Michael Bay Is Not the Death of Cinema

There, I said it. Given the recent critical backlash surrounding Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a film which I’ll probably never see, I think it’s time to straighten things out.

First of all, the 1970s was perhaps the greatest decade in Hollywood history. You had classics like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, Days of Heaven, Manhattan, A Clockwork Orange, and Nasvhille. But you also had the schlock of Irwin Allen, who was, essentially, the Michael Bay of his day.

This decade you get garbage like The Hours, Monster, Million Dollar Baby, Brokeback Mountain, Crash, and Into the Wild. Yet critics claim that Michael Bay’s responsible for the death of cinema?

Now, Michael Bay is a hack, but he doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Folk like him have always existed, in both good times and bad. Irwin Allen existed in the ’70s, yet that decade prodcued Taxi Driver. The truth is that Bay isn’t responsible for the death of cinema, garbage like Brokeback Mountain is, for when such schlock is critically acclaimed and wins all sorts of awards, it tends to push truly great films like Taxi Driver out of the market. Taxi Driver received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and for Best Actor (Robert De Niro) in ’76, yet today, a truly great film like The New World is relegated to technical awards like Best Cinematography and Best Editing, so that Hollywood can continue to fête garbage like Brokeback Mountain. Am I the only one who notices a trend here?

I guess I am. If Taxi Driver could co-exist alongside the likes of The Towering Inferno, surely great films could exist alongside the likes of Transformers, if Hollywood would allow them to. Those who parrot the line that these sorts of films destroy quality cinema are simply useful idiots, for they unwittingly allow the real destruction of cinema to continue unabated. As long as critics continue to blame the likes of Michael Bay, cinema will never recover, for his kind doesn’t play that big a role in the downward general decline in quality. Brokeback Mountain does far more, for it pushes quality films like The New World out of the market, so that it can continue to receive Oscars and appear on annual Best of the Year lists. If people would hold the truly responsible parties accountable, then maybe we could make some progress. But that would require them to grow a pair, to stop sitting back, and worst of all, to think for themselves. Much easier to just read Roger Ebert and repeat what he says. The studio bosses smile.