“Transformers”: A Swipe at Obama?

Updated

Variety‘s David Cohen saw the latest “Transformers” movie — “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” — and filed this report on its reference to President Obama, but not, at least in his eyes, in a good way.

Cohen writes, “So as usual in these movies, the federal bureaucrats are portrayed as annoying if not villainous. The President’s man, “Galloway,” is a bespectacled blowhard who becomes an obstacle to our brave fighting men and their alliance with the noble Autobots. Operating specifically under presidential authority, he makes all kinds of mischief. He says the President wants to try “diplomacy” against the evil Decepticons and hints the President would consider handing over Shia LaBouf’s character to be killed by them. He eventually is ditched by the fighting men (tricked into parachuting out the back of a transport). All this is par for the course in this kind of movie. In the first, there was a Rumsfeldian secretary of defense (played by Jon Voight) and a bit of dialogue from “the President” clearly meant to be Bush, with an obvious Bush impression on the dialogue.
 
“However, if memory serves, no real politicians were named in the first movie. The SecDef isn’t Rumsfeld. The president is not called by name.
 
“In this movie, exactly one real-life politician is named: “President Obama.” They went out of their way to make sure they named the craven, obstructionist president as Obama.”

So what gives? I haven’t seen the movie, so I am relying on David’s take. But it strikes me as a bit unusual given the popularity of the president and the fact that so many people involved in the pic contributed to his campaign.

Director Michael Bay shows no financial record of having supported any candidate in last year’s election. Writer Roberto Orci contributed to Hillary Clinton in the primary and Obama in the general, and his writing partner Ehren Kruger donated to Clinton. Along with Paramount, DreamWorks is the studio behind “Transformers,” and Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider not only contributed to Obama’s campaign, but donated to his inaugural committee. Paramount chairman Brad Grey contributed to Obama in August, 2008.

A Paramount spokeswoman was a bit surprised when I ran this by her, and suggested that not everyone is going to come away with the same interpretation. Update: She also said that the filmmakers’ reason for naming Obama was in “keeping the film as current as possible,” noting that the movie also makes reference to the swine flu.

Bay was asked about the reference at a recent press junket, and he recounted meeting Obama at an airport early in the campaign and telling him he “liked what he had to say.” Asked about the depiction of the president with a dim-witted, “kind of stupid” national security adviser, Bay said, “Remember, it is summer fun, by the way.” (video from L.A. Times below).


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  1. Oh boy, my comment is about Transformers 3, not 2 like this article! … If you thought 2 was a swipe, just go see 3 now!

  2. I saw the movie tonight.. this is a first hand impression. Obama was in a quick photo shot (which could’ve been special effects), where Sam gets a cheesy medal. They actually went out of their way to make in seem “unimportant” to the White House and it didn’t fit him (like it was made for a child). That and the fact that the aliens are setting up their evil BASE in Chicago (subtle message there, huh?).. and Obama is nowhere to be seen during all of this, even though he has been established as the President (referred to by Sam as “POTUS”, not by his name!)… The bad guys say the socialist phrases, like “The rights of the many override the rights of the few” … and the fighting for Freedom message on the Autobots/Human side is VERY telling. This movie is a shot across the bow of the Socialists in Washington DC… and I would say it disses Obama BIG TIME. How refreshing! Do You LOVE your FREEDOM?!

  3. Remember E Pluribus Unum? says:

    WOW!, regardless of a feeble presidential parody, WITH PEOPLE LIKE YOU in the US who have completely lost sight of “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”, and no longer think for themselves, instead going with knee-jerk responses, WHO NEEDS ENEMIES. Iran is not the same as an alien race of 100 ft. robots that are sinking aircraft carriers and threatening all of human existence, and if you really think Obama is that naive, I think your blinded by hatred and bitterness and have been probably overdosing on Hannity, Beck, and Limbaugh. Most of you act like this is all some high-school popularity contest- except our lives and nation are at stake, our enemies LOVING watching us tear each other apart. The biggest threat to this country is this country; the bile and b.s. like all over these comments. Even when I don’t agree with a Pres’ policies, he’s still my President, be it Obama or Bush. So much for “Country First”, huh? Bin Laden doesn’t go as far as some of you social tumors. God help us.

  4. amazed says:

    Um, these comments are all idiotic.

  5. runemout says:

    If most of the commenters in this thread were sitting in a boat floating off the coast of Somailia held by pirates, you would be thanking your ass that Obama made the call to take your captors out. Sounds alot like a Michael Bay film doesn’t it. Another good one is launching an “unprecedented” offensive in southern Afghanistan last week to clean up the mess that the last coward that inhabited the White House couldn’t do himself. It’s alot of fun cleaning up someone else’ mess.

