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Old 06-24-2009, 09:12 PM   #1
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Racist Transformers?

Harmless comic characters or racist robots? The buzz over the summer blockbuster "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" only grew Wednesday as some said two jive-talking Chevy characters were racial caricatures.

Skids and Mudflap, twin robots disguised as compact hatchbacks, constantly brawl and bicker in rap-inspired street slang. They're forced to acknowledge that they can't read. One has a gold tooth.

As good guys, they fight alongside the Autobots and are intended to provide comic relief. But their traits raise the specter of stereotypes most notably seen when Jar Jar Binks, the clumsy, broken-English speaking alien from "Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace," was criticized as a caricature.

One fan called the Transformers twins "Jar Jar Bots" in a blog post online.

Todd Herrold, who watched the movie in New York City, called the characters "outrageous."

"It's one thing when robot cars are racial stereotypes," he said, "but the movie also had a bucktoothed black guy who is briefly in one scene who's also a stereotype."

"They're like the fools," said 18-year-old Nicholas Govede, also of New York City. "The comic relief in a degrading way."

Not all fans were offended. Twin brothers Jason and William Garcia, 18, who saw the movie in Miami, said they related to the characters not their illiteracy, but their bickering.

"They were hilarious," Jason said. "Every movie has their standout character, and I think they were the ones for this movie."

In Atlanta, Rico Lawson said people were reading too much into the characters. "It was actually funny," said Lawson, 25, who saw the movie with his girlfriend in Atlanta.

That was the aim, director Michael Bay said in an interview.

"It's done in fun," he said. "I don't know if it's stereotypes they are robots, by the way. These are the voice actors. This is kind of the direction they were taking the characters and we went with it."

Bay said the twins' parts "were kind of written but not really written, so the voice actors is when we started to really kind of come up with their characters."

Actor Reno Wilson, who is black, voices Mudflap. Tom Kenny, the white actor behind SpongeBob SquarePants, voices Skids.

Wilson said Wednesday that he never imagined viewers might consider the twins to be racial caricatures. When he took the role, he was told that the alien robots learned about human culture through the Web and that the twins were "wannabe gangster types."

"It's an alien who uploaded information from the Internet and put together the conglomeration and formed this cadence, way of speaking and body language that was accumulated over X amount of years of information and that's what came out," the 40-year-old actor said. "If he had uploaded country music, he would have come out like that."

It's not fair to assume the characters are black, he said.

"It could easily be a Transformer that uploaded Kevin Federline data," Wilson said. "They were just like posers to me."

Kenny did not respond to an interview request Wednesday.

"I purely did it for kids," the director said. "Young kids love these robots, because it makes it more accessible to them."

Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman said they followed Bay's lead in creating the twins. Still, the characters aren't integral to the story, and when the action gets serious, they disappear entirely, notes Tasha Robinson, associate entertainment editor at The Onion.

"They don't really have any positive effect on the film," she said. "They only exist to talk in bad ebonics, beat each other up and talk about how stupid each other is."

Hollywood has a track record of using negative stereotypes of black characters for comic relief, said Todd Boyd, a professor of popular culture at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, who has not seen the "Transformers" sequel.

"There's a history of people getting laughs at the expense of African-Americans and African-American culture," Boyd said. "These images are not completely divorced from history even though it's a new movie and even though they're robots and not humans."

American cinema also has a tendency to deal with race indirectly, said Allyson Nadia Field, an assistant professor of cinema and media studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"There's a persistent dehumanization of African-Americans throughout Hollywood that displaces issues of race onto non-human entities," said Field, who also hasn't seen the film. "It's not about skin color or robot color. It's about how their actions and language are coded racially."

If these characters weren't animated and instead played by real black actors, "then you might have to admit that it's racist," Robinson said. "But stick it into a robot's mouth, and it's just a robot, it's OK."

But if they're alien robots, she continued, "why do they talk like bad black stereotypes?"

Bay brushes off any whiff of controversy.

"Listen, you're going to have your naysayers on anything," he said. "It's like is everything going to be melba toast? It takes all forms and shapes and sizes."


-From the AP via Yahoo! News

Racist transformers? Really? Aren't we beyond this petty crap yet?


