You May Not Like It, but Michael Bay Makes Art

Pearl Harbour? Dreadful. Armageddon? Detestable. The Transformers movies? Don’t get me started.

These films are all terrible. They include multiple instances of crossing the line just to make is seem as though there is action in a shot, an over-reliance on shaking the camera to disguise poor stunt work, and models with little to no acting ability to draw in a crowd of horny old men. I do not enjoy these films, because I appreciate a film’s capacity for intellectual substance. These films feel instead like that are written by 12-year-olds, fantasies and all.

But these are the opinions of just one person (although many critics and film students may agree with me). They are backed by analysis and understanding of film criticism, but they are, nonetheless, opinions. In the grand scheme of things, these opinions probably mean very little to Michael Bay, who is raking in millions from every Transformers movie he directs. Despite this, he has stood up to critics and defended his films to the last breath. Why would he do this?

Because Michael Bay loves his films.

Ask any member of the Bay’s cast or crew and they will say that he is focused, intense and dedicated to his work; Megan Fox (star of Transformers) even going as far as to say that he is ‘like Hitler’ because he works tirelessly to control what is happening on set, and so he should. He works tirelessly to incorporate practical effects in his films where he can, so that the adrenaline rush for the viewer is real. I challenge anyone who criticises his movies to shoot a film that can make an audience’s jaw drop like Michael Bay does in his films.

He does this because he really cares about his films. He has a creative vision that he wants to see come into focus, even if it is that of a 12-year-old boy’s fantasy. He makes his films because he likes them, and he knows that a lot of people other there will too.

We could debate how good Bay’s films are forever, and I will always say that most of his films are perhaps enjoyable, but not good. What we can’t dispute is whether his films are art or not. Recently, I was in class and the professor cracked a joke and said that Michael Bay’s films aren’t art, and this upset me so much that all I could think about for the rest of the lecture was writing this exact article. And here’s why:

Bay’s films are completely and totally his own. Most people can watch his films and see patterns in style, which they definitely have. Even if it’s a bad style, it’s a Michael Bay signature to his fans, and a feature of the films he likes. If that’s what he wants to make, then he is expressing himself through the medium he loves. And why shouldn’t he? Because it’s not to a certain taste?

If art is subjective, then there is no debate that Michael Bay has mastered the art of making films that he, and people like him, enjoy. If all filmmakers made films exactly like Michael Bay then I would see a problem, but there is a variety of films from all genres for a reason: because there is not telling what people will love.

Take Tommy Wiseu’s infamous The Room, for example. There is a huge cult following for that film – people love that film. They may love it because it’s so bad, but they also have an attachment to it because Tommy Wiseu wanted to express himself through film. Even though he did a terrible job, people grew attached to it. As bad as it is, I can never say it’s not art, because it is Tommy Wiseu’s thoughts and feelings (even if they make very little sense), it has a distinct style (even if it’s not a nice style to see), and it has an audience (even if they’re just there to laugh at it.)

The same can be said for Michael Bay’s films, and I respect him for carrying on and making films he loves, despite the negative reviews.

SAM PACKER

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