Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 29, 2009

'TRANSFORMING' INTO POLITICAL PABULUM.... A reader emailed me the other day to let me know about the political subtexts of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a big-budget action flick released last week. Reader P.C. told me the movie mentioned President Obama in a less than flattering light.

I haven't seen it, but Matt Yglesias also saw the movie, and noticed its "searing indictment" of the administration.

[O]ne critical turn in the storyline comes when a heroic Major in the United States Army (or possibly Air Force) decides to disobey orders and mutiny against a civilian operative specifically sent by POTUS to take command of the operation. But what's more, this is no rogue special forces officer, he's clearly supported in his action by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who elects to turn a blind eye, and leave President Obama (who's named specifically) in the dark as he cowers in fear in an underground bunker. Obama, you see, has ordered American forces to attempt to appease the Deceptecon threat by halting all collaboration with the Autobots, and agreeing to turn Sam Witwicky over to the forces of evil. By defying Obama and staging what amounts to a coup, the military saves the day.

What's more, the film appears to indicate that Jordan and Egypt share a border right near the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. For this to be the case, of course, Israel would have to be wiped off the map. The film doesn't specify how this horrific turn of events took place, but I think we can take for granted that Obama's cowardly of a settlement freeze is ultimately responsible.

This might be less annoying if the movie didn't make $200 million in its first five days.

I'd just add, by the way, that the movie was apparently filmed last year, before we knew who'd win the presidential election. Presumably, post-production continued into 2009, and filmmakers could add Obama-specific references after he took office in January. Great.

Maybe Michael Bay could stick to explosions and steer clear of political messages? (If we're lucky, he might also stay away from cameras, the movie industry, scripts, actors....)

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

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Steve, Matt Yglesias's comments felt a LOT like snark to me; I suspect you've simply been a bit too gullible there. I mean really: "Obama, you see, has ordered American forces to attempt to appease the Deceptecon threat by halting all collaboration with the Autobots, and agreeing to turn Sam Witwicky over to the forces of evil." That's not serious analysis - it's tongue-in-cheek mockery of the "Everything's about us!" neocon mindset.

Posted by: Saragon on June 29, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Aw, the poor director is probably upset that he'll have to pay slightly higher taxes on the millions he makes creating such crap.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on June 29, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute--is Jon Voigt in this new one as well?

Posted by: Allan Snyder on June 29, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The action-adventure genre is not my cup of tea, but like the Rambo series in the early 80s, these simplistic pieces of crap aimed at testosterone loaded male adolescents affect the culture. Obviously the right-wing/military has had their fingers in this one, and can you imagine what would have happened if a film specifically naming/showing Bush as a coward during his presidency were made? The right-wing would have gone ballistic There would have been boycotts, pickets, threats, exploding heads - especially Bimbos, and all the rest.

So who in the MSM is going to condemn this blatant piece of propaganda?

I'm waiting.

Posted by: Rrk1 on June 29, 2009 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

At least Tom Clancy has the decency to make up fake appeasers and liberal wusses.

Posted by: ArkPanda on June 29, 2009 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the sweet, sweet, vision of USA where the army stages a coup, rules with an iron fist, and everyone is happy everafter... Why don't you fellas move to Pakistan or Honduras, if you don't like the system here?

Posted by: exlibra on June 29, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Heh.

And I thought the hey-day of hollywood produced right-wing propaganda was the eighties. Top Gun, Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris (there was even a Chuck Norris anti-terrorist film set in Israel against the Palestinians produced and directed by the most Hebraic names I'd ever seen)... good times.

Sure, they affect "the culture," but I kinda doubt they effect politics. Frankly, I'd rather have presidential supervillians (or super-wusses) than the annoying crop of corporate polluters the left-wing seemed to pump out in the nineties. That's not because I'm anti-environment, but, jeez, action and intrigue feels should be interesting.

Anyone remember "3 Days of the Condor" with Robert Redford, where the conclusion is, "It's about OIL. It's ALWAYS been about the oil," despite the fact that the movie in no way leads you to that conclusion, and it's basically unrelated to the movie in any way...

Wolverines!

Posted by: inkadu on June 29, 2009 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sorta makes you wonder what Bay had up his sleeve had McCain won the election. Why do I get the feeling he'd be giving the orders that would save the day instead of cowering in a bunker.

Posted by: slappy magoo on June 29, 2009 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Well ... you see, it wasn't really a military coup, because Obama's birth certificate was fake, and he wasn't really a US citizen by birth, so therefore Obama's presidency is illegetimate in the first place. So in this case, the military can disobey Obama's orders (which are weak anyway).

