Here are some highlights from Rotten Tomatoes:
“It’s a wad of chaos puked onto the big screen, an arbitrary collection of explosions and machismo posturing.” –David Cornelius, eFilmCritic.com
“Will insult your intelligence, hurt your eyes, and offend your sense of decency until you worry that your skull might explode while your brain trickles right out of your ears.” –Tricia Olszewski, Washington City Paper
“A perfectly dreadful sequel that’s the filmic equivalent of a 150-minute waterboarding session.”
“Put in your earplugs and grab the aspirin. Enjoyable for the [sic] only the easiest to please 10-year-old boys; this deafening, tiresome epic is a skull-splitting hot mess for everyone else.”
And, my personal favorite: “Only an a*****e could have made this film.” –Rob Humanick, House Next Door
I share these snippets to illustrate, if you weren’t already aware, that this movie was clearly made for, and marketed to, young fanboys who like to watch shit blow up. But what else do they like to see? If you guessed “Megan Fox dry-humping a motorcycle,” you are correct.
In a recent interview, Fox told reporters, “Women in movies, in general, are sexy—especially in Michael’s movies. And if you want to make movies that people want to see, that’s part of it. That’s part of the formula.”
The director, Michael Bay, also chimed in. Referencing the shot of Fox sprawled across a motorcycle in hot pants and biker boots, he says, “We got that first shot out of the way, just to get it out for the young boys … and moved on.”
So, according to Fox (and Bay), making movies people want to see entails objectifying and exploiting women. And what’s worse, Fox goes on to say that making these Transformer films and gaining so much exposure (for her hotness) has opened up many doors for her—she’ll soon star in one film opposite John Malkovich and another film penned by Diablo Cody.
This rhetoric reminds me an awful lot of other excuses actresses have made for the roles they choose. Katherine Heigl famously called Knocked Up a sexist film, and then went on to star in a slew of women-friendlier movies, such as The Ugly Truth and 27 Dresses.
And Elizabeth Banks often finds herself in the same predicament: “‘You can go be in a female-driven indie and make two cents and maybe get an Independent Spirit Award, but then you can’t pay your car lease,'” she says. “‘So Vince Vaughn makes movies, he needs a girl to be in it with him, it might be me.'”
I understand and sympathize with actresses in today’s Hollywood climate. Studios continue to argue that actresses can’t open movies, that any successful women-centered film (Sex & the City, Mamma Mia!) is merely a fluke, and that they don’t find it profitable enough to continue greenlighting movies that exclusively focus on women.
I get that it’s a rough climate out there for young actresses especially, but I’m not exactly sure what the solution is. We need more women filmmakers, obviously. And we especially need women audiences to stop seeing every single ridiculous incarnation of The Proposal and He’s Just Not That Into You. While I don’t want to play into the blame-the-victim ideology, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for these actresses to take themselves a little more seriously as actresses and a little less seriously as male fantasies.
Making blatantly misogynistic films clearly pays the bills for them, but at what cost to women as a whole?