Racism and Transformers: Robots with gold teeth and “inner-city accents”

“Autobots Mudflap and Skids,  a pair of twin robots voiced by Tom Kenny, sport noticeable inner-city accents and are adorned with gold caps on their teeth. At one point, they’re asked if they can read some ancient runes that keep popping up. “Nah, we don’t really do much reading,” one of them replies.” – Washington Times

We’ve posted the video of one of them saying that they don’t read much below (Until the movie company has it deleted).

Um…maybe someone should get these robots “Hooked on Ebonics”? Another reminder that this is not a post-racial America.  Black face robots, Sambots (as an article notes below)…sad.

Infoaddict has a review of this controversy.  Here are some highlights:

Movies @ MSN:

And I haven’t even begun to talk about the racist-caricature robots of “The Twins,” who speak in thug slang and “aren’t much for reading” and talk about getting “up in that ass,” and one of whom has, I wish I were kidding, a gold tooth.

The New York Times:

That disconnect only deepens with the introduction of two new Autobot characters, the illiterate, bickering twins Skids (Tom Kenny) and Mudflap (Reno Wilson), both of which take the shape of Chevrolet concept cars. The characters have been given conspicuously cartoonish, so-called black voices that indicate that minstrelsy remains as much in fashion in Hollywood as when, well, Jar Jar Binks was set loose by George Lucas. For what it’s worth, the script, by Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, also includes a crack about Simmons, who’s coded as Jewish, and his “pubic-fro head.”

The Boston Globe:

Still, what are we to make of Mudflap and Skids (both Kenny), a pair of shuck-and-jive Autobots who talk in ridiculous gangsta-speak. The insultingly unfunny comic relief of “Transformers,’’ they’re Jar Jar Binks times two and the first known example of robot blackface.

One more from Black Planet:

Transformers’ Racist “Little Black Sambots” – If you snoop around movie sites today, you’ll find references to Mudflap and Skids, twin Autobots from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen who bear more than a passing resemblance to minstrel show depictions of African Americans. CHUD.com aptly dubbed them Little Black Sambots. The wider story is that Mudflap and Skids are just the tip of the insensitive iceberg in Bay’s newest film. Here is a list of what you can expect when you go to see the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Mudflap and Skidz – the aforementioned “from da hood” Autobots with gold teeth, poor grammar, the inability to read (or speak with inside voices) and, final sigh, actual simian features. More info

14 Comments

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14 Responses to Racism and Transformers: Robots with gold teeth and “inner-city accents”

  1. Kia

    Its so unfortunate that in 2009 we are still looked at as ignorant beings!

    “we cant read”…are you serious???

    I knew it was a reason I wasn’t excited about seeing tha movie…

  2. I really was getting into Transformers 2 up until the introduction of the Twins, after which point I just mentally checked out completely. I would get screw faced everytime they got screen time. If Revenge of the Fallen sucked, the Twins were two of the biggest reasons why.

  3. k8

    I had no intention of ever seeing this movie as it was, so I’m not going to have a hard time talking a little smack about it. I made a quick trip over to IMDB because I wasn’t familiar with the names of either actors voicing these characters. After a little research, I learned that Kenny is a white actor that I’m not familiar with, he does a lot of voices for kids shows I don’t watch. Reno Wilson is much more familiar all the way back to his first gig on the Cosby Show, just not a big name. Shouldn’t our problem be with the people voicing these characters? That they saw absolutely nothing degrading about this, that they couldn’t see the stereotype being played out? And if they didn’t, what about everyone that was a part of the production? For a film that was going to be viewed by so many, wouldn’t you like to hope that the people in charge have a greater vision? That with such a tall platform, perhaps their message could have been inspiring instead of forcing us back to a place no one wants to be?

  4. Rafo

    I think you guys are taking this too seriously and misunderstanding the movie…The twins are been asked if they can read an “ancient” language… The twins reply was “Read? No, We don’t do much reading”…It is not that they don’t read, but can’t read an “ancient” language… Latin is an old language, can i read it? No, does that makes me stupid? No… Does somebody specifies that it is an ancient language what they have been asked to read? No… plus whats the big deal if they talk in gangsta language?

  5. Rafo

    Adding one more thing…maybe the answer of the twins should have been “no, we never learned how to read an ancient language” to avoid this kind of misunderstood.

  6. Ms

    No, we are not taking this too serious. Actually not enough people are taking this serious. When these movies are released too many try to sweep them under the carpet and blow everyone off as just being too sensitive.

    Black Planet is right, these are minstrel show depictions of blacks but instead of being people they are robots. However, they are effectively carrying the same message that they were intended to.

    I am so glad I didn’t go and see the first movie nor did I rent it. I am also not going to see this one or any others that pop up.

    Anyone black supporting this movie has no pride and is saying it is okay to be disrespected.