Besides, military coups (or Congressional ones, in the form of impeachment procedings) are totally justified if the president is immoral (and weak). Or has the wrong viewpoints. Because all that matters are results.

I am kidding - sort of. But that superstructure of ideas will no doubt be familiar to some of the right-wingers watching (and cheering) this part of the movie.

[And ... yeah, this part of the Transformers storyline is clearly political, and the casualness with which it promotes military disobedience of civilian command is infuriating. It is bad the same way that watching people cheer when the Capitol and the White House were blown up in "Independence Day" was deeply disturbing. There are certain ideas which are genuinely destructive - and when they are introduced casually in the form of fiction, they get people primed to think that they are OK.]

Posted by: Bokonon on June 29, 2009 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the scene was filmed different ways, with the appropriate reference edited in after the election.

Which is still cheesy, regardless of its subtext. Presidents in fantasy movies are supposed to be imaginary -- like the prez in Bay's "The Rock" who ordered hostages to be incinerated.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 29, 2009 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Look, at least the movie makes a semi-serious charge against establishment...

I think it's super lame when left-wing movies talk about all the evil that's perpetrated by the highest levels of government, but in the movie version it's always, always, always a secretive group of renegades in the intelligence services who are doing it. At the end of the movie everyone gets medals from the president, who says thanks for finding out about that evil being done in our name, we would never condone something like that! Never ever ever.

Bleh.

Posted by: inkadu on June 29, 2009 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Haha, well what can I say? It's a great movie. So fun...

Who in their right minds would prevent GIANT TALKING ROBOTS from slugging it out? Where is the sense of awesome here?

Posted by: MNPundit on June 29, 2009 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

can you imagine what would have happened if a film specifically naming/showing Bush as a coward during his presidency were made?

I would like to point out that quite a few films made fun of Bush, often by using a president who was clearly like Bush, but sometimes directly representing him. I could be mistaken, but I believe the first Transformers movie had a swipe at Bush for being a bozo. And then there was the American Idol parody movie, in which Dennis Quaid clearly played a Bush-like character who was utterly clueless and in a bubble (the Quaid stuff was much better than the Idol stuff). And I'm sure with enough time, I could think of LOTS of this sort of thing. Sure, he was mocked for being dumb, not cowardly, but it still amounts to the same thing.

Oddly, one of the films that really upset them was Oliver Stone's "W", which I thought was fairly sympathetic to Bush, even if it couldn't help but make him look stupid, simply for honesty's sake. But still, it was much more fair than it was given credit for.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on June 29, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Definitely snark on Yglesias's part. There was no political commentary in that flick

Posted by: Brett on June 29, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

A few things that Michael Bay needs to acquire:

Taste
Talent
Ritalin

(Not necessarily in that order.)

Posted by: Cap'n Phealy on June 29, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Steve:

If you saw the movie, you'd understand that no one has any idea what's going on other than giant robots smashing stuff and each other. As for a political message, there is also a reference to swine flu.

You could replace Obama for McCain, Clinton, Huckabee, it just so happens that Obama is President.

I thought the movie sucked, but that's because I'm old fashioned and I like quaint things like "plot." That said, it's just a big, dumb summer movie. Please don't go all "The Corner" on us and see nefarious political subtext in everything. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Posted by: Shineq on June 29, 2009 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone remember "3 Days of the Condor" with Robert Redford, where the conclusion is, "It's about OIL. It's ALWAYS been about the oil," despite the fact that the movie in no way leads you to that conclusion, and it's basically unrelated to the movie in any way...

Yeah, and the premise was that the CIA deals with screw-ups by killing everyone involved. Now, leave aside the fact that killing everyone involved in CIA screw-ups would have wiped out the agency many times over the last half-century. Is the probability of being murdered because your boss made a mistake not bad for recruiting and retaining qualified technicians, programmers, electricians, clerks, janitors, etc.?

I had to explain this to someone while watching Burn Notice. No, this guy is not a CIA employee. CIA employees are Civil Servants. They mess up, they get a review board, time off without pay, fired, or they get arrested and tried. Just like the guys at the DMV, only with more secrecy and less attitude.

Posted by: Midland on June 29, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

This might be less annoying if the movie didn't make $200 million in its first five days.

This is America. Combining thirty-something's childhood toys with Megan Fox is fucking gold every time. Expect Transformer's 3,4, and 5 soon.

