Sunday, February 6, 2011

More Than Meets the Eye: Transformers and Orientalism

The recent events in Egypt have given me a lot to think about the way we portray the Middle East in our popular culture. Thus, I started thinking about current films in particular Michael Bay's Transformers. I remember watching the opening of the film in a class about Theology and Culture. What I found remarkable is that the villains of the story emerge from the sands of the Middle East. Of course, what are the Decepticons? They are US military weapons (tanks, helicopters, jets, etc.). Then with the “All Sparks Cube” they are able to turn all US ingenuity against the US. Therefore, the Decepticons represent in many ways U.S. technology being turned against them. Furthermore, their origin in the Middle East speaks to the fear that those in that region will be able to acquire our technology and use it against us and our allies. This goes with the idea that those in that region are a barbaric people that need to be controlled. Thus any attempt to bring technological advances to their nation is met with friction from the West. Funny enough, this recent uprising in Egypt was partly due to Internet communication. Oddly enough the sequel places the robots in Egypt. Interesting indeed.

Matthew Jimenez is currently studying Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! I never noticed that. Do you think it was done on purpose? Do you think it matters?