Tuesday, July 1, 2014

“Optimus Prime and Little Girls”

Oh boy do I have a treat for you cyberpeeps, my good friend, and fellow kickass nerd Ruth (otakubookworm0) is here. She’s about to lay the smack down on Hollywood because of how they portray female characters in their movies…this is going to be good! So sit back and relax and get to reading people, trust me you won’t be disappointed. And when you’re all done, go show her some love on her Facebook page (facebook.com/ruth.garcia23).


Hi, y'all. My name's Ruth and I'm here to talk about things we all hate: Michael Bay movies and what's wrong with the world today...but wait! It's not what you think.

So my husband and I went to see Transformers last night. I was super excited to see a couple with a little girl next to us; the girl looked about 6 or 7 years old. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing girls get excited about robots and cars and "boy stuff", so I was giving that couple some mad props (in my mind, of course, who wants some random weirdo congratulating them on badass parenting at the theater?).

The movie fires up, and my brain turns into dormant mush for ~3 hours from the overload of sexy cars, explosions, slo-mo,"witty banter" and OMG Optimus Prime, but a few things stuck out to me, even in my passive state.

I loved the movie. I became a kid again, and gasped and cheered and smiled and got my $12 worth from my slice of Hollywood. BUT!!! there were a number of things I found downright not okay with this film.

After the movie was over, I dragged out my soap box and dusted it off, tossed some ideas around with my husband, and called up the indomitable MJM to see if he'd let me bend your internet ears for a few (more) paragraphs (I'm not what I'd consider a feminist, or an alarmist of any kind, so I won't be using subjective words like "moral corruption" or "outrage", just so you know).

Annnnnd, without further ado or nonsense, here's my 5 cents. Mild spoilers for Transformers: Age of Extinction below, if it's possible to spoil a movie such as this.

The daughter character was absolutely everything wrong with young girl characters. Yeah so she's wearing short shorts, and whining at her dad, but why is she so WIMPY? She's been waiting for someone to save her, her whole life? Except when it comes to choosing a boyfriend her dad will hate, and supporting said boyfriend in two (only two in a three hour movie!) clinch moments. She takes damsel in distress straight back to Super Mario's Princess Peach. Except when she's defying her own survival to argue with her dad while swinging on a cable 50 stories above ground.

Way to show our little 7 year old what real girls can be like in a crisis.

There was a samurai Transformer this time. 'Nuff said. At least Ken Watanabe voiced him. Why do all the Chinese people mysteriously know martial arts? (My husband brought this up, and I agree.) Although, the secretary's badassery went a long way towards making up for the awful and insipid daughter.

Mark Wahlberg's character repeatedly called the Irish boyfriend "Lucky Charms". Not funny. Especially since Markie Mark's character is from Texas, where hey, I guess it's okay to use casual racial slurs as humor. Par for the course, along with his terrible parenting skills.

His character also uses 'bitch' as an insult, a number of times. E.g. "You're not gonna bitch out on me, are you?" While I get we're trying to prove that this guy's balls are the size of his home state, can't we use a slightly more gender neutral insult? It's 2014. Bitches can (and do!) kick ass, and I don't just mean the female dogs.

What did our 7 year old girl go home thinking about, when the movie was over? F@$*ing OPTIMUS PRIME RIDING A FIREBREATHING TREX ROBOT. But besides that... That it's okay for her to graduate high school and lie to her dad about dating when he told her not to date? That she doesn't have to be smart, just let someone else save her? That her dad can insult that same boyfriend as long as they both laugh?

There are a hundred other things that I "lovingly" picked apart with my Transformer fan friends, but these things stuck out to me as the type of things we shouldn't be seeing in movies today, especially movies that we want to take our kids to. If we want to make our culture better, we need to get rid of the thinking and attitudes that make these slurs and insults commonplace. Noticing them, and making sure we don't just wave them off as "oh it's just a movie" can go a long way. We need to be better than this as Americans, and as humans. What does the world think of us when this junk gets screened around the world? It shames me, when I think of it. We should speak up about it. Change the way we talk and the assumptions we make. Maybe when art imitates life, next time, we can get something a little better for our 7 year old.

And once in a while, can we get a heroine in a summer blockbuster who makes smart choices while wearing chic clothing? The two aren't mutually exclusive.

