Deeper Meaning Behind Transformers

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by Boggs6ft7, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. Boggs6ft7

    Boggs6ft7 TFW2005 Supporter

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    This has always bugged me and maybe there is some more explanation out there. Is there some kind of social spin/politics behind the original G1 Transformers. I'm talking about first wave.

    The toys came before the story so characters had to be chosen from some idea or grouping. I just find it ironic that the good guys for the most part are service vehicles; police cars, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck, and led by a red while and blue semi-truck. The bad guys are mostly military vehicles, led by a a character that turns into a gun.

    I don't want to go as far as say that there are some socialist undertones, but it seems like this was done on purpose. I know Denny O'Neil had some things to do with the original story and he himself has some strong political views.

    Maybe some of you more into the history can give a better answer as to why the common worker is championed. Or maybe I'm just reading WAY too much into Transformers.
     
  2. TJOmega

    TJOmega The Plastic Addict Content Contributor

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    I dont think there's anything political about it, just the personality of the vehicles. Police cars, fire trucks, tow trucks, and cars like the Lamborghini and Volkswagen beetle. Cool cars and rescue themed vehicles have an attitude of a good guy. And red and blue seems to be a popular trend in lead robots in Japan, doesn't surprise me it was used for Optimus.

    As for Decepticons, military vehicles and weapons tend to be more toward evil, and cameras and recorders are devices for deception and spying. Again, just the personality of the vehicles they had from Diaclone. The trend ended soon after, with Aerialbots and Stunticons swapping those profiles, and things like Constructicons, Warpath, and I'd even say Omega Supreme stretched those concepts out.

    But since you're talking Wave 1, then it's easy enough. Cars are Autobots, jets and utilities are Decepticons, just breaks down simply enough.
     
  3. Boggs6ft7

    Boggs6ft7 TFW2005 Supporter

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    That's just it. Guns and military aren't inheiritly evil.... just people that use them.
     
  4. TJOmega

    TJOmega The Plastic Addict Content Contributor

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    They're machines designed for destruction, I'd call that having an evil personality. You're right, nothing about them is really evil, but it holds a persona and history of being used for such... It's just down to what suits the toy best.
     
  5. Feralstorm

    Feralstorm I ship Nick & Judy TFW2005 Supporter

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    I don't know how early the story concepts went into toy picking decisions, but it's been often said that the Decepticons were military from the start, and the Autobots were civilians pressed into service, so the choices make sense on that level.

    I remember when they deviated from the formula more and more around year 3 and beyond, it bugged me as a kid.
     
  6. DrGrim

    DrGrim OBEY

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    I think you're reading too mucch in it. The Autobots were service vehicles because service vehicles do good things, making them good guys. The Decepticons were military things because they are war machines that cause destruction, the ideal bad guy. The gun was an obvious choice for the bad guy leader because guns kill. Simple as that.
     
  7. Triformis

    Triformis Insecticon Fanatic TFW2005 Supporter

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    Yep, definitely reading way too much into it, but they're intersteing ideas, nevertheless. I dont think I can bring any new thoughts to the table that haven't been said up above, so I'll just reiterate one point.

    Yes, war machines aren't inherently evil and are technically are only as evil as their operator(s). However, they are war machines and are built solely for destructive purposes, so it juts makes senmse for Decepticons to take those forms.

    As for the comon household items, like Soundave, well, those can be explained as being more "spy-like" items, which also play a role in warfare.
     
  8. Spekkio

    Spekkio Master of War

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    I definitely do not think you're reading too much into it. I think it's very useful and valuable to look below the surface.

    Part of what we have to remember is that the creators of the Transformers mythos might've done some things intentionally and some things subconsciously. And as a historian-in-training(sort of), one day I realized that there was a Cold War subtext to G1. Follow along:

    Autobots: Generally peace-loving, fun, normal guys. Enjoy music, exploration, friendship, science, sports, etc. Fight because they have to, not because they want to (generally speaking). Very, very democratic - Autobots show each other respect, but not rigidly so. Generally honest, trustworthy. Protective of civilians. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    Decepticons: Brutal, vicious, selfish, untrusting, untrustworthy, greedy. Rank is based on power and intimidation. Few Decepticons have outside interests of any note. Cowardly. Militaristic. Devious. Etc.

    Now, of course, it's important to note that this view of the Cold War is rather obviously one-sided, biased, and incorrect. History teaches us that NATO was not an organization of angels, nor was the Warsaw Pact an organization of demons. Nor was G1 the only form of popular entertainment that reflected these attitudes or showed these biases: see all James Bond films before GoldenEye or the Star Trek films before VI (it is generally accepted that the Klingons & Romulans were a substitute for the USSR for "Classic" Trek).

    It's also interesting to compare G1 to the continuities that came afterward. I'll leave that to you to ponder. :) 
     
  9. Rama Sha

    Rama Sha Tosche Station Pimp

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    You think this is bad...you should hear me go on about how the Neighborhood of Make-Believe from Mister Rogers Neighborhood is a political analogy.
     
  10. LigerPrime

    LigerPrime Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I remembered that also...Season 2 was when the "change" happened with the introduction of the Aerialbots and Stunticons...the introduction of the Dinobots was also considered a change in formula...

