What is it with Michael Bay and racial stereotypes?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Trekker4747, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2001
    Location:
    Trekker4747
    It seems like Michael Bay's movies are often filled with racial stereotypes. Not just for blacks but for pretty much any character or person who isn't a white person of either American or British background. There's plenty of times when some other European, Asian, and other ethnicities don't come through his movies unscathed.

    Does he really think all Scottish people speak with a thick brogue, or that all black women are heavier-set and boisterous three-snap loud mouths, and all black-men are rambling lecherous people who say "Dayum! Um-um-um!"

    Think of some of the stereotype robots from the Transformer movies, pretty much any black character from any of his movies (usually background characters, sometimes secondary characters). The Rock, Transformers, The Island plenty of characters stand out as being racial or national stereotypes.

    Other than the white people, normally (as I said Americans and British people tend to fare better than most other European nationalities) all other characters are just broad caricatures like they're from a Mickey Mouse cartoon from the 40s.

    And I don't think he's racist, nationalist or anything like that I just think he has the mind of a 10-year-old and doesn't realize he's being slightly offensive.
     
  2. Alpha Romeo

    Alpha Romeo Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2003
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Really? Don't you think you're making a bit of a mountain out of nothing? If the media and liberal Hollywood types haven't screamed for his head I highly doubt you're onto something here.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Actually there has been a fair amount of criticism of Bay and his use of stereotypes. Apparently all his characters are stereotypes of one sort or another, not just racial or ethnic. Let's face it, the guy is not known for depth or subtlety. Stereotypes of one sort or another, even if it's a stereotype like "tough military guy" or "girl whose only reason for being in the film is to look hot," are an easy substitute for creating actual characters.
     
  4. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2001
    Location:
    Trekker4747
    1) Watch one of his movies.
    2) Note how any background non-white American/British character acts, particularly black characters. (Note: This does not apply to black characters who are actually part of the main story and plot. Like the FBI agent hunting down Nick Cage in Gone in 60 Seconds)
    3) Compare how these characters act compared to their counterparts in the real world and in pretty much any other movie made.
     
  5. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2004
    Bay is a pricey hack. Even his few "good" movies are happy accidents.
     
  6. FordSVT

    FordSVT Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2001
    Location:
    Atlantic Canada
    Bay uses stereotypes because stereotypes sell in 120 countries. He's not just making movies for white people, he's trying to make $100s of millions around the world. Easily identifiable archetypes and stereotypes connect with people, you'll just have to deal with that fact. People complained about the black hacker character in the first TF movie. They complained about Bernie Mac's character. RACIST, they cried. Never mind the fact that both Bernie Mac and Anthony Anderson have made careers out of playing essentially the same characters. You have a problem with Bernie Mac calling his mother "Mammy?". Did Bernie Mac? Somehow I doubt it. I didn't see anyone complaining about Tyrese Gibson's role in the movie.

    The highest earner in Hollywood last year was TYLER PERRY, a man who creates mindless sitcoms that make Transformers look like Shakespeare, full of the most ridiculous black stereotypes this side of an Eddie Murphy comedy. He's not a racist though, no! He's just appealing to a certain market! Well, so is Michael bay, and his market isn't 15-45 year old black people, it's 10-85 year old people, and people, in general, relate to stereotypes.

    The money some of his movies have made is obviously not indicative of absolute quality. However, it sure as hell does indicate that people buy tickets to see his movies more often than they buy tickets to see movies that most other people make. Is he a seething racist? I don't know, but I'm not going to base it around a few questionable characters, some of which were based on racial stereotypes in a 1980s cartoon to begin with. It's not like most of his white characters had much depth beyond stereotypical behaviour either.

    Let's face it: subtlety doesn't often sell $500m-$1b dollars worth of tickets, now, does it?
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  7. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Location:
    Silent City
    I've never bought a ticket to see one of his movies...

    ...but I've bought a ticket to see a movie that he was in. :whistle:
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  8. Kelthaz

    Kelthaz Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Racial stereotypes (among other stereotypes) allow the audience to instantly recognize the character archetype (look, he has a black hat! he's a bad guy) so that the plot can move on to the next action piece that much faster. It actually is a good idea for the types of movies that Bay likes to create.

    Of course, I've never seen a Bay film, so I'm just taking a stab in the dark here.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    FordSVT, nobody in this thread has accused Bay of being racist. Trekker4747 explicitly said that he didn't think Bay was racist. He was just questioning why Bay used so many stereotypes.

    And yeah, sure, stereotypes may be profitable, just as appealing to the lowest common denominator is usually profitable. But that doesn't make it something worth passionately defending. It's still shallow writing to put broad stereotypes of any sort in place of substantive characterization. Maybe it works at making an easy buck, but we're still entitled to wish for something with more creativity and quality.
     
