Category Archives: Feminism and Misogyny

This Is Why We Still Don’t Need #WhiteGirlsRock

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Below you will find an excerpt to my latest blog,”Why We Still Don’t Need #WhiteGirlsRock,” which has been published on Huffington Post. I encourage you to read it here.

It’s a subtle kind of murder, the killing of black girls’ self-confidence. In a culture like ours that regularly dehumanizes and denigrates the bodies and identities of black women — even the First Lady of the United States isn’t exempt, after all — it’s easy to miss the often indistinct ways that black girls and women are cast as inferior to the identities and pursuits of white women.

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Beards and Armpits: The Tired Sexism of the Walking Dead

walking dead sexism

The Walking Dead, like any show, has its problems. While it is one of the most diverse shows on television, many have criticized its revolving door of people of color: killing one off before adding the next, as if having too many non-white people onscreen at one time would be too much. And while there are lots of women onscreen—including women of color: Michonne kicks ass as well as kicking the ass of stereotyped writing—there is another small thing that continues to irk me when I tune in every Sunday.

Rick, Darryl, and the other dudes look fit for an apocalypse: their scruffy faces get scruffier every season, and flashbacks to the smooth-faced Sherriff Rick of Season 1 are almost shocking in their stark difference. It’s an effective plot device, really; a way of illustrating both the passage of time and the ways in which priorities/capabilities have changed. In last night’s episode, Rick finally says the title, admitting, “We are the walking dead.” And it’s true, they are. They collectively stagger down the road, zombie and living alike, both men and women: dirty, bedraggled, and weather-beaten. So why then, if the dudes are forced to wander the ruins of the United States with Castaway beards, do the ladies have underarms as smooth as Baby Judith’s cheek?

It’s a small beef, I know, but one that is repeated in too many post-apocalyptic, science fiction, and dystopian films to go unnoticed. BuzzFeed made a hilarious listicle last year cataloging the ridiculousness: 12 Female Characters Who Keep Shaving Despite Constant Peril. And it is ridiculous, the notion that with death around every corner, women would still take the time to slip away to the bathroom and shave their armpits. In last night’s episode of Walking Dead the group couldn’t even find water. You mean to tell me the women not only shaved—but dry shaved? No. I can’t believe that. I don’t think any woman would be that desperate.

This ridiculous hairlessness is confounding considering the lengths the show goes to be convincing in other aspects of the zombie apocalypse: sickness, zombie gore, hunger, violence. It’s bizarre that a show with a scope as wide as The Walking Dead’s can imagine many things, but women with armpit hair is not one of them.

Part of this problem is the writers: I could find reference to only three women writers in a list of over twenty credited for The Walking Dead. Much has been written about the mixed results of male writers penning female characters, and we see the results in the media we consume every day: female characters who are unrelatable and lacking in complexity…who shave their armpits during the zombie apocalypse. This is part of the reason so many—myself included—have latched on to Shonda Rhimes#TGIT shows: women! Complex women! Relatable, diverse women! It’s an oasis in a dry desert of missed marks.

But it’s not just the male writers, of course. Even many female writers wouldn’t stop and think, “Hey wait, the women should be fuzzier.” Our culture informs our media, and in a culture that both infantilizes and sexualizes women, it’s unsurprising that no one would consider the absence of body hair: we’re so used to its erasure (in advertising, in film, in television) that its absence is somewhat realistic: women don’t have body hair, we’re told. So when it’s missing—even in the most unlikely scenarios—we don’t even notice.

It’s disturbing that women in other realities (dystopian, post-apocalyptic, or sci-fi)—stories of which, unfortunately, are few and far between—are subject to the same sanitization that women in our own sexist world are. In the past I’ve written about the limits of the white imagination when it comes to imagining characters of color in fictional worlds, and the same is true for the collective imagination when it comes to women: our imaginations are stunted by the -isms of our time.

