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Darthkush 06-22-2009 07:09 AM

The Twins: Racist?
 
I haven't seen the film yet but I'm disturbed at the sheer number of reviews or commentaries I've read of late that suggest these twin Autobots are racist stereotypes. The most scathing commentary has been from Devin Farachi at Chud...

TRANSFORMERS' LITTLE BLACK SAMBOTS?
By Devin Faraci Published Today News


I am not a PC person. Those who know me in real life will attest that if an off-color, offensive or wildly juvenile joke needs to be made it'll likely be me making it. I think people are too sensitive in the modern world, and I don't think any topic is off-limits when it comes to laughs.

That said, even I was stupefied by what I saw in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's Twins. These new robots, who begin the film conjoined as a ****** old ice cream truck but who soon get upgraded into Chevy concept cars, seem to be the most extreme racial caricatures seen in a movie in decades. The Twins have a simian appearance, with wide faces and huge ears. One of them (full disclosure: I am not sure which is which, namewise. This isn't a problem limited to just these robots in Transformers 2 as I couldn't tell most robots apart, except for Optimus Prime and Bumblebee) has a gold bucktooth. They have a 'playful' back and forth relationship, which includes them talking in some sort of modern day rap-age jive, calling each other '*****-ass' or 'punk,' talking with an exaggerated, crunked-up 'street' accent. They appear to be stoned all the time. And they can't read; when asked to translate some ancient Cybertronian language they sheepishly admit they 'don't do much readin'.' To be fair, only Primes can read this language, but even the completely idiotic mini-bot (and Italian stereotype) Wheelie can at least recognize what the writing is. The Twins are completely illiterate, it seems. I was actually surprised that the film didn't find a way to make them wear a Transformers version of baggy pants.

To be completely shocked by this is admittedly kind of foolish. Quite a bit was made of Jazz, the black Autobot in the first film, who did a breakdance move and got killed. But The Twins make Jazz look like a paragon of taste, and they make Jar Jar Binks look like he belongs in a production of A Raisin in the Sun. Simply put they are offensive beyond measure, and if their names were Stepin and Fetchit I could maybe argue that they were a joke or a bit of meta-commentary or anything except horrible, horrible racial stereotypes.

At the press conference for the film I asked writer Alex Kurtzman about the characters. 'I think a lot of what we did was following Michael's lead,' he said. 'Those characters, more than any other, he had the strongest instinct for. Our job was to keep up with him.'

Buck passed! So then it was all Michael Bay's idea to have these shucking and jiving bots, right?

Not so fast. Bay was eager to give all the credit for the Twins to Tom Kenny, the (white) voice actor. 'When you work with voice actors, especially with the twins, they did a lot of improv for their parts. We liked their improv and, from there, we would animate to their stuff. When you're doing character animation and you're building the character, it's not like an actor where you shoot the scene and you've got it and you move on. With animation, you get the dialogue and then some animation and then a bit more of the dialogue and you keep going back and forth and it just builds until you have the shot you want.'

(For the record, Bay mentions a second voice actor while IMDB lists Kenny as the voice of both bots)

Bay went on to say that his vision of the Twins is that he wanted bots with whom the younger audience could really identify, and the funny thing is that I actually believe him. I don't think he set out to make two grotesque caricatures; I think he honestly believes these characters reflect some aspect of youth culture and not just a cartoony, broad vision of black youth. Bay's films have never been all that racially sensitive (and blacks aren't the only group to take a hit in this film; as mentioned above, Wheelie is a flat-out dago, even going so far as to refer to ancient Transformer Jetfire as 'da Chairman of da Board,' and there's some choice Arabic humor in the film as well), but the Twins surely represent an all-time low.

Would they have been as offensive if Bay had gotten a black actor for the voices? There certainly would be less of a feeling of weirdness if Katt Williams had come in for some shucking and jiving, although it would still have been... off. Bay's defense seems to be that Tom Kenny came in and just Sambo'd it up, as if he had no way of knowing what sort of racially insensitive schtick the actor would bring. That's hugely unlikely; Bay isn't prisoner to the whims of his actors, especially not a voice actor.

What the whole Twins debacle really reveals, though, is the sheer lack of adult supervision on this film. Transformers 2 is hugely bloated, incoherent, stupid and boring, seemingly all because Bay was free to indulge in his most Bayish impulses. The first film is rescued by the restraining hand of Spielberg; that hand is noticeably gone here. It's stunning to think that anyone in the 21st century looked at the character designs of the Twins or listened to the voice tracks and thought that this was 'okay.'