Now, the first movie was such a piece of crap, I didn't think I could bring myself to watch another...but now I'm intrigued. Does the guy from SNL play Obama in the movie? Cuz that'd be cool.

I'd just add, by the way, that the movie was apparently filmed last year, before we knew who'd win the presidential election. Presumably, post-production continued into 2009, and filmmakers could add Obama-specific references after he took office in January.

I call bullshit. Movies like Transformers don't exactly have tightly woven plots. This was all added after the fact but for what purpose? Appeal to the pro-gun, pro-moose hunter crowd?

Posted by: about time on June 29, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't Harold and Kumar: EFGB have GWB lighting up a fatty with the heroes?

Posted by: ERH on June 29, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Someone remember's Flight. I saw it on video; I think I was six-years-old when it came out. And, yes, the CIA agents who did the killing would also realize that if THEY screwed up, THEY would be killed, which you think would make recruiting and retention a problem. Or maybe people who quit are drugged and wake up as prisoners on an island village somewhere. There is so much we can learn from television and movies about the real world.

I recommend Sneakers as a way-better old Redford thriller. It has Mary Matalin, too, whom I assumed must have done SOMETHING before Battlestar Galactica the way people were talking about her.

Posted by: inkadu on June 29, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

And ... yeah, this part of the Transformers storyline is clearly political, and the casualness with which it promotes military disobedience of civilian command is infuriating. It is bad the same way that watching people cheer when the Capitol and the White House were blown up in "Independence Day" was deeply disturbing. There are certain ideas which are genuinely destructive - and when they are introduced casually in the form of fiction, they get people primed to think that they are OK.

Guys, this idea that centralized authority is by nature corrupt and it takes "individuals" to purify the system is a common, common theme in popular American culture, and in movies is just another descendant in long line that includes the Film Noir genre, last 50's Westerns, the 70's revenge flicks and the paranoid-style political thrillers.

In the end, though, no one is going to take anything home from ROTF because no one has any idea what's going on other than watching giant robots smash each other and, for the men in the audience, wishing that Megan Fox would go at least topless.

Posted by: shine on June 29, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

I thought it was odd that they used real cities (New York, Paris) and the real president for this movie since in the first movie they used a generic "Central City" type city name. That said I'm assuming this was more "it was in the script" than "conservative hollywood conspiracy." Steve you're sounding like a righty blogger. chill out.

Posted by: Pat on June 29, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Ms. Fox must not have been in that scene, because I don't remember it.

Posted by: Will on June 29, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

All of this will likely completely escape the precise audience that will be attracted to this stupid flick. Sounds like it was written by a pack of 5th grade boys. Actually, much of what comes out of Hollywood anymore sounds like it was written by a pack of 5th grade boys.

Posted by: Varecia on June 29, 2009 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Haha, well what can I say? It's a great movie. So fun...

I guess if you like watching the contents of a salvage yard thrown into a blender for 90 minutes. Not my idea of fun or great, but obviously other people differ.
Of course millions also watch "American Idol" and buy Britney Spears' albums, so what do I know.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on June 29, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, well "Three Days of the Condor" provides an enjoyable experience watching the young Redford, but I was so completely unable to buy the love affair that nothing else mattered to me in the film. I don't know, maybe it would have made more sense if they had left those other three days in? "Sneakers" is a good one, though. I love it! One of those films I often quote from but no one ever gets the reference.

Unlike 'I feel the need...the need for SPEED!' BTW if you are in DC this summer you may have noticed that pretty much every single outdoor summer movie series has been showing Top Gun. There will be several opportunities to catch it during the next two months.

Never leave your wingman!

Posted by: ajw_93 on June 29, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I'm inclined to think this was just a "we'll use the name of whoever is president to make this seem like it's actually grounded in the 'real world'" than a knock on Obama. For the 15 seconds that a president, who was clearly supposed to be Bush based off this faux-Texas accent, was in the last movie, he was made out to be a junk food loving rube (he asks a stewardess on Air Force One to get him some ding-dongs).

Posted by: Mike P on June 29, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Come on. The first film clearly made fun of GWB. The second film used Obama because he's president. If it had been McCain, or Clinton, he would have used that name instead. At the time that the Autobots are told to leave, not even they have any clue why the Decepticons are fighting.

Posted by: atc on June 29, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Uhm, guys?
You sound like Republicans right now, complaining how a MOVIE, FICTION, is gonna influence politics and how it is so unfair.
We laugh at Republicans who complain about too liberal movies all the time. Please don't turn into them. Have some sense!

