Michael Bay's Evolving Presence of Queerness is in the works

Michael Bay's Evolving Presence of Queerness is in the works ...

The doubtful Transformers director Michael Bay would come to mind if you asked to throw out a dozen or so filmmakers, but his latest film, Ambulance, features an openly queer man with a same-sex smooch, without ever ignoring his sexuality. It''s still probable that Bay would never go up with it. However, the recurring presence of queerness in Michael Bay''s work is complicated and reflects the larger differences of queer representation.

Michael Bay does not write his movies; it''s important to note that his solitary writing credit on IMDB for a 1990 Colin James music video is not intended to be a critique of Bay, but rather to offer context for who''s responsible for the various queer characters and stereotypes that he then films. This is not intended to be a critique of Bay, but rather to provide evidence for who''s responsible for the tenacity of his films that he was hired to direct commercials and music videos for

These are all intended to clarify how queer people have often crept into Bays'' work, even if he rarely works with the same screenwriter twice. This is emblematic of how ingrained such dehumanizing concepts are in mainstream Hollywood. Regardless, there will be a requisite gay panic comedic moment, at least in the 1990s and 2000s. This isn''t meant to remove any blame from Bay for the homophobic jokes and characters in some of his films, but rather to demonstrate how omni

Queerness in the Bays first two decades of filmmaking was often manifesting in an exclusively negative light. Gay individuals were not shown as multi-layered individuals just existing, but manifesting as people codified as gay stereotypes for the sake of providing comedy for cis-het audience members. Anthony Clarks Paul in The Rock, for example, is a perfect example of this; a man who enters the film saying Helloooo and then, upon being called a barber, notes that he is actually a stylist

Paul is expected to follow the pansy approach used in so many Hollywood depictions of queer men. In this case, the use of such a squeak structure was intended to to provide cis-het audiences with ease when it comes to seeing a conventionally feminine man being thrown into any other 1990s or 2000s action film. That''s how much of a microcosm Paul is of gay men''s homophobias in this era of American cinema.

So, it continued with Michael Bays'' works, which tended to feature queerness as the butt of jokes or in stereotypical characters that the audience was supposed to laugh at. Perhaps the conclusion of this was with Bad Boys II in 2003, which included an onslaught of homophobic jokes. This isn''t meant to excuse the discomfort which has been normalized throughout Bad Boys II, but rather a way to be cognizant of the larger cultural forces dehumanizing queer people.

Unfortunately, the rise of homophobic jokes in American pop culture and Michael Bays works continues in the Transformers movies. Despite being aimed just at youngsters, these films often used easy gay panic jokes for comedy. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, for instance, dig their grave even deeper by asking one frustrated human character You gonna go whine to Witwicky many times. Wang, however, is forced to straddle Witwicky in an attempt to disclose more information.

To passersby, including their boss (played by John Malkovich), it appears like two men engaging in physical intimacy in a bathroom stall, confirming that Wang emerged with his pants around his knees. However, the character in Alan Tudyks, who is heavily involved in queerness, is not the only instance of queerness in the film, given that his character is thought to have a profound repercussions on martial arts skills. How many pansies in Hollywood history can attest to

For the first time since 2005s The Island in 2013, Michael Bay was able to go whole-hog with an R-rating. This allowed for a greater level of violence and debauchery as compared to his PG-13 works, though the screenplay by Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeely still found time for homophobic gags that plagued so many of Bays works, notably, a scene in which protagonist Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) begins with a priest kissing Lugos knee

It is interesting for several reasons, including how it appears to be a form in a movie that claims to be based on a true story (though there are a lot of extra fictitious flourishes throughout Pain and Gain). While presented as a gay panic joke, it may also be interpreted as a way for filmmakers to learn how much moral rot has taken hold of the 1990s. But there is still a lot of interest to people who unironically shout No homo!

Pain and Gain erupted as a result of a fresh culture shift in mainstream American cinema. People had become tired of characters spouting out those who are so gay! or endless parades of homosexual jokes as a slur, as seen by the public controversy erupting in upcoming movies like Get Hard. Even R-rated adolescent and college audiences emphasized how using homophobic phrases was not cool.

Bays 2016 film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi was the most solemn film to date, thus it had no time for mockery or acknowledgment of the existence of queerness.

Transformers: The Last Knight and 6 Underground, both of whom failed to even utilize the creative freedom afforded by being released on Netflix as a way to inject an openly queer person into all of the Bayhem. Then, Emerson gets a notification about Ambulance''s hostage situation, says he must go, and kisses his husband on the mouth. None of this, including the smooch, is played for broad comedy.

Chris Fedak''s screenplay for Ambulance gives Clark the advantage of being a human being rather than a caricature that was seen throughout earlier Bay works. Even when Clark gets into discussions with police captain Monroe (Garret Dillahunt), their bizarre remarks are reminiscent of how LGBTQIA+ individuals have evolved into supporting characters in mainstream 2022 cinema. It''s no wonder Ambulance also got in on the fun.

Ambulance is a strange but welcome way to compare the Goofuses of Bays filmography, like Bad Boys II. Perhaps this will be an anomaly in Bays'' career, but heres to hoping it not. Perhaps someday hell will help audiences with the ups and downs of how Bay has depicted the LGBTQIA+ up to now. It''s an approach that, among other things, tends to be a fascinating representation of Hollywood itself.

Sign up for Collider''s newsletter to receive exclusive news, features, streaming recommendations, and more.