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Old 06-24-2009, 09:27 PM   #2
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I'm surprised that people are paying attention at this incident in particular, when there's many other racial stereotypes subconsciously sprinkled throughout the media. It's probably due to the reason why it's a black stereotype, which is ultra-taboo, whereas Hispanic and Asian stereotypes are more frequent and played-down.

Either way, I'd thought that everyone would just be paying attention to the plastic Megan Fox and the eternally-transforming transformers.
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:33 PM   #3
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I don't know why...but this kind of stuff just irritates me to no end. It just seems that you can hardly say or do anything anymore without offending somebody. I hate it, and frankly I'm tired of it. I'm not saying that hate words should be thrown around just for fun or anything like that. It just seems to me that there's being racist and there's, in this case, trying to get people to laugh at a movie. I mean where does the "oh my delicate sensibilities are offended" stuff come to an end?

I swear if Al Sharpton starts a petition to get the movie banned I may just cry.


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Old 06-24-2009, 09:38 PM   #4
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hahahahahahahahah

This is a movie, people. Get. Over. It.

for some people, this is their life. they should get new ones.
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Old 06-24-2009, 11:59 PM   #5
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No offense to Prime, but this movie's reviews have been just awful, aside from this issue.


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Old 06-25-2009, 12:48 AM   #6
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And Political Correctness strikes again!

It's just the same thing that one of my friends told me (much to my disillusionment):
"Did you notice that in the Dark Knight that you only ever see the Joker kill black people? Do you think that's racism?"

I'm most definitely not a racist guy and I don't put up with racism...but I draw the line when people just get overly politically correct and just find something to complain about just to complain...it's the same thing with this Transformers garbage...

It's just like complaining that devil's food cake is racist because it's dark...just another thing to complain about...

I think people just need to relax and enjoy the movie for what it is...pure mindless summer entertainment.



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Old 06-25-2009, 01:31 AM   #7
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I thought they were a hoot, and that the movie was pretty good. Sure, it wasn't quite as good as the first, and it was no blockbuster, but an enjoyable movie for fans of the series.

In any case, I thought the 'bot personalities were a bit lame, but fun and enjoyable, yes I can understand the cultural stereotypes written into them, but still, people need to take a look at themselves before they start bashing others. If your culture sets itsself up for parody(which most do), be prepared to be made fun of. And while you're at it, laugh at yourself.


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Old 06-25-2009, 02:20 AM   #8
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@ Thread subject: I wonder if people don't sit around all day looking for this crap just to play the race card. It's such a cop out.

How many other racial stereotypes do we see nowadays?

Yes, it is tragic what happened and nobody is trying to justify its happening. However, nobody alive today in America was a slave, nor an owner of slaves. Not everyone white is a descendant of slave owners, either. There also were many other races and creeds mistreated in the past in America's history. :migrane:

Let's not burn it in, now.

Ooh, it's promoting caricatures and stereotypes. No kidding. People will learn over time that the world is wider than narrow stereotypes. Well, at least most reasonably bright people anyways.


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Originally Posted by TriggerGod View Post
hahahahahahahahah

This is a movie, people. Get. Over. It.

for some people, this is their life. they should get new ones.
Yeah, I agree. However it's kinda hard to want to hire these rejects. I wonder if they're bipolar.

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And Political Correctness strikes again!

It's just the same thing that one of my friends told me (much to my disillusionment):
"Did you notice that in the Dark Knight that you only ever see the Joker kill black people? Do you think that's racism?"

I'm most definitely not a racist guy and I don't put up with racism...but I draw the line when people just get overly politically correct and just find something to complain about just to complain...it's the same thing with this Transformers garbage...

It's just like complaining that devil's food cake is racist because it's dark...just another thing to complain about...

I think people just need to relax and enjoy the movie for what it is...pure mindless summer entertainment.
QFT.
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:12 AM   #9
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Jar-Jar Binks. Apparently he is also a racial stereotype of Jamaicans... I would not have realized unless someone told me.

Thats the thing. Jar-Jar was an ALIEN. The Twins are ROBOTS. I thought Jar-Jar was just clumsy, and that the Twins were just human machines with a stupid street personality.

