The Conservatism of Michael Bay
Michael Bay is one of Hollywood's leading action directors. He is known to portray high octane action movies filled with heavy gun fights and tons of explosions. Many of his movies have earned millions of dollars at the box office both domestically and internationally, his recent ones being the Transformer movies. Because of that, he is sought after by many of Hollywood's producers to make more action movies.
I have seen all of Michael Bay's movies and enjoyed every bit of it. Of course, he is without his critics. Some critics, including Roger Ebert, blasts Bay's films as being amateurish. But for me, Michael Bay is the very embodiment of what Hollywood action movies should be as it progresses in the future. In truth, Michael Bay is just one awesome movie director. Lately, I have been observing closely at the themes Bay puts in his films. It may not look like the very theme that I will put down, but it certainly comes to the conclusion when I make the observations. Those themes are patriotism, friendship, family, and committed relationships. Especially the theme of patriotism. In today's Hollywood movies, there has been a whole range of films being made that are anti-American and anti-patriotism, especially since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, where Hollywood made tons of movies dealing with that event by proclaiming that the war is wrong, we have no business going there, that we're only there for the oil instead of liberating the Iraqi people, and Bush is a warmonger and if you support Bush and the Iraq war then you support a government that commits real acts of terror. Films such as Rendition, Lions for Lambs, Stop-Loss and Green Zone have dealt with this particular issue. Not only that, films have been made to mock traditional American conservative values such as family, faith, the free market, and individual freedom. But for Michael Bay, it seems that he has managed to make films that tend to be conservative while being surrounded by many known Hollywood liberal elites.
With that kind of observation, I will now lend my views about how Bay's movies tend to be conservative. It may not sound conservative but it certainly leads to that conclusion. The first movie would be Bad Boys.
In Bad Boys, the simple plot is that two street-wise cops are on the trail of a drug deal that is taking place in Miami and it is up to them to stop and arrest the drug dealers. In this movie, we learn that the two cops have been high school friends and partners in the Miami PD. But often, they resort to bickering against each other about their lives and about their past. In one scene, Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett are driving around Miami and bickering about Mike's privileged life. Even though he was born with privilege, Mike frustratingly reminds Marcus that it was him who chose to learn and live life on the streets and that he still had to work his way up through school, in the end telling Marcus to shut the (bleep) up. Which goes to show that even though many people are born into a privilege life, individuals still have the freedom to decide their own fate. Another scene involves Marcus trying to deal with his family while being pressured in his job. We see that Marcus is doing everything he can to let the family stay afloat and we see his loyalty to his wife. Even though managing his family can be stressful, we see him expecting to have a good nights rest with his family. Throughout this movie, we see that the police are the good guys and drug dealers are the bad guys. And no matter how big the police cases can be, cops get the job done.
The next movie would be The Rock. In this film, a top Army general has gone rogue and hires a group of mercenaries to steal a top secret and dangerous chemical weapon. The mission is to put San Francisco at high risk by threatening to detonate the weapon if their demands are not met by the US Government. Nicholas Cage's character, a rookie FBI agent and chemical weapons expert, is summoned by the government to try to dismantle the weapon. The only problem is he has never been put on a mission that involves guns and the military. Even better, he is partnered with a rogue British agent, played by Sean Connery, that has been imprisoned for many years because of obtaining classified documents, even photos that reveal on who shot John F. Kennedy. Despite their different backgrounds, the two men must work together to set off on a dangerous course to try to stop the mercenaries from poisoning San Francisco, where one will simply dismantle the bomb and the other will just shoot up the bad guys. While it may seem that this movie is portraying US soldiers as evil, it's much more than that. In fact, the motive of the rogue Army general was to honor his fallen men who died in battle because when they died, they were not offered the proper benefits and no military burial. With that kind of motive, we see that the antagonist is actually an honorable man who valued his soldiers and their families and just wanted to do the right thing for them. In one scene, one of the mercenaries faces off against the general and demands the money from him. The general refuses and reveals that there was no money to begin with and since the government is hot on their trail, he tries to shut down operations. But unfortunately, the mercenaries we're really in for the money with no regards for human life and that pisses them off, sending them into a shoot out where in the end, the general dies. In another part of the story, Nicholas Cage's character's girlfriend end up being pregnant. She gives the news to him and then asks for his hand in marriage. It's a total surprise and shock so he starts thinking about it, reassuring to her that he still loves her. In another scene, while having sex on the roof of his apartment, he gets the call to go on the mission and after that, by the disappointment of his girlfriend, finally gives the approval of marrying her, showing that the idea of marriage is an important factor in a relationship between a man and a woman with their birth child, also showing that marriage is the smartest move a couple can make. This movie can at times be senseless in terms of the action scenes but there is no doubt this movie puts an emphasis on how important it is to honor the fallen men and women in combat who has served their country and sacrificed everything that they held dear just so that other people can live freely.
