A philosophical Misconception

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by Leadfoot, May 16, 2011.

  1. Leadfoot

    Leadfoot The Strongest.

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    It always bothers me when fans of Transformers say that the Autobots from the movieverse are too violent. My reasoning is simple enough to follow with a little effort. I post this here because it involves an assessment of the entire Transformers universe as a whole, including its most important philosophical concepts.

    The Autobots follow Optimus Prime, whose most important belief is that freedom is the right of all sentient beings. However, just as in the case of any philosophical belief system of any people on earth, this does not mean that all people are given a free pass in the event that their choices prove to be unredeemable.

    In ROTF, Demolishor is, without deliberation, plugged right in the head by Optimus after killing, oh, let's just say around 100 people on a bridge and freeway. Bonecrusher, in Transformers, is decapitated rather than incarcerated, also by Optimus, likely because he swiped his arm through a bus and murdered 30-odd human beings in doing so. The Fallen has his face torn off and his spark crushed in Prime's fist, possibly for, oh I don't know, destroying an aircraft carrier full of hundreds of people. These actions in most societies would be punishable by death. People object to Optimus' actions and insist that somehow they are inconsistent with his personal philosophy and that of the Autobots.

    I think the reason for this is that their mentality in witnessing these actions is the same mentality they brought to their first experience with the characters in G1. G1 was an environment in which the true consequences of actions, save for some events in the cartoon movie, were not allowed to exist due to the nature of the medium. In large part, guns don't kill in G1. Hand to hand weapons do not wound. It is bumper cars. Of course in G1, under such circumstances, one would develop the notion that the good guys don't kill by choice - but it was a function of the medium, a childrens' toon.

    In movies, without child-safety censorship, the consequences of mass murder and destruction are often brutal and without deliberation or process. If you truly believe that Optimus would not have executed Megatron in the 1986 movie had Hot Rod not intervened and screwed everything up, then I believe it's safe to say you disagree with me.

    But the essence of what I'm getting at is that just because Optimus believes that all sentient beings deserve freedom, it does not imply that he believes they deserve freedom from the consequences of their destructive choices - and one should bring that thought to bear when whatching any Transformers media that is not reduced down to the level acceptable only to children.
     
  2. Nachtsider

    Nachtsider Banned

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    My first exposure to G1 was the Marvel comics, where characters died left and right. The 'your mentality is influenced by G1's mellow depictions of violence' argument doesn't apply for me.

    As I've mentioned time and time again, I have no problem with Optimus killing Decepticons. He should, however, be presented as the type of warrior who would give an opponent a quick, clean death no matter how despicable they are.
     
  3. General Magnus

    General Magnus Da Custodes of the Emprah

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    This. Prime is a good soldier and a good leader.
     
  4. Overlord Balder

    Overlord Balder Voices Slugslinger!

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    I agree with Leadfoot.

    And that's exactly what he does in the movies:
    - Bonecrusher? Beheaded, instant death.
    - Demoslihor? Headshot, also instant death.
    - That Blackout clone whose name I don't remember? Also beheaded, instant death.
    - Even THE FALLEN had his goddamn face ripped off and THEN had his spark cut out in approximadetely five seconds, Optimus murdered the shit out of the guy pretty quickly.

    The aircraft doesn't even BEGIN to describe The Fallen's crimes: The guy murdered the rulers of Cybertron, destroyed Optimus' family and plunged the Cybertronian world into the bloodiest war [said war KILLED THEIR HOMEPLANET, and is now risking to destroy Earth itself].

    In other words: The Fallen was basically almost singlehandedly reponsible for the near-extinction of the Cybertronian race, the death of Cybertron itself, the loss of The Cube among space, and is now threatening to destroy mankind...and oh, did I mention he MENTORED GODDAMN MEGATRON? If anyone deserves death, that person is THE FALLEN.
     
  5. Bumblethumper

    Bumblethumper old misery guts

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    I dunno, this has never really bothered me, but I think it'd be possible to handle the deaths in a less sadistic manner. I've seen good guys kill bad guys in lots of action movies. Haven't seen many where they did it by ripping their face apart with hooks.