Perhaps this is why there are so few stories—books and film—that tell the stories of women and people of color in worlds beyond our own. The future, it seems, belongs mostly to white men, another reflection of the values we see in our day-to-day realities. Whether the scenario is alien invasion, zombie apocalypse, or government-gone-mad, the story tends to center on white men, with everyone else in their role rotating around them in their “proper place.” Hairless women. One black character killed off to be replaced by another. Would it be a stretch to point out that Glen in The Walking Dead is the least bearded of the men in the cast, a reminder of the traditional emasculation of Asian men in American media? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s something to notice.

This is why I never stop hunting for science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction that gives a glimpse at another vision of the future. Kenyan short film Pumzi is one. Upcoming sci-fi romance out of Ethiopia Crumbs is another. Anything by Nnedi Okorafor. Anything by Octavia Butler. Chang-rae Lee’s recent book On Such a Full Sea. There are others, but there are not enough.

Our sexism (and racism) is ingrained in us. It permeates the stories we tell and how we imagine the future. Many have called the apocalypse—in whatever form it arrives in—“the great equalizer.” The thing that brings all of humankind together against the thing that threatens our survival. But when I look at many of the stories we have that tell the story of our future—sci-fi or speculative—too many of them look just like the past.

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I’m A Bad Feminist, But Not Because I Don’t Like Iggy Azalea

iggy azalea bad feminist

Roxane Gay, who is much wiser (and certainly a better writer) than I am, said the following in Bad Feminist:

“I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying—trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.”

I think of this quote often when being trolled by people (both men and women, both in real life and on the Internet) who latch on to any given aspect of my humanity and poke the various bears of my beliefs with “Oh you like ____? But you’re a feminist. How can you like _____ and be a feminist?” Things I don’t like are also subject to this kind of asinine dissection, and a common example is Iggy Azalea. “Oh you don’t like Iggy Azalea? How can you not like Iggy Azalea and be a feminist? She’s a woman in a male-dominated industry! You have to root for that!”

Well, no. I don’t. And here’s why.

As I have written in the past, Iggy Azalea’s rise to fame in the male-dominated rap industry isn’t due to her undeniable talent: it’s due to the whiteness and verbal blackface that has made her a novelty, white privilege serving as a jetpack that skyrocketed her to the top, surpassing black women who have toiled in the trenches of hip hop for decades. Yet Iggy Azalea denies this at every turn, despite her inability to perform some of the most fundamental aspects of rap music (freestyling, for example), blaming sexism for her criticism and nothing more.

And granted, Iggy has faced sexism. I was one of the first to defend her when Eminem made a reference to raping her in one of his songs. I criticized the hacker group Anonymous when they threatened to leak a sex tape they claimed depicted Iggy if she didn’t apologize for her racism. This kind of violence is faced almost exclusively by women, and the way Iggy Azalea handled both of these attacks was admirable in both maturity and seriousness.

But being a feminist does not provide a “get out of racism free” card, and that is the card Iggy has been playing over and over since her rise to fame, which a lot of folks seem to have a whole deck of, from dismissive reactions to Susan B. Anthony’s racism to flippancy regarding Madonna’s use of the N-word. (“But she’s Madonna! She, like, birthed the feminist movement in music!”) When Mikki Kendall launched #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen on Twitter, this is exactly what she was referring to: the idea that the pain of women of color should take a backseat to so-called “overall feminism,” as if the concerns of women of color are not included in the “all” of that “overall.”

Certainly this isn’t an argument of “I’m a bad feminist, but Iggy Azalea is a worst feminist!” Not at all. But I do challenge the belief that because I find flaws with Iggy Azalea, my feminism is further flawed. My praying that Iggy wouldn’t win a single Grammy—thank you, Lord—doesn’t mean I was praying for the downfall of women in hip-hop. My laughing at her two days of Twitter beef with Papa John’s pizza doesn’t mean I don’t think the leaking of her private information is a serious matter. That’s the thing about being a thinking, multi-dimensional human being: I can, in fact, consider two topics simultaneously. I can laugh at the absurdity of a famous “rapper” using her stage name to order subpar chain pizza (and calling it her favorite! God, that’s hilarious) while still agreeing that her private information shouldn’t be leaked by a thirsty teenage delivery guy who was careless and idiotic.

