Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by rlmiddleton, Jun 21, 2016.
agendered = asexual? Was it ever written in canon for this series that the robots are asexual?
I mean, we know how they're born and it ain't through sex
I just think of Beast Wars and Beast Machines, all the kissing and touching. Sex jokes. I assumed, they pleasured themselves, or could be pleasured through some of this contact. Holding hands and kissing is pleasurable to them, they do it. But, implications of going beyond that for pleasure was given in these shows. It doesn't always have to end in reproduction....
Right, but I am talking about in world here in IDW land. I am probably in the minority that I only watched G1, and did that back when I was eight. So anything sexual in that show went over my head, if there was anything. So I don't know about any of the rest of the series. I did watch Prime, and it featured very little in regards to relationships.
So, they have not established anything like what sex is to a robot. Or for that matter why relationships beyond the platonic sense matter to them, other than they matter to us. They demonstrate their affections for one another by standing in a circle doing the care bear stare (Nautica I am looking at you) and then they proceed to hug, hold hands, kiss I guess, and dance... It just seems forced and a little silly. Some of them don't have hands, some don't have lips, and many are probably not suited to dancing, at least in the exact manner we do. Why not write some other feature(s) for showing affection? I liked the idea of conjex when it was sharing innermost energon. That made sense from an in world point of view. In fact had it been limited to that it would have been perfect, because it is so different. But then they started rooming together: ok, relatable and makes sense, though never seen before in established canon. Then two of them started holding hands and snuggling, again, never seen before. Then they started doing all the things human couples do, even getting petty and jealous. The simple idea that really worked started to devolve into essentially teenage tv relationships.
I am not against the idea of pairings, I just thought that it worked so much better as a simple idea, that did not need all of the embellishments. That is how I see it anyway.
Fortunately, they found their mojo for Book 3 and Book 4, which were excellent. Book 2 was such a dull slog though.
Firstly, the offhand meta-innuendo of the Beast Wars/Beast Machines series has nothing to do with IDW's continuity. If you're looking for precedent, you can alternately look at other TF fictions that implicitly or expressly contradict the innuendo of BW/BM... like IDW, for example. Pending any massive retcons, we know that IDW Cybertronians are asexual beings, and historically agendered.
Sexual pleasure is directly related to the biological apparatus for sexual reproduction, even if it's not always used to that purpose (and even if people then extend sexual meaning to other forms of contact). Without sexual reproduction in a species, you don't have sexual impulses or a sexual culture. In that context non-sexual pleasure is totally another thing... and probably shouldn't be lumped in with or modelled bluntly on sexual pleasure. It's just not sensible.
Frankly, the only reason for that to exist in this context at all is to stoke the fires of the naughty fanfic/fanart communities... and those fires don't really need any stoking. Dragging that subculture into the mainstream fiction to me constitutes a massively compromising shift, a gross oversimplification of the fiction, and a huge step backward. Leave that stuff on the fan subculture side of things, I say.
I'm with you on pretty much all of this. Even setting aside some of my other objections, I think that worst of all, it's just poor worldbuilding, and treats its audience like children who can't appreciate metaphorical relationships... everything has to instead be as literal as possible. Boo.
As much as I would hate the twist, the implications of the -Cracy I mentioned earlier in the thread (Quintesson says to Megs, "Did you notice that this planet full of robots started off as organics? What do you think that means?") would at least be a way of explaining that.
Because there are limits to how science fiction we can get while still maintaining a human connection and understanding with our characters. Much like how they have human faces, humanoid bodies, human personalities, and so-on. You could write them as honest-to-God aliens that are completely different from us in every way, but they'd cease to be things we empathize with, and come across rather pretentious when exploring it via a franchise that is so set in humanization from the very get-go.
That said, holding hands, hugging, and dancing are in no way human-specific or gender specific. Holding hands and hugging is a physical display of connection, it symbolizes emotional connections between people. It is a fundamental of sentient life that you move towards things you like, and away from things you don't. It makes complete sense that any species would use physical closeness as a display of emotional closeness. Close proximity shows that you trust someone, and that they trust you.
Dancing is also something that is just a fundamental to intelligent beings. When you're happy, you become excited, and you start to move. Same reason why animals who are happy jump around. It has nothing to do with being human.
What versions of showing affection would they, as human-like humanoid aliens with brains that function like humans, come up with? Humans have covered everything, trust me.
Beast Wars was also very cartoony, and nowhere did the writers and creators ever consider these things, because they knew it wasn't appropriate given the subject matter they were in charge of.
Deconstruction and therories of alien life and how it would evolve its own social practices and expectations are not the subjects you tackle in a series where robots turn into animals and turn literally paper-thin when they get squashed by something. It's just a joke, for fun. Because it's a cartoon. A good cartoon, but not that good.
It is shamefull that with all the dancing they have done in MTMTE this has never been a thing.
Yes this franchise is intended for children first and has never taken itself seriously.
HOWEVER: it is a science fiction franchise and nowhere in the concept of alien robots that can transform into vehicles, animals etc do i see anything that would make me think that if i wanted a show where i can easily relate and emphatize with the characters without being challenged to go out of my safetyzone and make an effort as a spectator to emphatize with creatures who are nothing like me, this is that show.
