The article below is a fake interview intended as parody. I did not actually interview Michael Bay. The article is written entirely by me in the spirit of humor without any malice or ill-will towards any of the people or institutions named within. In particular, in no way do the statements in the article below reflect the thoughts, opinions, beliefs or statements of the real Michael Bay. This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to actual persons living, dead, robotic, or vermiform is purely coincidental. It's a joke, people.
I'm here with NotMichaelBay, (not the) director of Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. Thank you for sitting down with me.
I'd like to begin by reading the opening sentence of one critic's review: "Michael Bay's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is a visually ugly film with an incoherent plot, wooden characters and inane dialog. It provided me with one of the more unpleasant experiences I've had at the movies." How do you respond?
By making a fourth movie. This guy sounds like a dick.
But it certainly can't be the first time you've heard similar criticisms.
Come on, you think anyone who said "the movie isn't shabby or painful, but romantic and wonderfully entertaining" about An Education can be trusted to review my movies?(1)
So you knew this was Roger Ebert? You memorize movie reviews?
I know everything. My game is tight. I'm the guy who sees you and your girlfriend at a bar, and I roll up and say, "Hi, I'm going to fuck your girlfriend" and you guys just giggle because you're too much of a pussy to tell me to fuck off. I buy you guys some drinks, tell a few jokes, next thing you know you're waiting up and I'm inside your girlfriend. Everybody wins. I give you what you want, I take what I want, and everyone hates me because it all seems so easy, which is what they want.
So they hate on me, as if they could be me but choose not to. Come on. Haters gonna hate, and haters' girlfriends gonna cheat.
But audiences have come to expect, well, perhaps not a Les Mistons or even a Rashomon, but at least a film which doesn't simply reuse existing footage from older movies and add in a new robot.
Isn't that just a sign of artistic indolence?
I'm not reuising shit. It's called 'sampling.' Like a rapper. Fuck you.
Sampling? But sampling requires you to take an existing work of art and reinterpret it for a new audience, infuse it with a new meaning. Is that your claim?
I claim I sampled the Inception soundtrack for T3.
What did you mean in doing that?
That Chris Nolan's my bitch. Fuck him and his arbitrary MacGuffins.
And there is the ubiquitous complaint that your movies are made for "15 year old boys." For example, your first shot of Carly [played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley] has her clad in only a white men's shirt, and you offer a long, 3D tracking shot of her climbing the stairs-- on her toes, no less, and it appears you've placed the camera on the floor and are shooting upwards. Some have claimed this is merely pornographic pandering to a post-pubescent demographic.(2) How do you respond?
I need to respond to that? Seriously? I put her half naked in a movie, and you want justification?
Look, Rosie was a Victoria Secret model, right? So I set up the shot the same way she's shown in a Victoria Secret commercial, because she is a Victoria Secret model.(3)
Ah, you've deliberately made explicit Carly-the-character's semiotic connection to Rosie-the-actress, making the film's world draw on the real world. Carly the beautiful girlfriend is "in reality" Rosie, who is known to be a Victoria Secret model, which is itself another signifier, another character, and so on ad infinitum; there is no terminal woman-in-herself. Thus 'woman' is merely an image, to attract the Lacanian gaze; yet because she cannot be represented in any other way except as such an image she a priori eludes the gaze.
Exactly. And she's got a great rack.
So in doing this, you've uncovered Carly , i.e. "woman", as a partial object, the objet petit a. Women can only exist as fantasy, the cause of desire.
Her only fucking job before she met me was to get people to look at her; so I gave her that exact same job but wearing more clothes, and people are acting like I'm some sort of pervert.
But the difference is that her partial nudity is appropriate in the context of a commercial to sell lingerie. In a film, it's merely gratuitous.
She's not selling any fucking lingerie, she's selling herself and the brand and the lingerie is tagging along for the ride. What, I got to draw you a fucking picture?