Posted by: Martin on June 29, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

My memory of "3 Days of the Condor" is that it's a rogue CIA agent that orders the killings because he realizes that agents in the office involved are on the point of discovering his nefarious activities.

Posted by: Nothing But the Ruth on June 29, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Everybody chill. If you saw Transformers 2 and the tiny real world political mentions and their global real word implications bothered you... you spend too much time reading political blogs and then read too much partisanship into innocuous things.

The movie was about robots fighting robots. There was no real plot, not real acting, and it still entertained the hell out of 2.5 hours. Sorta of an artistic achievement, really ;)

Mentions of Obama, or any other political implication, are vastly missing the point of the movie or any impact it may have on viewers. Seriouly. Just let go of common sense when you go to see it and revel in the inanity... and enjoy it.

Posted by: Kim on June 29, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Not to be a concern troll or anything, but "Maybe (fill in the blank) could stick to explosions and steer clear of political messages?" is exactly the type of nonsense you see on conservative blogs whenever any film has an even vaguely pro-liberal element.

Posted by: C.L. on June 29, 2009 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I had to laugh at this one:
"What's more, the film appears to indicate that Jordan and Egypt share a border right near the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. For this to be the case, of course, Israel would have to be wiped off the map. The film doesn't specify how this horrific turn of events took place, but I think we can take for granted that Obama's cowardly of a settlement freeze is ultimately responsible."

Jordan and Egypt share a border in Michael Bay's world for the same reason the back door of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in D.C. leads to a desert airplane graveyard; he's Michael effin' Bay, and doesn't care about stupid things like geography.

Posted by: David Langdon on June 29, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

FWIW, the president in X-Men 2 was hapless and a dupe of the military-industrial complex and the opening action sequence in the movie was an assassination attempt on him, and he looked at least a bit like Bush. It was released in 2003.

That being said, Saragon and inkadu are obviously right. Yglesias is being tongue-in-cheek, and Michael Bay is almost definitely not trying to make any political point, and overthinking politics in pop media is stupid.

Posted by: Cyrus on June 29, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

My most recent favorite movie which made fun of a sitting president was "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo" which had unarguably the most sympathetic portray of President Bush while in office.

Posted by: Kurt on June 29, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I've met Michael Bay - just as his "filmography" would lead you to believe, he is in fact a drooling moron, and a far right wingnut to boot. Did you ever think otherwise, looking at his collection of "moom pitchas"???

The movie proves that Mencken was right when he said no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. It appeals to the 50% in the shallow end of the gene pool who are Republican.

Posted by: TCinLA on June 29, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Obama fires IGs that don't kowtow to his donors. DOJ drops its case against NBP voter intimidation. Democrats in Congress pass a 1300+ page Cap-and-Trade bill without anyone reading what was in it.

And this is the best you got? Complaining about a summer flick?

Save your keyboard and just type "Waaaaaaa!"

Posted by: The Shrub on June 29, 2009 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Post production pre pirate sniper 3 for 3, and fly swatting epidsodes. Obama is no woose. He just bides his time and then WHAM!

Posted by: E on June 29, 2009 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

TCinLA, good job confirming the stereotype of the arrogant lefty.
I happen to like Michael Bay movies. They're pure escapism. Like a fireworks show they are fun to watch, but require no analysis afterward and they certainly don't stick with you much. But they're entertaining while they last.

I enjoy deep, intelligent stories in movies, too, but once in a while it's ok to switch off your brain and go for good old reptilian fun.

Sorry if that's not deep enough for you, but everyone who is unable to unwind like this from time to time is inevitably a very unhappy person.

Posted by: Martin on June 29, 2009 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Day After Tomorrow" used Bush and Cheney look-alikes as the POTUS and VPOTUS. The Bush cahracter freezes solid, and the Cheney character converts to environmentalsm (after the US is destroyed, and only because it lets him invade Mexico).

Posted by: rea on June 29, 2009 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Some more knowledgeable comment on the movie than one gets from geeks at political blogs (:-))

This from ComicMix:

But the question no one seems to be asking is: How could this movie be so disjointed, with plot holes you could fly a teleporting jet plane through? Weren't there writers?

Actually, for a decent part of the movie's production-- no, there weren't any writers. They were all on strike.

The Writer's Guild of America, the union that represents all writers in Hollywood, went on strike on November 5, 2007, ending three months later on February 12, 2008. During those hundred days, writing on all movie and TV projects stopped cold, no matter where they were. Foreseeing the possibility of a strike, production companies accelerated production of films and television episodes in an effort to stockpile enough material to continue regular film releases and TV schedules during the strike period. And one of the films in that rush period was Transformers.

