Most of my life has been spent seeking out a unifying theory of suckitude in the entertainment universe, "entertainment" in this sense meaning movies, music, and television. Originally, I'd hoped to find someone whose utter horribleness spanned the entire artistic firmament (including literature and the theater), but the project quickly became too unwieldy (and I was afraid Andrew Lloyd Webber would hire someone to "disappear" me). So I decided to stick with my original definition, in the hopes of unearthing the one person so foul they threaten the very fabric of the industry itself.
After about ten seconds, I realized it was Michael Bay.
The man who once played "Goon #3" in a second season episode of Miami Vice is known primarily for his crimes against cinema, and I'll get to those, but first I need to acknowledge his...contributions to music and television, which conveniently come packaged together as music videos. Bay's first was Donnie Osmond's "Soldier of Love," and they go downhill from there: "Angelia" by Richard Marx, "I Touch Myself," Meat Loaf's overwrought (even by Meat Loaf standards) "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That"). In only a few years, Bay had established himself as a purveyor of exceedingly high gloss crap.
Then came the movies. The most enduring negative effect of his debut, Bad Boys (aside from the sequel) was extending Martin Lawrence's career past Martin. The Rock, which came out a year later, is actually a decent flick. Unfortunately, it established what were to become Bay's trademarks: unintentionally hilarious slow motion, military fetishism, and the triumph of orgiastic pyrotechnics and shlock romance over even the barest semblance of narrative skill.
Naturally, they've grossed billions.
One could easily devote 2,000 words to the subject of the Faustian deal that prevented Armageddon and Pearl Harbor from leading to Bay's forced deportation via catapult, but his diabolical reach extends far beyond Ben Affleck's jutting chin.
For starters, there's his production company Platinum Dunes, which is primarily dedicated to taking classic horror movies (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Friday the 13th, The Hitcher, A Nightmare on Elm Street) and making them shittier. Unless, of course, you're the sort of person who favors Sean Bean over Rutger Hauer or thinks what the original TCM needed was a tormented childhood. In which case, you're an enemy of all that is good or decent in mankind.
And then there's the Transformers franchise. I'm not going to lie and say I completely hated the first movie, but I was unprepared for the new development it heralded. No longer content to confine himself to what's onscreen, Bay's toxic influence is now being spread by the very people he casts in his films.
First, we have Shia LaBeouf. Plucked from Even Stevens obscurity and anointed by Bay as the lead in his giant robot franchise, LaBeouf has now decided he has the juice to talk shit about every movie he's made since Holes:
His "Transfomers" criticism was: "We got lost. We tried to get bigger. It's what happens to sequels. It's like, how do you top the first one? You've got to go bigger. [Michael Bay] went so big that it became too big, and I think you lost the anchor of the movie. You lost a bit of the relationships. Unless you have those relationships..., then it's just a bunch of robots fighting each other."
Now he's slamming Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."
"I'd already been involved in a movie where I felt like we dropped the ball on a legacy," he said, referring to the ''Indiana Jones" sequel at the Cannes junket for his third sequel, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps."
"In that movie, I just felt sort of pigeonholed. Like I didn't have enough meat to chew on. I just feel like we were trying to enforce innocence on an audience that wasn't willing. You can't force things, you know?"
Bear in mind, this isn't Orson Welles sparring with Hearst over the release of Citizen Kane...it's Shia fucking LaBeouf criticizing his paymasters after the fact. I'm not sure what version of Transformers he saw as a kid, but the central theme is pretty much supposed to be "a bunch of robots fighting each other," not whether or not Sam and Mikaela can forge a meaningful bond. Say what you want about Bay -- and I have -- but giant fighting robots is totally in his wheelhouse. Still, he's the guy who forced Shia LaBeouf onto an unsuspecting world.
Speaking of Megan Fox, she's perhaps the most loudmouthed of Bay's discoveries. We've labored under the mistaken assumption that attractive people actually have something of import to say for decades. Hell, it's the reason Entertainment Tonight exists. Fox, on the other hand, :
"If you start becoming famous for your personal life, that's when your career goes away."
This from the same interview where she discusses her topless photo shoot and gives Transformers a backhanded swipe for not being a movie she's proud of acting in.
Fox also notoriously talked shit about Bay himself, comparing him to Hitler and Napoleon. This strategy appears to have backfired, as Bay has booted her from Transformers 3 (Fox claims she left voluntarily). The damage to society, however, has been done. Bay unleashed these ingrates upon us, and now we can't escape them. LaBeouf is appearing in the Wall Street sequel, continuing his track record of wagon training on existing properties, and Fox is showing even more skin in the upcoming Jonah Hex adaptation.
Meanwhile, Bay continues work on the next Transformers movie. And of we're really lucky, we'll get the Platinum Dunes version of The Birds in 2013. Fiddling while Hollywood burns with the help of his vapid proteges.