Let's turn to the story. Numerous critics have decried the meaninglessness of much of the film's action. Why does the copier attack the office staff? What is the purpose of the giant Decepticon worm? There are plot holes and inconsistencies--
Woah! Slow down, wildman, those were on purpose. Look, we're all being raised by TV. Do you think as 4 year olds we really understood what the hell was going on on Batman or Scooby-Doo? You think your kids can really follow the plot of anything by Pixar? Since we've been able to enjoy movies anyway, without following the story, there's no incentive to follow it anymore. And since we have no incentive, we don't get no practice-- and now we can't follow a story, story gets distracting. Just like a porno. Fucking the most confusing movie ever made was voted to be... Vanilla Sky. WTF, you're confused by Vanilla fucking Sky? These lunatics aren't confused just by B plot, they're confused by B roll. So we cut that shit right out and replace it with something on fire.
You deliberately reduce story integrity while simultaneously enhancing the viso-auditory immediacy of the experience? Isn't that ultimately self-negating, even Dadaist?
Explosition, not exposition. That's how we do.
In real life, too. President Bush knew we were fucked by history, right? He got there day 1, opened the Book, and was like, fuck me, this is what's really going on...? And then he looked at America and said, these fucktards couldn't find Iraq on a map of Iraq labeled 'Iraq', no way are these Raymond loving motherfuckers going to understand anything about labor costs and the inevitability of falling foreign reserve accumulation. Let's go with 'WMDs.'" A decade of historical analysis later and the deepest anyone's been able to go is, "they lied, it's really about oil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Jesus, what asshats. Now every time poor Obama looks over his speeches he has to say, "no good, too many syllables."
So yeah, anything that has to do with thinking or blinking is edited out in post. That's why it cost so much to make. But the original script for T3:DOTM is fucking Finnegans Wake, you can believe that shit.
No doubt it more rigorously explained the giant Decepticon worm?
Fuck you. It's looking for spice.
I'd also like to ask you about the rumor that actress Megan Fox was fired on the order of Steven Spielberg, who demanded you--
Steven didn't tell me shit, no one tells me shit, I'll kill you and witnesses, fuck that stupid morally ambivalent alien making motherfucker. I fired Megan to make a point. I replaced her in the third installment of a huge series with a complete unknown, and it didn't affect the movie at all.
Well, she wasn't a complete unknown, she was a Victoria Secret model--
You don't know anything about movies, do you? You probably believe it when actors say they do their own stunts or hate it when the paparazzi surprises them at the agreed upon time and place. Replaced Megan? I could have replaced every single one of those actors and actresses with some other supermodels, and the movie would have been better. Fuck that, I don't even need people, I could have Simoned the whole thing. I did them a favor, they need me, and when you start forgetting that you're just a motion capture device for better breast renderings, I kink your feeding tube. Good luck on your audition at Lifetime.
Perhaps a supporting character can be changed, but surely you couldn't replace Shia--
I could replace him with a fucking glass cylinder of my farts and you'd watch it. Twice, IMAX 3D and cable. You think Dr. Who and soaps are the only ones who can replace these idiots with other idiots?
But some movies open exclusively on the force of the lead actor. Julia Roberts, Will Smith--
Ha! And you're criticizing me for making shit movies? Look, there will always be a place for them, right? Voice work, what have you. "Hey, we got a bad ass talking puma that says "motherfucker" a lot. Call Sammy J." "We need a sassy, independent, girl who will immediately and happily conform to the requirements of a patriarchal society in exchange for material security. Meg Ryan that shit up."
Sure, Julia in the trailer brings the boxes to the box office, but at this point there's so much CGI used on her she may as well be a fucking Decepticon. Or did you think that's her natural skin? You don't need big name actresses anymore, you just need some mo to say "three generations of women" or a montage scene of four divorcees with wine glasses and dancing in a kitchen of Final Cut Pro vegetables. You're blaming me for the stupidity of movies? Blame women.
Your argument that women are responsible for bad movies seems untenable. With respect, your movies aren't even aimed at women.
