Snarky's Cinemachine: Bay of Pigs

Huffington Post blogger Scott Mendelson wrote an intriguing analysis of the Megan Fox/Michael Bay dust up which may or may not have been the catalyst for Fox's departure from the successful Transformers franchise. Buried in the largely astute criticisms of Fox's appeal and backlash from said appeal was this gem:

But the sheer outpouring of joy that greeted the allegation that Fox had been canned for trashing Michael Bay in public was more than a bit obnoxious. The same geeks and entertainment columnists who called co-star Shia LeBeouf honest and gutsy for criticizing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) were basically applauding the idea that Fox had been fired for basically doing the same thing. Why do so many people hate Megan Fox? Who do they even care?

Mendelson's article positions directors Michael Bay, Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider, Collateral) and James "More Water! Less Water!" Cameron as fellow travelers in on-set verbal nastiness. Based on what I have researched and read on all three, I will not dispute Mendelson's point. I will, however, respectfully move Cameron (seriously, folks, I am NOT a Cameron apologist) into the column of film director jackassery occupied by such luminaries as Ridley "Blood Runner" Scott, Stanley "If you can't understand them [women] just don't cast them," Kubrick and Joel "I know you didn't put your hands on me, bathrobe wearing assclown!" Schumacher, who have scorn heaped upon them over the way in which they handle (read: smack down) on-set dissent. That said, Scott, Kubrick and Schumacher a have reputation for being much more "equal opportunity" in their distribution of said smack downs. In Schumacher's case much of his attributed "jerkiness", when viewed through the lens of his open homosexuality, scans as a problematic attempt at a "tone" argument. For the record, Schumacher's days of helming big budget pictures pretty much vanished after all the controversy surrounding the Batman franchise.

Digression noted; let's move on to the Michaels. Michael Mann isn't really on the radar at the moment and it seems his rumored perfectionism is at odds with the sausage factory (not a pun) Hollywood favors these days. Mann doesn't seem particularly interested in reboots or sequels–the current love of Hollywood's life–and after the disappointing Miami Vice (Jamie Foxx as Tubbs? Seriously?) I'm not in a hurry to see another Mann film.

This leaves Michael Bay. In my opinion, The Rock is the only film of his worth watching, and it has little to do with Bay and everything to do with Sean Connery and Ed Harris. While Megan Fox's assertion Bay's films aren't acting showcases isn't entirely without merit–particularly as it relates to femalecentric roles–I don't think she's necessarily the actor to make that claim. Since Lethal Weapon and Die Hard, action films have done much better at balancing the kabooms and the performances. In The Rock Harris and Connery lend their gravitas to a film that would have been pretty unwatchable without them.

Bay, when interviewed by a Wall Street Journal reporter, responded to Fox's criticisms of the relevance of acting chops as it relates to his films with this:

Well, that's Megan Fox for you. She says some very ridiculous things because she's 23 years old and she still has a lot of growing to do. You roll your eyes when you see statements like that and think, "Okay Megan, you can do whatever you want. I got it." But I 100% disagree with her. Nic Cage wasn't a big actor when I cast him, nor was Ben Affleck before I put him in "Armageddon." Shia LaBeouf wasn't a big movie star before he did "Transformers"—and then he exploded. Not to mention Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, from "Bad Boys." Nobody in the world knew about Megan Fox until I found her and put her in "Transformers." I like to think that I've had some luck in building actors' careers with my films. (source)

Note the presence of sexist framing and male privilege. Note the lack of other female actors mentioned in the SEA of male actors, which, by the way, were definitely on the Hollywood radar or possessed heavy connections to the industry at the time they were cast in Bay's films. Smith and Lawrence had established careers in music and comedy respectively. Both were also stars of popular television shows. In addition to starring in 80s "unknown" films such as Peggy Sue Got Married and Moonstruck, Nic Cage is a member of the influential Coppola dynasty, which includes Auntie Talia "Adrian" Shire (Francis Ford's sister), cousins Sofia Coppola and Bored to Death's Jason Schwartzman (son of Shire). And those are just the Coppolas I can name off the top of my head. There are certainly many others. And good for them. However, my point is that in addition to being a douche, Bay isn't even factually accurate. His statements demonstrate an impressive level of cheek, torpedoing his own claims and further supporting Fox's assertions. Is it possible to frame Bay as a credible source when it seems he's not well versed in the work history of his top talent?

