The world's worst filmmaker recently starred in a Verizon broadband ad parodying his blow-it-all-up-and-chant-"awesome" style, an ad which many received without critique, as if Michael Bay was letting everyone know he's in on the joke — that he knew he's just a soulless moneymaker. Bay has reduced of his body of work into a 31-second ad. And impressively, nothing has been lost. Before the analysis, watch the work in question:
This is not mere self-mockery, or even Bay spinning his appeal. The ad is not a celebration of the epic, but Bay clearly intends it to be so. It's not just that Michael Bay "demands things to be awesome," but that he believes he can achieve this with explosions and constantly shouting at himself, "awesome!" He congratulates himself four times in 31 seconds. And for what? He's made some flames and a waterspout and bought a tiger. To Bay, this is what awesome means.
Don't say it's just a joke for a commercial. When Bay wanted to add character to the non-speaking car in Transformers, he made it talk through radio songs. To raise the tension in a movie where an asteroid is about to wipe out humankind, he added a father-redeems-daughter's-boyfriend scene. In space. This is a man who rewrote the bombing of Pearl Harbor so one man shot down the entire Japanese air force. Michael Bay's definition of awesome is the opposite of epic. It's 2 Fast 2 Furious. The only impressive things about Bay movies are how carefully he can build up for an obvious plot twist, then even more obviously not twist anything.
The ad also reveals the man's service to commercial interests, wherein entire plots are constructed around product placement and merchandising. Bay calls himself awesome, calls his work awesome (note that up to this point, no third party, except possibly a tiger, is credited with any awesomeness), then calls Verizon awesome, blessing it with his holy power. Like God, the awesomeness of Bay is axiomatic; it needs no defense, for Bay has declared it so.
Contrast with Wes Anderson, who elegantly parodied his style in an American Express ad that drew not only on self-reference but on the classic film Day for Night, the whole genre of arch drama, and filmmaking itself. He's shown as a sloppy spendthrift making a bad film. Someone completely unaware of Anderson could appreciate this ad. And he does it all without even showing the card.
Bay, though, attempts no self-parody. The idea that he'd blow up his swimming pool (I assume he's really installed explosives on the shallow end) is just a half-joke on the level of a Dane Cook "punchline," providing no self-deprecation; he tells you right away to think he is awesome. And even Bay, with the help of footage from his own movie and a giant Transformer, can't keep it up for more than half the ad's length; the second half hard-sells the product. Someone unaware of Bay could appreciate the Verizon ad — because Verizon didn't have enough confidence to sell the product using Bay's aura alone.
So the ad proves: Bay is powerless. He can only feed off the power of an already cataclysmic plot: Earth-destroying asteroid, earth-destroying robots, earth-destroying Japanese. He can't even convince me to switch Internet providers.