Even as a child i understood the Sunbow cartoon was not a show about a couple of kids that get up to all kinds of wacky adventures that i would totaly relate too.
This is a science fiction franchise, not the little rascals or Dallas or whatever, so i expect there to be a minimum of effort to be creative and challenging and different.
And i'm not going to multiquote it all but i totally agree with SMOG and battlefudge about the relational stuff.
You're falling prey to the old fallacy of the excluded middle here...
Your argument seems to rely on the assumption that any means of demonstrating palpable differences in behaviour, outlook, social convention, or physicality between TFs and humans will inevitably lead to an alienation of the audience. However, you know that's not true. On the contrary, humans have an extremely flexible, amenable, and almost aggressive ability to relate to, imprint on, personify, or project onto things that are vastly different from ourselves... from animals to inanimate objects, even. All you have to do is draw two dots on your toaster, and you'll start talking to it over your cereal. It's something we do.
So smart readers don't need hand-holding and hugging to understand emotional connections or relate to characters, and there are certainly other ways to demonstrate emotional closeness or comraderie without such overtly familiar and unmediated gestures. Which is not to say we should cut it out... but that it certainly could do with some nuance and contextual flavour.
Indeed, finding other ways to show this builds the universe of Transformers, stretches the craft of storytelling, and expands our imaginations, while maintaining that alluring tension between what is familiar and what is alien - which has always been an important part of Transformers, and certainly part of science fiction in general, particularly when alien races are involved.
The blanket approach of "well they're already anthropomorphized, so why set ANY limits on it... anything goes!" is really untenable in my opinion. These are questions of degree, not absolutes. And I think we could certainly lean several degrees further (or back, depending on how you look at it) in terms of the excesses of anthropomorphism we are currently seeing in Transformers comics.
What is "fundamental to intelligent beings" is debatable. That's an extremely cherry picked perspective. Do you just mean humans? Just mammals? Just organic life forms? What sample of "intelligent life" are you comparing with?
Closeness might have wholly different meanings to hard-shelled machine people, who aren't born into families, don't need to mate, who don't need to stay warm, etc... but where's the fun in that? I get you.
In terms of showing trust, in being supportive and protective, both psychologically and literally, closeness does make a certain amount of sense, but what gestures or means of expression might be more or less appropriate to Transformers? Are there things that can convey those ideas without being tropes of romance? I wonder.
Regarding dancing, joy in movement is not necessarily universal, and moreover, the cultural uses and functional underpinnings of such "dancelike" movements vary throughout the animal realm and throughout human cultures. Is it ritualistic to invoke spiritual powers? Is it a fighting display to scare off predators? Is it a mating custom to attract partners? Is it an extremely formalized and solemn expression. Is it art? Do you do it in front of an audience? Do you do it exclusively in your kitchen?
And then, shifting just far enough sideways to admit Cybertronian physicality and culture, you've got a whole new recipe for "dance" or "joy of movement".
When Roberts introduced Transformers dancing in MTMTE, my response wasn't "Transformers should not dance!"... it was "FFS James, use your imagination just a bit!"
This is the paradox of Transformers... and I wish it were something that were played up more often. Their similarities to humans are incredibly superficial. They tend to have two arms, two legs, and a face (though this is not the rule). They have a society with many parallels with humanity. But then, they're also fundamentally different. Their mechanical physiology, their almost unlimited capacity for reconfiguring their bodies, their means of birth, their individualized anatomies, their incredible resiliency, their nigh-immortal spans of life, their lack of sexual reproduction and conventional filial bonds, etc, etc...
Meanwhile, some human cultures don't ever kiss on the lips. Or will only shake hands with their right hand. Or have much larger senses of personal space. Or have extreme divisions between gendered behaviours, or huge divisions between public and private conduct. There's a whole universe of different idiosyncratic customs across our own planet, that have grown out of conditions that are relevant to their culture, climate, history, etc... it doesn't take much to find something "exotic" with an interesting cultural history behind it.
Having emotions, culture, and a vaguely humanoid appearance is the barest minimum standard for most aliens in science-fiction, and yet we often see a lot of interesting variations and creative differences in how alien races/cultures are depicted in other fictions... and yet Transformers in IDW are sadly mostly lacking in this kind of innovative or creative development, especially as it relates to their technological nature.
I think this has gotten a bit worse recently in the comics, with cultural analogies becoming increasingly literal and direct. The argument that exploring or expanding these possibilities "would just seem pretentious" to me just evinces a sad sort of cynical conservatism.
The evolutionary purpose of dance is to show off one's physical prowess and one's genetic fitness, so that partners know who has the strongest genes to pass to the next generation. If enemies are watching, they will know who are the weakest individuals, the easiest prey.
Like I said before, I'm not even against the idea of Transformers dancing. They have a highly-evolved social culture, so like us humans, they probably have a LOT of practices and customs that may not seem pragmatic, rational, or obviously motivated by evolutionary development.