  7. Judge

    I am very disappointed by you lot. First of all please speak for your self when you make statements and purport them to be the generally held view of black people. That movie and a host of many characters shown are for the entertainment of a wide stride of audiences around the world and I hate to break it to ya but most I’d not all black folks love those characters and enjoy the movies they go to not, dwell on irrelevancy like post racism in movies. As a matter of fact it makes me wonder what kind of black person are you because the reality is that a lot of black people are like that or talk like that or even not literate. You sully the race you claim to fight for when you ask for a stop to the depictions. Black people are all over the planet and those characters mimic the sterotype of American black males with their gangsta persona which is what is on MTV. Who are to judge the creators of such art when you cannot come up with any constructive ways or ideas to get black people educated, and by that I mean the American blacks. FYI I’m black and proud as he’ll to be black. Black people are beautiful. Please use your website to better use than gossiping and feeling sorry for yourselves. By reading sown of your comments I can tell that most of you don’t have a solid intellectual backbone. An associate degree doesnt make u smart. Use your minds and think of ways to get American blacks educated. You will be surprised to know this but there is a higher ratio of African literacy than American literacy in all strata as data has shown. So please stop fooling yourself and go and watch the Movie and enjoy it like everybody else. You can’t stop Micheal bay form making the milions off that movie. You are the loser here.

  8. Judge you “typed”: “I am very disappointed by you lot.”

    I’m very disappointed in your grammar. However you chose to express it, you are entitled to your opinion, as I am entitled to mine.

  9. kimby

    I saw the movie. When I first saw the robots I noticed the gold tooth and the way they spoke. I did not approve. Then I thought I heard them actually use the word “nigga”. I went on a date to see that stupid movie again. They actually said “nigga”! All of you people saying it is not that deep…pay attention. It’s straight ignorance. The theatre was filled with little kids. The robots were hilarious to the children. This is what the media teaches them. Cultural imperialism. Look it up. That is all.

  10. Nico

    Even though I’m not black, I did get pretty offended by the characters straight away. What concerns me the most is alot of people on various forums (most of them white of course) claiming that aren’t racist. I’ve recently had a debate with one such poster and this was just ONE reason why he thinks they arent’ racist –

    “The direction for the the Twins was decided upon by the actors. One of which, the black one might I add, mentioned that he had seen no problem with it and called the characters “wannabe gangster” types. The Twins are mostly an egregious personification of pop-culture and how obsessed our youth can get with acting “cooler” than they really are.” – Retro Man

    As you can see, Retro Man fails to understand the origins of the negative imagery the Twins come from and says “They can’t be racist, they’re white posers!!”.

  11. teachliterature

    So what if Judge doesn’t have perfect grammar. Not everyone is an English teacher. There are numerous people on this site who have responded with poor grammar but I don’t see Sista correcting them. While I think those film characters are stupid and demeaning, the larger issue is that there are too many blacks that are struggling with issues such as literacy, poverty, single parent families, etc.
    That’s where the outrage needs to be directed. How can we change those situations is the real question. When does it stop being okay to make babies and leave them? And then go on to make another and leave that baby and that mother, too? Oh, sorry, I started my sentence with “and”.
    Yea, there’s still racism. Goddamn it, we know it. Can we put our energy and outrage into getting our own house in order, at the same time that we’re monitoring these other racist idiots?

  12. BIGTOXY69

    Hey it’s a movie Okay ? it’s making money for Hollywood & The toy Company Okay !!!! – Get real my friend if you wanna Pick on the movie about something then Fine ! How about Megan fox not being able To act for shit ? Is she Hot , Fine, sexy ? yeah But she can’t act !!!! Well atleast she won’t have to turn tricks in the trailer park gor awhile with the money she made from Transformers II ! – And as Far as Skid & Mudfalap Being {AFRICAN American } They are Robots They Don’t have skin color- They have paint jobs !!! – They {Skids and Mudflap} Are never Given a Race Or nationality oher than Tranformer/Autobot ? Do they Talk all Hip Hop /Urban / Street yes I’ll Grant You that Much ! But So do a lot of Latino ,Hispanic ,Caucasian & Asian’s So they could just as well be any of those cultures& or races playing the wannabee Game!!! Also if someone who’s African American and Speaks Proper English & has good Grammar and Has Taken advantage of Educational Opportunities They’d Probably be accused of Trying to Act/ sound Caucasian ? by some in their own community and that’s more racist than any of this movie Trust Me! Actually pun not intended I think these Two cHaracters add alot of Color ( perhaps a poor choice of words here ?) To the movie ! They add some well needed Flavor in comparison too some of the more Stodgy main charcters !!! But that’s my opinion ! – What I see is this My friend! Is Their Racism in the world Yes ? Also Anti – Semitism , Greed , Hatred , injustice , poverty , pollution and war ! But If you have The time to ( Find RACISM ) in a movie about Robots From outer space ? Then I suggest you Research The Late Dr. Martin Luther King JR. in General and His I have a Dream speach in Particular ” I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” !!! Because if you want to find racism that bad you’ll probably find it anywhere ? Cereal & Milk , the Newspaper , a crayon box ect… I wish you well my Friend but get a Life okay ???

  13. get a sense of humor america. they were 2 wanna be gangsters. they were the comic relief of the movie. comic relief iasomething that is in most plays and films. read any classic and you will find an example of it.

    america has lost the ability to laugh without the worry of offending someone. people who look for racism will find it everywhere. most of us just seen two robots acting “da fool”.

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