WOW. What do you guys think? I've heard they're Jar Jar levels of annoying but do you feel it's so...how do I put this?...Non P.C., that's it's ridiculous? I can't say for sure until I see the film but I am concerned.

roach 06-22-2009 07:29 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Let me start off by saying that I am black.
I will have to see the movie to see if its offensive. I know people that havent seen Tropic Thunder and refuse to see it because they heard someone was in blackface.
We also have to remember that the great cartoon's two black autobots(yeah i know but you know what im talking about) were Jazz and Blaster and they were pretty much chuckin and jivin

Aesop Rocks 06-22-2009 08:02 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Didn't Jazz learn how to speak via earths internet? Maybe the twins did too. I haven't seen the movie yet so I'm still iffy.

"Whats crackin' lil *****es".

EDIT: Are the twins really THAT bad? I'm reading things on here and other sites...damn.

Nivek 06-22-2009 08:27 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Great, Devin is beating the racism drum. And trying to push his "Jar Jar Twins" image of the Twins.

Why to people listen to that clown?

Casius--J 06-22-2009 10:12 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
To be honest when I first heard the "we dont do much readin" line in one of the tv spots I went hmmmm. That line really stood out for me as I feared the twins would be bad stereotypes and now look, it seems to have gone that way.

I'll have to see the whole thing myself to have a real opinion but that line alone wasnt a good first impression!

Meus 06-22-2009 10:40 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
No they are not racist. I'm black as well and I'm frankly tired of all this "you're raaaaaaacist" nonsense always directed towards the portrayal's of any perceived black characters. The Twins are hilarious and loveable. If you can be offended by their 'street talk' and accents, get out of the theatre and never come back.

Meus 06-22-2009 10:41 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Casius--J (Post 17090554)
To be honest when I first heard the "we dont do much readin" line in one of the tv spots I went hmmmm. That line really stood out for me as I feared the twins would be bad stereotypes and now look, it seems to have gone that way.

I'll have to see the whole thing myself to have a real opinion but that line alone wasnt a good first impression!

They're actually pretty silly throughout the film. That line doesn't stand out at all if you see them throughout the film. The are essentially a couple of 14 year old boys who'd rather stay up watch WWE and add Sugar to their Pepsi than sit down for a minute.

bunk 06-22-2009 10:47 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
I think it says more about the person watching the movie if they see those types of characters and immediately think of black people.

The Lizard 06-22-2009 11:20 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Quote:

"What the whole Twins debacle really reveals, though, is the sheer lack of adult supervision on this film. Transformers 2 is hugely bloated, incoherent, stupid and boring, seemingly all because Bay was free to indulge in his most Bayish impulses."
Sounds about right. I will have personal confirmation tonight -- free of charge, thank god.

Timstuff 06-22-2009 11:29 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Looking at their pictures, I assumed they were supposed to be rednecks.

Wiseman 06-22-2009 11:31 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
It's always white people claiming everything is offensive.............I'm not saying white people need to get over their white guilt, but seriously, shut-up about it

shigsy2003 06-22-2009 11:31 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Sweet Jesus. The Twins are not racist. that "We don't do much reading" line is being blown way out of proportion. That language only a Prime can read for a start. The Twins may speak street and talk a lot of bustin caps but coming from a robot this is funny as it was intended to be, NOT RACIST. Similiar example, when a transvestite comedian talks about women's problems or common things men see woman do/act/say it is funny not sexist. However if a normal male comedian did it, odds are it would be seen as sexist.

The Guard 06-22-2009 11:35 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Little Black Sambots.

(Falls over laughing)

That's classic.

This isn't racism, unless it becomes the "Yassuh Massah" voice, with actual racist statements, or the Twins gushing over watermelon or something in that vein. It's not racist to assume that there are some people out there who are ignorant, illiterate, and lacking in social graces. It's STEREOTYPING. They are not the same thing. There will be PLENTY of people who think this is funny, because it's a reflection of a subset of our culture.

SPider-T0rch 06-22-2009 11:40 AM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Aesop Rocks (Post 17090224)
Didn't Jazz learn how to speak via earths internet? Maybe the twins did too. I haven't seen the movie yet so I'm still iffy.

"Whats crackin' lil *****es".

EDIT: Are the twins really THAT bad? I'm reading things on here and other sites...damn.

That's exactly what I said. It's not like the Twins were "born" talking like the way they do in the movie. The Twins could have had "WASP-y" sounding voices for all I care but I bet no one would be offended by that. :whatever:

macdawson 06-22-2009 12:35 PM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Timstuff (Post 17090771)
Looking at their pictures, I assumed they were supposed to be rednecks.

When i hear that "We don't do much readin' " thats what i think.

Quote:

Originally Posted by bunk (Post 17090638)
I think it says more about the person watching the movie if they see those types of characters and immediately think of black people.

totally agree.