Black? Really?

The thing about racial stereotypes is that they need to be pointed out to be stereotypes. I'd argue that those saying "The twins are black!" are the real racists here, as they are the ones perpetuating the stereotype by aknowleding certain trats to be of a race. The culturally senstivive people are just ironic racists.

I -might- have, but I doubt I would have looked to my friends and said "Are they black?" Sure, we might have made some street jokes, but I didn't think they were making fun of African Americans. I, personally, thought they were the third funniest part of that movie (Sam's Mom and Jetfire being the funniest) and thought it was great slapstick.

The people who point this stuff out are racist in their own way, and should be given as much credit as true racists.
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:39 AM   #10
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Jar Jar was Played by Ahmed best, an African American... My guess is he came up with the accent all by himself, do you really think George said "Ok Ahmed I want you to act all stupid and Jamaican, really play on the stereotypes Brother, action". I'd like to know if the voice actor's who played these robots were Black themselves, kinda makes the point moot if they were. "Whitey made me Mock myself and my race, and the Public loved it ". bored now.


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Old 06-25-2009, 05:00 AM   #11
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I have to ask the saem question of whether we are over our petty crap like this and the answer is...no. As others have pointed out, it seems like these people are being overly PC or as my friends joke, PPC. The twins I thought were funny and the way they fought reminded me more of the sibling fights I used to have with my brother. As to them being stereotypical, please. Of course not a lot of people have my gift/curse of being able to recall movie lines and details verbatim and I figured that they were reflecting how the autobots learned Earth's languages...the Internet. Heck I don't even recall anyone saying anything about Jax from the first Transformers and his attitude.

If we are going to talk about stereotypes, why not talk about IronHide and his trigger happy personality. Hell I've seen quite a bit of that on shows and it is amusing that he become Dirty Harry.

As to those "experts" who haven't seen the movie, watch it first before making a comment. Yeah Hollywood does have a track record of type casting ethnicities. Heck the Arab is always the terrorist, the Mexican a cholo and the Black a gangsta. We can let it bother us and consume our minds rather than facing the dark days coming because of the economic crisis or we can just accept the film and if you don't like it fine, don't try to grab the 15 min of fame because you claim racism. If anything, watch the film first and make judgments later. Those experts may know their field but they don't know the individual film.

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Old 06-25-2009, 11:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Racist transformers? Really? Aren't we beyond this petty crap yet?
Obviously not. Actually, I still don't get it why so many people hate Jar Jar Binks so much.

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And Political Correctness strikes again!
I think paraphrasing Mr. Robin Williams can best explain my opinion on being PC: "It's OK to bomb the crap out of 'em, but don't do any racial jokes."

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Old 06-25-2009, 07:54 PM   #13
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^hahaha I love that quote

I just saw the movie...if I hadn't seen this thread...I would have thought that it was just some dumb comic relief...not racism...



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Old 06-25-2009, 08:09 PM   #14
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Bah, this is absolutely nothing compared to...



Show spoiler



Overt prejudice was so much more prevalent (not to mention real as opposed to imagined) in the 80's.


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Old 06-25-2009, 09:08 PM   #15
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^Hahahahaha wow...that's absolutely epic.



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Old 06-25-2009, 11:14 PM   #16
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No worse than the cartoon it was based on, as Qliveur pointed out. This IS based on an 80's toon, with all the politically incorrect cheez-whiz that implies. Much as I love the action-adventure animation of the 80's, it often had some questionable taste in humor and content. (Anyone ELSE have those infamous Thundercat outtakes?)

From what I understand, Bay gave these two voice actors a character sketch and let them cut loose. When it comes to instutional racism and sexism, we've got bigger targets to attack than two voice actors goofing off.


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Old 06-25-2009, 11:22 PM   #17
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No worse than the cartoon it was based on, as Qliveur pointed out. This IS based on an 80's toon, with all the politically incorrect cheez-whiz that implies. Much as I love the action-adventure animation of the 80's, it often had some questionable taste in humor and content. (Anyone ELSE have those infamous Thundercat outtakes?)
Which we trade off the questionably politically incorrect humor of the 80's for the superbly moronic humor of the 90's and 2000's which is strongly fixed on anything that comes out of your rear as humor.