Far be it from peons to disagree with Michael Bay when it comes to Megan Fox — after all, few in Hollywood have better BabeDar than he does — but Nicolas Cage? Apparently Bay had forgotten that Nic Cage had already worked with esteemed directors like Francis Ford Coppola, David Lynch, Norman Jewison, and the Coen Brothers before Bay discovered him. (source)

Do these critics not get the channels showing countless reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Martin on cable? In fairness to Bay, he was hard at work perfecting his douchebaggery–I mean craft–in such cinema classics as Playboy Video Centerfold: Kerri Kendall, so maybe he didn't have time to catch Cage in his critically acclaimed and Oscar-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas.

The way I see it, Megan Fox–who's shaping up to be this generation's Sean Young–provides another example of what happens to females who refuse to be silenced when emotionally victimized by powerful male filmmakers. While I have my own beef with the way in which Fox is positioned in the media, I don't co-sign the derailing of careers or trashing of another female because she's conventionally hot or makes a lot of wonky statements–some of which need serious unpacking and sadly, some of which ring true for women, be they inside or outside the "industry."

Comments

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How annoying

I figure film directors are going to be pretty opinionated in general. But it seems like Bay has a bit of growing of his own to do before he can fit into his own oversized ego. And lets add ageism to whatever isms he's guilty of... 23 is not overly young by Hollywood standards.

Thanks for providing some perspective!

Based on what I've read

Based on what I've read about Bay, it seems his ego requires purchase of an extra seat when he flies.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

thank you for calling out

thank you for calling out that Michael Bay egomonologue -- I mean, does he REALLY think he 'discovered' that cadre of well-known name actors? probably. he can take credit for Shia LaDouche, I'll let him have that.

I really hope Michael Mann makes good use of some time off and returns with something reasonable.

____
http://www.araymondjohnson.com

I am even wondering if

I am even wondering if Michael Mann warrants mention here, considering everyone grumbles about his truculence, not just the females.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Gaius?

My question upon seeing the picture accompanying this piece: why is Gaius Baltar directing films now?

But seriously, Michael Bay is a certified jackass. Apparently he made Megan Fox wash his car before casting her, too.

It was so hard to select the

It was so hard to select the perfect image to capture his douchebaggery, as there were so many to choose from. His official site is an exercise in what my mom would term, "The scene that celebrates itself."

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

furthermore

...hadn't Ben Affleck also won an Oscar before Michael Bay put him in Armageddon, for co-writing/starring in Good Will Hunting? No matter, THANK YOU Michael Bay for singlehandedly making Ben Affleck and Nicolas Cage "big actors" and bettering our world!!!!!

Ben Affleck was already

Ben Affleck was already famous both for his contribution to Kevin Smith films, his writing credit for GWH and it was Kevin Smith not Bay who took the GWH script to Miramax (RIP) and got that whole ball rolling.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Like, sorry but who cares

Like, sorry but who cares about megan Fox. She compared the director to Hitler, what an ignorant, thoughtless and disrespectful comment to make. anyone who has studied Hitler in the slighest would understand how misinformed and oversimplified that comparison is. Ya, Shia dissed the movie too, but he didn't ignorantly compare anyone to Hitler. There is a difference in the way they dissed the movie.

That's a shitty comparison

That's a shitty comparison she made, but you know what? She's a woman, and all women are worthy of defense from sexism, because it hurts all of us.

Rose: I guess you missed the

Rose: I guess you missed the part where I wrote this:

While I have my own beef with the way in which Fox is positioned in the media, I don't co-sign the derailing of careers or trashing of another female because she's conventionally hot or makes a lot of wonky statements–some of which need serious unpacking and sadly, some of which ring true for women, be they inside or outside the "industry."

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Bitch Magazine, you also

Bitch Magazine, you also have to remember that there is a way in which Megan criticized Micheal that Shia didnt use, he pretty constructively criticized the SECOND movie for not having heart... Megan Fox compared Michael Bay to Hitler and Napolean and those are not criticisms those are just insults, and socially irresponsible ones at that. and not just insult the movies of his that she was in, but his directing overall and made calls she wasn't qualified to make, Shia only criticized the Micheal Bay movie that he was in.

And I am a little bit tired of this immediate assumption that she is the victim in all of this, we have no idea what happened between them behind the scenes and we also technically don't even know whether or not she really was fired, BOTH camps claim the opposite. The studio claims it was a mutual decision and Megan Fox's camp persistently claims that she quit.

