This Christmas, Paramount Pictures releases the newest chapter in the Transformers film franchise in the form of BUMBLEBEE, a prequel centered around the breakout star of Michael Bay’s blockbuster series.
Beginning with 2007 TRANSFORMERS, the series quickly reached beloved status in the eyes of its target demographics: young children and adults who grew up with the 80’s Hasbro toys and cartoons. The immediate success issued in a string of sequels including 2009’s ‘Revenge of the Fallen’, 2011’s ‘Dark of the Moon’, 2014’s ‘Age of Extinction’ and 2017’s ‘The Last Knight’. But despite the franchise’s $4.38 billion gross, they were far from universally loved and received a wide range of criticism. While some disapproval was simply ‘anti-blockbuster’ sentiment, calling Bay out for trite, sensationalist movie-making, many die-hard fans criticized the character design and style of CGI employed claiming that it robbed the Autobots and Decepticons of their personality (‘humanity’ even).
‘Bumblebee’ director Travis Knight claims this was a primary focus of his, utilizing a back-to-basics approach to ‘minimize the moving parts, simplify the character design and employ practical effects to restore the Transformers’ humanity.”
But how will the prequel, taking place in 1987, address the glaring differences between the jarringly less-PC world of a pre-Clarence Thomas America and still manage to appear to today’s #woke audience?
“Of course, we could ignore it completely,“ explains Knight. “We could pretend that 1987 and 2018 were exactly alike, aside from car design, clothes, music and hairstyles. But that would be irresponsible. In fact, the desire to convey such cultural differences in a responsible and truthful manner was a prime focus of our storytelling. Rather than ignore the sometimes ugly truth of the past, we chose to weave it into the narrative in the form of a new character: a minor Decepticon protagonist whose undesirable traits would be mirrored in its undesirable alter-ego.”
That alter-ego: a dated diesel Volkswagen Golf GTI whose general lack of appeal stems from the fact that no kid would ever want to play with a toy version of a Volkswagen Golf. Almost immediately unappealing, the character (named ‘Lube’) is expected to draw even more ire from the audience due to the obsolete nature of its sensibilities.
“Call me crazy, “ suggests Knight. “But I think that the best way to depict the unacceptable nature of racism, sexism, ignorance, social impropriety, and a general lack of acceptance is to display it for the villainy that it is. Kids are perceptive, and the lessons that they learn from movies can stay with them for a lifetime. We have a responsibility here. Lube is not a nice character. He says and does things that might make viewers uncomfortable. Parents will not like him. But, more importantly, children will not like him. Someday, we hope that adults will look back at the film and say that Lube helped them to realize what kind of person they would never grow up to be. That said, if your kid asks to buy the toy version of Lube, you might want to find a qualified therapist. Don’t blame us, though. It’s not our fault your f*cked up kid wants to play with a super-rapey German shitbox.”
‘Bumbleee’ will be released to U.S. theaters on December 21st, 2018. A limited run of Lube action figures will be released in rural southern areas, as a Wal-Mart exclusive.