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Transformers 2: Clichés in disguise - Joel Hall

After weeks of failed attempts to see the summer blockbuster, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," with friends in tow, I finally got around to seeing it by myself. Like the first Transformers movie, I left the theater with mixed feelings.

Growing up, Transformers was one of those staple shows that was a mainstay in my Saturday morning cartoon line-up. As a kid, you never really take apart the subtleties of television shows and movies, but as an adult, it's hard for me not to be analytical.

The character "Jazz" - whose personality was slick-talking, friendly, and laid-back in the cartoon series - was updated to more of a trash-talking, hip-hop thug in the 2007 Transformers movie. While not spelled out in bold letters, it was clear from watching the other characters that Jazz was the "black robot."

I was very disappointed when the evil Megatron ripped Jazz in half toward the end of the movie, because I felt like it fell into an old movie cliché of destroying the non-essential, black character, either through sacrifice or as the first one to go. I thought the second movie would steer clear of similarly stereotyped characters, but it seems like the makers of the movie only went further down the rabbit hole.

In Transformers 2, "Mudflap" and "Skids" are about the only robots in the movie that get a significant amount of dialogue, even more so than Optimus Prime, the star of the Transformers series. While Jazz's role in the first movie was very much muted, Mudflap and Skids stand out as the buffoons of the film.

In the cartoon, Mudflap is portrayed as sort of a robotic snob with a French accent, who can't stand the illogical nature of human beings. In the new Transformers movie, Mudflap is a fowl-mouthed, urban stereotype and his twin, Skids, is pretty much the same, except he has a gold tooth.

When the characters in the movie become confronted with a strange, ancient robot language, it is clear that the modern-day Transformers have difficulty deciphering it. Mudflap and Skids, however, are cornered into a conversation that exposes their ignorance and almost signals that they have been able to just "get by."

With all of the ridiculous banter, talk of "popping caps," and rampant expletives shared between Mudflap and Skids, it is amazing that Transformers 2 walked away with a PG-13 rating. The rest of the movie didn't help, either, because, whereas the first movie relies on action, the second movie relies more on toilet humor.

I'm really glad that I don't have young children right now, because I would have felt uncomfortable taking them to this movie. Within the first 30 minutes, there were panty shots, talk about underage sex, views of random animal sex, consumption of weed brownies, and lots of expetives. In the latter parts of the movie, there was leg humping, an unnecessary close-up of robot genitalia, and more expletives.

I guess the only consolation in the movie was that Mudflap and Skids didn't die. Toward the end, it appeared Mudflap was a goner once he was sucked into the large "mega robot." However, he was able to fight his way out of the beast, and both Mudflap and Skids drove away alive.

I'm glad Mudflap and Skids didn't die and their part in the movie did add some humor, but it was definitely at the expense of black people.

Sometimes, I wonder what Transformers 2 would look like if it were directed by Martin Scorsese or Clint Eastwood, as opposed to Michael Bay. Perhaps my expectations for a cartoon remake are too high, but I hope they try a little harder in Transformers 3.s

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.