Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Unexamined Hype

(Above: Needs more clutter)
Even in these generally mediocre times, I find the idea of unconditional fanboy excitement for the Transformers movie a little weird (unless you just find the idea of someone wearing a Strokes t-shirt in 2007 delightfully absurd). Market researchers would likely consider me among the target audience for this thing: I grew up with the toys and cartoon series, pestering my poor mother to buy me the latest Dinobot playset... although it wasn't until years later that I found the nerve to get the 2Pac-esque "Collect 'Em All" gothic-lettered tattoo that now adorns my rippled stomach. Yet I can't say I look back on something that was so nakedly about selling merchandise with any sense of fondness or nostalgia. Is there anyone alive who can say their imaginations or development were enhanced in any way by this stuff? Weren't these toys and cartoons nothing more than a placeholder for bored latchkey kids? If anything they might have helped prepare kids to shamelessly covet inessential, clunky, status symbol gadgets like iPhones as annoying adults. I will admit that the Transformers universe wasn't totally devoid of personality: my hazy memory ranks the comic book series as above average, and the original 1987 animated movie was kind of a weird head trip for kids in that it elaborately killed off several of the most popular characters (i.e. the ones that had the best voice actors). It also gave birth to the sub-Journey power ballad "You Got the Touch," which was later hilariously recycled in Boogie Nights. Plus, there were a couple of evil robots that turned into a tape deck and cassette (most likely an R. Stevie Moore mixtape). That's pretty cool.

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