I think the people that find this stuff racist would love the show of a certain comedian where among other things he says:"There's black people and there's ******s... and ******s have got to go!!!"
I can hear them screaming bloody murder at that line alone. You know who said it?
Chris Rock, one of the USA's top BLACK comedians. Was he being racist when he said that? Hell, no. As he himself says "It's not the words you say, it's the context in wich the words are said".
We're talking about 2 alien robots. As another poster said, they probably got their speech paterns off the internet, like Jazz. If they had 2 actual black kids saying the stuff the twins say, then i think the stereotype line had been crossed.
People have got to stop taking this stuff so serious.

RebelPimp 06-22-2009 12:49 PM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
I think Prime sounds too.... white.

Freakin' please... People made a fuss over "Friends" because there were no black people in the cast. Now, they put black sounding robots in Transformers and that's wrong too. And to anyone who thinks that "shuckin' and jivin'" ebonics-speaking black teens don't exist and this is some type of erronious "caricature"... Well... Get out more.

Stereotypes wouldn't be stereotypes if they weren't somewhat true.

PyroChamber 06-22-2009 01:11 PM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
I really didn't think Jazz was that bad, he could have been much worse.

As far as the Twins go, like many have said, we'll just have to see the movie first just to see how it is. And Bay said that he wanted bots with whom the younger audience could really identify with, I'm surprised he didn't make one of the Twins an emo.

SPider-T0rch 06-22-2009 01:16 PM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by PyroChamber (Post 17091155)
I really didn't think Jazz was that bad, he could have been much worse.

As far as the Twins go, like many have said, we'll just have to see the movie first just to see how it is. And Bay said that he wanted bots with whom the younger audience could really identify with, I'm surprised he didn't make one of the Twins an emo.

An emo Autobot is useless Autobot. :oldrazz:

thewhyteman 06-22-2009 01:22 PM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
So what if it is offensive?
Why the hell do we have to be so sensitive to everything? Their is someone on this planet that doesn't like you. Odds are that they hate you too. And that goes both ways. The whole "offensive" thing is such a hypocrisy. Most people don't give a damn about the strangers around them. But on the other hand they will blast someone for being "offensive". Then they want an apology. Psh!, apologize for being a hypocrite then I will apologize for being offensive.

And the race issue? Obviously its poking fun at that type of person. There have been plenty of redneck characters and no one says anything 'bout it. Why? because there are uneducated, low intelligence backwoods white dudes out there in real life. Just like there are uneducated low intelligence ghetto black dudes out there in real life.
Making fun of real life with satire is not racist.

GhostPoet 06-22-2009 01:54 PM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
This whole Twists racist debate is possibly one of the dumbest ideas i've ever seen in my life. Do people have too much time on their hands that they have to make up things to WHINE about?

Crook 06-22-2009 01:57 PM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bunk (Post 17090638)
I think it says more about the person watching the movie if they see those types of characters and immediately think of black people.

I think it's fairly obvious who the twins are referenced from. I haven't seen the movie, but from the descriptions alone it's hard to fathom who else you could think of. Not to say that it's right or wrong, but it is what it is.

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Guard (Post 17090792)
It's not racist to assume that there are some people out there who are ignorant, illiterate, and lacking in social graces. It's STEREOTYPING. They are not the same thing. There will be PLENTY of people who think this is funny, because it's a reflection of a subset of our culture.

Precisely. I used to grow up in the projects, and from time to time I still go back as I have some friends in those types of impoverished areas. I'm not black, but I'm not ashamed nor afraid to say that this specific stereotype exists for a reason. It's there, plain and simple. Is it the norm? Nope. But it's quite a number of the population. It's not racist in the least.

Grievous 06-22-2009 02:19 PM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by PyroChamber (Post 17091155)
I really didn't think Jazz was that bad, he could have been much worse.

As far as the Twins go, like many have said, we'll just have to see the movie first just to see how it is. And Bay said that he wanted bots with whom the younger audience could really identify with, I'm surprised he didn't make one of the Twins an emo.

the day their is a emo bot is the day I say Bay has wen't too far and I want him out.

craigdbfan 06-22-2009 02:28 PM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
I've read that the particular line of "Yeah we don't do much reading" has been totally taken out of context in relation to the story.

Apparently they were referring to ancient cybertronian scriptures which the Twins had no idea how to decipher. Now that doesn't sound "racist" at all it just sounds like not to many modern cybertronians know their planets ancient writing.

Plus Devin is a drunken slob that does nothing but act like a pompous a hole in the hope of garnering more visitors to his rather crummy site. I know Collider put this argument up too which is also silly but at least Colliders writer doesn't come off as a complete numskull.

Superhero 101 06-22-2009 02:33 PM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
What do the Twins say that make it seem like they are racists?

SPider-T0rch 06-22-2009 02:36 PM

Re: The Twins: Racist?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Superhero 101 (Post 17091513)
What do the Twins say that make it seem like they are racists?

The "issue" is the way they are portrayed is seen to be racist. They don't say anything racist.


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