  6. mayko says:

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  7. August West says:

    The Obama “name drop” will probably go over most people’s heads, but I noticed it. The irony is, it is actually appropriate- that is, the way the president and administration in the film was trying to negotiate with the “Decepticons” (the bad guys) who were just going to end up doing them in anyway- sort of like how Obama and gang would like to negotiate with real life “Decepticons”.
    If you have abandoned common sense and still believe Obama is who he said he was, this may be hard to swallow. Oscar Wilde said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.”
    But in this case, the reverse may be true…minus the Autobots…ok, and the Decepticons probably won’t be showing up either.

  8. Calico Jack says:

    The portrayals of Hussein O’s policies in the film are quite accurate. What is there to get upset over? All the bedwetting, impotent, limp wristed, crybaby, overly medicated, therapist seeing, no control over their bowel movement liberals need to get over this little jab at their messiah. Stop crying racism when your dear chancellor receives criticism, the worst is yet to come.

  9. eb1212 says:

    I always thought Obama was an appeaser!!!

  10. default says:

    Did you guys write an article about the movie portraying a named president Bush’s assassination? (not to mention the uncountable numbers of other anti-bush movies) Is it absolutely inconceivable that some of the half of the country who voted against Obama and for Bush may disagree with your point of view?
    While Iran murders and imprisons political dissenters and North Korea threatens us with nuclear war, Obama says that we need to respect their sovereignty while bowing before Saudi Kings – I would say that Michael Bay has Obama pegged. This isn’t a swipe – it’s only a realistic depiction of our current president.

  11. Jenny says:

    Obama is an obstructionist, fascistic despot, I’m glad Bay took a swipe at him.

  12. ruggbutt says:

    It’s a MOVIE………Try to enjoy the fantasy of it instead of dwelling on an “alleged” swipe taken at our president. If you’re too much of a tightarse to enjoy the movie maybe you should just stay home and watch reruns of Chips.

  13. djmoore says:

    Soooo…
    Movie centers on the assassination of a sitting Republican President during wartime: A-OK! Dissent and criticism highest form of patriotism! Just stimulating conversation!
    Movie correctly cameos a sitting Democratic President pandering to the avowed enemies of his country during wartime: Evil traitors! Bey is a meanie! Don’t make the unicorns sad! Or, as David Cohen explains, “Shut up!”
    I had not planned on seeing Transformers. Guess I have to now. More of this, please.

  14. Scott says:

    Who cares? Call me when Michael Bay makes a good movie for the first time in his life.

  15. “You guys are ok with a Bush references but not Obama?”
    Of course. They have their tongues as far up his asshole as his is up every terrorist’s and dictator’s asshole. Welcome back, Carter.

  16. Mike says:

    I seem to recall a movie where the plot actually involved the assassination of President Bush. I guess that fantasizing about Bush’s murder is okay, but noting that Obama is more likely to appease monsters than to fight them is over the line. Riiiiiiiiiiiight…

  17. anthony says:

    Most people writing in this comment don’t understand a thing about world affairs. If Obama openly supported the reformists, it would play right into the hand of the hardliners who claim that the protest is only the result of foreign intervention. I guess singing Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran is all people here can do in term of foreign policy thinking.

  18. Dave R. says:

    Let’s talk about that “bit of dialogue from ‘the President’ clearly meant to be Bush.” The bit was, a guy with a drawling Texas accent kicked off his shoes and put his red-socked feet up on his desk onboard Air One and sent an Air Force stewardess out to “rustle up some ding-dongs” for him. That’s the Bush stand-ins only line. I’m not seeing good faith if Cohen wants us to think that’s a positive or even a neutral portrayal of Bush. I think the Obama jab is just equal opportunity humor, not a vast right wing conspiracy.

  19. Andrew in Toronto says:

    Be fair, guys. Maybe the Transformers’ government project cost $3-trillion and that explains the reference.

  20. Dave says:

    So according to Variety, the mention of President Obama as craven and obstructionist in Transformers 2 is a “swipe” at the President and the onscreen murder of President Bush in Death Of A President is “skillful docudrama” and “exceptional” (review posted 09/11/06)? Interesting…

  21. jefcostellox says:

    To darn bad, the sacred cow Obama gets slighted in a film. Wake up lefties, the man is a fascist and deserves to be pillared.

