Very good news! Michael Bay has just announced his next two projects, one of which would be the long-awaited adaptation of the science fiction novel Robopocalypse, whose premise you can more or less guess from its title. And why is this good news? Because Michael Bay is probably the greatest film director working today, definitely the most Jewish, and unquestionably the most underrated.
Snigger all you want. Go ahead, roll your eyes, and say something condescending about explosions or rock music or the American flag, all of which are staples of Bay’s aesthetic. But if you’ve watched even a couple of minutes of this past weekend’s Academy Awards, you understand what’s so profoundly wrong with Hollywood and so deeply right with Michael Bay. The tuxedoed stiffs huddled at the Dolby Theatre were there to make statements, which was reflected not only in their insufferable speeches but also in their middling movies, very few of which are likely to mosey on up to the eternal pantheon of film and move in next door to Casablanca or Ghostbusters. Bay, on his end, is here to make movies fun, which is all the movies ever were, ever are, and ever should be.
It’s a logic he shares with his spiritual ancestors, the shrewd Jews who made Hollywood the mighty empire it is today. These hard charging immigrants bested mightier men like Thomas Edison, mostly because they understood instinctively what audiences wanted to watch. Louis B. Mayer, for example, was selling scrap metal, and hung out at the York to watch the Vaudeville shows. There, he saw what made people laugh and cry; as soon as he had enough money, he bought his own theater and screened the kind of films he thought would play well. Soon enough, he was producing them himself, and if you enjoyed Singin’ in the Rain, or Ninotchka, or The Philadelphia Story, you’ve him to thank.
Now, even a die-hard Bay fan like me would admit that Transformers: The Last Knight isn’t exactly An American in Paris. But I’d take ten Michael Bay movies to one more issue movie or stirring biopic, because Michael Bay movies aren’t just a lot of fun; they’re also emotionally healthy. Rather than fret and yowl and speechify, he intimately and innately understands what most of us who aren’t burdened by some crazy and stifling ideology understand, namely: a) That we’re damn proud of America, flaws and all; b) That it isn’t so hard to tell the good guys and the bad guys apart; and c) That real progress usually only happens when the former kick the latter’s asses.
Once upon a time, these truths were self-evident, especially to the Jews who helped invent Hollywood. Today, amidst the fear and self-loathing and all the other feeble emotional currents trickling out of Hollywood and making sure that less and less people care—this year’s Oscars were the least-watched in history—it’s a privilege to have Bay on board. The Robopocalypse can’t come soon enough.