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Old 06-26-2009, 02:02 AM   #18
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Ah Web.

Well, opinions vary as to the distaste. Certainly something of objection more than just PC would get a larger outcry.

Either it was concentrated on "hind" sight, or on simply how stupid one could be.
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Old 06-26-2009, 01:08 PM   #19
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Im sick of all this Political Correctness
QFT!!!


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Old 06-26-2009, 05:52 PM   #20
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Incidentally, moaning about politicall corectnes has become very politically correct(at least around here), and just as anoying.

MTS:quoted for truth or post count +1
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Old 06-26-2009, 08:36 PM   #21
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Don't yah just hate people and how stupid they are?



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Old 06-26-2009, 09:04 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Don't yah just hate people and how stupid they are?
No. Comes with the territory.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Web Rider
Which we trade off the questionably politically incorrect humor of the 80's for the superbly moronic humor of the 90's and 2000's which is strongly fixed on anything that comes out of your rear as humor.
Not into the potty humor, eh? That does seem to be at the top of the list for laugh lobbying at the theater, which has never really bother me much - I guess I am just that crass and boorish.

I do think this PCism is moronic, and has been for a good long bit. All of the PC has never stopped me from speaking my mind, for better or worse result.

Who is offended most by this? Old black people or young whites?
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Old 06-26-2009, 11:13 PM   #23
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^The only people offended by it aren't the ones that could be offended...



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Old 06-30-2009, 09:33 PM   #24
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I am not against political correctness. I think it's healthy. I am so sick and tired of people who go on anti-pc tirades and think they can get away with abusing our freedom speech and offend whomever they want. This is not the case. In this country you have the right to say whatever bile, stupid, ignorant, thing you want, and that's okay. However, we have the right to tell you to st*u. Freedom of speech protects you against retaliation from the government, not from individuals. However, there is such a thing as being too overly pc. I think this whole thing is ridiculous, same as with The Phantom Menace, it's obviously meant in good fun and we all have to laugh at ourselves once in a while. People need to lighten up.
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Old 06-30-2009, 09:42 PM   #25
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Frankly, I'm sick and tired of people who you can barely talk to because you might offend them. I think that in the last decade the United States has gone so overboard with and right off the deep end of the pc spectrum. It's absolutely insane and this goes right in with things that irritate the living you know what out of me.


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Old 06-30-2009, 10:10 PM   #26
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People who really have problems with politically correctness usually do so because they feel they're being restricted from expressing their own prejudices against a certain group of people. It is not okay to call someone a n*gger or say that all muslims are terrorists. You have the freedom to say it but that won't stop me from putting you in your place. Those are just two examples of real prejudism. What we have to do is distinguish that from just joking around. The Transformers thing was innocent and even kinda corny. It's an outdated stereotype and I see no reason why people should be up in arms over that.
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:19 PM   #27
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People who really have problems with politically correctness usually do so because they feel they're being restricted from expressing their own prejudices against a certain group of people. It is not okay to call someone a n*gger or say that all muslims are terrorists. You have the freedom to say it but that won't stop me from putting you in your place. Those are just two examples of real prejudism. What we have to do is distinguish that from just joking around. The Transformers thing was innocent and even kinda corny. It's an outdated stereotype and I see no reason why people should be up in arms over that.
I'm not sure if you're implying that I'm prejudiced in some way or not...I stand by my statement that the United States has become overly sensitive, and frankly ought to lighten up. The divide between joking and real hate/racism/prejudice which you refer to seems to be virtually nonexistent in this country.


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Old 06-30-2009, 10:39 PM   #28
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Well, I meant that in general but I guess it can apply to you as well. The keyword is usually. I'm not saying you're prejudiced but most people who think that way usually are.

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The divide between joking and real hate/racism/prejudice which you refer to seems to be virtually nonexistent in this country.
Are you kidding? That is really nave. While I agree that racism isnt as rampant as it used to be there is still a lot of it out there. Most of it seems to be directed at our president at the moment.
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:40 PM   #29
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What I meant by the divide being nonexistent is that there seems to be an overwhelming number of people that can't or won't distinguish a joke from true racism or hate.


