I know this journal is entitled The Things that Come to Mind at Two AM but today, you get one that comes to mind at five am. Courtesy of the dogs who woke me up at 4:30 am to be let out. So I was lying here in bed trying not to think of anything and my mind began to wander, as it often does.
Just before going to bed last night, I was reading a criticism about the Transformer's movie. I saw it yesterday in a jam-packed theater. I LOVED it but I'm a transformer fangirl from WAY back. Anyway, the criticism has to do with two of the minor characters who were expressly created for the film. Some people are saying that they are racial stereotypes. They "Jive talk" and fight all the time and don't read. One has a gold tooth. Apparently, this makes them caricatures and stereotypical black characters. I say apparently, because I didn't see it.
Anyway, my thought was this: Do you suppose some people, more sensitive to racial stereotypes, are predisposed to seeing them? You know, in a "If you go looking for it, you will find it," sort of way? I'm not racist in any way, shape or form. Despite growing up in Utah, which has a minority population of, last I checked, less than ten percent, I had friends from all color categories. I grew up in an Hispanic neighborhood. My friends included children from Polynesian families, white families, and yes, even African-American families. In Utah! Yeah, I know. My grandma's next door neighbors, who babysat me from time to time, were Japanese. (The father was interned during WWII.)
I just didn't see the racial stereotypes that some people are complaining about. The article I read can be found here, at Yahoo news
Now, and this will be basically spoiler free
, when I saw the twins, in car form, my first thought was, "OMGOMGOMG!! What car is that??!! It looks almost like a Chevy SmartCar?! That's SOO CUUUTTTEEEE!!!!! I silently commiserated with myself that Sasha would never fit in one and therefore, it didn't matter how cute it was, I would not be buying one. Once they transformed and started talking, I did not think "black." I thought "punk-ass." Punk-ass does not equal black in my mind. I also thought they kind of looked like KISMET
. I did not think they looked black, as some critics have said. Someone in the article also said there was a bucktoothed black actor in one scene, but I don't recall it. I thought all the African-American actors looked like, well, African American soldiers proud to do their duty.
Randomly, OMFG!! It's ACTUALLY RAINING!!!
Now it stopped. Thirty second rain storm! A new world record for this side of HELL!
*rereads* Oh so, anyway. That was my initial reaction and thoughts as I read the article last night and thought about it this morning. But then I had a further thought. These robots were created for comic relief and something for the kids to enjoy. Because Transformers is a family movie, apparently. I mean, sure, it's based on a line of toys from the 1980s and a related cartoon, probably specifically created to sell said line of toys. But there is an awful lot of swearing, sexual innuendo, and blowing up of things for it to be considered a family movie. I still would have taken my child to it. I'm not judging, just saying.
I am getting to my final point, honest.
So, here you have two robot cars who fight, swear, call each other names, are twin brothers, and don't read. And this is the comic relief that was added to the film? It appeals to children, no doubt. And as I said before, I thought they were cute and yes they were funny and I laughed. But my final thought was this, "why?" Why were these characters added to appeal to children? I watched the Transformers as a child. Bumblebee and Optimus Prime appealed just fine to me. Why do our children need to be appealed to with robots that fight, swear, and can't read? Why can't Bumblebee's loyalty or Optimus' inner strength, and his faith in humanity (and his "don't fuck with the things I care about" attitude) be the part of the movie that appeals to children?
Do we fear them incapable of that deeper connection? If we didn't pander to them, they would rise to the occasion, I promise.
Is it easier to appeal to a "lowest common denominator?" (Which feeds into the dumbing down of America and the rise of Mediocrity.) If someone's worried about laughs, Bumblebee is pretty damn funny. If they were added for slapstick value, that's fine too. I understand slapstick comedy. I'm also a three stooges fan. But if that were the case, then the explanation should have been that the director wanted some slapstick to break up the explosions.
And that was my thought, at five am.