  22. Brad says:

    I thought it a swipe at first, but Obama is about diplomacy first and when asked about giving up the kid the advisors response was all options were being looked at.
    HOWEVER saying that this is a fictional movie and since it is meant to be watched as good fun who cares if it really was a swipe at Obama or not.
    p.s. I am a Canadian Supporter of Obama

  23. Lizbeth says:

    I will take the President Obama in the movie over the real one any day. President Obama is our Messiah, Lord Most Merciful, the One who cares and feels and will take care of us from the cradle to the grave. Our President Obama is fair and intends to spread the hardships and pain along with the profits to everyone. Our real President’s teleprompter knows all and his smile outshines whatever he says, because what he says does not matter.

  24. Justin says:

    They didn’t mention Bush’s name in the first movie because they didn’t need to due to Bush’s manner of speaking. As you said, it was obvious.

  25. GarandFan says:

    IIRC, Hollywood put out a piece of shit about presidential assassination and used George Bush’s name. Where was Cohen’s outrage then?

  26. Mike says:

    Should have included an Obamabot in the shape of a teleprompter, that would have been cool. Then towards the end of the movie have the good guys destroy its circuit boards with an electromagnetic pulse cannon. Leaving the Obamabot to spin around as it endlessly repeats the phrase, ” Let me be perfectly clear, uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”.

  27. WangoTango says:

    When watching this movie in the theater today; when the president’s man suggested that the President wanted to give the Decepticons who they wanted, use “diplomacy” and “talk” to the Decepticons, an audience member yelled out “JUST LIKE OBAMA”. The theater erupted in laughter! So much that the next line was missed by many.
    —-People! Please, let’s be vocal, speak up and get our voices of common sense to be heard. It was a ridiculous notion in the movie to think talking to known, threatening, killing, enemies is going to make them “understand” or like us!
    CHEERS TO THE WRITERS OF THIS MOVIE! THEY NAILED THIS ELEMENT!

  28. brooklyn says:

    Hollywood apparently doesn’t care about making money. They produced multiple left leaning films that ALL failed. Lions for Lambs, Redacted, Rendition, Lucky Ones…I could go on.I believe Matty Damon is doing something called “Green Zone.” But one poke at Obama and they’re practically hyperventillating and even go as far to investigate all of the productions political ties!
    By the way, this is the same Variety that REFUSED to run an article about the hypocrisy of the feminist movement. about a week or two ago, a writer was rejected for displaying the unfairness of liberal feminist not standing up for conservative women. I’m glad I don’t read Variety. They’re just another branch of liberal media.

  29. meesa thinka racist undertones are nothing newsa says:

    LOL. Come on, people. I’m a huge Obama supporter and see no problem with this. Are we REALLY going to get uptight about it? So the Republicans get to snicker and make punchy little comments. Big deal. They pollute the internet with that crap all the time anyway! It’s MICHAEL BAY, people. Even HE knows that his movies are plastic, superficial, brain-dead crap! I would think most Obama supporters are above this kind of summer B.S. filler anyway.

  30. brooklyn says:

    Whoa, whoa. What’s the problem people? For 8 years I had to sit through movie after movie of Bush bashing. The one time Obama’s name is mentioned and it rubs you as an insult or God forbid a dimwit character is aligned with Obama, you cringe? SUCK IT UP. As someone else commented on before:
    “In this movie, exactly one real-life politician is named: “President Obama.” They went out of their way to make sure they named the craven, obstructionist president as Obama.”
    “So what gives? I haven’t seen the movie, so I am relying on David’s take. But it strikes me as a bit unusual given the popularity of the president and the fact that so many people involved in the pic contributed to his campaign.”- And this is why Hollywood’s movies & T.V. shows have been failing. Stop shoving your obvious left-wing agenda down our throats. We’re not all liberals out here. We don’t all love this President. Many of us who are educated enough have come to realize his policies are damaging and costly. We don’t care what producer funded what. We already know you’re all liberals. For the past 8 years I’ve seen our President portrayed as a villain. I’ve seen our soldiers portrayed as murderers, rapist, psychos or defectives. But little Davey is not ready for ONE negative Obama image? I knew the media was in the tank for Obama and would carry him on their shoulders no matter how heavy he got but DAMN, this article just slapped me in my face. Pure hypocrisy and bias.
    And Davey, Obama’s popularity is based on Americans blided ignorant love affair with personality. His policies are NOT popular and that’s all that matters. Unfortunately, his steady American Idol-type popularity just once again lives up the stereotype: Dumb Americans.

  31. AJ Simkatu says:

    How dare they say that Obama would rather negotiate than start a world war! We all know that killing people in mass numbers is the only roadmap to peace.