The media assumed that she was fired and they were inexplicably thrilled about it which is where there is absolutely merit in the argument but I am a little tired of this very romanticized and dramatized idea of Micheal Bay as Pure Evil and Megan Fox as Victim

Remember also that Michael [most likely just to get better press] did come forward after megans "hitler" comments and the transformers crew public letter and defended her and you conveniantly completely omitted all of that.

Now I am not a Megan Fox hater particularly recently she has been saying some very smart things and I am NOT a fan of Michael Bay because I KNOW and think its undeniable that his movies are sexist but i find it condescending toward Megan that she has repeatedly been strong with her words in public and yet people still view her as purely a victim being squished under foot of the impossibly evil Michael Bay and I do not think it wise tomake assumptions.

And I am a little bit tired

And I am a little bit tired of this immediate assumption that she is the victim in all of this, we have no idea what happened between them behind the scenes and we also technically don't even know whether or not she really was fired, BOTH camps claim the opposite. The studio claims it was a mutual decision and Megan Fox's camp persistently claims that she quit.

Please note where I stated Megan was fired. You can't. Because I didn't say that. And since neither you nor I were actually there everything is merely speculation. Take me to task, but be factual in your analysis.

The media assumed that she was fired and they were inexplicably thrilled about it which is where there is absolutely merit in the argument but I am a little tired of this very romanticized and dramatized idea of Micheal Bay as Pure Evil and Megan Fox as Victim

Yes, and again, I didn't say or infer she was fired. I said, there was a dust up that may or may not have contributed to her departure from the franchise. Michael Bay is INCREDIBLY problematic and also makes some fairly entertaining films. There. Are you happy now?

Remember also that Michael [most likely just to get better press] did come forward after megans "hitler" comments and the transformers crew public letter and defended her and you conveniantly completely omitted all of that.

My article was about Michael Bay, not Megan Fox. My interest was in how he was being position in all of this based on his own statements and analysis of those statements. Megan Fox just happens to be the person he's scuffled with THIS TIME. No where did I suggest Fox was a victim or condone her statements. She was not the focus of article, thus what she said to Allure magazine was not particularly relevant to this post. It doesn't mean it should go unexamined, but it does mean, I'm not comfortable with examining it in this context or with this post.

What Bay did before, during or after the kerfuffle doesn't excuse his legacy of wanton sexism.

That said, regardless of what she said or didn't say or what she looks like or how immature and problematic she is, she is a woman and NO woman deserves sexist treatment. Any suggestion to the contrary is antithetical to the fundamentals of feminism. You dig?

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

He didn't discover Shia LaBeouf either....

Shia LaBeouf had his own show on the Disney Channel when he was 14. It lasted for 3 seasons and was called Even Stevens. He even won a Daytime Emmy Award for that role. He also had significant parts in three Disney channel movies. The first theatricial movie LaBeouf had a lead role in was Project Greenlight's The Battle of Shaker Heights. He also played a lead character in Disney's Holes, which was succesful monetarily as well as critically. In fact, he appeared in around a dozen movies, including starring in the box office hit Disturbia, before Transformers came out. LaBeouf was definitely seen as up and coming long before he was cast by Michael Bay.

Ding Ding Ding! "In real

Ding Ding Ding!

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Absolutely--in fact I

Absolutely--in fact I remember telling my SO that I wanted to see Transformers *specifically* because I remembered Shia from Project Greenlight (which I miss fiercely, btw).

As far as the Megan kerfluffle...that whole thing left a really bad taste in my mouth. I'm too lazy to google it, but didn't some crew members come out with a public reprimand to her in the wake of her comments? I could be remembering it wrong, but my take-away from the public letter was that their message to Megan was something like "shut up you dumb bitch, you'd be nothing without Transformers". It just kind of felt like an excuse to ridicule and demean the "pretty" girl who doesn't know her place...

place?

Doesn't know her place? Do you mind explaining what you mean by that?

I'm sorry I wasn't more

I'm sorry I wasn't more clear on that. What I meant was that was how I viewed the crew's letter/reaction to her, not my personal opinion. Like, these crew members were mad because the pretty girl wouldn't just shut up, be nice, and look pretty. I in no way hold that view, I'm sorry if it came across that way!

oh wow, I just looked up

oh wow, I just looked up that letter and it's worse than I remembered. Absolute venom. She has ugly tattoos, she's dumb, she's a bitch, she's unfriendly, she's talentless, she's trash, she should be a porn star....I honestly don't know where to start on unraveling all of that. Yikes.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/13/megan-fox-branded-dumb-as_n_285...