  10. Admiral_Young

    Admiral_Young Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2002
    Location:
    Gotham
    Hasn't Bay also been criticized for his objectification of women in his films? I seem to remember Scarlett Johannson wasn't too happy with him during production on "The Island". Not to mention Megan Fox in the first two Transformer movies. I think he commented about how he likes to shoot women in the first "Transformers" movie audio commentary but it's been a long time since I've heard it so I forgot what he said.
     
  11. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2001
    Location:
    Trekker4747
    Ask:

    Avatar
    The Dark Night
    Titanic
    Toy Story 3
    The "Pirates" movies.
    The Lord of the Ring movies.

    Those are some of the highest-grossing movies of the last few years and, yes, Transformers 3 is among the top 10.

    But the rest of the movies on the list managed to gross nearly a billion dollars-plus without strong, offensive, racial stereotypes in them.

    Oh yeah, his objectification of women is another thing he constantly does in his movies. He also seems to think that women standing there with their lips pursed open and their teeth showing (making them look like a dim mouth-breather) is "sexy" as it's a common look for the women in his movies.

    What gets me is that, largely, "The Rock" manages to get away with not falling into a lot of these problems, there's no major female character this objectified, there's no strong racial stereotypes (the only one I can think of is the street-car operator in the SanFran chase scene.) Sure, it has many of Bay's other directorial tropes like some shaky cam, angles he uses with the camera, music cues, military hardware porn. But no real, strong, racial stereotypes.

    But, as Christopher said, he does use stereotypes from all ends of every spectrum. (Tough Guy Stereotype, Nerd Stereotype, Military Stereotype, etc.) But those aren't quite as offensive as racial/national origin ones.
     
  12. Hound of UIster

    Hound of UIster Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 26, 2002
    But these stories had good directors or good writers attached to them. Bay and his partners are neither of these things.
     
  13. FordSVT

    FordSVT Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2001
    Location:
    Atlantic Canada
  14. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Location:
    Silent City
    The LOTR films seemingly went out of their way to be PC on the race issue, by making the Easterlings light-skinned and also changing Gollum's skin color.
     
  15. Admiral_Young

    Admiral_Young Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2002
    Location:
    Gotham
    @FordSVT Trekker is I think only making an observation. He also stated at the bottom of his original post that he doesn't think Bay is racist. Who's being overly sensitive in this thread?
     
  16. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2001
    Location:
    Trekker4747
    Note the qualifier here though.

    While the "White Messiah" stereotype may be perceived in Avatar were the aliens (the Native American fill-ins for this movie) portrayed in an offensive manner? Sure they were shown to be simplistic and primitive culture devoted to nature. And in the end they joined forces with the "White Messiah", accepted him as their own, and defeated those who would take them down. While it may have an underlying suggestion that some minority groups need "the white man to save them" I, for one, think that's stretching things a bit considering it's unlikely Cameron or anyone else behind Avatar's production had that in mind.

    However, in Michael Bay's movies he's purposefully instructing his actors to behave in broad, strong, stereotypes of certain races and cultures. Whether he actually thinks these people all act like this is anyone's guess.

    But I think having practically every black man in your movie being a rambling, near-Jive talking obsessed commenting on the look of our protagonist is a bit more offensive than anything implied in watching Avatar.

    Think of our two favorite robots, Skids and Mudflaps, the spoke like stereotypical young black men, had large buck teeth with gold implants and even compounded the stereotype by saying "We ain't much into readin', you see."

    That orders of magnitude a bit the different than Jack Sully saving a native race of aliens from the evils of a human army.
     
  17. FordSVT

    FordSVT Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2001
    Location:
    Atlantic Canada
    In other words, your guilt doesn't extend to the sensitivities of some Native Americans. You don't give a shit that some people felt that their portrayal WAS offensive, simply for the fact that they ultimately needed Whitey to come rescue them. You're picking and choosing. You're also admitting that you believe Bay "had that in mind" to be racially offensive and racially divisive.


    No, what Trekker is doing is what Fox News does.

    1) pose a question. In this case it is: What is it with Michael Bay and racial stereotypes?

    2) ignore every answer but the one you were aiming for since the beginning: he's a racist and promotes racist stereotypes.

    3) say "I didn't say he's a racist, but..." and proceed to give more reasons why you think he's a racist.

    It's OK to just come out and say it, Trekker, say he's a racist jerk and move on with your life. I'm going to, because the conversation is neither timely nor that interesting. I have no stock in Michael Bay, I was simply giving you the answer to why Michael Bay makes stupid movies full of stereotypes. If you want to believe it's because he's pushing a racist agenda of some kind, that's cool. I'm leaving because this is probably already in TNZ territory.
     
  18. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2000
    Location:
    QC, IL, USA
    What the fuck are you talking about?
     
  19. Thestral

    Thestral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    Come again?
     
  20. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Location:
    Silent City
    :