    I remembered that the Autobots were deemed as "vehicle" hence the "Auto" in "Autobots" while the Decepticons were war machines and equipment.
     
  11. Blunticon

    Blunticon The Oddjob

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    Just the classic good vs evil concept.
     
  12. Backscatter

    Backscatter Autobot Brainmaster TFW2005 Supporter

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    That all I've evere "read" into the Transformers as well. A good fantasy, so much unlike life where sometimes the line between good and evil become blurred. You can be evil living within the law, or doing right by breaking it for a higher cause.
    Others exist not by morals, but standards. So it's just so good seeing the clear cut lines of good vs. evl with the Transformers.
     
  13. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    Not to say that there isn't some residual Cold War symbolism to be found in Transformers (the 80's still had a lot of that) but I think the examples you supply are stretching it a bit. The qualities you emphasize in the Autobots are generally held to be familiar, righteous everyman traits one finds in "American" culture. The Decepticon traits are pretty universally "evil" or alien traits. Tying these to particular ideologies of the Cold War is way too vague. By the same definition, Decepticons could be Fascists, and Transformers could be a thinly-veiled WWII analogy. Or the Decepticons could be the French, and it could be a thinly-veiled 100 Years War analogy, etc, etc...

    However, I think the general backdrop of the early 80's does provide a certain USA vs USSR context. Also the fact that the Cons were in fact DECEPTIcons... and aside from their obvious warlike tendencies, they were also deceptive, hidden, subversive, espionage-related villains. The implication is that they would take over through guile, betrayal and subterfuge (not that this played out that way so often in the TV show... they just blew things up). And indeed, the whole point of the Cold War was that it was just that... a war fought with espionage and subversion, rather than outright bombs and tanks. Enemies might be living next door, or working in the next office over... or disguised as your COFFEE MAKER!

    Well, not literally, but your phone line might be tapped. Maybe your tape player is bugged too. Hmmm... again, no surprise that Megatron was based on the "spy" gun used in the Man From UNCLE series, eh?

    Now the Autobots were "in disguise" as well, but the theme of "deception" was never strongly applied to them. Heck, in the TV show, the autobots never hid their identities at all, and by the end of MTMTE (first story arc), they worked openly with the earth government as allies. Car disguises had been rendered redundant pretty damn fast.

    PS: Not to be nitpicky, but weren't the Klingons and Romulans in the original Star Trek actually supposed to be a more direct allegory for the Red Chinese? I mean, communists sure, but that was the decade the USA fought an undeclared war against Chinese communism in Vietnam.
     
  14. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

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    Just good old good vs. evil, like they said.

    But I think some cool sci-fi concepts can be read into TFs on the notion of AI and sentience.

    TFs takes a very different aproach than other robot story I've seen. The TFs weren't built by humans. They didn't turn on humanity like Cylons or Replicants. They aren't questing to be human like ST: TNG's Data. They aren't transforming battle suits that need humans to power them like in Robotech or Gundam. The Go-Bots were ultimately just cyborgs. TFs aren't even hampered by Asimov's famous laws. TFs are a silicon based society with a complete range of emotions and I've never seen anything like it in all of science fiction.

    You could also make a parallel to US history. The TFs fought a revolution of independece against the Qunitesions. Now though they are in a Civil War. Decepticons believe in enslaving other races. And Optimus Prime's bio even describes him as a Lincolnesque figue.

    None of it's intentional I'm sure, but good allegory is often ambiguous and it's fun to speculate your own theories, true or not.
     
  15. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    They WERE?

    What was the GoBots backstory? I just realised I have no idea! I watched that show occasionally, and saw the movie, but I don't remember their origins ever being brought up.
     
  16. Shaun_C

    Shaun_C The REAL One True fan Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    I just watched the Rock Lords movie where this explained. Although specifics weren't given. Apparantly Gobotron used to be an organic planet. But because of an unspecified disaster all citizens were modified into robots
     
  17. Liege Prime

    Liege Prime Well-Known Member

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    I would say that G1 did have a lot of cold war references, but I wouldn't say in any way that it was a "Deeper meaning" because it was right there blatantly on the surface. Hasbro rushed writers to make storys to sell their toys, so they did what any writer would do- make the basic good vs. evil and use worldly events to round out the plots as quickly as possible. Southpark is also notorious for using current events to shape their episodes as quickly as possible.

    Unfortunately, once the characters were established, where better, deeper storys could come along, Hasbro told them they needed to sell a new toy so we ended up with episode after episode introducing the latest character/toy with some mundane plot to go with them.
     
  18. smkspy

    smkspy is one nice fucking kitty

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    I think the better metaphor lies in the concept of energon. Energon can be seen as fossil fuel and therefore the civil war of the Transformers can be seen as a warning of what will happened to humans one day when we really start to fight over a limited resource.
     
  19. Wingwolf77

    Wingwolf77 Decepticon Dark lord

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    Maybe. But I think that is just us looking back.

    It was a cold war Cartoon. It uses the same formula as GI Joe which came before it. And if GIJoe is not a kiddie Cold war Caroon I don't know what is.
     
  20. smkspy

    smkspy is one nice fucking kitty

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    Well there was the whole oil crisis of 1980, but I defeintely meant in retrospect. Even applying the cold war to Transformers is a huge leap.
     

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