I kind of want to support her career now, even seeing Jonah Hex, after re-reading that thing.

Style comment: might you

Style comment: might you consider reigning in your use of "problematic" a little bit? For example, "Michael Bay is incredibly problematic...": what does that mean, exactly? Objectionable? Sexist? Contradictory? Unlikeable? Any and all of the above? In my opinion, this is a shape-shifter word that undermines the specificity of your arguments and distracts those among your readers who may have used this in tandem with "ambiguous" to cross the all-nighter finish line on English papers about "Kubla Khan."

So what you're saying is I'm

So what you're saying is I'm not being intellectual enough? My bad. Perhaps, you might want to check yourself and reconsider your use of the tiresome and problematic derail. Given your vastly superior grasp of the English language, I'll let you parse out the use of "problematic" here, since I'm given to tossing it about in wild abandon!

"It’s also really awesome to utilise the tactic of correcting grammar and/or spelling mistakes and criticising comments on form rather than content to further distract from the issues. You want people for whom the language being used is second, third or fourth, or people with less formal education to really be aware of their shortcomings and you want others for whom it is a first language and who have formal education to feel chastised by their mistakes (even though in heated conversations and general internet discourse such mistakes are common and not reflective at all of someone’s capacity). This tactic covers ALL angles in this regard and is sure to incur feelings of shame and diminishment."

Anything else, relevant to the content?

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

awesome site...

That's an awesome site (about derailing conversations). Thanks for sharing!

I don't want to belabor the

I don't want to belabor the point, but I do feel that challenging your use of language in your statements or, at the very least, asking you to clarify your meanings is completely fair and related to the discussion you are trying to inspire. If your arguments are vague because of your word choice--for example, referring to another person as "problematic" makes no sense unless his personhood itself is open to debate--how can the discussion move forward? Are you implying that no one can challenge your logic or language because of your identity politics?

Yeah, except that

Yeah, except that "problematic" is a term that's used all the time on feminist sites. It's pretty easy to understand: it means that there is a problem with whatever is being called problematic. Usually, it's explained further, as in this post, when she says that it's a tone argument. If you have trouble understanding, then that's on you. This is not a vague or unfamiliar term in feminist discourse.

Snarky has been perfectly clear, and she is right the fuck on. It's a derail to choose one adjective out of several hundred words, that makes perfect sense in context, and demand further explanation.

I was a little weirded out

I was a little weirded out when the writer of the article started to get snarky with the individual who asked for clarification. Not very polite or professional. :/

To answer, in this context the term "problematic" was referring to Michael Bay's perceived sexism towards Megan Fox.

And yes, sometimes I think it can be a vague term.

I was a little weirded out

I was a little weirded out when the writer of the article started to get snarky with the individual who asked for clarification. Not very polite or professional. :/

The tone argument is not cute at all. Here's why:

"Marginalised People™ are forced into a certain sort of social behaviour by Privileged People® – “appropriate” behaviour. After all, there are different rules for them than there are for the Privileged®. This training in “appropriate” behaviour usually begins when they are very young, so it is well-ingrained.

By accusing them of hostility, you will successfully enliven their sense of caution and anxiety around this matter. You may also provoke a feeling of guilt that they are not “behaving” the way they have been trained to.

But even better – by accusing them of hostility, you pass the blame back to them, rather than consider what you might have said that was so offensive and hurtful it caused the “hostility”!"

m"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

If you were discussing the

If you were discussing the content and not trying to present an English mechanics lesson, you would have a valid argument. However, you're not. You're derailing for dummies. It's not a difficult concept to understand - though often painful. Nevertheless, since you're argument is about tone/style, then the problem is solely yours. And yes, you are belaboring the point, which you're entirely free to do, but please understand this is your privilege in all its unchecked glory rather than any issue with my writing. You might want to sit with that realization - you're being incredibly privileged and offensive - for a second before responding again. I mean really sit with that.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

What really distracts this reader

What really distracts this reader is snark for snark's sake. For example, you totally lost me at the end when you questioned the word choices of imaginary readers who are writing English papers on Kubla Khan. WTF? You might try sticking to the subject in future comments.