RIP Mudflap & Skids, the Transformers minstrel bots

Senior Editor
05.12.10 18 Comments

Michael Bay has confirmed on his official website that the racial caricature bots, Mudflap and Skids, those lovable, breakdancing, gold-toothed illiterates, would not be back for Transformers 3.  In light of there being a Transformers 3, that’s sort of like “a super volcano will destroy the Earth in 30 seconds, but I gave you free extra cheese on your nachos” on the good-news-to-bad-news scale.  If you’ll remember, inseparable screenwriting tickle-fight partners Kurtzman and Orci basically blamed Bay for the bots, and Bay defended them as “good clean fun.”  This week Bay said they were out of “T3” without comment:

“The Twins are not back in T3.”

I’m a little conflicted on this topic. While there’s nothing more fun than piling on to Michael Bay for comedic purposes, were his minstrel bots actually racist? Most of the people who’ve written about it seem to agree with /Film:

I still find it difficult to believe that the studio and its automotive corporate partner Chevrolet didn’t red-flag these two characters before they got out of the animatic stage. To me, they scream racist caricature, and not in any vaguely defensible way. There’s no commentary being made through them. They weren’t funny, entertaining, or otherwise worth keeping around. I’m no fan of the second film by any stretch, but in a movie that has a great many problems, Skids and Mudflap stand out as outrageously pointless ideas.

Me, I don’t think they were “racist” necessarily.  They were about as idiotic as everything else in Transformers 2, such as Shia LaBeouf dying and going to robot heaven, or the idea that robots can sexually reproduce.  Asking Michael Bay to think about the historical implications of his characters would be like trying to teach a cheetah to throw hand grenades, which Bay has attempted unsuccessfully for more than a decade.  Michael Bay, like Jeff Dunham, is not a racist, he’s just kind of a moron. Look at the twins through Michael Bay’s eyes, ie, completely divorced from context and without any purpose or agenda that you thought about for more than five seconds: what are they?  Breakdancing, gold-toothed, illiterate robots.  If you’ve never read a book, that doesn’t remind you of a minstrel show.  I’ve seen plenty of breakdancing, gold-toothed, illiterate white people too, and they’re usually Michael Bay fans.

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