Romance in Transformers fiction

Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by Focksbot, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. Focksbot

    Focksbot Skeleton Detective

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    This spins out of a separate discussion I was having, and I think it's worthy of a thread in and of itself, about the rationalisation of romantic feelings as a trait among Transformers.

    Some people argue that without sex in a species, romantic feelings can't or shouldn't exist, as they are simply the prerequisite for making and nurturing offspring. Since we don't know any real life asexual sentient species, we don't have any evidence for or against this, but theoretically, it's a bad argument.

    To start off with, it's hard to use evolutionary theory to justify or criticise any of the existing traits in Cybertronians, because in most continuities, they simply don't evolve. They don't pass on their genes to any progeny, either sexually or asexually. Individuals are either constructed, or spawned from a single entity or phenomenon, or part-cloned. Evolution only happens when different members of a species with different genetic traits are competing with one another to pass on their genes.

    In the case of Cybertronians, the traits they possess are either completely random, or they're the result of a guiding intelligence, or they're programmed through some other process that we can only guess at.

    If they're completely random, then the capacity for romantic feeling is not more or less strange than any other trait.

    If they're the result of a guiding intelligence - the Quintessons, or Primus, or Vector Sigma - then it completely depends on the whims and intentions of that intelligence. Primus might give his creations the capacity for romantic feeling just because he thinks it would be nice for them. The Quintessons might do it because they want to simulate the routines of other life-forms elsewhere in the universe. And so on.

    However, we could postulate, perhaps, a form of pseudo-evolution, where Vector Sigma or Cybertron, or whatever is spawning Cybertronians, is inclined to create progeny that live longer, and is constantly learning from its successes and failures. In which case, romantic feelings could well emerge as a trait that helps ensure survival. The ability to form an intense personal bond with another individual of the same race would be a form of symbiosis - essentially, two heads are better than one.

    Now, you could argue that a form of small-scale socialism would be preferable to romantic pairings in this case, ie. groups of people that look out for one another have a better survivability rate than couples. But think of efforts to run communes and form pan-romantic clusters, which very often don't work out. Understanding and cooperating with one other individual in a complex, intelligent species is hard enough - understanding and cooperating with several is several magnitudes harder. We could postulate that the optimal arrangement is a social order which involves both couples *and* groups.

    I think this gets us well clear of the finish line for establishing any basis for romance in the comics, but let's see what everyone else thinks.
     
  2. Windsweeper II

    Windsweeper II The Pristine

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    Romance is not a thing i go looking for in TF fiction. When it has been done i generally didn't really feel very invested, alltough there have been ocassions like Rewinds farewell video to Chromedome. On ocassions i found romance in TF fiction a bit cringeworthy and too in your face.

    Can Transformers have romantic feelings for each other despite not needing it for procreation?
    I guess so, why not?

    But why do you want such a bond in TF fiction when TF's allready are grouped in what can be depicted as emotional bonds: namely the subgroups.
    Why do Blast Off and Onslaught need to be depicted as having a romance that binds them when their being part of the Combaticons can allready be depicted as an organically grown bond with deep emotional ties?

    Wouldn't it be more rewarding to explore such ties than to have Transformers conform to emotional ties we are familiar with as humans?
     
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  3. Focksbot

    Focksbot Skeleton Detective

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    Yeah, I agree, to an extent. I would be much more interested, personally, in a Transformers storyline that explored more imaginative social units - like, for example, if the combiner team principle were expanded, and it turned out that all Cybertronians lived in close-knit small groups. Suppose combining, for instance, was a natural and pleasurable sensation for many of these groups that established personal bonds and facilitated deeper understanding.
     
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  4. goudan

    goudan Bumblebee all the way

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    Capable of love makes person a person, if transformers can not love like the other species, then they'r nothing but giant man-built robots.
     
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  5. Windsweeper II

    Windsweeper II The Pristine

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    And such groupings could still have an evolving group dynamic. For example Slingshot may start to feel out of touch with the other Aerialbots and eventually they seperate, which might be more painfull to some than to others and years later Alpha Bravo and Powerglide might fall in love with them.
     
  6. Windsweeper II

    Windsweeper II The Pristine

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    I don't know about that.
    There are varying degrees in intensity of attachment. Some people never fall in love.

    If they don't have the capacity for romantic or other love, but they are sentient and form communities with evolving dynamic i would hardly call them just giant man-built robots.
     
