By my cursory and inaccurate count, Michael Bay has killed me 109 times. In basements, on street corners, on park benches and in swimming pools, Michael Bay has been there, slashing and stabbing with the sort of abandon only a well-misunderstood artist is capable of. His body of work gives clear insight into the content of his soul: What you see is not a man of sanity, but a man of explosions and massive casualties. As a director, Michael Bay is a man overwhelmingly concerned with making loud, violent, and overt filmic statements. Which is why he horrifies me.
Michael Bay has become for me the corporeal manifestation of my persistent, irrational, and narcissistic fear of my own death. When I watch his films, I’m reminded how easily I could be in them, one body among the countless decimated objects in Armageddon, for example, or one of the passengers of the bus Bonecrusher destroys in Transformers.
In reality, of course, Bay is only one of many directors who orchestrate death. But he has come to represent for me the the larger body of cinematic death tropes, some of which I have been the victim. Here are some examples.
Every Time I Take A Shower
Within the sacred realm of the home, few places leave us as vulnerable as the bathroom. Michael Bay clearly realized this the time he killed me last December. After getting shampoo in my eyes, and blindly reaching for my towel, I was met with the blurry figure of a man clutching a knife. He killed me, much in the way Janet Leigh’s character was killed in Psycho. (In case you are curious, my blood smelled of Herbal Essences, which means to say, marigold flowers, angelica, and thyme).
When I Stare Into The Bathroom Mirror
In Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Tim Strode is clearing the fog off the bathroom mirror when Michael Myers comes up behind him and cuts his throat. Much like the Psycho shower scene, Strode’s death is awful because it alerts us, again, to the very obvious vulnerability of being naked, blind, and alone. The bathroom mirror plays a big role here as well because it allows us to see straight into the eyes of our killer. Does he smile? Cry? In many of my cases, it was both.
All Those Times That I Sit In A Car as Someone Turns on The Ignition
Cars belong to a special class of modern machines that are as helpful as they are dangerous. Nowhere is this more obvious than in every filmic scene where characters are killed by their vehicles. Cars hurtle into walls, fly into rivers and slam into people, reigning a very modern and democratic sort of destruction. But cars are also a common tool for a very maniacal sort of killing: the car assassination. Using this method, an assassin rigs up a car to explode once the driver activates a certain part of a car’s functionality – turning on the ignition, activating the radio, etc. Notable victims of this killing method are the Godfather’s Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone, Judge Sorillo from The Dark Knight, and me on November 1st of last year. None of us saw it coming.
Every Time I Tell Someone I’ll “Be Right Back”
There is an important scene in Scream where Randy, played by Jamie Kennedy, goes on a particularly insightful metafictional tirade about how characters can go about surviving horror films. Rule number one, he says, is you can never have sex. “Sex equals death, okay?” Rule number, two, Randy goes on, is you can never drink or do drugs. (He calls these things the “sin factor”). But rule number three is the most important: Never say “I’ll be right back.” For Randy, declaring your safe return in a horror film is the filmic equivalent to standing on a rooftop during a thunderstorm and daring god to strike you down. Within the context of a film, saying “I’ll be back” is very clearly an affront to the screenwriter/director, who hold the narrative keys to your survival. What they create they can just as easily destroy. Randy realized this.
I, however, did not, and Michael Bay was always there to remind me of my transgressions. This has happened twenty-five times.
When I Am Drinking A Glass Of Orange Juice
When disaster strikes it does so with little regard for its victims. The meteor that crashed through my bedroom window last May was meant to strike at the very moment that I was taking my first sip of orange juice. It was both cruel and ironic for me because I had just finished a very healthy and balanced breakfast that was meant to prolong my life. Instead the meteor that rendered my room a burning wreckage cut the whole deal short not unlike the way a jet engine kills Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in Donnie Darko. I was pretty upset about it.