Autobots Vs. Decepticons: Race/class war?

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by Cinemastique, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. Cinemastique

    Cinemastique Earth Culture Specialist

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    Okay, this is one of those fanwankish threads where waaay too much thought is given to the simple "Good vs. Evil" dichotomy of 80's toys.

    That said, newer fiction (IDW comics, TF: Animated, even later Marvel stuff) appears to paint Autobots and Decepticons as either two seperate parts of society or two seperate races, and not simply opposing good and evil military factions.

    IDWverse shows (sympathetically) that Megs starts out as sort of the Malcolm X of robots: forming Decepticons as a faction to rise up against (what they consider to be) an oppressive and corrupt system that has marginalized and oppressed the common worker. It gets out of hand and eventually criminal, of course, but you know.

    Later in IDWverse (where Autobot-Decepticon relations are relatively civilized, if strained), we see that many Transformers aren't exactly military. Scorponok is a criminal even to his own kind, and Ultra Magnus even plans to turn Swindle over to a Decepticon court martial. Magnus isn't after these guys because they're Decepticons, he's after them because he's essentially a police officer. Nightbeat, Magnus, and others even appear to have "Civilian" jobs, making them the Autobot equivalent of the Army Reserve. So what does "Autobot" and "Decepticon" mean, in this context, if not a military designation? Does it denote race? Political belief? Social class?

    In animated, it's much more simple, but possibly even more disturbing. When Swindle shows up, Bumblebee acts revolted: "It's a Decepticon!"
    In this usage, though, the term Decepticon is obviously not used to denote allegiance to Megatron's army. Swindle and Lockdown are both bad dudes, yes, but are portrayed as free agents, not part of the Cybertronian war.

    Again, then, if not affiliation, does the designation "Decepticon" refer to their race? their ideology? Does Bumblebee's attitude toward a Decepticon insignia indicate some form of bigotry? I mean, Autobots have reached out to 'bots who were doing bad things and keeping bad company before (Constructicons, Dinobots, Wreck-Gar). But suddenly if they have a certain insignia, Autobots come out with barrels blazing.

    Just my random thoughts. Perhaps these very questions affect the problems of war in the real world, as well.
     
  2. enduser0001

    enduser0001 Autobuddy

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    Hmmmm. Interesting points. I am not so sure that the Bots and Cons could be considered as races as much as they could be put into social classes. I think in the G1 verse (at least that is how I know it to be) that the Bots were workers and laborers and the Cons were the war machines and weapons. I think that is how Dreamwave portrayed it as well.
    Like I said, even if DW and Marvel didn’t have this intention that is how I always viewed it. Admittedly I am less familiar with IDW than I would like to be but it would seem that they as well as the new animated series portray the Bots as being in control and the Cons as being these dissidents that refuse to live in a Bot controlled universe and Megatron is almost a Maximus/Che’ archetype of some sort. We also see examples of the corruption and bureaucracy in the Bots rankings as demonstrated by the Ultra Magnus and Sentinel Prime. “Defend but don’t fight back”, and “It’s my way or the highway” mentalities from the top downward. Why would the Cons even want to deal with that at all?
    I think in all the series it except for maybe the Beast era it ultimately boils down to ideology. In what does each individual believe? The beast Era seemed to evoke some sort of pre programmed behavior at the protoform stage that was able to be changed at will by BW Megatron. Dinobot seems to be the exception to this rule.
    I guess if I had a point it would be that none of it is set in stone cut and dry or any number of other metaphors. My though is that it is more of an ideology and a political point of view.
     
  3. Cinemastique

    Cinemastique Earth Culture Specialist

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    Well, I see that, too. But Lockdown's ideology isn't Megatron's, which certainly isn't Starscream's. At least Starscream is a soldier, though. So is Decepticon something they are created into? I never understood why Animated Lockdown or IDW Swindle even have an insignia, unless it's a racial, not occupational, attribute.
     
  4. Kingplay

    Kingplay Banned

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    Aren't decepticons - battle drones

    and autobots - working drones

    so just by being an autobot or decepticon doesn't mean they are good or bad,

    but the majority of decepticons are seen as bad since they thirst for blood and domination
     
  5. ian5555

    ian5555 Well-Known Member

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    They aren't races, they are factions.
     
  6. Backscatter

    Backscatter Autobot Brainmaster TFW2005 Supporter

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    True they are all Cybertronian. Even the Beasts. It's a Civil War. As with any war, there are all types on both sides. The good can be corrupted as well as the evil.
     
  7. Cinemastique

    Cinemastique Earth Culture Specialist

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    OKAY, Okay. Let me clarify, before this thread goes all over the place. I'm referring to the extension of "Autobot" and "Decepticon" to characters who aren't directly involved with the openly hostile (or, in IDW's case, cooly cordial) Autobot-Decepticon war.