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  7. dj_convoy II

    dj_convoy II Remix!

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    As a kid, I thought the "romance" between Prime and Elita-1 in the cartoon was dopey. Ditto that for the "will they / won't they" Springer / Arcee thing. There's a war on, and you are giant robots! It was hard for me to wrap my head around, and the comics of the time didn't have anything like that. Remember when the warrior women of planet Femax (!) went after Cloudburst? "You don't understand; where I come from, there are no men, no women, no mates!"

    Thinking critically, I guess "romance" is no more odd than then Cybertronians having friendships, or hell, even feelings. That being said, it makes sense to me that long lived Cybertronians would want to make a living pact with the robots they get along with or like or love or whatever criteria you want to use*. Their ways of demonstrating love physically are obviously limited, altho' that doesn't preclude having romantic feelings. Roberts firmly establishing robot romance does give writers another string to nock their literary bows with when writing Transformers, but so far, it's not something that's really grabs me.

    As far as in fiction romance, I found Chromedome / Rewind to be touching, and by far the best example of robots in love depicted in a realistic (whatever that means), understandable manner, but then Rewind had to be brought back via quantum chicanery. A real misstep, but oh, well. I'm not certain any other instance of it has really worked for me, up to including Cyclonus and Tailgate. I can't think of one off hand that really worked for me other than Rewind and 'Domey.

    Not romantic love, obviously, but another time I was put off by robo-love was in "Rebirth," when Arcee becomes strangely maternal to newly binary bonded (to her!) Daniel. Ugh.


    *I did think the idea of Nautica's society basically peer pressuring 'bots into relationships, or at least Amica Endura (or whatever) status was interesting. Stuff like that, taking a thing from a frame of reference we know and extrapolating upon it is interesting and is an example of what good sci-fi can do
     
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  8. agp

    agp Well-Known Member

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    On a personal note I don't enjoy the romance. Story wise I think they still have holes in the whole thing. Right now they've shown mostly (only?) monogamous relationships. I find that hard to believe. Since our only frame of reference is humans we can really only compare to groups that don't reproduce at all or in statistically insignificant numbers. The prevalence of monogamy and length of average relationship is much lower in the unmarried-no children, and gay populations. As presented I can buy the two heads are better than one benefit of romance. Maybe the monogamy is a by product of the few transformers interested in romance. If a significant portion of the transformer population becomes interested in romance I don't think depicting long term monogamous relationships as the overwhelming norm works. I ultimately think it's another concept that once we get beyond the surface is half baked.

    I don't think there is an argument for completely random. The other two most certainly. I think you can add survival instinct to the list and remove random. Survival and propagation are instincts shared across all living things we know of. Cybertronians don't sexually reproduce, but they most certainly possess the will to live. While they can't evolve on a biological level, I think a case can be made that their society evolves in way. A miniority of bots begin practicing a trait that is beneficial and society adopts the practice.
     
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  9. Windsweeper II

    Windsweeper II The Pristine

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    Yep, Rewind/Chromedome is about the only engaging TF relationship i can think of, Cyclonus x Tailgate had their moments in season one and Blast Off x Onslaught has potential, but that's about it.
    It's been a while since i've seen Beast Wars, so i could change my mind if i see it again, but i don't remember those romances doing much for me and it was a bit too much at times.

    Arcee with Daniel was a bit uncomfortable at times.

    Camiën society seems very repressive.
    It's a bit cliché i think, but it could create some interesting results.
     
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  10. WilyMech

    WilyMech Well-Known Member

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    I am not into romance stories in general. If done well it can add to the narrative but key done well. I feel you can have romantic relationship between Transformers. I don't see that a romantic relationship is exclusively a reproduction one and I also don't see genders as key component for Cybertronians. My school of thought is that life is extremely hard enough alone and having relationships make less lonely
     
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  11. goudan

    goudan Bumblebee all the way

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    Well I mean the whole species, not individual. Love is a complex feeling to me, that means you wanna to protect and be with another one for the whole life, romantic love is one of the love feelings, it's a natural feeling of living intelligent creature.
     
  12. colky7

    colky7 Well-Known Member

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    In fiction in general I'm not really into any romantic genres, but have no issue if there's an element of romance to a story (hell, the majority of fiction in any media has an element of it to it). I guess it's also natural this happens, in a way all fiction is a way of reflecting/analysing etc the human condition and 'romance' (loose term) is a big part of that.