Hey, fuckly, listen to me, my movies exist because of women, because they've driven men batshit crazy into 'man caves' and Call Of Duty XI. Did they have giant robot movies in the 1930s and 40s? No, all of those movies had dance numbers. Back when a guy could punch a dame for overcooking a chicken there was no shame in watching some fool tap dance his way through WWII. Now these bitches expect you to change a diaper and shave your balls? Fuck that. Giant robots.
Is all modern cinema then reflexively phallocentric? Does disposable art created on a background of consumerist capitalism necessitate a misogynist subtext?
I said fuck that. Giant robots.
Do you truly believe that modern males feel emasculated by the rise of the female underclass?
No guy feels emasculated by women, at all. He thinks men in general are emasculated by women, but not himself. His rage is that since women have emasculated everyone else, he's forced to sublimate his own urges to fit into this emasculated society. So he's holding two contradictory ideas: that he himself is man enough to resist the emasculization that women impose on men; and simultaneously justify why he isn't the man he thinks he should be. In essence, he's created the perfect explanation for why he is, and rationalization for becoming, Nietzsche's Last Man.
So it's a failure not of assimilating a feminine power, but a strictly narcissistic defense of the ego.
It's also why you're going to see more movies where the action hero is a little girl. They represent the last attempt at staving off death. First you're going to be a superhero; then you'll meet a superhero; and finally your kid will be the superhero. And mom has to die in order for the Electra Complex to be fully realized.(4)
That was-- remarkably insightful...
Bottom line this shit up: everyone loves jive talking robots.
I sense that perhaps it's more than misogynist, perhaps it goes to the level of minsanthropy, even nihilism? You've offered a critique of the inevitability of art but the irrelevance of the artist.
Hey, what the fuck do you think I am? I am a great artiste, with a capital T,I,T,S,A,R,E,G,R,E,A,T. You don't think I could make "good" movies? I went to school at Wesleyan, I studied under Basinger. I can make anything go triple platinum, anything. I could make just the poster of a movie and it would win every Oscar in every category every year, fuck James Cameron and his stupid boat. Do you know what would happen to this planet if I made a porno? That would be it, done, everyone in the world would drown in their own ejaculate. We'd have to Noah's Ark two of everything and start civilization over.
Then why don't you make more serious movies, more enduring films? Why do you choose to make--
Because Obama pays me not to, like a subsidies program, because otherwise everyone else would go out of business and California would have to be returned to the Pacific or sold to the Chinese.
The movie is called The Transformers, ok?-- as in I transform you from unemployed to employed. I'm a motherfucking jobs program, I'm like the New Big Deal. It's a movie about giant robots, what the fuck do I needs peoples fo? Because: Obama needs to cut the space program, so I put Buzz Aldrin in a movie. I gets him paids. John Malkovich is a versatile actor, an artist, but he's not getting paid shit for any of his crap. He calls me up-- boom. Payday. John Turturro's been in 20 movies since The Big Lebowski. Name one. Can't. SAG calls me up, boom, his kids go to college. Now he can make shit like Somewhere Tonight and tell everyone he's not an actor for the money.
No more Matrix? Boom, Hugo Weaving is Megatron. Leonard Nimoy needs new dentures? Boom, chewing apples like a motherfucking horse, vitamins and fiber.
I own Hollywood, I control destinies, there's nothing I can't do on film. Not only did I give Frances McDormand a job, I got that bitch to look almost sexual. In 3D. Do you know anyone else who can do that? You see Fargo? Did you want to fuck her in Fargo? No. But I guarantee you someone in America saw T3 and jerked off to Frances. Fuck all y'all.
So the future of cinema comes full circle, back away from the cult of the actor to the primacy of the director. You see a future where even mass consumption cinema follows the director; we'll choose to see "Michael Bay's new movie" not "Shia LaBeouf's new movie." This had previously been the privilege of director-artists-- Woody Allen or Hitchcock come to mind-- but who did not enjoy mass appeal.
If someone goes to see Transformers because it's "Shia Labeouf's new movie" and that person is not Shia Labeouf I'll slit my wrists.
Thank you for your time and candor.
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1. A much better review of An Education