    Lockdown in animated is a Decepticon, but he's not "One of the Decepticons," as in, a soldier under Megatron. IDW Megs talks about Decepticons as though they are entitled a birthright, which is contrary to the "you chose this side because you believe what we do" mentality. Megatron implies that Decepticons are "born" that way. The Autobots in Animated react that way, too. A Decepticon is a Decepticon, regardless of whether he's part of Megatron's force or not. So what makes a Decepticon?

    uh... but they're evidently not factions. That's kinda my point. Factions imply military, or militaristic affiliations, and various Autobots/Decepticons in the newer continuities aren't soldiers.
     
  8. stevej

    stevej Well-Known Member

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    Reminds me of a topic I almost started where I was going to compare the G1 Decepticons to the current Neo-con US administration. Their thirst for resources overcoming the need to worry about civilian populations, short-sighted goals resulting in far-reaching backlashes etc.

    In the end I decided against it as this board seems to be very heavy handed on political discussions.

    This is an interesting discussion though and I look forward to seeing where it goes. The power of Science-Fiction has always been in it's ability to reflect our currect sociopolitical realities. This was true from Asimov to Star Trek to Battlestar Gallactica.

    Steve
     
  9. Longhaul53

    Longhaul53 Guest

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    I would venture to say that majority of the Animated Transformers living on Cybertron fall under the category of Autobots. I only say this because it's made painfully clear in the cartoon early on that no one has seen a Decepticon since the great war.

    With that said - i don't think that being an Autobot infers that you are part of the Military. Just like being a Republican doesn't mean that you have to run for public office. It's just a choice based on values and ideals. Same goes for Decepticons... only they just happen to have been forced from their home planet for being less than pleasant neighbors. It is likely that there are TF's that live on Cybertron and may support the decepticon cause, but they may keep that facet of their lives hidden from the public - like a supporter of the KKK.

    Lockdown, in the cartoon itself, is not a decepticon. He's a baddy for sure. but you'll notice in the animation that he's got the logo blacked out - implying he's not into either the Autobot or Decepticon agenda. He's into his own thing. The toy, however, does have a Decepticon logo. I'm assuming this is for clearer Branding purposes. Swindle, who seems a little wishy washy on his loyalty to the cause, is Portrayed as a Decepticon in both Toy and Animation. You have a point on his allegiance, but time will tell how clearly the line is drawn between the "Factions".

    With that said, I'm under the assumption that Decepticons in the Cartoon are all connected to Megatron's 'force' as you say. I don't think there would be a Decepticon designation without Megatron. In my mind, i imagine that the Animated origin of the Decepticons plays out something very similar to the IDW Origins book on Megatron. Likewise, i also feel that Megatron believes in Destiny and Fate... thus all that choose to become Decepticons were destined to do so - this partially debunks your "birthright contradiction" theory. Additionally, when Megatron is speaking on behalf of all the Decepticons - is he really speaking for the greater good of the Decepticons, or is he just a masterful manipulator/propaganda machine trying to rally the troops to help him get what he really wants at the end of the day (i.e. Power)??? Don't forget that Megatron is synonymous with Tyrant and Dictator. In theory, he looks at all of his subjects as pawns in his game of chess... purely expendable. He wouldn't give two cyber-farts if every single one of his soldiers died on his way to claim glory. This idea further debunks your "birthright contradiction" theory in the regard that when Megatron says anything regarding a birthright, he's wholly referring to himself.

    Also, your thought about factions is incorrect according to Mirriam-Webster.com. Faction is defined as a party or group (as within a government) that is often contentious or self-seeking. While military is part of the government, to your credit, this definition clearly goes beyond the singular distinction that you've given it.

    with love,
    -ej.
     
  10. ian5555

    ian5555 Well-Known Member

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    I disagree, It's like WWII with Axis and Aliies. You had people/countries that weren't on either side like Switzerland, Ireland, Sweden, Spain, and Portugal in World War II. Sometimes those people did things to help either side but weren't affiliated with them but sometimes they were like some swiss in the german army. You could say species- Human, faction: Axis or Allies just like you would say species Cybertronian-faction: Autobot or Decepticon.

    You're taking something simple and trying to complicate it. They are factions in a war but you don't have to be a soldier to be on a side in a war. Who do you think was making all the US tanks and planes? Wasn't soldiers building them.
     
  11. Cinemastique

    Cinemastique Earth Culture Specialist

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    True, but complications arise when translating the 80's "these are the bad guys... they're just EVIL" mentality, into today's more sympathetic villain trend.

