I'm a good, progressive intellectual man. I'm deep. I'm not into all this mainstream Hollywood blockbuster bullshit man.
Okay, ... well, I've made it pretty clear that I like to get high and watch good CGI. And it's true, that I saw scenes from "Transformers" when I was at the Hamilton drive-in theatre watching a triple-feature that featured "The Simpson's Movie," Michael Moore's "Sicko," and, unfortunately, the last Bruce Willis "Die Hard" movie. (That one was fucking ridiculous, with the F-17 [whatever] fighter jet being unable to nail a tractor-trailer driving alone on a highway overpass and etc.), I could see over on another screen that they were showing the "Transformers" movie. I have to admit that I was pretty impressed with the CGI modeling. Those giant gleaming machines really seemed to be integrated into the scenery. So, I got hold of the movie for home viewing and watched it. Yes, I expected it to be simplistic, escapist nonsense, and it was. The CGI was also quite impressive.
What's motivating me to write this entry though is my response to the opening scenes. They take place at a US military base in Qatar. One of the "evil" robots shows up there and steals info about US military weaponry and then destroys the base. But before that all happens, we're shown scenes of good-natured US soldiers, including one of the movie's heroes, who are happily going about their vague duties with innocent, American exuberance, or (from the commanding officer) intelligence or professionalism. The future hero appears to have a friendship with an Arab boy, showing, I suppose, that not all Arabs are crazed killers and haters of American freedoms.
Unspoken of course is just why there should be an American military base in Qatar. Why we (or, more accurately, US audiences) should simply accept that these bases are there and that there's probably a good reason for it. The Americans are the "good guys" after all. There are evil terrorists there, who hate Israel, America, and freedom and capitalism in general.
In reality, there are US military bases in the Middle East and around the world to project American power against any forces that would challenge American control over their natural resources. In reality, these bases aren't there to protect the locals against inexplicably evil terrorists. They're there to serve American interests, and these interests require military protection because these interests are usually opposed to the welfare of the local inhabitants.
But I remember as a child viewing depictions of US military power, and the US government, as this powerful force for good in the world. I'm sure that there are youngsters today watching movies like "Transformers" and ingesting this benign if hazy notion of what this military power is all about. It's not about powerful, professional, heroic good-guys, possessed of awesome power, and governed over by noble men of integrity like the innocent president asking for his Hostess Ding-Dong, or his driven Secretary of Defense (played by Jon Voight). It's something else entirely.