  32. Ben says:

    Really? all of the sudden its not ok to make politcal references to movies? There are entire Genre’s based on Reagan in the 1980s and Bush in the 2000s. I am not joking or exagerating when I say there was at least 2 pictures every year that either named bush, were about bush, or caricatured bush. now that i think about it, two is an understatement. And i didn’t even like bush. personally i think all movies are better when they don’t have political references, but i am commenting because i find it hilarious that all of the sudden alluding to a president in a major film is a bad thing.
    I bet the film does well regardless of this. Sure it might piss off movie reviewers, a major obama constituency, but i don’t think your average american will care.
    Also I love your line about taking into account his popularity. Barack won with 53.7 percent, Bush won his second term with 50.7 percent. So two percent is the difference between being the most hated president ever and the most popular president ever. I don’t pay much attention to polls as there are legitimate polls every 2-4 years for politicians. Again I didn’t like bush, mccain, kerry or obama, but i can’t help but find the worship of this man to be funny and scary at the same time.

  33. Dustoff says:

    Give me a break. You guys make a movie of Bush getting shot and you have a fit over this.
    Grow up.

  34. Ki Ke says:

    did wittle bitty obambi get his wittle feewings hurt? Aww, poor obambi. grab chewbacca and the kids and get on Air Force one and fly to Europe again.

  35. Bill says:

    You people are nuts. Dear Leader is everywhere, he’s everything, Alpha, Omega, the beginning and the end! Jesus H. Christ!

  36. Chris Jones says:

    Don’t worry, no respectable studio would ever stray from Hollywood party line. I think you Obama sycophants are hallucinating criticisms of the president.

  37. jjk0091 says:

    Bush had complete movies made to denigrate him. Maybe the writers and studios have seen the light. One can only hope.

  38. Skan says:

    No worries, Im sure Hollywood will put the pressure on Michael Bay to make the Directors Cut with the aformentioned dialogue changed or removed.

  39. David Kohen says:

    Given that Obama attacks our loyal ally Israel, telling Jews where they can and cannot live in their own country, while eating ice cream and hot dogs with Iranian mullahs crushing their own people and threatening the entire world, it’s not a big stretch to paint Obama as craven and obstructionist.
    The facade is cracking and it’s rot and corruption underneath.

  40. JohnFNWayne says:

    Funny this makes Variety. Watch Law and Order? Bad guy is almost always a Christian or has a Dick Cheney photo in his office. Don’t forget those see of anti-Iraq War films, all of which failed at the box office. One swipe at “The One” and the outrage begot.

  41. jim says:

    Obama is a corrupt weasel. Left-wing scum like him deserve all the insults they receive.

  42. Mat says:

    Uh, to the goofynut who wrote this article,
    I suggest you re-watch the first Transformers movie. The Air Force One incident clearly had Bush sitting in the room with his red socks up and asking for a Ding-Dong or cupcake or something (he even had a Texas twang). You didn’t actually see his face, but from what you saw was clearly a Bush outline. There, there feel better now? Now dry your eyes and have mommy go burp you. It’s naptime for you…

  43. Kasper Hauser says:

    Totally uncalled for!
    Why bring that sort of accuracy and realist portrayal into a Transformers Movie?

  44. Smide says:

    Well genius Obama isn’t that popular with everyone. Hows about a nice fat dose of REALITY landing on your hollywood swelled heads? You all think you know so much. Take a drive across this land of ours and you’d be shocked at just how UNPOPULAR Obama actually IS!

  45. jjames says:

    Well that just got me to go see it in the theaters,

  46. Zaggs says:

    The president in the first film may not have been named, but you knew who it was. In a way it was a swipe at Bush. Bush has also been swiped at in many other movies. So the obamatons should just buck up and be adults and stop whining every time someone does not give a sacrifice at the altar of their cult.

  47. Greg says:

    Good Lord. President Bush had whole *movies* made about him, and all we got from Variety and the like was crickets.

  48. J says:

    “They went out of their way to make sure they named the craven, obstructionist president as Obama.”
    I believe the artistic term is called “realism”.

  49. Whats the big deal? It’s what Obama would do!
    If the film wants to be even more realistic, it would have him seizing and nationalizing the Transformers, costing the taxpayers several trillion dollars, then giving them as a gift to his union buddies, ordering that they be turned into tiny, fuel efficient hybrids that nobody wants, while getting ACORN to register the Decepticons to vote!

  50. American Elephant says:

    Whats the big deal? It’s what Obama would do!
    If the film wants to be even more realistic, it would have him seizing and nationalizing the Transformers, costing the taxpayers several trillion dollars, then giving them as a gift to his union buddies, ordering that they be turned into tiny, fuel efficient hybrids that nobody wants, while getting ACORN to register the Decepticons to vote!

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