Feminism does not exist to serve as a magical shield to protect women from criticism. I cringe as I write this, knowing that too many (sexist) men have said something very similar, usually while criticizing a woman on sexist grounds. But that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that we can’t, under the guise of feminist solidarity, allow abusive or abhorrent behavior to go unchecked and uncriticized. And abusive and abhorrent Iggy has been, from now-deleted tweets with racist jokes and denigration of the bodies of women of color to the disturbingly exploitive and pedophilic music video for her song “PU$$Y,” in which Iggy raps about her sexual prowess while sitting between the legs of a black boy who can’t be more than seven years old. Yet on these matters Iggy’s defenders (mostly men and white feminists) have remained silent, insisting instead that she is a feminist icon and blameless of the appropriation for which she is often charged. Between sexist men and white feminist women, then, a disturbing alliance emerges: it seems abhorrent behavior can be ignored, forgiven, overlooked, when the victims are women of color. It seems the preferred brand of feminism is that which is focused on the comfort and terms of white women.

That’s not the kind of feminism I’m interested in aligning myself with. Feminists generally scoff at the idea that shaving our legs, wearing pink, or changing our last name is “bad feminism.” It’s an outdated way of viewing the F-word: only the fools who still use “feminist” as an insult still believe feminists are hairy, man-hating whores. But just as antiquated is the idea that feminism is for white women, and that the Iggy Azaleas of the world can trample women of color—appropriating their bodies, their language, and their culture—and still be flawless feminists worthy of praise and nothing else.

In another world, I might have liked Iggy Azalea. I admire how she has criticized publications for Photoshopping her moles. She can also take a joke; dressing up as a character from White Chicks after being memed online following a beef with Snoop Dogg. But as of now, this is not that world. I may be a bad feminist—messy, human—but as Roxane says, I’m also “trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world.” And if calling out Iggy Azalea makes me a bad feminist (or a worse feminist) then that is just what I’ll have to be.

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Whoopi Goldberg reminds us that women fart too—and that’s OK

whoopi goldberg fart

Below is an excerpt from my recent piece (“Whoopi Goldberg reminds us that women fart too—and that’s OK”) which has been published over at The Daily Dot. I encourage you to go read it.

In these visual representations, attitudes toward women farting tell us a lot about attitudes toward women in general, especially black women. Apparently this isn’t Whoopi Goldberg’s first time farting on-air—she let one slip in 2011 as well—and one look at the comment section in that case reveals some truly heinous invective (which I will not repost here, as they are incredibly triggering). As recent as three months ago, commenters have thrown around the “N-word” with ease, calling Whoopi “animalistic” and “ghetto trash.” This reaction to Goldberg’s femaleness, but also her blackness, tells us that farting—like anything that relates to femininity—is a complicated issue, one that carries the weight of the farter’s sex, race, and socioeconomic status.

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This is Why John Grisham’s Child Porn Comments Are So Dangerous

john grisham child porn

Below is an excerpt from my recent piece (“This is Why John Grisham’s Child Porn Comments Are So Dangerous”) which has been published over at The Daily Dot. I encourage you to go read it.

“The idea that 10-year-old boys being exploited are more deserving of our shock and disgust than sixteen-year-old girls being made up to look like adult women displays not only profound misogyny but a callous lack of understanding about the way sexual exploitation, rape culture, and sex trafficking work. Eighty percent of transnational victims of sex trafficking are girls. Seventy percent of victims who are trafficked into the commercial sex industry are girls. Rape culture decrees that girls are inherently exploitable: that their bodies were never their own to begin with and, therefore, consent is a fluid concept. “Some girls, they rape so easy,” Wisconsin State Representative Roger Rivard infamously said, illustrating the ideas held by many about consent and how little it means to those who don’t view women and girls as whole human beings.”

