Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are having a pretty good year, regardless of what you think of their most recent releases, Star Trek and Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen. Without a doubt, these two are the biggest screenwriting duo currently working, with their next screenplay being the blockbuster-sized Cowboys and Aliens for Dreamworks.
However, Revenge Of The Fallen happens to feature two possible racist robots, Skids and Mudflap, who talk in ebonics, constantly bicker, can’t read and one even has a gold buck-tooth. Add their ape-like build and the fact that T:ROTF is aimed at children, and the internet goes up-in-arms about racial stereotypes that have no reason being in the film.
As quickly as possible, the PR machine has hit the digital streets to quash the uproar the likes of which I haven’t seen since Jar Jar Binks. AP managed to corner Bay:
Director Michael Bay insists that the bumbling ‘bots are just good clean fun.
“We’re just putting more personality in,” Bay 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.”
If these characters weren’t animated and instead played by real black actors, “then you might have to admit that it’s racist,” [Tasha Robinson, associate entertainment editor at The Onion] said. “But stick it into a robot’s mouth, and it’s just a robot, it’s OK.”
But if they’re alien robots, she continued, “why do they talk like bad black stereotypes?”
Bay brushes off any whiff of controversy.
“Listen, you’re going to have your naysayers on anything,” he said. “It’s like is everything going to be melba toast? It takes all forms and shapes and sizes.”
Bay obviously doesn’t care if he’s created racist characters and pointed those stereotypes directly at an audience of children, but Orci and Kurtzman seem to be distancing themselves from the decision to include the Twins, something they insist Bay told them to put in the script (hence their near-total absence from the finale sequence).
From Film School Rejects:
They’ve already claimed in other interviews that the gold tooth and several other elements were Michael Bay’s idea, but when I talked to them, they moved beyond that to claim they were disappointed by the characters.
Cole: I heard that the gold tooth was Michael Bay’s idea, but do you have any response to those who found The Twins offensive?
Orci: Number one, we sympathize. Yes, the gold tooth was not in the script, that’s true.
Kurtzman: It’s really hard for us to sit here and try to justify it.I think that would be very foolish, and if someone wants to be offended by it, it’s their right. We were very surprised when we saw it, too, and it’s a choice that was made. If anything, it just shows you that we don’t control every aspect of the movie.
Cole: Were you offended by them?
Kurtzman: I wasn’t thrilled. I certainly wasn’t thrilled.
Orci: Yeah, same reaction. I’m not easily offended, but when I saw it, I thought, ‘Someone’s gonna write about that.’”
Smart move, guys, just point towards your director and run the eff away! Live to write predictable tent-pole films another day!