2007 Bender and Sober Awards - Michael Bay's Transformers and christmas

posted December 23, 2007 by Jer


My 2007 Bender award goes to Michael Bay's "Transformers." This was not a good movie, and I want to retch every time someone says it is. It was the same movie as every other major Hollywood picture made in the last ten years. That's not what really pisses me off. The concept that truly infuriates me is what Transformers could have been.

Transformers is about machines. It personifies machines so we can consider our relationship with them. Machines can serve us, protect us, build things for us, reshape our world as we see fit. Machines also require endless energy; without a constant supply of resources, they are useless lumps of metal and plastic. This is what the Autobots and Decepticons represent: the inherent constructive and destructive nature of machines.

In the cartoon, Autobots work with people to build a better world where their own needs are balanced with the needs of the humans. The Decepticons crave constant energy and are willing to strip-mine entire planets for it, regardless of the impact on anyone or anything else. The personalities of the Autobots were noble, caring and brave. They had the wisdom to realize that others relied on the resources they needed, thus they could not consume endlessly. The Decepticons had personalities, too. They were greedy, selfish, power hungry and short sited. Like drug abusers, they never saw farther than their next score of energy. They couldn't consume energy responsibly, every meal was a binge party. Though they were machines, they all had very human aspects. Every Transformer had a personality. Each robot was a character, each had a reason for fighting for their side.

I really could spend pages pointing out why Michael Bay's "Transformers" was bad, but I would be pointless. Michael Bay's "Transformers" was bad because it was just another formulaic cinematic Big Mac. It said nothing, it meant nothing, and it made money. It took another element from my childhood and repackaged it with no real understanding of what it was in the first place. It was a movie based on an old cartoon that stared a goofy guy, a sexy girl, annoying grownups and unconvincing computer generated special effects, making it the same movie as Underdog.

Transformers should have taken place on the Planet of Asphault, cast humans as bit parts and had a plot that illustrated man's complicated relationship with machines. Instead it was a movie about Shia LaBeouf being silly. Jazz died, Bumblebee wasn't a Volkswagan and Ratchet was a god damned Hummer. The Decepticons were pointless killbots; Starscream wasn't even smarmy. The only good thing about this movie was that it had Optimus Prime in it, and OPTIMUS PRIME HAD FEWER LINES THAN SHIA LABEOUF'S GOD DAMNED PARENTS.

Transformers could have been epic and beautiful. It could have made a difference. Instead, it was Underdog. Michael Bay should die in a fire while having his testicles gnawed off by a rabid squirrel. Transformers is the worst thing of 2007.

My 2007 Sober award goes to christmas. Yes. I called it christmas. Note the lowercase "c."

I am not religious. I think religion is a tool humans use to control other humans. I think most humans are more than happy to be controlled this way, which is why people let the already rich and powerful become richer and more powerful off of the blood, sweat and tears of the weak and poor. I think Christmas (attention: capital "C") personifies this. Christmas is a contraction that means Christ's Mass, and it is celebrated by spending yourself into dept buying garbage for people you don't care about because you feel like you're supposed to.

For longer than I can remember, I refused to call this holiday Christmas. Christmas has been bulldozing other concepts of winter festival since the Roman Empire celebrated Saturnalia. Yule, Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, it doesn't matter how old or new your tradition is, in the United States it's inferior to Christmas. I will go to any lengths to avoid being a part of that. My faith is my business and yours is your own. Yes, I do believe something, but I'm not going to tell you about it unless you ask. I am going to tell you to have a happy holiday, because though I don't know what holiday you celebrate, I want you to have a happy one.

I saw a billboard - owned by Clear Channel, of course - that read "Shout Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays." I almost snapped. I was infuriated to consider someone went to so much trouble to publicly counteract what I believe so strongly in: that everyone deserves their own holiday. I felt personally violated. I went home angry.

I'm going to shift abruptly now, and tell you about my winter holiday. I don't have a name for it. I joke that every year I celebrate something different. I've called it many things: Festivus, Christmahanakwanzika, Decemberween, Agnostika, Hogswatch, Fourth-Quarter-Profitsmas or the Druid Celebration of Pine Trees. Ultimately, though, the thing I celebrate is nameless.

Last year, I spent my holiday with my now-fiancée's family. I got to meet all her relatives and I really enjoyed learning how their traditions were different from my own family's. For the first time in my adult life I felt the holiday spirit. I'd grown so cynical and jaded by all the religious world's enforcement and packaging that I forgot there really is a good feeling associated with this time of year.

Last year, I also started giving to charity. This year, I went all out. At work, we participate in an Adopt-a-Family program where we play Santa Clause to a few low income and often single-parent families. This year, I volunteered to help run the whole thing. I kept in contact with the foundation, picked out the families we'd be supporting, and organized meetings to get others volunteering. After that, everything fell into place practically by-itself, and the gift drive went harmoniously. I even helped deliver the gifts to the families, and in one case, received a tearful hug.

Remember that billboard I mentioned? It was posted with social control and conservative fundamentals in mind. The person responsible for it should suffer Michael Bay's fate. I say this, because I want you to truly understand my meaning when I say that this year, I am celebrating christmas. Lowercase "c."

Once upon a time, "goodbye" was a contraction for "god be with you." Nowadays, it doesn't actually mean that to anyone. We are on the verge of the same thing happening to "christmas." Christmas is hard pressed to mean "Christ's Mass" anymore. Christmas is a common noun now. It means winter holiday. It means the time of the year where everyone (is SUPPOSED to, at least) be off from work and with their family. Christmas means Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice and Yule. It means warm times with family and a pine tree with glass bulbs and candy canes, or whatever other symbols and traditions make you happy. It means doing nice things for other people. It's an excuse to be all-out selfless with charity, especially with the end of the tax season coming up. It's a time to sing stupid songs and eat a huge dinner.

If I see you, I will wish you a happy holiday. If you don't know me, I will be offended if you wish me a merry Christmas. You're making a whiny political statement, and no one cares anymore. One day, though, it will just be christmas. To my atheistic, agnostic, and otherwise spiritual friends, Christ's Mass' time has come and gone. Sit back and laugh with me as the fundamental figureheads cling to it while crying prejudice. May everyone feel safe and un-threatened celebrating whatever holiday makes them happy.

Merry christmas.