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Snoop Dogg Cyber-Bullied Iggy Azalea, But Here’s Why I Have Problems With Both Of Them

iggy azalea racist

Below is an excerpt from my recent piece (“Snoop Dogg Cyber-Bullied Iggy Azalea, But Here’s Why I Have Problems With Both Of Them”) which has been published over at xoJane. I encourage you to go read it.

“The same goes for her fans. The reaction I’m seeing from white fans on Twitter seems distinctly racialized: zealous concern for a white woman who has been wronged at the hands of a “scary black rapper.” Are these fans listening when black women voice their concerns about the wrong Iggy has done? Doubtful. Is Iggy listening? Does she lend an ear when black women air their grievances and list the ways her shtick has harmed them? Never has she given any indication or acknowledgment to suggest she has. Yet with Snoop Dogg’s sexism infecting the Internet, now Iggy wants her grievances heard.”

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Naked Graveyard: The Ghosts of My Nudes

leaked nudes

Below is an excerpt from my most recent piece (“Living in Fear of My Own Personal Celebgate”) which has been published in the NSFW issue of Kernel Magazine. I encourage you to go read it.

“My nudes are out there somewhere: naked orphans of mine, moles and smudged eyeliner and half smile. The girl in those photos is wearing a red satin bra one size too small. She’s floating in cyberspace, between the pages of a dusty yearbook, or perhaps plastered on a bar’s bathroom wall, eyes blacked out with Sharpie. Some days I think of the photos and am filled with dread. They are exposed specters of a girl searching for beauty in her own bones, her body rising from the grave to sink her teeth into my throat, dragging me into a bottomless pit of ruined reputations.”
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The Feminist Death Match Between Emma Watson And Beyoncé Is Some Anti-Feminist Sh@t

beyonce emma watson

Below is an excerpt from my most recent piece (‘The Feminist Death Match Between Emma Watson And Beyoncé Is Some Anti-Feminist Sh@t”) which has been published over at xoJane. I encourage you to go read it.

Hopefully you all remember the numerous times Beyoncé’s feminism has come under attack in the past? No? I’ll refresh your memory. When Beyoncé dropped Beyoncé last year, accompanied by a corresponding collection of music videos, the think pieces flew fast and thick. “Is Beyoncé a feminist?” “OK, but is Beyoncé actually a feminist?” The speculation was endless, despite the fact that Beyoncé was self-identifying, answering the question before it was even asked. But somehow many mainstream publications still thought that their opinion on Beyoncé’s feminism overrode her own identification.

When Emma Watson gave her speech on Saturday, I didn’t see a single tweet (other than from Men’s Rights Activists) criticizing her. No one dissected the roles she’s taken in Hollywood, the times she posed in sexy clothes, no one has questioned her relationship status.

Yet when I tweeted the above tweet, those kinds of dissections were exactly what filled my mentions—dissections voiced by white feminists. No angle was left uncovered. The responses ranged from “Maybe because Emma actually dresses like a lady!” to “Maybe because Emma has a college degree!” “Maybe because Emma didn’t dedicate an album to her husband and take his last name!” “Maybe because Emma doesn’t gyrate on stage!” “Maybe because Emma included men in her argument!” Don’t believe me? Look on Twitter. These tweets aren’t hard to find.

Guys…as a white feminist whose feminism is by no means perfect and has committed her share of missteps in the past, let me say this as gently as I can: This…shit…has…to…stop.

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Joy, Fear, and Twerking: the Glory of Amber Rose

amber rose twerking

Amber Rose set the Internet on fire over the weekend when she uploaded a video of herself twerking to celebrate her husband Wiz Khalifa’s album hitting number one on the Billboard 200. The video was shared on her Instagram account, where she is seen practicing flawless butt cheek isolation and then a twerk so effortless that it defies the laws of physics. Some of us shamelessly hit “replay” up to twenty times and screamed “yassss!” But not everyone. No, there are those among us who see a woman twerking and rather than celebrating her body and agency would prefer to denigrate her and call her names. Mainly, “hoe.” I have some thoughts about this.

