isn’t. This film has more flaws than Tara Reid with her make-up off. Mark my words, this will be known as one of most disappointing blockbuster films of any summer. No amount of money can hide that truth.

Closing Statement (Landon):

Giant. Robots. Fighting.

So there you have it. We could let these two titans of rhetoric go back and forth all day, trading reasons why Transformers 2 is good/bad, and then eventually go Brokeback for each other in a tent…but what really matters is What Do You Think?

Josh is a multi-tasker. He's been a cubicle monkey for the last few years, a veteran stage actor of over 10 years, a sometimes commercial actor, occasional writer of articles, a once-legend in the realm of podcastery, purveyor of chuckles in his homecity of Chicago as he has trained with the world renown iO (Improv Olympic) and Second City Conservatory and performed with both theaters, and can be seen doing a thing that actor's do on the website of his online sitcom, LackingDirection.com. Josh also likes to tackle the beef of his bio with one run-on sentence, because it befits his train-of-thought.

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