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Old 06-30-2009, 10:55 PM   #30
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I don't think that's true. Most reasonable people can distinguish a joke from true racism and hatred. However, some jokes are blatanly racist and hateful and not really funny at all. People just use the excuse of just joking around to get away with it.
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Old 06-30-2009, 11:00 PM   #31
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I will give you that some people do use jokes as an excuse..,I actually find that it happens quite a bit here in Texas...I actually heard someone refer to President Obama as the "Muslim Antichrist"

That was from a woman that works at a hospital...she's very nice...but also apparently very prejudiced.


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Old 07-01-2009, 01:55 AM   #32
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@ SW:TPM issue, actually to shed light on this, I remember a college english assignment specifically critiquing one of the very critics who made that distinction. I'm sorry I cannot find it right now.

Basically that it caricatures and stereotypes, and that it is a powerful, but subconscious, teaching tool. While I agree with that generally, and that it could be a bad thing...I did not see such a thing going on in TPM. In a hero man type story such as SW typically is, it is common to see stereotypes and perhaps caricatures, but I detected nothing that was particularly "labeling" about it to set generations of the future against one group of people or another. (Maybe I'm just uninformed?)

I was a teen and I didn't really think much of any of the following. Though I will say that when my father saw it in the theater with me and the rest of our family and friends, he did say that Darth Maul personified the devil to him--at least Maul's face and dimeanor reminded him of the devil.

I think it went something like this:
JarJar=Rastafarian Jamaican
Supposedly getting people to ridicule blacks for illiteracy and clumsiness--perhaps a lack of common sense.

I thought it was just a goofy outcast with perhaps not a lot of intelligence, but a good heart. While the ears might look like dreadlocks if you look at it like that, I never got this from jarjar. If it is against blacks then how do you explain Captain Panaka? Mace Windu? Flawed argument.

Trent= Trent Lott?
Nute Gunrey=Newt Gingrich?
Their outfits looking like that of a real arch bishop.
Supposedly to set you against republicans for being greedy and demonize catholics for making a deal with Darth Sidious (AKA satan).

I just thought it was a couple of squabbling creatures who value droids and wealth more than life--whose mothers probably don't like them either. I'm a fairly conservative (independent) guy, actually. These two don't seem to cut close to who I am, politically or otherwise as a free marketeer. Or beliefs wise.
They might fit a more modern republican stereotype, but I'm willing to believe republicans weren't always like that--like the ones you never see anymore who were about fiscal responsibility instead of $$$. (My late grandfather I never met.) Or even Abe Lincoln. Another flawed argument.

Watto=anti arabic/simetic on tattooine
Supposedly, as a slave holder and a merchant in a desert that was home to the chosen one in his earlier years, Watto was a caricature of merchants in the desert (middle east areas where Jesus Christ lived?) who was anti simetic if you wanted to interpret it as jewish, anti arab if you don't.

Personally, I thought the voice was more italian and he was more bird like, perhaps some reptile and equestrian. Ok, so ya got me there--greedy merchant. He's out in the middle of nowhere selling junk to everyone--DUH!
I have iranian friends--never even crossed my mind when seeing watto. Not once. Fail argument.

Darth Maul=satanic imagery, the devil
Supposedly against the obvious (or for glamorizing it I guess if you liked him).

While yes the similarities are striking, I would say that it does not set one against or for satanists any more than already existed in one's mind. I do believe, though, that uncle George did in fact use the satanic bible and elements in creating more life about the Sith. (This is purely speculation though!) Furthermore I believe the typified "demon" as the villain very effectively sends the message of bad guy where nations are heavily Christian. So a bit of reaching out to a target audience. Besides, I've never really met a good hearted satanist, not who was for reals about it anyway.

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Originally Posted by DarthAwesome View Post
I don't think that's true. Most reasonable people can distinguish a joke from true racism and hatred. However, some jokes are blatanly racist and hateful and not really funny at all. People just use the excuse of just joking around to get away with it.
True enough, I guess. Seems like that's how it slips through the cracks. Sharp catch.

