Michael Bay's Transformers is a genre pastiche, combining elements of action films, science fiction, high school dramas, general comedy and even moments of direct satire. Most interesting, though, are the ways in which Bay's film ties into the genre of war cinema and the modes and conventions it borrows particularly from such films as Lewis Seiler's Guadalcanal Diary, George P. Cosmatos' Rambo: First Blood Part II, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket and David O. Russell's Three Kings to create a surprisingly multi-layered depiction of the wartime Other. The Other of Transformers a race of giant robots is both alien and familiar, both overtly evil and uncompromisingly noble, and most importantly, it provides an allegorical mirror for American society that allows the film to promote its own consumerist ideology.
[...] In Three Kings, the Iraqi Other is divided along lines of refugee and soldier. In Transformers, it is separated into Autobot and Decepticon. In contrast to Three Kings, however⎯where the moment when an American soldier relates to and identifies with an Iraqi soldier, the enemy Other, is probably the movie's most profound scene⎯the enemy Other characters of Transformers never escape that prima facie simplicity, save for a few isolated instances when the film creates a minor connection between the audience and the enemy Other. [...]
[...] This early scene in Transformers functions according to that mode. In it, the audience sees American soldiers returning from an unspecified mission in Qatar. They never discuss what they were doing or, for that matter, are doing in Qatar. They just talk about missing their mother's cooking, cold hotdog and a flat baseball and their newborn daughters. For this one scene, they are not soldiers, just normal guys in military uniforms talking about things anyone can relate to their own lives. [...]
[...] In so doing, it borrows one last convention from Three Kings and brings its war stateside. In Three Kings, an American soldier imagines his wife and child being bombed and the film shows that happening. In Transformers, the final battle actually takes place in the middle of an American city and shows the effect of each of these facets on that city. The consumerist Autobots strive to defend and ultimately save it, while the militaristic Decepticons can only destroy. This is because consumerism is an everyday part of American life. [...]
[...] It is also important to note that in this film really means “Americans,” as it is only ever America that is placed in direct danger. With that in mind, it is also significant that humanity's great defender is red, white and blue and that when one Autobot denounces humanity as a “primitive and violent race” that red, white and blue champion responds: “were we so different?” This is perhaps the most poignant moment of identification in this film, not because it offers an instance for the Same to recognize and accept the Other, but for the Other to see itself in the Same and seek incorporation. [...]
[...] While it is unclear whether or not this is a military vehicle from his world, Megatron does use it in a highly aggressive manner. One instance in particular is when he changes into this form and charges into the Autobot leader, Optimus Prime, launching them both straight through a building. Furthering this aggressive attitude, Megatron explicitly states that “humans don't deserve to live” and at one point he observes a man panicking in the street and flicks him away, scoffing that he is “disgusting” like any person would to a particularly revolting insect. [...]
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