Look, I hate on Michael Bay as much as the next guy or gal. Almost every reputable film critic has called him a hack at some point or another. Insulting him is like shooting fish in a barrel (if you live in a community of fishermen armed with semi-automatic weapons and barrels full of fish).
But, with Transformers: Age of Extinction, his latest movie, coming out this Friday, likely to kick off another multi-billion dollar trilogy of 3-hour toy commercials, perhaps it's time to take another look at the man. He's become such an easy target, I didn't want to write an article like all the others about how awful a director and person he is. Instead, I decided to reconsider my resolve on Michael Bay. So, with 100% absolute impartiality, here are my 5 Reasons Why Michael Bay Is Not a Hack.
1. Michael Bay is smarter than you think
He attended Wesleyan University, a prestigious liberal arts college in Connecticut where he studied under famed film historian Jeanine Basinger. Other graduates from that program are Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), and Joss Whedon (The Avengers).
They are all critically praised, smart, and nuanced writers, so by the transitive property, so is Michael Bay.
2. Michael Bay is good at more than just action and explosions, he's practically a comedic genius
Sure he gets flack for his one-dimensional characters and nonsensical plotlines, but damned if he can't write some great comedy. Remember Shia Labeouf's parents from the Transformers movies? Remember how hilarious it was when his mom asked him if he was masturbating, oh, or when she accidentally ate a pot brownie? How about when that one transformer had testicles? I can't stop laughing just thinking about that. Sure the prevalent homophobic jokes seem a little out of date, but those giant robot testicles? Brilliant!
Without this novel comedic relief to give the audience a break from the eye-popping action, people literally would not be able to sit through an entire Michael Bay movie.
3. Michael Bay is not racist
Michael Bay has gotten a lot of flack for his portrayal of characters as racist stereotypes (particularly Black, Asian, and Latino side characters). However, making Ken Jeong play an Asian caricature with a thick accent is nothing new. Critics say that the characters Mudflap and Skids from Transformers 2 were nothing but crude black stereotypes, an accusation not helped by the characters' gold teeth and illiteracy. However, while one of those characters is voiced by Black actor Reno Wilson, the other is voiced by white actor Tom Kenny (the voice of Spongebob), so problem solved.
Still not convinced Michael Bay is not racist? The Bad Boys films have TWO black leads, so... that doesn't happen too often, I guess.
4. Michael Bay is a strong supporter of women
Sure every woman in a Michael Bay film is objectified at some point or another, either with extended close ups on their body if they are a super model, or jokes made at the expense of women deemed overweight. And that's not even touching on the way female characters are treated by the male protagonists, or even when Megan Fox was replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whitley in a manner that suggested that women are interchangeable. They say sex sells, but that's not why he does it.
My conclusion is that Michael Bay is actually a feminist merely using exploitation of women as a means to deliver nuanced commentary to the masses about the unfair gender roles given to women by society.
5. Michael Bay's films speak to audiences all over the world
The final reason Michael Bay is not a hack can best be summed up in the thought provoking words of the artist himself:
"I love it when people get really mean and call you a 'hack'. It's like, don't they see how well these movies are doing? They make an impression around the world. I met this guy in Bali who lives in a hut with a TV, and he loved The Rock. That means something, doesn't it?"
So there you have it, Michael Bay could not possibly be a hack, because f*** you, he's successful!