ME, YOU, AND MICHAEL BAY
With the release of the trailer for Michael Bay’s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction a few weeks ago, people inundated my phone with texts, calls, and dick based snapchats. A few of my friends from the south were beyond stoked to see my red,white, and blue mug in another Michael Bay film. A couple of my old frat brothers were freaking out that I was working with their hero Marky Mark. But these few messages of support were drowned by a wave of disappointing texts and phone calls, most of which were drunkenly sent by my father. You see, I was something beyond a piece of fabric Michael Bay whips out to fulfill his patriotic fetishes. I once represented the singular hope Americans built their dreams upon, but now I’m nothing more than a cheap representation of our love for mind numbing blockbusters. And unfortunately, I’m just like you, I can’t quit Michael Bay and his $200 million dollar turds. As a matter of fact, my downtrodden life keeps me from escaping his toxic gravitas.
But I didn’t always resort to roles that were monetary based. At one point, I wanted to reach the same heights my father once did in the 60’s and 70’s. With a hungry heart and unbridled passion for film, I secured a gig as Flag #3 in the explosive television series “In the Heat of the Night”. It was 1988, and my colors were bright and exuberant, as I popped off the television screen and into’s America’s heart. My performance was so impressive, Oliver Stone cast me in one of his most controversial and powerful films: Born on the Fourth of July. Finally, I had made it. Not only was I under the guidance of Oliver Stone, but I had the opportunity to work with the magnetic Tom Cruise. Together, he and I explored the damage emanating from America’s participation in Vietnam. My gritty, searing performance was universally praised. Roger Ebert even went on to say that he hasn’t seen a flag “hang there” as well as I did.
My success in Born on the Fourth of July ultimately led to Oliver Stone casting me again in his magnum opus “JFK”, a film where I could truly stretch my stars as an integral piece to the film’s explosive courtroom scenes. Maintaining my artistic integrity was a vital piece of my identity, which is why I took on roles in relatively more dramatic films (e.g. A Few Good Men), but I wanted more than that. I wanted the lavish life style Hollywood promised all actors but only few achieved. Enter in The Rock, my first film with Michael Bay. Listen, I know The Rock isn’t a piece of high-caliber filmmaking, but it was a fun time that provided me with financial stability. Not to mention, it was kind of nice not laboring over intense scenes. Considering how much I enjoyed making the film, Bay quickly cast me in his next film Armageddon. And this is where things changed for me, as I went from a performance first flag to a money hungry, ego-maniacal performer.
I mean, shit, Bay put me on a pedestal. There hasn’t been a Michael Bay film where I wasn’t waving wildly within a handful of frames. My desire for challenging performances shriveled, as the seductive energy of Bay and Miami took hold of my very being. But after all the money, after all those shots of Megan Fox’s ass, I had an epiphany. While shooting a scene for Transformers 3, where Shia LaBeouf’s douchiness was merely cresting, I realized my life was hollow. Sure, I had the camera on me, but it meant nothing. I was nothing more than a prop used to illicit a positive response from the gargantuan domestic audience. In an attempt to rediscover who I was, I auditioned for a collection of smaller, more serious films ( Killing Them Softly and Zero Dark Thirty) that dissected America’s staggering troubles domestically and abroad . Needless to say, the thunder I once possessed didn’t bellow loud enough; my stars and stripes were muted. My years of laziness and gluttonous indulgences made me impervious to challenging material. Inevitably, brain-dead is all I can handle now. I rejected smart, refreshing, and exhilarating films for too long. Of course, this isn’t to say there aren’t worthwhile tentpole films working their way into our cinemas; it’s just that we have a tendency to support the Michael Bays of the world instead of the Guillermo del Toros. Now, here I sit, a slave to the blockbuster. Unfortunately, I’m just like you.