Feature

Is 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' racist?

Why a pair of "shuck-and-jive Autobots" have some critics up in arms

"A pair of jive-talking 'bots" in the new sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen have critics up in arms, said AP writer Sandy Cohen in Yahoo! News. Twin robots named Skids and Mudflap, "disguised as compact Chevys, constantly brawl and bicker in rap-inspired street slang. They're forced to acknowledge that they can't read. One has a gold tooth." (watch the trailer for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen)

It's hard to view Mudflap and Skids as anything but racist, said Ty Burr in The Boston Globe. They are "shuck-and-jive Autobots who talk in ridiculous gangsta-speak." And they're also  "Jar Jar Binks times two and the first known example of robot blackface," not to mention "insultingly unfunny comic relief."

Skids and Mudflap do "indicate that minstrelsy remains as much in fashion in Hollywood as when, well, Jar Jar Binks was set loose by George Lucas," said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. But "for what it's worth," the script for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, "also includes a crack" about the character Simmons, "who's coded as Jewish, and his 'pubic-fro head.'"

Look, nobody’s arguing that Transformers 2 doesn’t have a lot of flaws, said Arthur J. Pais in Rediff.com, but ultimately it's up to audiences to judge it. And based on “the “thunderous applause” from the first fans to see it, this is going to be the most successful big popcorn movie of the summer—maybe even “one of the biggest hits of the decade.”

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