Last year, one of the more contentious aspects of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was an Autobot duo, Mudflap and Skids, who seemed to embody an impressive collection of racist, urban stereotypes.

Yesterday there was word, based on a spy account of some Transformers 3 activity, that the twins would return for the third film. But Michael Bay has now said that isn’t the case.

Bay’s denial was terse: “The Twins are not back in T3.” Given that the characters were Bay’s creation, rather than an invention of the film’s writing team, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect their return. I’m quite happy to see that they’ve missed the boat this time (assuming Bay remains true to his word) but given that, in the wake of the film’s release, everyone involved seemed quite willing to pass the buck with respect to where the characters came from, it’s no surprise they’re being left out now.

I still find it difficult to believe that the studio and its automotive corporate partner Chevrolet didn’t red-flag these two characters before they got out of the animatic stage. To me, they scream racist caricature, and not in any vaguely defensible way. There’s no commentary being made through them. They weren’t funny, entertaining, or otherwise worth keeping around. I’m no fan of the second film by any stretch, but in a movie that has a great many problems, Skids and Mudflap stand out as outrageously pointless ideas.

But there’s a big chunk of the audience that didn’t agree at all. Quite a few didn’t seem to see what the big deal was all about, while others found the characters to at least be funny. The article I wrote about these characters late in June of 2009 currently has 770 comments on it — I haven’t read them all, but even a cursory look shows that there is a broad range of opinion on the characters.

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