After months of speculation on who the “Fallen” was in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, who would’ve guessed that it’d be two slapstick sidekicks that would spark the real debate.
Skids and Mudflap are Transformers that speak in ebonics, or as I like to call them Ebonicons ™.
Voice actor Reno Wilson (Mudflap) describes them as “wannabe gangster types” who learned about human culture through the Web (thank the Allspark they didn’t visit Perez Hilton’s website).
Director Michael Bay defends the characters saying, “We’re just putting more personality in. I don’t know if it’s stereotypes – they are robots, by the way.” Yeah and all those infamous Looney Tunes cartoons, which had Bugs Bunny in black face, weren’t stereotypes either. After all, “he is a rabbit, by the way.”
And while one can argue Skids and Mudflap are just Transformers trying to “act” black, tiggers if you will, their impersonation is nonetheless defamatory. In one particularly offensive scene the caricatures shamefully confess that they are illiterate.
But these are far from the first racist robots. In an episode Robot Chicken a white scientist builds a robot with an afro, aptly named Afrobot. When switched on Afrobot inquires, “Where the white women at?” (clip @ Adult Swim) The difference, besides actually being funny, is that Robot Chicken is satire.
Just as with explosions Mr. Bay, there’s a time and place for racism and you’ve blown it again!