But in the example of dance, I'd like to see how Transformers' unique traits translate into unique forms of dance that seem to match with their particular idioms or bodies.
Which might be asking too much of Alex Milne to draw on a month's notice, but it doesn't take much to at least -hint- at something unique there. Those little details go a long way.
If Fool's Energon was actually just raw energon and Megatron used to be a miner of raw energon, why didn't he recognise that the 'placebo' was raw energon? That's a big honking blooper! Even if he didn't spot it right off, he could have analysed it inside his own body. Even if he didn't do that, Ravage's amazing senses would have detected it. Also, Transformers know their own power levels and can tell when they have been reduced by something.
Edit: a good commander always inspects his troops' food/fuel sometimes, which would keep his experience fresh.
Evidently not... I guess that was sort of the point. Megatron was susceptible to a placebo effect, because his psychology overwrote the feedback he was getting from his body. This even persisted to his Holo-Avatar, which is supposed to be a reflection of his subconscious mind... and it was carrying a cane and getting cut, etc... sort of a psychosomatic effect.
I also don't think "being a miner" 4 million years ago would necessarily give him a magical ability to identify all forms of energon. I don't think miners were consuming or analyzing what they mined... just doing the brute labour. I guess the whole point of Fool's Energon is that it's just supposed to be an inferior, tainted form of Energon... so analyzing those differences might be difficult (an average TF's internal chemical analysis abilities might be pretty limited and nonspecific).
As to Ravage... who's to say that the form of raw energon being given to Megatron smells exactly the same as raw energon... or that Fool's Energon (which doesn't exist) isn't supposed to smell that way? Ravage has sharp senses which he uses to track enemies... but he's not a metallurgist and doesn't have compositional analysis abilities and knowhow like Swerve and Huffer do. It's a different skillset, I imagine.
But... you still raise a good point. In the past, TFs have been shown to have very precise awareness of their system operations. There are probably a lot of diagnostics built into them that allow for such monitoring, so it seems weird that Megatron wouldn't be looking at his internal diagnostics and saying "that's weird... I feel so weak, but all systems are reporting as normal".
And let's not forget that the "there's no such thing as Fool's Energon" twist is a bit hard to accept because the idea of Fool's Energon seems to have been so readily accepted, as if it were already known to be a 'thing'. So after millions of years of being a very canny guy, Megatron hears about "fool's energon" for the very first time 4 years ago and doesn't find that fishy?
Honestly, I hate the name "Fool's Energon". I know it's a play on Fool's Gold (iron pyrite... why do I know that? ), but in this case it sounds a bit laboured, and having a euphemism like that suggests that there's already a cultural history supporting the existence of this thing (despite nobody ever hearing about it before). I mean, just saying "we're dosing you with tainted energon" would have been enough, no? That's just a pet peeve though.
Further to this point, why does Velocity (theoretically a trained physician) seem to think that Fools Energon not only is a real thing, but that it causes psychological side effects?
I made a thing, a theory.... Megatron believes "Fools Energon" is an "Autobot brew/thing/craft", at that point he was ready to die. He was probably so passed the point of caring, maybe even depressed that he had been easily fooled and was uncaring if this Autobot made energon was safe or not and just took it. He was so convinced that Optimus would not lie to him he didn't even bother to analyze it himself. And perhaps, he did not realize his systems weren't really not optimal, because maybe he spent the last 4 million+ years at war and hasn't been up to strength for a while. So, he didn't even know what his optimal systems were anymore? I know it sounds far fetched, but I was trying to figure it out myself.
I never even said that once, but leave it to people here to dramatically overestimate my point in order to use as a pretext to talk down to me about things I never even brought up. Peachy.
My point was not that Transformers is never taken seriously, it has many times and to excellent effect, but that there are limits of what's appropriate for it to explore, and what it is able to explore within it's established status quo. Just because someone is strong, doesn't mean they should benchpress a schoolbus.
As for my example with Beast Wars, that was only in regards to Beast Wars, because Beast Wars had been specifically brought up. It's far too goofy, has too much pulp culture references, and grounded in humanization to be the proper series to tackle hypothetical alien social nuances.
This obsessive need to turn every detracting voice into strawmen is the reason discussion here is so putrid, the idea that just because I don't think Transformers is the right medium for social exploration as deep as what is suggested here that I must believe it's not right for any sort of thought-provoking narrative insults me and anyone else who realises that there is a time and place for certain subjects, and that this may not be that place. Social exploration has been MTMTE's strongest suit, but there is such a thing as too much. It does not mean I think everything should be brainless kid-friendly mush, just that I'm not obsessed about it being a paradigm for every possible science fiction subject, and accept that there are things it can and can not/should not do.
I wouldn't be so offended by this if it weren't for the fact that it keeps happening again and again. The idea that I don't think Transformers is smart enough for one thing means I automatically don't think it's smart enough for anything. It's the same mentality that apparently makes me a hater with a vendetta against the entire book simply because I don't like the majority of season 2.
Velocity is not a good doctor
I want to see Transformers perform the dance of joy.
Best answer for this.
Separate names with a comma.