Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.
This week’s heresy:
“Having successfully sucked any nostalgic joy from the Transformers franchise, Michael Bay has moved on to destroy the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise – and perhaps this is a good thing.”
Michael Bay does not make good films. He tries, God bless him, I’m pretty sure of that. But his perception of what a good film is is so far off that he can’t help but miss.
Transformers, for instance. The films are abysmal. I have seen the first two, and marvelled at what a confused, eye-strained mess they were. Not an ounce of subtlety to be found. (And for anyone wondering, I deliberately haven’t seen the third or fourth, because I in no way want to encourage film studios to keep funding these disasters.)
I never had the attachment, honestly, that others do to the Transformers franchise. Maybe it was just a little before my time. But the cries of anguish which greet every new release of a dumb, misogynist instalment of what has become a sprawling joke of a film series is something with which I am very familiar.
Well, as the poem says (or doesn’t…), “First Michael bay came for the Transformers fans, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Transformers fan…” But my childhood did prominently feature the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, upon which Bay has now turned his beady eye…
I haven’t yet seen the film, and at the moment am undecided as to whether I will. The views which I have, so far, seen are…not universally positive. It is far from clear that Michael Bay has recaptured the spark which made a bunch of mutated reptiles doing kung fu so popular (It’s far from clear who expected he would… -Ed).
So a lot of people are upset, and Michael Bay is the devil, when it comes to film adaptations and reboots. And I’m not going to claim his films are anything approaching good, but perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing that he is moving from old franchise to old franchise, salting the earth with his unfollowable action sequences, terrible dialogue, and unlikeable characters; perhaps there is some good in it.
By wreaking this trail of destruction across the trails of childhood memory, is Michael Bay dissuading others from turning to nostalgia as a substitute for invention? I’ve hardly been quiet about my discomfort with the number of reboots and reimaginings, returns to old ideas and franchises with which Hollywood has been plagued. If the mess that Michael Bay creates, and the uproar he creates, tromping over hallowed ground means that other writers and directors are pushed towards originality and creation, then maybe the turtle deaths might not have been in vain.
Of course, it counts for nothing if these film basically shit gold.