    Same thing happened in the 2002 MOTU series-- when they were operating in a toyline universe like MOTU (whose basic origins are quite nearly as slapped-together and dubious as TF's). Attempting to create appeal, they started fleshing out WHY Skeletor was all messed up, had entire episodes revolving around complicated scenarios of why the bee-guys didn't sit well with the bird-guys... and it just didn't fit in the universe. Personally, as a huge geek, I liked the series, but I can understand why it didn't make the jump from 80s to 2002 well.

    TF has done better, but back in the day, Autobots saw Decepticons, and it was ON. They knew who was evil, and didn't need to know why. Keeping those characterizations intact is very difficult once you start fleshing out the "evil" characters, I think. That's one reason Animated Bumblebee seeing Wreck-Gar with Angry Archer and NOT jumping to the conclusion that "he's evil!" is inconsistent with him seeing Swindle with some human bad guys and going "It's a Decepticon! I'm gonna kill him!"

    America is fighting radical Iraquis, it doesn't mean an American soldier just has the right to kill any Iraqui he sees. Watch Platoon. One thing that can be learned from Vietnam is that everyone who supports your enemy isn't a valid military target. If your point is taken, IAN5555, that there are non-military Decepticons, then it proves MY point that Bumblebee recklessly attacking anyone in purple is kinda bigoted.

    Then again, it's only a cartoon. :p 
     
  12. The Crazy Collector

    The Crazy Collector Well, that's just Prime! TFW2005 Supporter

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    Cinemastique, excellent question with some well thought out points and ideas!

    Longhaul53, great, and equally well though out answers and ideas!

    I think what it boils down to is that things aren't always cut and dry, especially in a war. Lockdown may wear a Decepticon insignia because it puts him in Megatron's favor and allows him greater freedom to do as he wishes. Lockdown is more a Decepticon out of convenience rather than allegiance. After all, the Autobot's wouldn't let him wear an Autobot insignia. Likewise with Swindle. Or perhaps Swindle is a regular Decepticon soldier who does a little wheeling and dealing on the side. Certainly that happens in real life: a soldier sees some extra supplies lying around and sells them on the black market. Megatron may allow it because Swindle's activities ultimately help his cause.

    IDW's universe is much the same. Things are tricky and convoluted. I think Autobots and Decepitcons are more like different political parties in IDW. So, Ultra Magnus is a member of the Autobot party, and probably works for a party-backed police force of some type. He wear's the Autobot insignia because that's the party he supports, and that's who he works for. And, like Longhaul53 said, when Megatron talks about the "Decepticon cause," or "Decepticon glory," he's really talking about his own cause and glory.

    What it all comes down to, I suppose, is which side would the Cybertronian in question fight for in forced to choose. Lockdown and Swindle would fight for the Decepticons because the Decepticon ideology seems to more closely align with their own. Neither would last long in an Autobot controlled world because what they do, and how they do it would never be accepted. Likewise, Ultra Magnus would support the Autobot cause because he believes in protecting masses, something much less important to the Decepticons. In war, each soldier has their own reasons for choosing a side to fight for. One could be force to fight, one could fight to protect one's land or family, one could fight for ideological reasons, or one could fight for any number of other reasons. There is probably rarely a clear cut, easy answer as to why someone decides to fight in a war.

    Really, ian5555, I think you've actually hit the nail on the head. War is complicated. If Earth was Cyberton, and the Allies were the Autobots and the Axis was the Decepticons, the 'bots building the tanks would probably be Autobots. Just because one doesn't wear an insignia, doesn't mean one doesn't support one side or the other. The Autobots and Decepticons simply wear their allegiances on their sleeves, so to speak.

    Just my thoughts on the subject, anyway.
     
  13. ian5555

    ian5555 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, maybe it is a little complicated after 20+ years of different storylines. I just always try to see the simple things in everything I guess. War to me is never that complicated, it's usually about one of two things and sometimes both, Land or Religion unless you listen to CNN then it is always about oil. In this case it's Land and there are 2 sides/factions Autobot, Decepticon fighting over Cybertron. The storyline has somewhat changed depending upon who is telling it but the basic premise remains.

    Somehow though no matter which incarnation of Transformers it is though they always seem to find earth.

    G1..Ohh they crashed on Earth, fight on Earth
    Movie..Ohh the Allspark is here, fight on Earth
    and so on.....but I guess it woudl be kinda silly if they didn't.
     
  14. Cinemastique

    Cinemastique Earth Culture Specialist

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    I spose I recognize as true most of what's been said. That just makes me take issue with the Autobots as heroes even more, in some cases, which is the main reason I started this thread. I agree that Nightbeat and Magnus are doing "extracurricular" work when we see them in IDW, and similarly, that's probably how Swindle is in both IDW and Animated. Lockdown, I agree that he's not a "real" Decepticon.

    Just because a 'bot openly supports the other side, that makes them a legitimate military target?

    We've done that song and dance in the real world, (and by "we," I mean nearly every country on the planet), and it doesn't seem very "Autobot-ish."