Amber Rose and women like her disrupt everything we have been taught about the Madonna-whore dichotomy. There are two kinds of women, we are taught: women who are pure and good, wives and mothers on the pedestal of femininity; and there are the other women, the whores, the sluts, the strippers. You are either one or the other, we are taught, and we, women, grow up believing it: setting ourselves up against other women in a desperate effort to delineate between us and them, bashing other women’s sexual agency in a pathetic bargain with patriarchy with the hopes that by calling her a whore, we will remain safely in the Madonna camp. We learn, eventually (some later than others), that actually there is no protection from being called a whore in a world built on the denigration of women: you can be fat or thin, black or white, virgin or not, straight or not, wearing clothes or not, and still be called a whore. Any one of us is at risk of being labeled such at any moment: in the instant it takes for a rumor to start or a kiss to be delivered, in the three and a half minutes it takes for a song to play and our booties to shake, we can be removed from good girl to bad, never to return.

Navigating Madonna-whore territory is a one-way street, you see, and that’s where the often said “Can’t turn a hoe into a housewife” comes into play: a hoe, once a hoe, can never be anything but. I think many people use this phrase thinking they’re communicating something about “hoes’” behavior: that once married she will continue to behave as a hoe, cheating on her man or whatever it is that people who use this phrase with a straight face imagine “hoes” as doing. But I think it actually says something more about the trajectory of the perception of women’s sexual identities: not that she will continue to do “hoe shit,” but that once seen as a hoe, one will always be seen as a hoe. It says something about perception, and also about reputation. Once I (whoever “I” may be) perceives a woman as unworthy of respect, then her inhumanity is permanent, a systematic erasure of worth in which one by one, woman by woman, all of us lose our humanity over time: with every rape, every short skirt, every leaked photo, every rumored blowjob, every former stripping career, with every incident where patriarchy and its many, many gazes deems us no longer worthy of respect, we are no longer worthy of having one toe in the Madonna camp. We are delegated to whore, and with every one of these things, we are stripped, demoted, erased.

And it is a demotion, a permanent one. It truly is a one-way street: once labeled “hoe,” it seems, we can never come back. Hoe cannot become housewife, but housewife can certainly become hoe, knocked off the pedestal of approved sexual agency and expression, infants be damned, marriages be damned. We saw this recently with Beyoncé, who after the VMAs was criticized for her sometimes “provocative” dancing while Blue Ivy watched from the audience. “What is she teaching her daughter?” some asked, pearls tightly clutched. I would answer, “Agency. Independence. Talent.” But others, it would seem, say watching her mother dance and sing in front of millions—while making millions—is teaching Blue not to respect and value her body. Even when married and a mother—the supposed safeguards against being called a whore— Beyoncé’s “goodness” and motherhood are called into question. Much of this is because Beyoncé is a black woman: black motherhood is constantly under attack by racists and White Feminists alike. But the attacks on Amber Rose’s parenthood seem more of an afterthought to the attacks on her sexuality as a whole. The fact that she was once a stripper draws the misogynist gatekeepers to her like sharks to blood in water: something about the fact that she’s married with a child (Madonna characteristics) but still twerking (“whore” characteristics) sets teeth to gnashing.

One thing about Amber Rose and Wiz Khalifa is how happy they seem. He’s kissing her bald head. He’s holding her hand. He’s bouncing their beautiful, happy baby on his shoulders. Their joy must seem baffling to those bound by the virgin-whore dichotomy. “But she’s a hoe,” Twitter stutters. “But she was a stripper,” I’ve seen it said on Facebook. The anger at the idea of a woman who once got naked for money being in a happy, healthy, supportive marriage is palpable. Because at the bottom of all this anger and disbelief is one thing: the belief that certain women don’t deserve to be happy. “Hoes” don’t deserve happy endings, right? The one-way street of hoedom should mean a cul-de-sac of misery, right? She shook her ass on stage and therefore she should be banished to the darkest corners of the world for eternity, husbandless, childless, alone. Right? I’ve even seen sympathy expressed for Wiz: sympathy and derision. “I can’t believe he’s letting her do that.” Letting. Or, “Wiz married a hoe…poor guy thought he could turn her around.” The idea that he supports and respects what his wife does with her body—because it’s still hers, after all: marriage did not make her his property—never occurs to them. “Poor guy.” Nothing worse than being married to/dating a hoe, as parts of masculinity are still tied up in penetrating virgins and not in sleeping with a woman who has already had sex. Nothing worse. Except for being a hoe, of course, which is why the sympathy is aimed at Wiz, but the anger is reserved for Amber.

