'Transformers' accused of racism

'Transformers' accused of racism

Uh-oh, well, I mentioned it yesterday in my review of the film, which is currently in theaters. 

Published June 25, 2009

transformers2pic23 Uh-oh, well, I mentioned it yesterday in my review of the film , which is currently in theaters.  In case you missed it, I stated, "Tyrese was great in the film, but his role is more like a cameo — he has no more than 20 minutes screen time. They also had some hip-hop talking twin robots that used bad grammar and words like 'punk ass.' Their slang was borderline offensive and they had more screen time than Tyrese. Is this the movie’s way of appealing to the African-American audience? I never knew that robots could shuck n’ jive… "

Looks like BET.com isn't the only who thought this.  The Huffington Post stated:

Harmless comic characters or racist robots? The buzz over the summer blockbuster "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" only grew Wednesday as some said two jive-talking Chevy characters were racial caricatures.

Skids and Mudflap, twin robots disguised as compact hatchbacks, constantly brawl and bicker in rap-inspired street slang. They're forced to acknowledge that they can't read. One has a gold tooth.

Legendary New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis :

There’s a serious disconnect in the movie between the image of power that those GM brands are meant to convey and the bankrupt car industry they now signify. That disconnect only deepens with the introduction of two new Autobot characters, the illiterate, bickering twins Skids (Tom Kenny) and Mudflap (Reno Wilson), both of which take the shape of Chevrolet concept cars. The characters have been given conspicuously cartoonish, so-called black voices that indicate that minstrelsy remains as much in fashion in Hollywood as when, well, Jar Jar Binks was set loose by George Lucas.

According to the Huffington  Post, the director, Michael Bay , responded with this:

"It's done in fun," he said. "I don't know if it's stereotypes -- they are robots, by the way. These are the voice actors. This is kind of the direction they were taking the characters and we went with it."

Bay said the twins' parts "were kind of written but not really written, so the voice actors is when we started to really kind of come up with their characters."

Well, we all know Hollywood has a poor history of proper representation of African Americans.  Jive talking twins, who can't read and rock a gold tooth -- Bay may not have realized that could be offensive, but it sure leaves an open door for criticism.

Are you offended by the voices of Skids and Mudflap?

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Written by Clay Cane


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