Armageddon is a clear cut patriotic American movie where NASA will be the sole savior of Earth on an on-coming asteroid that will wipe out civilization.The movie relies heavily on details regarding NASA space technology. But it also puts a bit of Hollywood fantasy on what NASA has in their technological disposal. Straight to the point, America will save the day and it will be handled by a bunch of hard nosed oil drilling workers who have no experience in space exploration. But the reason why NASA chose them is because the solution to defeating the asteroid is to drill a hole to the core, plant a nuclear bomb in it, detonate it, and the asteroid will split passing Earth. And no one can do it better than the oil drillers. We see in this movie that it is not fancy scientists or dedicated military heroes with great credentials or neither the astronauts with experience themselves who are relied upon but instead the rough and ready oil drilling men in an overseas platform. In one scene, Bruce Willis is seen swinging golf balls during his break at a bunch of Greenpeace protesters, implying that Greenpeace only waste their time protesting, while the oil drillers are trying to make a living for themselves and for others who rely on oil everyday. In the end of the movie, when the men gets ready to detonate the bomb, the scene then revolves around many ordinary Americans getting ready to see the explosion and one of the compilation shows a huge American flag. The American men destroy the asteroid, land safely on Earth and are treated as a heroes welcome. So the movie portrays America as the savior of the world once again and Michael Bay portrays it with reverence and awe.
The next movie is Pearl Harbor. Although it receive some flacks for not accurately portraying the historical context of the bombings, it shows the men fighting back against the Japanese aggression. It does focus a great deal on the romance between Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, and Kate Beckinsale. That would be understandable on why it got some criticisms, but the movie shows heroism and and the brave men who fought the surprise attack and gave their life to prevent the Japanese aggression into moving further across the Pacific.
Bad Boys 2 would be made again with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the action. Different story, same theme. Drug dealer is on the loose, the duo cops put a stop to it.
The Island is a movie about an underground colony of clones who don't even know that the outside world is livable because of being brainwashed into thinking the Earth's atmosphere is poisoned. It is revealed that the underground clone colony is actually a harvesting ground for new organs for the clients that allowed the company to make clones after them. When the clones has grown fully healthy, they are then chosen in a lottery to be transferred in a fictional island that has not been affected by the fictional poisoned atmosphere. In reality, each chosen ones are put in a different facility where they get killed and their organs are taken. Sometimes, women clones give birth to a baby and then get executed, hence the one scene that shows a woman clone being executed after giving birth to a baby but reveals that clone's other self, the client, being given the baby, implying that the client was barren from having children. The movie makes a clear point about the value of human life. It should never be treated as a product. This is a social conservative view and many conservatives hold the position of being pro-life when it comes to abortion.
The ultimate Michael Bay movie franchise, Transformers, are ones that conservatives will enjoy watching. Not only does Michael Bay continue to up his ante on his extravagant action scenes, but he makes it a clear picture about America being the only nation that has the technological capabilities in helping the gigantic robot aliens, the Autobots, fight the Decepticons. Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, makes it his goal to help the humans fight for their freedom from the tyrannical invasion of Megatron, leader of the Decepticons. The US military is in full force in helping the fight. In the end of the first movie, Megatron belittles Optimus for helping the tiny humans fight. But Optimus reminds him that the humans have every right to live their own lives and not be bothered. In the second movie, the US government and the military creates a new branch of operations where the Autobots can work together with humans in monitoring and preparing for another invasion, thus showing the mighty power of the United States in fighting against alien invasions. In the beginning of the second movie, the action starts with a few Decepticons and a few Autobots fighting each other in China, particularly in Shanghai. What happens is that it makes lots of damages and destruction to the city. I don't know myself if that was a statement against Chinese infiltration in America, but it certainly reigned destruction over there. In any case, on the third movie, the final battle between the two robot races takes place in Chicago, and in my view, it is the most conservative Transformers movie to date. Released at the time when NASA launched its final space shuttle and shutting down space exploration indefinitely, the movie begins with NASA doing everything in its power to prevent panic among the population about possible threatening alien lifeforms when the astronauts finds a spaceship stranded on the surface of the moon. It uses all their advance equipment to try to protect Earth, thus showing NASA as the most powerful space agency in the world. In another scene, Shia LaBoeuf's character receives a medal from President Obama for his heroism for fighting against the Decepticons. But once he graduates from college and goes out to find a better job, he goes to one company, has an interview and then mentions about getting a medal from President Obama. When the interviewer hears that, he rejects him and tells him that they are a Republican place, thus implying that Obama's reward is worthless. Probably mocking his work in my opinion. Then in the scene where the Autobots, thought to be dead from a spaceship explosion, return to help on the final battle, Optimus Prime starts saying that the battle for freedom is right on our tracks. In one battle scene, the Decepticons are shooting at the Autobots and there is a statue of the Founding Fathers in the way. The interesting part of it is that even though it is getting shot, the statue never breaks. I believe that scene showed the respect of the Founding Fathers and implying the "strength" of them.
With all the movies mentioned above and describing as much as possible the conservatism of them based on my observation, there is no doubt Michael Bay holds conservative beliefs. He has not mentioned his politics in public but I could be sure that he is a conservative. If he revealed in the end that he is a liberal, that would be okay because his work has lifted up the American spirit.