    I just had images of Cybertronian Autobots machine-gunning Decepticon women and children in pits...

    Edit: I know, I know. but they're hypothetical women and children. Fembots and protoforms. There, fixed. :p 
     
  15. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    The thing about most series is that the Autobots and Decepticons have already been at war for millions of years by the time most of the Transformers stories start. After that long you don't see much side switching or robots who have been able to stay netural that long.

    In Animated you sort of get the idea there was some sort of Decepticon revolution that we haven't gotten all the details on. Megatron says "Transform and rise up", Megatron seemed to really know the buttons to push on the revolutionary Soundwave. Plus Blackarachnia tells Prime she joined the Decepticons because they would accept her while the Autobots would have tried to dissect her, which almost makes the Decepticons sound more open minded than the Autobots.
     
  16. Mako Crab

    Mako Crab Well-Known Member

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    I disagree.
    The Decepticons make no secret that they are disgusted by her technorganic body. She seems to prefer their brutal honesty to the pity of the Autobots.
     
  17. GigatronSama

    GigatronSama Mr. Insomnia Veteran

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    It seems to depend greatly on which series you're watching. If you follow the G1 toon then you have the Quintisan origin which puts Autobots as being built first as slave labor, then Decepticons as military machines.

    When the Quints are thrown off Cybertron you have what are essentially two subspecies, very closely related but still different at their base. Decepticons are built to fight, it's their natural instinct so when there are no Quints to boss them around, they just do what comes naturally, fight, conquer, and expand their territory.

    I always thought Megatron, had he outlived Prime likely would have eventually started to miss the fight, and gone off looking for someone else to fight. Autobots of course had to adapt the Decepticon ways of war to survive, but in doing so also became militarized, blurring the line and leaving side switching open.

    So it looks like while they're built as a Bot or Con they do have the free will to change based on their ideologies. Starscream was a good example. Originally he was a scientist but the Decepticon cause suited him far more.

    Now if you look into the IDW series it seems more like a social class struggle, not too different from say the Communist revolution in Russia, where the working class joins together under a charismatic leader, to violently overthrow their government.

    I think lines between Megatron and Lenin and/or Stalin have been drawn before.

    Of course this is the very reason this conflict works so well. The autobots want the Decepticons to give up their expansionism and lay down their weapons to assimilate into the autobot culture, which Decepticons by their very nature can't do. So they'd see Autobots as oppressors.

    Not to mention their fundamentally different styles of government. With the autobots it seems to be a fundamentalist theocracy based on whomever carries the Matrix of Leadership.

    With the decepticons it's a militaristic meritocracy where society is organized by rank gained in battle (or through assassination).
     
  18. tikgnat

    tikgnat Baweepgranaweepninnybong. TFW2005 Supporter

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    I think the dynamic between Bots and Cons was changed with the introduction of the Allspark. Before, they fought over energy and supplies, implying that the Bot/Con divide was simply a military/territorial difference.

    When the Allspark was introduced, essentially their 'God', suddenly the whole thing takes a new dimension. Bots want the Allspark for benevolent purposed, Cons for evil.

    So in my mind, since the LA Movie and Animated feature the Allspark so much, its become a religious war for the Transformers. IMO.
     
  19. SoundwaveXS

    SoundwaveXS Member

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    Decepticons, they usally always loose but they have cooler TF's like SixShot and Scorpinox or even Soundwave so I would say Decepticons!!
     
  20. WingedWeasel

    WingedWeasel Well-Known Member

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    So the following is 2nd hand (or possibly farther removed) "information" from the all-knowing interwebz that I uncovered a while ago while looking for other TF information.

    Since I never read the (old) comics and I can't find evidence of primus elsewhere I can only assume that's where this came from. However a quick synopsis is that the ideological divide came from how best to complete their appointed task of defending primus as well as the rest of creation from unicron. Autobots thinking it is best to stay on cybertron and let unicron come to them, with the decepticons thinking it is best to bring the fight to unicron and everyone/thing else is an expendable resource in that plan. And there were other ideologies in between or farther in various directions.

    One would conclude that over the course of millions of years the hatred devolved into one side/the other being demonized and the actual reason was lost, and the lines blurred.

    Being at work I can't link to the site (read: don't have it right now) that had this explanation but maybe someone else can chime in?

    EDIT: http://www.angelfire.com/tx3/scorpionsnest/tfhistory2003.html

    Bleh, forgot it was an angelfire page. Anyway the part I was referencing starts with "Sons of Cybertron", you can ctrl + f for it since it's sorta big and not really worth copying everything over. Again I don't know where the person who made the page got the information from (could be just fan made nonsense) but it was interesting at least and would point to an ideological origin (while partly "religious") of the autobot vs. decepticon war
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2008

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