The anger at Amber Rose comes from a place of fear—all hate is fear, at its root—fear of a woman who exists outside of patriarchal parameters. How else can she be controlled? But for women, I also hear the anger coming from a place of envy. We, women, have been carrying the burden of misogyny our entire lives, toeing the line, lying about our “body count,” keeping our sexuality a secret. We’re afraid our happiness might be yanked away at any moment: that one day someone will point their finger and call us a hoe and we’ll find ourselves known as the wrong kind of woman, even if we’ve played by the “rules,” kept our legs shut and our hems long. Women who are angry at Amber Rose, eager to call her a whore: are you angry because she dared to twerk on Instagram, or are you angry because she is standing with one foot firmly in the mother-wife camp, and the other in the camp that is half-naked and booty-shaking? Are you angry because she’s doing what should never be done, or are you angry because she’s doing what we should all be allowed to do but feel we cannot?

This isn’t the first time Amber has posted a twerking video. Scroll back through her Instagram and you’ll find it: Amber in a squat wearing a white dress, twerking on her wedding day. Her wedding day. Say what you want: I say it’s glorious. I say it’s glorious the same way I thought it was glorious when Beyoncé transitioned (flawlessly) from shaking her stuff at the VMAs to swaying to her song about her daughter. These women find joy in their bodies—mother, wife, lover, woman. Joy. I think when it comes down to it, it’s their joy that misogyny hates the most. The idea that the stone “hoe” has been cast…and it bounced off harmlessly. The fearful word that is designed to control women’s sexuality, keep us from shaking our asses—and the world—into chaos, is slowly losing its power.

It might feel strange for those who have built their worlds on the idea of one-dimensional women without scope and depth: either virgin or whore and nothing in between. There are good mothers, and there are women who jiggle their asses. We have been told that those women are separate, confined to two bodies, never intersecting. This is a lie. Amber is mother and twerk-extraordinaire. Beyoncé is both wife and glorious wiggling goddess. I look at the future and I see a world of women who are both, either, or, and. Women of all, women of any. Women of whatever the fuck we choose, whenever the fuck we choose. Women who shake when we want to shake and the only thing the world has to say is “Yassss.”

5 Reasons People With Brains Shouldn’t See Transformers: Age of Extinction

OptimusPrimeBumblebeeBank

If you’re one of the people I refer to in the title of this blog—that is, people with brains—then you are probably already aware of the things that make Michael Bay one of the most vile and overrated directors in Hollywood. Explosions substituting for character development. General cinematic bloatedness. You know these things. But in case your instincts need a little sharpening, I will save you your money—and a precious three hours of your precious life—by providing five handy reasons you shouldn’t go see the new Transformers movie. You’re welcome.

#1 Michael Bay Once Again Proves That His Understanding of Women is Mere Millimeters Deep

With every movie that Michael Bay makes, he further proves that he not only hates women, but possesses the qualities of a panting 14-year old boy with acne and a public erection. His understanding of women is disjointed and stumbles between the two sexist binaries of Madonna and whore: the female lead in Transformers 4—I won’t say heroine because then I’d be a liar—reels between half-naked party girl whose skin provides 25% of the film’s panning shots and nagging wife-figure who is pure and cares only for the welfare of her helpless daddy. As the film goes on and real action starts to take place, the girl gets fewer and fewer lines. In fact, I believe an entire hour passed in which she didn’t say a word: just screamed, gasped, and moaned in fear. The last half of the movie was full of close-ups on her sweating, crying face. When she finally did get a moment of action in the last ten minutes of the film, it was 30 seconds long and completely underwhelming, seeming to exist grudgingly, added in as an afterthought so that her character does something other than hide and weep.

