Editor's Note: Like many readers, the Son of Feeney was out of town for the holiday weekend. During his travels he had no access to his muse, the television. Accordingly, this week the Son of Feeney will be presenting a series of off-topic Rants. For reasons unknown, this rant seems particularly acerbic.
Currently, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the top box office draw in America. This situation is unfortunate for America. You see, every time someone buys a ticket to a Michael Bay movie, the terrorists win. Undoubtedly, Mr. Bay's movies are mindless pieces of trash. If this were the only problem, his films would have no impact on the destiny of this country. Unfortunately, the problem lies much deeper.
Granted, this reviewer recognizes that he is far from the only critic of Mr. Bay's movies. The blogosphere is replete with angry rants and harsh condemnation levied against Mr. Bay. I am unique, however, in the specificity of my hatred. I hate Mr. Bay because he is seemingly incapable of human empathy. In each of his films, he depicts scenes of cataclysmic human carnage, often completely peripheral to the story (i.e., collateral damage), without a trace of heartbreak, sorrow, or any other human emotion. He then routinely uses only animals, not humans, in order to drive home an emotional point.
Mr. Bay often defends his films (if that is even the correct word) by arguing that they are mere "popcorn movies." The problem with this categorization is that it allows Mr. Bay to shift the argument away from the most offensive aspects of his movies. This reviewer does not have any problem with the idea that a filmaker can make a movie to which audience members can mindlessly snack while being entertained. My problem exits in the fact that Mr. Bay believes that this is what he is doing. Untrue. In addition to being mindless, Mr Bay's movies are completely devoid of compassion and tear at the very social fabric underpinning our society. Mr. Bay hones this craft to such a degree that it borders on sinister.
This reviewer was first disturbed by this phenomenon in Mr. Bay's movies during a viewing of Armageddon. Near the beginning of Armageddon, there is a scene in which a meteor shower hits New York City. The destruction is profound. Immediately prior to the meteor strike, however, the audience is introduced to a man walking his dog. In a moment of comic relief the dog is attacking a street vendor's wares. Once the shower hits, panic fills the street. In a vivid and horrifying moment, Mr. Bay depicts the Chrysler Building ripped in two by a meteor as human bodies rain from the sky. It is a truly disturbing image. As the shower subsides, Mr. Bay does not somberly show the wreckage or any survivor story. Instead, Mr. Bay shows the dog's leash extending down a wide hole in the street where a meteor struck. As the camera pans down the hole, we see the dog is safe and sound and is gently hanging from its leash. Mr. Bay clearly intends the audience to feel awash in relief. Apparently we are supposed to ignore the fact that the street vendor - a human being - has clearly been vaporized by the meteor. We are not supposed to give a second though to the families of the people flung from their desks in the Chrysler Building only to plummet to their ultimate demise. Apparently as long as the dog is fine, nothing truly bad could have happened. It is twisted outlook on the world.
It is clear that Mr. Bay suffers from some form of anti-social disturbance. It is possible that he suffers from alexithymia. Alexithymia is a state of deficiency in understanding, processing, or describing emotions. The other, more likely, possibility is that Mr. Bay is a psychopath. Here, Mr. Bay can appear to possess and/or understand emotions - he clearly manipulates the audience's emotion through the dog - but lacks an ability for the compassion or sympathy that leads to empathy.
Based on the insensitivity present in Armageddon, this reviewer was outraged when Mr. Bay took on the story of Pearl Harbor. At that point, even Mr. Bay's "popcorn movie" excuse fell by the wayside. Mr. Bay was now taking his warped perception of human emotions and applying it to actual tragic events. How could a man whose only emotional hook is the use of a seemingly-dead-dog-who-somehow-survived tackle such a harrowing and historical event? Through the use of a dog of course. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in the movie, Mr. Bay pans across the harbor. There are the bodies of sailors everywhere in the harbor. But out of this carnage we see a dog that had been introduced earlier swimming to safety. He is fine! Never mind the bodies floating there!
The problem with this scene is obvious. This is not a fictional Chrysler Building or street vendor. 2,350 people died in that harbor on December 7, 1941. There are still survivors from that event who surely relive that horror in their nightmares. Families who lost loved ones in that event surely saw this film. And Mr. Bay's response is to reassure the audience that everything worked out because a fucking dog survived the attack. It is simply insane. The only thing that makes the existence of Mr. Bay's movies tolerable is the thought that if he was not making his twisted films, he would likely be torturing hobos in ever more elaborate and expensive situations. In the end, his movies are a small price to ay to keep a mad killer off the street.
Curiously, this lack of an ability to feel makes Transformers, a franchise about intelligent space robots, a perfect vehicle for Mr. Bay's twisted perspective. It seems as if he would identify much more easily with unfeeling robots than he can with human beings. This reviewer, however, refuses to see Mr. Bay's violent robot porn. That is what the terrorists want me to do.
Finally, as one last commentary on Senator Larry Craig, this reviewer cannot stop marvelling at the fact that Senator Craig is wearing a flag lapel pin in his mugshot. What a tremendous way to honor the flag. Unlike the media flap over President Obama's lack of a flag pin in April 2008, no one can ever accuse Senator Craig of being unpatriotic. Depraved, yes. Unpatriotic, no. Well played Senator Craig.