A Defence of Good Writing - How Sad It Needs One

Transformers: Dark of the Moon came out recently, fulfilling two predictions I made earlier.  First, that the movie would make ludicrous amounts of money.  And second, that it would be a bad movie.

Not the most difficult of predictions, admittedly.

The Transformers franchise hasn't usually been known for its challenging and thought-provoking storytelling skills, but relative to their contemporaries the Michael Bay Transformers films are lucky to rank with the poor dub and extremely lazy animation of the Unicron Trilogy.  And frankly, its sexuality is so juvenile and shameless that they're barely more credible than that great shame of the Transformers franchise, Kiss Players.  These films are terrible from any objective standpoint, varying between the lazy but largely satisfying summer blockbuster Transformers to the utterly inexcusable Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which was so bad even the film's star, Shia LaBoeuf, and director Michael Bay admitted it after the fact.  Plot, characterization, internal and inter-film continuity, none of them appear to have been any kind of a concern for those behind these movies.  And the only thing more frustrating than that is that a large subset of the nerd community seems to have no problem whatsoever with that.

The response has often been that of course they're bad movies, they're 'turn off your brain' summer blockbusters, or they're based on a stupid cartoon from the eighties.  And while the Transformers films have been somewhat more notable for this kind of response, it's not uncommon for nerd-friendly genre properties.  Ghost Rider, Green Lantern, the Fantastic Four, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, et cetera, et cetera; all pretty poorly constructed movies from any particularly objective measure, and all possessed of fierce defenders who either downplay or excuse their lack of quality.  And while these films, and those like them, all have their own unique defenders with their own unique defenses, the more I hear the more it seems that they're all saying the same thing; sure, maybe these movies aren't great, but at least we got to see [X] on the big screen, and hey, that's great.

This man, at least, would agree with that.

Does this betray a certain sense of inferiority?  I can't help but wonder.  The argument seems to be predicated entirely on the idea that fans should be grateful for any scrap tossed their way, and that's not a mindset I can agree with.  If a nerd-friendly property has become big enough to attract the funding of a major studio, then it should be big enough to get a little respect.  And nerd properties are getting very big, indeed.  Iron Man, Thor, Batman, The Walking Dead, A Game of Thrones, The Sword of Truth, all respectful adaptations of nerd-friendly properties that went on to be both critical and commercial successes.  Marvel is building at least a six-picture deal around The Avengers, both individually and as a whole!  The Dark Knight made a billion dollars when it was released to the home market! There's literally no reason not to put the extra effort into a nerd-friendly property, given the tremendous rewards already demonstrated, and yet time and again we get, not a Dark Knight or Iron Man, but a Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, or an I, Robot, or a Jonah Hex.  Or, heck, anything ever made by Uwe Boll. 

Or Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

AKA - Transformers: It's Mostly About Humans.

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