As a renowned expert on all things Michael Bay and by proxy, the concept of Bayhem, I can’t say that I ever thought I’d write that particular headline. Filmmaker, explosions expert and man of swirling camera action Michael Bay is many things, but political seems to be the least of them. Based on his movies, the Michael Bay of my mind is probably a quagmire of political leanings, many of which he doesn’t entirely care about (because they have nothing to do with slo-mo shots of supermodels). He’d be pro-gun, but also support #BlackLivesMatter. He’s a friend to the military, but also has a soft spot for scientific advances – deep space exploration, human cloning, saving the planet from any catastrophe, be it global warming or an asteroid. To be honest, I don’t have any idea which way the real Michael Bay leans politically. I don’t think it matters. But some do.
So how would Michael Bay become a problem for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton?
In January, his movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi will hit theaters. It tells the harrowing story of a group of military contractors who attempted to defend a State Department compound in Benghazi, Libya from a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012. The movie is based on a book by Mitchell Zuckoff, with a script from The Town writer Chuck Hogan.
In a new report from The New York Times (which includes some details from the script, so take that link with a spoiler warning), it’s being suggested that the timing of the movie may be used by Republicans to re-heat the Benghazi debate around Clinton’s time as Secretary of State and the subsequent email scandal that came out of the Congressional inquiry. Right now, I’m sure many Americans feel similar to the sentiment Sen. Bernie Sanders put forth at last night’s Democratic debate, saying that “we’re tired of hearing about your damn emails.” But how will people feel as we get closer to the 2016 election? How will feel after seeing a movie about the people who died in the Benghazi attacks? Republican strategists are hoping that the film will re-fan the flames.
Here’s the thing, though. Michael Bay doesn’t make political movies. He makes pro-military movies that are straightforward action flicks. The director has publicly stated that he’s not really looking to put his politics out there, telling NYT article states, is more about Paramount Pictures trying to capitalize on the recent trend of action movies succeeding in the dead zone that is January.
The article also explains that the movie is being made as a very faithful adaptation to Zuckoff’s book, which doesn’t politicize the situation at all:
Scenes in the film’s trailer align with a draft, from late last year, of a script by Chuck Hogan, based on a book by Mitchell Zuckoff. In it, Mr. Hogan does not mention Mrs. Clinton, or, for that matter, President Obama, or almost any other identifiable Washington official.
The film, which is still being edited, is faithful to Mr. Zuckoff’s account, and strains to avoid political tilt, according to people briefed on its progress who spoke on condition of anonymity because of confidentiality strictures.
“While the events have been the subject of continuous heated debate, few have heard or seen the story told from the perspective of these brave men because it has been largely lost amidst the political back and forth,” Erwin Stoff, a producer of the film, said in a statement.
So we have a movie that isn’t trying to be political, a release that is coincidentally marked for the middle of the election cycle, and a filmmaker who probably doesn’t care about the message of his movie beyond telling a harrowing tale of bravery (and explosions). It’s ridiculous that one of his movies would become a political weapon in a Presidential election, but it appears to be happening. There are political movies. This is not one of them. So the kerfuffle over its place in the Presidential election should be as much a non-starter as the emails. But it won’t be, because this is the world in which we live.
I’m not going to let a Michael Bay movie starring Jim from The Office influence my vote. Nor should anyone else.