If you made it to the bottom of this post, you're a champ. Thanks for reading my rant, and I hope I have inspired you, just a little, to challenge the status quo in your own life and thinking. And if you feel my ideas are too oldfashioned or nonsensical? Sorry, but...get off my lawn before this bitch delivers an oldfashioned ass kickin'!


For more on Mr. Ken Watanabe click here.


  1. Thanks for the heads up! I have 2 little girls and we love Star Wars and action movies and trucks and tools (except when it comes to ACTUALLY fixing things, and then, well, we TRY.) I will have them skip the Transformer series of movies. There are so many GOOD ones out there, X-Men, Spiderman (except Spiderman 2 was a little girly) and so on. Great post!

  2. @Joy you're welcome! There are a ton of good movies out there, and we've come so far, that it disappoints me when something like this shows up. X-men is my favorite so far this year, but Guardians of the Galaxy is coming soon so hopefully that won't be a letdown! Thanks for reading; I'm glad you enjoyed! ~Ruth

  3. And thanks again to MJM for letting me steal your spotlight for a bit! You're the greatest, my friend, no matter what the internet says about you ҉٩(*´︶`*)۶҉

    1. I am freaking honored to have you guesting on my blog, you are a true nerd rockstar my friend.

  4. Unlike other parents...I have been preparing my kids for events such as this one. Somehow, somewhere, kids seem to have lost the concept that what happens on the screen, big or small, is not reflective of what happens in real life. This is not the fault of Hollywood, nor is it the fault of the children. This rests squarely on the shoulders of the parents.

    Those parents that took that 7 year old to see Transformers? Got exactly what they deserve. They are just as naive as their daughter. To actually think for a second that Hollywood is going to give a rats ass about your child's upbringing shows the moronic side of any parent.

    When my kids were that age, I would preview all movies. I would carefully guard what went into my child's minds. And I would not afraid to talk to them about their perception of "cool" and "hip" and what their friends are doing and thinking. And I would never give them the answers. Instead, I made them think it through best they could. The old adage with kids is true. If you tell them, they'll fight you. If they say it...it's true.

    We are at that age in our existence where overprotecting are kids is bad. Just as bad as being neglectful to what they see and hear.

    1. I agree. I know I used a little girl to put my point on the story. However, m concern wasn't quite about what kids should or shouldn't see, as much as I was illustrating the idea that change starts in the little things. We can overlook the violence and the fact that this is Transformers for a second...and realize our ingrained attitudes about what's in a movie, and what that says about BOTH the makers and the watchers of a movie, when no one cries foul. There is a difference between stretching reality to include giant robots from outer space, and stretching it to make all women helpless, or all teenagers horny douches, at least in my eyes.

      Thank you for reading, and for your thoughtful personal commentary!


  5. The movie wasn't terrible; Transformers is full of action packed entertainment... but targeted toward teens and adults who aren't so impressionable. In addition to the negative points mentioned in the blog post above, the whole series is loaded with mature content. This latest installment had several scenes of violence and a rather gruesome death. Regardless of parenting skills, I feel Michael Bay's Transformers just isn't an appropriate film series for a 10-year-old & under audience, and despite its PG-13 rating, I personally would suggest it for ages 15+ only

    1. Not that anyone pays attention to ratings anymore...I personally wouldn't take a kid under 10 to a PG-13 movie these days. It's about what they can get away with and have the widest audience possible pay for the movie.

    2. Wow...I'm very happy that I had no plans to see this film...I have a big problem with them 'bitching' up the Transformers in so many ways. I prefer to remember them as they were. Thanks for a hilarious review, Ruth!

    3. You're very welcome, Stephanie! Glad you enjoyed.

  6. A lot of good points, especially around the age concern of the audience. Not sure if we should take movies too seriously as examples of how we might conduct ourselves. I'm picking on this line:

    "If we want to make our culture better, we need to get rid of the thinking and attitudes that make these slurs and insults commonplace."

    I think movies try to take aspects of life from things that are commonplace and around us. Lets be honest, we do say bad things on occasion. We must change and then movie chat will change. I think I'm trying to say it is the other way around.

    Still enjoyed your review and points of view. :)

    1. Thank you! I think I'm saying the same thing, though, since I believe art imitates life. The only way we'll stop seeing those kinds of things in our "movie culture" is if they decrease in our actual culture.