    I know people will say "this isn't G1", but I always thought of Optimus as the Autobots' moral compass. Just relentlessly idealistic. He was never supposed to be a bad-ass. I think it might be more effective if they left the brutal bad-assery to another Autobot. Maybe Sideswipe or Ironhide, a bot who's deliberately built up as being a bit of a cutthroat bastard.
     
  6. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Dry built

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    And for leading an invasion that no doubt claimed hundreds of more lives, and the lives he took during the war over the Matrix.

    The Fallen was a jerk. Optimus saw it, and he has a zero-tolerance for jerks. Leadfoto has it right, Optimus and teh Autobots aren't evil or psychopaths, they just exists in a more violent, harsher world that doesn't tolerate nice guys. It's a war.
     
  7. Wheeljack_Prime

    Wheeljack_Prime Don't eat me

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    I just like the fact that for once, the Autobots are fully acting like they actually want to win the war.
     
  8. doucoo

    doucoo U're an idiot Starscream!

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    Doesn't bother me. Prime stands up for the ones that can't stick up for themselves.

    I also feel that with every Transformer or human of creature that die either at his hands or at the hands of the Decepticons, he carries that burden. Any life killed will upset Optimus but he accepts, with a heavy heart (or heavy matrix!) that life will die in war.
     
  9. bny888

    bny888 バグバイト

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    I do not think they movieverse Autobots are too violent. I don't know, maybe I've become jaded from watching all those violent Japanese cartoons since I was a kid.
     
  10. Recall

    Recall Player Select

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    War is a bitch.
     
  11. dkr7

    dkr7 "Argh' Hexagonal Nuts!"

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    :lol 
     
  12. Superquad7

    Superquad7 We're only human. Super Mod

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    I feel like when comparing G1 and the movieverse, I'm a bit more in the middle on how I feel about this topic and my perceptions of it.

    If we're talking about the G1 cartoon, one thing the '86 movie gave us was alien robots who had been using firearms for quite a long period of time actually hitting the broad side of a barn. With the movies, I think that the death has become a bit too frequent, commonplace, even expected (as you guys have said, these robots are at war here) to the point that when a robot dies, the viewer has a callus response.

    Nachtsider mentions the G1 comics, and while I was unable to follow the whole series as a kid, I think the comics got it right. I don't feel like there was a death in every issue, but there was consequence of war. Also, I had a similar response to deaths in the issues I read as a kid as I did the deaths in the G1 movie, just not so extreme because it wasn't the cartoon (in my experience as a kid, the cartoon trumped the comic, as I always felt it was an "additional" story, despite what facts may be).

    In short, I think in the cartoon, death was way too costly (for many reasons), but the movieverse makes death feel cheap. Both Optimus and Megatron have died in the movieverse, but the rest of the robots must suffer a more permanent death? I'd say the same for the G1 cartoon too.

    Anyways, that's just a little bit of my thinking on the issue.
     
  13. doucoo

    doucoo U're an idiot Starscream!

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    ^ Good point about the Marvel comics

    I must admit, I did like the comic view of things where they were not dead but in the ark awaiting repair or perhaps un-repairable or near to it.

    I loved the Dinobot story about them dreaming, but not able to wake up.
     
  14. Driftx3

    Driftx3 lord of all things robot

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    Americans have many many justifications for extreme violence. Violence is good as far as our media is concerned. Heros in movies are always shown gruesomely killing people. Violence is not a taboo in our society and is considered more appropriate for general viewing than things like sex or social tolerance.

    Since Bay admittedly strives to keep things relevant to the lowest common denominator, it is logical that violence rides the forefront of all of his movies.

    Truthfully there is no justification of violence. Violence is completely wrong. People who argue toward the the "pro" of violence simply put, generally have no personal experience with violence. If one was on the receiving end of brutal violence I doubt they would be finding reasons to justify it. I know I'm not.
     
