Friday, June 26, 2009

Raising a flap over nothing

Wayne and I had a minor disagreement over the supposed 'ethnicity' of Mudflap and Skids, the Autobot twins introduced in Transformers:ROTF. He thought they were Redneck, I had them pegged for ghetto gangstas.

When it comes to identifying accents, I have the advantage. What I didn't realise was that while my ears were good, a host of other critics had ears just as good -- and criticized both robot characters for being racially offensive.

Fine, both Wayne and I agree they are somewhat irritating. Our first impression of them is that of the Transformers' version of Jar Jar Binks. And they do set our teeth on edge with their childish antics. But to identify them as malicious "racist caricatures" is just reaching.

To be stereotyped suggests that people born into a particular ethnic group have no choice but to look, sound and behave like however the 'type' describes them to be. Autobots have a choice in the matter, though. They adopt their features and vocal patterns/dialects/patois from whatever and whomever they admire or wish to identify with.

And in a sense, that too is how the two voice actors decided to portray their characters. There's no agenda to offend anyone, it's just what works with the chemistry between co-performers as they interpret their scene.

Even if the twins are stereotypes, their portrayal is hardly negative. They talk big, but in a scrap they more than prove they can hold their own. They may be pintsized, but they are the first to inflict significant damage on the Decepticon behemoth, Devastator, before they get taken out of the fight themselves.

Sure, they admit they can't read the text of the Primes, but then none of the other Transformers on either side -- apart from old-timer, Jetfire -- can either. That criticism is like calling a layman who can't interpret ancient Sumerian cuniform 'illiterate'.

Anyway, I'm not about to overanalyze the whole thing. It just annoys me when critics get into this "Emperor's New Clothes" mode and echo each other because the angle is just too sensational to ignore.

Amidst all this criticism, I've decided to throw my support behind Mudflap and Skids. Dumb, self-righteous critic b*tches can take yo' wack s**t and shove it up yo' a** befo' I pop a cap in it. So there!

And over the day's catch at Fish & Co, AMK Hub, we wished many happy returns to today's birthday girl. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Enough "me" time

It's been an odd sort of vacation, most of the time spent alone, like I've been quarantined with some infectious disease or something. So not a lot of motivation to go out and do a lot of stuff, like I'd been planning to before the start of the vacation.

Funny thing is, solitude is addictive. The more time I spend by myself, the more I'd rather not cross paths with anyone else, friend, neighbour or foe.

But that's quite enough of "me" time. I'm starting to lose my propensity for socializing and that's not really a good thing.

Fortunately, schools aren't staying closed for another week though some people are agitating that they should as an H1N1 precaution. Another week in self-imposed quarantine and I might not want to come out of my cave ever again.

Big staff meeting tomorrow. Best get my "social" self warmed up. The vacation ends here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ROTF: Big, loud, long

I wonder if the enemies of the free world would pirate copies of Transformers:ROTF and watch it over and over again as a wish fulfillment fantasy. We're talking grand scale destruction of highways, buildings, a whole aircraft-carrier with full complement of squadrons and personnel, and ancient monuments going up in massive explosions that terrorists dream of while they snuggle under their bedclothes with teddy under their arm.

ROTF is big, is loud, is long... all the symptoms of sequel-itis. Transformers was a total thrill-fest, so the only way to up the ante is to add generous helpings of more. More military hardware, more combustion, more backstory, more locations, more cheesy romance (ok, maybe I'm jealous 'cos it's Megan Fox in question), more OTT laughs, and more characters than an F-16's threatboard could possibly keep track of.

So ROTF didn't get many good reviews. It's probably the law of diminishing returns at work. The first time may have been highly satisfactory but the second, with all the additional trimmings, is a bit too much.

One feature the critics can't seem to get over is how much running, ducking and covering our protagonists, Sam and Mikaela, have to do. Not very heroic, the critics seem to say. I think they've forgotten how their own game of (American) football, on which both Transformers movies are based, is played. Sam has the ball, everyone runs interference for him, clearing the path so that he can score the touchdown. Perhaps Sam is the new breed of action hero -- the running forward rather than the quarterback? Let's see if this archetype repeats itself in other action movies to come.

I went in for the Transformers Movie Marathon, so I watched both movies back-to-back. I noticed that a second viewing of Transformers allowed me to see things I hadn't seen before the first time, and I guess it'll be the same for ROTF as well. There's so much sensory input, it takes time for the mind to process it all. If anything, that's the main problem with ROTF. Leave brain at door, settle down confortably with free-flow popcorn and Coke, be shocked and awed by the systematic demolition of civilization, have fun! Why make things more complicated than that?