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Originally Posted by DarthAwesome View Post
I am not against political correctness. I think it's healthy. I am so sick and tired of people who go on anti-pc tirades and think they can get away with abusing our freedom speech and offend whomever they want.
I am against it, not because it necessarily stops anyone from speaking, but that reactions, responses, or lack thereof an acknowledgement could be interpreted as hatred. Or that basically saying something is such and such because it might be hateful. I could even see this being the case for constructive criticism.

Quote:
This is not the case. In this country you have the right to say whatever bile, stupid, ignorant, thing you want, and that's okay. However, we have the right to tell you to st*u.
Another reason I'm against it. Don't censor it, so that way you shove your foot all the way in your mouth--and I can bag on you for being a moron.

Quote:
Freedom of speech protects you against retaliation from the government, not from individuals. However, there is such a thing as being too overly pc. I think this whole thing is ridiculous, same as with The Phantom Menace, it's obviously meant in good fun and we all have to laugh at ourselves once in a while. People need to lighten up.
Ok, fair enough. I would actually call it common decency, not PC. Western Justice.

Pettiness and sensitivity to "say this", "don't say that" is what I call PC. Guess it just goes to show that no 2 view any one thing the same.

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What I meant by the divide being nonexistent is that there seems to be an overwhelming number of people that can't or won't distinguish a joke from true racism or hate.
I'll say that a distinction needs to be made but rather with care.
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:12 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarthAwesome View Post
I am not against political correctness. I think it's healthy. I am so sick and tired of people who go on anti-pc tirades and think they can get away with abusing our freedom speech and offend whomever they want. This is not the case. In this country you have the right to say whatever bile, stupid, ignorant, thing you want, and that's okay. However, we have the right to tell you to st*u. Freedom of speech protects you against retaliation from the government, not from individuals. However, there is such a thing as being too overly pc. I think this whole thing is ridiculous, same as with The Phantom Menace, it's obviously meant in good fun and we all have to laugh at ourselves once in a while. People need to lighten up.
I don't think people should "abuse" their freedom of speech...but I think that things like this "racist transformers" takes PC a little too far...it's just complaining to complain.



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Old 07-02-2009, 01:13 AM   #34
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Some people just have a natural talent for finding the negative side in everything.
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Old 07-02-2009, 09:11 PM   #35
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^Exactly.



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Old 07-03-2009, 12:29 AM   #36
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You know what I say to people who find racism, sexism, etc. in everything (or rather what I'm going to say if I find someone in my area who actually does it)? If you really want to fight social injustice, go to ****ing North Korea, Myanmar, Sudan, or the so-called Democratic Republic of the Congo where you have genocide, mass slaughter, government-institutionalized rape of women, and mass starvation and until then don't walk into a movie theater and complain that a couple of fictional alien robot characters in a movie are an example of racism. Or sexism. Or elder abuse or abuse of the mental challenged or animal abuse or whatever you're complaining about. There is some nasty **** in the world, and us Americans and/or members of the "First World"/West are so spoiled. That includes me.


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Old 07-03-2009, 12:31 AM   #37
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/\ Well said Lord of Hunger. Thank you for bringing things into perspective.

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Old 07-03-2009, 04:30 AM   #38
Titanius Anglesmith
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I don't really care whether they're considered "racist" or not. These characters won't truly affect anyone.

What I care about is that every single thing they said or did was supposed to be funny, yet none of it was actually funny.


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Old 07-03-2009, 08:19 AM   #39
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LoH: Since humans are a selfish lot, the fact that some give a damn about someone else at all is a good thing IMO. Sure, in a perfect world people would do "good" more eficently, but since the world isn't perfect, any "good" should be aplauded.
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Old 07-03-2009, 03:02 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mur'phon View Post
LoH: Since humans are a selfish lot, the fact that some give a damn about someone else at all is a good thing IMO. Sure, in a perfect world people would do "good" more eficently, but since the world isn't perfect, any "good" should be aplauded.
Complaining that the comedy relief on a movie about alien robots who leaned our culture/language through the internet are stereotypes and racist is not "doing good". It's wasting everybody's time and distracting people from real racism where it happens.


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