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Old 06-22-2009, 08:09 AM   #1
Darthkush
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Default 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.

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Old 06-22-2009, 08:29 AM   #2
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Default 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

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Old 06-22-2009, 09:02 AM   #3
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Default 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.

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Old 06-22-2009, 12:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

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Originally Posted by Aesop Rocks View Post
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.

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Old 06-22-2009, 09:27 AM   #5
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Default 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?

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Old 06-23-2009, 12:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

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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?
because he's a good writter / film critic... better then any other jackass film blogger out there... I rather have Devin be the internet movie voice then someone like Harry Knowles...

I do like Drew from AICN, also known as Moriaty

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Old 06-22-2009, 11:12 AM   #7
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Default 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!

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Old 06-22-2009, 11:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

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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.

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Old 06-22-2009, 11:40 AM   #9
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Default 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.

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Old 06-22-2009, 11:47 AM   #10
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Default 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.

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Old 06-22-2009, 12:31 PM   #11
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Default 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.

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Old 06-25-2009, 11:24 AM   #12
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

If you delve into the dialogue, outside of the "bust a cap in your ass", theres really nothing stereotypical about what they're saying. It just so happens that that was how the actor chose to read the lines. ****, that might have been his real accent. He was saying regular **** in a stupified accent. I'm black and I wasn't offended. Just my intake.



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I think it says more about the person watching the movie if they see those types of characters and immediately think of black people.
Close thread.

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Old 06-25-2009, 08:36 PM   #13
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

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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 totally agree. I didn't really see any of the tv spots, so I'd never heard the twins. Then I read this stuff before going in this morning. I left confused. I was waiting for racism. I hear just as many other races talk just like this. But the first thought is that Bay and Co. are insulting black people? I more offended by that train of thought, which has it's own racist implications, than I was by the twins. I think it's more a look at todays youth, than black people in general.

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Old 06-25-2009, 08:39 PM   #14
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

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I totally agree. I didn't really see any of the tv spots, so I'd never heard the twins. Then I read this stuff before going in this morning. I left confused. I was waiting for racism. I hear just as many other races talk just like this. But the first thought is that Bay and Co. are insulting black people? I more offended by that train of thought, which has it's own racist implications, than I was by the twins. I think it's more a look at todays youth, than black people in general.
*slow clap*

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Old 06-22-2009, 12:20 PM   #15
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

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"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.

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Old 06-22-2009, 12:29 PM   #16
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

Looking at their pictures, I assumed they were supposed to be rednecks.

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Old 06-22-2009, 01:35 PM   #17
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

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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.

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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.

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Old 06-22-2009, 12:31 PM   #18
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Default 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

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Old 06-22-2009, 08:33 PM   #19
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

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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
I believe you have it the other way around.

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Old 06-22-2009, 10:52 PM   #20
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

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I believe you have it the other way around.
How so? The only ones griping about this are white reviewers. True, there aren't any black movie reviewers around that aren't really well known, but I have yet to see any black people online gripe about this, or in person upon seeing the commercials.

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Old 06-22-2009, 11:43 PM   #21
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

I live in Atlanta, and the movie theater I saw the advance screening of TF:ROTF in was probably about 60% black viewers (I'm white, BTW).

Most of the Twins' gags got moderate laughs from the crowd, and there were some laughs for their "We don't do much readin'" line, but there were also some African-Americans around me that I heard say "Huh?" and "Um...what?" at that line.
So I don't know if it's quite as easily dismissed as some are claiming.

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Old 06-22-2009, 11:50 PM   #22
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I live in Atlanta, and the movie theater I saw the advance screening of TF:ROTF in was probably about 60% black viewers (I'm white, BTW).

Most of the Twins' gags got moderate laughs from the crowd, and there were some laughs for their "We don't do much readin'" line, but there were also some African-Americans around me that I heard say "Huh?" and "Um...what?" at that line.
So I don't know if it's quite as easily dismissed as some are claiming.
Interesting...

Did you hear anyone say anything about the twins when everyone was leaving the theater?

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Old 06-25-2009, 01:08 AM   #23
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How so? The only ones griping about this are white reviewers. True, there aren't any black movie reviewers around that aren't really well known, but I have yet to see any black people online gripe about this, or in person upon seeing the commercials.
oh I though he was talking about people in general. anyway I'm seeing the movie this weekend. But back to the subject I don't see any point in making a big deal about this. What do they hope to get, more people that are cry babies to not see the movie. I'm a huge fan of Transformers and I want the movie to do well. What there doing is rude.

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Old 06-25-2009, 03:38 AM   #24
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Default Re: The Twins: Racist?

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"I purely did it for kids," the director said. "Young kids love these robots, because it makes it more accessible to them."
Great, as if I didn't hate today's youth enough. Let's go ahead and teach kids even more slang and how to be as irritating as humanly possible. Weren't Bumblebee and Wheelie enough? We get some badass and great additions to the Autobot side, but of course the focus is put on the retards of the group.

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Old 06-22-2009, 12:35 PM   #25
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Default 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.

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