With Transformers, the timing issue was even more critical. Delays for the project were deadly; a summer 2009 release date was already planned and was critical for generating the most income. The visual effects were another problem. You've probably already seen articles on how many years of computing time went into making this movie, and that they literally blew up servers rendering the film. Once again, very little time to spare.

So they had to go into production with what they had, and hope that they would be able to pull it all together later. Reanimate a robot here and there for new lines, and cover the rest with explosions and fast movement, and hope that the audience would be dazzled enough not to notice the problems.

And the final cost is now apparent.

UPDATE: Edward Douglas has the pull quotes from screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to match what I'd been hearing off the record:

Roberto Orci: We took the job with Ehren Kruger two weeks before the strike so in that two weeks, we had to generate a 20-page outline that we handed in, and then during the strike, Michael and the amazing (producer) Ian Bryce tried to prep everything they could off of that outline. Then from the day the strike ended to the first day of shooting was three months, so we had to write the script in those three months, handing in pages at the end of every day so they could be prepped. It was crazy. We finished writing the movie two weeks ago, literally.

Alex Kurtzman: Because you're writing lines for the robots in post. Not only did we rewrite on set but we spent the last six months with Michael in post, cutting the movie and writing the lines for the robots, just making jokes or making plot points more clear. Literally, they had to just rip it out of our dead hands the other day. (chuckles)

Posted by: TCinLA on June 29, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Martin, I write the kind of movies you say you like. I just have the fall to know the difference between character and (which in Hollywood probably does make me an arrogant lefty).

Posted by: TCinLA on June 29, 2009 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for the typo: should read "I have the gall to know the difference between character and caricature...

And Michael Bay is still the kind of moron director writers still can't stand. He really doesn't care if things make sense or not. As demonstrated by his collection of "moom pitchas."

As ComicMix said (that I didn't quote) "the reviews of this movie were brutal, and I mean brutal, but it's review-proof."

Posted by: TCinLA on June 29, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I saw the movie and only remember "President Obama" being mentioned one time. "The President" was mentioned many other times and, yes, it did make "The President" out to be the sort of guy who doesn't believe that alien robots want to take all of the energy out of the sun while other alien robots want to help save our planet.

Truth be told, mentioning Obama by name was a dumb move on the movie-maker's part but no one cared. It was virtually meaningless in the movie.

The lesson here seems to be that some people with a certain amount of power don't like Obama and really, really enjoy getting lefty bloggers riled up. Don't give them the pleasure. It isn't a big deal.

Posted by: peninsulamatt on June 29, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

All due respect Steve, it's a movie, who gives a shit.

Posted by: Dave on June 29, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the best review of the move (from ComicMix):

My favorite short twitter review: "ZacharySkinner @WeekinRewind watching transformers was like watching paint dry while being hit in the head with a frying pan..."

Posted by: TCinLA on June 29, 2009 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

TCinLA,

I'll take your word for you being a writer. Then it seems imprudent to insult your target base, doesn't it?

You didn't finish the second sentence (or am I missing something?) so I can't speak to that, but I don't know Bay, so I don't know if he's a moron or not. That's irrelevant anyway to the end product.

Maybe you were talking to character development in movies? Most action movies have not a lot of that, more a defined stereotype, which is ok in that type of movie as long as the action is good and entertaining.

As for Transformer2, I haven't seen it yet, so I don't know if I'll like it, but my point is that there's nothing wrong with a popcorn movie and liking to see one once in a while. Doesn't make anyone a moron, just someone in need of distraction.

Posted by: Martin on June 29, 2009 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

TCinLA,

sorry, I wrote my comment before your second post was up.
I might very well not like Transformers2, but I was objecting to your descriptions of people who like the movies as "the 50% in the shallow end of the gene pool who are Republican."

I liked The Rock, Bad Boys and Armageddon and the first Transformers. They were entertaining, that's all I'm saying.

Posted by: Martin on June 29, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

the 50% in the shallow end of the gene pool who are Republican

So I guess the other 50% are Democrats.

Posted by: The Shrub on June 29, 2009 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

You sound like Republicans right now, complaining how a MOVIE, FICTION, is gonna influence politics and how it is so unfair.