  15. General Magnus

    General Magnus Da Custodes of the Emprah

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    You live in cute little ilusional world.

    War is violence. Transformers are fighting a war. How hard is to get that notion throught people skulls?
     
  16. Mako Crab

    Mako Crab Well-Known Member

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    While I have no issue with the Autobots putting down their enemies permanently, it was more how their actions were presented that made them seem less than heroic. The opening scene of RotF is a perfect example.

    Imagine you're a member of the general public. You don't know anything about Transformers. Maybe you haven't even seen the first movie. You sit down in your seat and see. . .

    - 8 Autobots and a team of soldiers hunting for Decepticons.
    - They find 2 Decepticons who were, up to that point, shown doing nothing. Whether they were up to no good or not is irrelevant. They were only shown just sitting quietly in hiding.
    - All 8 Autobots and the soldiers gang up on the 2 Decepticons and kill them outright.

    As far as opening scenes, it doesn't do a good job of establishing the good guys as being good. So while I don't disagree with the lethality of their actions, I disagree in the way the so-called "good guys" are depicted.

    Seriously, Sideswipe cuts Dead End clean in half and then quips about how badass he is. And what was Dead End doing? Nothing. Didn't even throw any insults at the bots. Part of establishing your good guys is to establish how bad their bad guys are.
     
  17. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    So, out of curiosity, does Prime's position as Autobot leader allow him to act as Judge, Jury, and Executioner? Being able to dictate who gets to live and who gets to die when in custody seems a bit more of a Decepticon thing.

    I think that's what left a bad taste in my mouth about some of the movie things, not that Prime kills, but how its portrayed. If they're just two factions killing eachother in a war, what's the difference between the Autobots and the Decepticons? Why should the audience care more about one side? The more I think about it, the Autobots don't seem to show they care much about collateral damage except for when their direct allies or people who are helping their agenda are threatened.
     
  18. Superquad7

    Superquad7 We're only human. Super Mod

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    I totally agree with this, as Sideways has become a favorite character of mine simply because I became very fond of him for this reason (and others). Also, I have a problem with this as well:

    I really think this Aernaroth gets to the heart of the matter here (at least one angle of it). We've seen just an ounce of remorse from movie Prime, but that's really about it. While I certainly don't expect every single Autobot to be the model for nobility (I'd actually like varying degrees of it with Optimus being their guide as to teaching them to take the higher road and why), I certainly don't want to see every Autobot become a Energon-thirsty killer. The ends don't justify the means here. Even while being at war with the Decepticons may be necessary, there should be at least a large element of the remorse and regret over why the Autobots have been pushed to such extreme measures.

    Also, I also wanted to see more of the Autobots trying to reason with at least some of the Decepticons (like RotF Wheelie). That's one reason the G1 series always appealed to me. There are certainly instances in other continuities that offer hope to the Decepticons. Also, there are series that show that some Autobots are willing to succumb to their darker sides enough to swap their factions. There were things that bugged me about RotF Wheelie, but I did enjoy that he was carrying out certain plans for the Decepticons at one point, but once offered hope of safety and refuge, he chose freedom from the Decepticons.
     
  19. Leadfoot

    Leadfoot The Strongest.

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    Yes.

    I look at it more as the Decepticons condemning themselves to death for the crime of taking innocent lives - the operative word here being innocent. Not believing in capital punishment is one thing, but this is a war. Unless you come out with your hands in the air and present yourself as a non-combatant, you will not be given quarter or a trial.

    I can agree with some of this. I think in large part, it's a matter of the way it was presented. Just from the example of the killing of Demolishor, I think many of us would feel much better about the whole thing if Optimus had merely expressed a modicum of regret when executing him. I don't think of killing him as being an issue, but doing it Punisher style just doesn't line up properly with Optimus' ways.
     
  20. Matt_M

    Matt_M Snarkabot

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    Maybe it's because I don't wander into General Discussion too often, but this is the first time I've heard this complaint.
     

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