But creepier still is the fact that Bay chooses to make her young age a focus point of the film. He smugly references Romeo and Juliet clauses, as if to cover his pedophilic tracks. “See guys, the fact that I’m forcing you as an audience to spend almost 3 hours ogling a 17-year old girl is legal. Romeo and Juliet clause, baby!” Michael Bay is rich enough for therapy. I wish he’d go.

#2 Michael Bay Once Again Proves That He Believes Explosions Are the Key to Good Filmmaking

Guys, I’m not kidding. Explosions. This movie is almost 3 hours long and I’d wager that 50% of it is just shit blowing up. It’s an action movie…I get it. Explosions and chases and crashes are part of the game and ordinarily I love it. But a five-minute shot of a car overturning and smashing other cars is overkill. Ask yourself, is it possible that explosions can be boring? Michael Bay makes it possible. Trust me. In the lifetime I spent in that movie theater watching Transformers 4, I looked at my phone four different times to check the clock. Is it over yet? The explosions washed over me in waves of monotony. Never have I felt so apathetic about things catching on fire and being launched into the air. I literally yawned as a car flipped through the sky during a ten-minute motorcycle chase in which no real stunts were performed. I yawned. This is a problem.

#3 Michael Bay Once Again Proves That He Has No Problem With Racist Stereotypes

Remember the Transformer twins in Revenge of the Fallen? You remember…the jive-talking, illiterate, violent autobots that were criticized widely? Well, Bay didn’t learn his lesson. Age of Extinction features a samurai Transformer with a heavy Japanese accent who calls Optimus Prime “sensei.” Oh, and his face is made of yellow metal. Need I say more? Also, another fun racist fact, my fiancé, who has done karate for over twenty years, pointed out that samurais are Japanese but when the samurai autobot bowed, it was the traditional clasped-fist bow, which is Chinese. Bay doesn’t even do his research, apparently. An Asian autobot is an Asian autobot, right? (And made to have a yellow face? I mean, come on.)

#4 Michael Bay Once Again Proves That He’s Got Issues With Masculinity

Casting Mark Wahlberg to play a nerdy inventor is kind of a funny choice. Wahlberg’s character is supposed to be a tinkerer, a guy who builds little robots and hopes to invent the”next big thing.” But in the mind of someone like Michael Bay, that kind of guy isn’t masculine enough on his own: he needs to be someone muscular who can also punch people in the face and shoot guns and ride spaceships. At one point, Wahlberg crashes a spaceship in downtown Chicago, wrecking a car. A nerdy man with glasses and average biceps gets out and delivers a “funny” line about hoping Wahlberg has insurance. What does Wahlberg do? He makes a big macho declaration, cracks open a beer, and threatens to shoot the guy. No, not kidding. That’s what he does. Because BIG TOUGH GUY IS COOLER THAN SMALLER NERDY GUY WHO CARES ABOUT WIMPY THINGS LIKE INSURANCE. Guns! Beer! <scratches armpit>

#5 The Writing is So, So Bad. So Bad.

I actually stayed in the theater even longer than necessary so that I could glimpse who was responsible for writing this script. His name is Ehren Kruger. Ehren, wherever you are…stop. Please. For the good of mankind. The Transformers call people “bitch” (because aliens are familiar with misogynist epithets) and deliver the most pathetically limp one-liners I’ve ever heard. Optimus Prime, known for his speeches, delivers monologues more likely found in a badly-translated anime film than in a Hollywood feature. The plot holes…well, the entire film is a plot hole. The narrative coherence…well, there is no narrative coherence. Ehren, give me a call if you need a consultant for next time. (God forbid there is a next time.) I’d be happy to brush you up on creating female characters who exist outside of a misogynist binary, and we can discuss these one-liners too, because right now they’ve got about as much zing as a can of SPAM.

There you have it, folks. I hope I saved you some time and money. But hey, if you’re a masochist, knock yourself out. If you can stay awake.

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