Agreed. As I understand it, the typical wingnut MO is to scan every piece of pop culture and look for hidden "signs" that make the thing actually conservative. For example, "The Dark Knight" was conservative because Batman broke laws to find the terrorist named The Joker or Revolver is conservative because the first song is about high taxes. Or Knocked Up because Katherine Heigl keeps the baby. Then once they find these things they try to "claim" them. Hence stuff like NRO's ludicrous Top 50 Conservative Rock & Roll songs.

In wingnut land, art is the The Message, art must serve The Message, and The Message Must Be Conservative. Hence why they always ask for a "conservative Daily Show", except when they did, it sucked, because every "joke" on that piece of shit was about how stupid liberals are (to them just saying the word "liberal" is a joke). They don't realize that TDS is funny first and they never will.

Needless to say this is silly and ridiculous. This is a dumb, stupid movie, almost certainly the dumbest that has come out this year, and maybe the worst. A clunky reference to Obama doesn't really change that one way or the other. If Derbyshire or some other NRO asshole wants to claim Transformers 2 for their own side, I say that says more about them than this movie ever well.

Posted by: Joshua on June 29, 2009 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

So, do we get to win this time?

Posted by: Rambo on June 29, 2009 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Benen, it's a movie. Get a grip. You've turned into parody.

Posted by: grinning cat on June 29, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

ps. This blog post by Benen confirms how vapid, shallow, and useless to progressives and liberals Political Animal has become.

Posted by: grinning cat on June 29, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

I saw the movie over the weekend. The reference to Obama was very, very brief. Basically, when the Deceptacons start destroying the world, there is a short radio news bulletin that President Obama is being flown to an undisclosed bunker. I thought it was very similar to the actual news when Bush was flown to protection during the 9/11 attacks.

The real question for me, is how much money did GM pay for product placement. Every single Autobot was a GM automobile and they made certain to get the GM/Chevy logo in every shot.

Posted by: VT Idealist on June 29, 2009 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

And did you see the big plug for Cisco which apparently provided the hardware for all the video conferencing from secret headquarters to onboard ship?

I agree, the mention of Obama sounded like it was edited it at the last minute. It was very brief and incidental to all those robot battles and explosions, practically one every thirty seconds. There must have been two dozen speakers lining the walls of our theater and the sound was riveting.

It did annoy me that Jordon and Egypt wound up side by side. There they are, the American special forces, in this Egyptian desert village fighting off Decepticons 20 times there size and suddenly someone says, "The Jordanians are here!" as three helicopters swoop in. Of course the Decepticons demolish the Jordanian helicopters and the American renegade special forces are left, once again, to go it alone.

I'm sure there was a reason for making Jordan and Egypt neighbors but implying the demise of Israel wasn't it. Good grief, Steven Spielberg produced the flick.

The plot was pretty thin but the animation was wild. And I loved the physics of it all -- those Decepticons could launch themselves from deep within their evil planet somewhere in the galaxy, enter the Earth's atmosphere without buring up and crash into the desert sand all in less than 10 seconds. Then they bounced right up and began fighting. Using the old Prime's energy to bring Optimus back to life was a brilliant engineering feat.

And it was nice of the Egyptians to allow all those ancient archeological sites to be destroyed for our moviegoing enjoyment.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 29, 2009 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

I recommend Sneakers as a way-better old Redford thriller. It has Mary Matalin, too, whom I assumed must have done SOMETHING before Battlestar Galactica the way people were talking about her. Mary McDonnell's big break was Dances With Wolves. She also played FLOTUS in Indepedence Day, another mediocre movie in which lots of things get blown up, but with a positive portrayal of POTUS. Mary Matalin married James Carville.

The first time I saw The Rock, I got a headache; but it's grown on my. Armageddon was much more stupid. I enjoyed the first Transformers well enough, but going by the reviews, I expect to be disappointed in this one.

This whole notion of "turning off your brain" for "popcorn fare" is what's wrong with humanity. You can have fun movies that don't require a lot of "thinking" that actually, you know, make sense.

Posted by: Vandicov on June 29, 2009 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

You know, Yglesias and Benen aren't the only people who've noticed that the movie swipes at Obama. Ted Johnson's "Wilshire and Washington" blog (for Variety) even has posted video of a reporter asking Michael Bay about it at a junket. It's peculiar.

Posted by: eyescribe on June 29, 2009 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Stop! It's a fucking movie about giant alien robots!

If there is really a single person in this country who is at all influenced in politics because of sentence or a plot point in Transformers, then we need to re-instate IQ tests before voting.

I've read some right-wing blogs where it was clear they were bat-shit paranoid. This borders on it as well.

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