    That said, It's not what I want to see in TF comics and definitely not what brought me to the game. Have only got a limited time to write this post so forgive me if I generalise and not very exacting in the following. IMO romance does require sex to some degree. I love my brother, my mum, dad, niece, nephew and cats! I love them with all my heart in different ways and my relationship with each is really important to me and has a huge effect on how I feel and my life. There isn't a single shred of romance though in how I feel about. them. To me it's similar with TFs, they're not sexual so romance doesn't really make sense IMO. As intelligent, social life forms though I've no problem with them feeling love. See the distinction I'm getting at? Perhaps that's why when I was still into mtmte the one relationship / moment that really got me wasn't chromedome and rewind (never did it for me as it has for others) but ratchet when he was the one who picked drift up as he was thrown off the lost light and their relationship in general.

    I'm not really into the type of romance Roberts portrays in mtmte/ll in any fiction. I don't mean cos they're both identified as he, really don't want to get into that discussion! Just the sort of sickly sweet nature of how it's been written IMO (I have heard others say it's meant a lot to them IRL though so have no big issue with it either, just nit for me). It could be it's other things more than this though, the embarrassing attempts at humour being constantly slammed down your throat in particular as I've even found myself enjoying other relationships in other fiction when I've enjoyed the rest of the presentation.
     
  13. kaijuguy19

    kaijuguy19 Keyblade Wielder

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    I don't have a problem with it since well it's one of the things that people can relate to the Transformers since I can't imagine them not having at least feelings of having a small crush on someone. Trying to get rid of it or at least downplay it dramatically would only make them less relatable to people. Also to the people who say romance requires sex well how do we know that they don't have some other ways of giving well pleasure to each other with their well "Private" moments?
     
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  14. peteynorth

    peteynorth TFW2005 Supporter

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    Right off the bat, let’s get something clear. Being capable of love does not make romantic feelings necessary…or even viable. I love my sons, I love my brothers, I loved my mother, I love my father, I love my niece and nephew; I would kill or die for any of them, but I have no interest in looking longingly into their eyes, or holding hands (beyond helping kids cross the street or through a crowd), and certainly nothing even more romantic than these things. So let’s dispense with the whole ‘if they’re higher functioning beings, then of course they’re capable of love and therefore would have romantic feelings’ false argument.


    Romantic feelings are the result of physical attraction. Physical attraction is an extension or byproduct of sexual urges (at least initially – as we get older certain contacts or experiences or other stimuli can shape what we’re attracted to, but even these are rooted in or tied to physical urges). There are exceptions to the rule, but then would romance between people who aren’t attracted to one another physically actually come into existence in a world where romance isn’t the norm (and ‘isn’t the norm’ is far less extreme than the absence of romance in an asexual world would probably deserve)? You (OP) suggest that without any sort of passing on of ‘genetic’ traits from one generation to the next, the need, or at least the possibility, for physical attraction or other romantic feelings would be neither probable or unlikely, it’d be just another random or semi-random trait in a species that’s made up of random or semi-random traits, and it’s a valid point…to a degree. The problem lies with the fact that the other ‘random’ traits all seem to serve a purpose. Optics make vision possible, fingers and hands allow for manipulation, vocal processors, transformation cogs, legs, paws, tails, etc. You can look at it as the designs of a higher power or a more outside the box or holistic form of evolution (DNA…well, CNA exists in this world, apart from a few exceptions we don’t know much about what they do with corpses, perhaps they’re fed back to cyber-firma somehow and older, ‘more successful’ CNA somehow carries on, or whatever), but whether divine or natural selection, there is or was (pre-empting the appendix argument here) some reason or purpose or set of circumstances that led to the traits species possess…even more so with instincts and feelings/behaviors/needs derived from instincts than with opposable thumbs and binocular vision.


    Ultimately, I’m one of those cynical few that considers romance in an asexual world to be an abnormality – I don’t mean any negative connotation here, just that it would not be the norm. There are heterosexual men who ‘care’ more for other men than they do for any women, but have absolutely zero desire to introduce anything remotely romantic in their relationships (and not just homophobic fear of being seen as gay, we genuinely have no interest in that stuff until the blood starts pumping downstairs). There are homosexuals whose closest relationships are with members of the opposite sex, yet no romance occurs (seriously, how many stupid romantic comedies are there about straight women falling in love with their gay best friends? And it’s always unrequited). And friendship between straight women is remarkably close…at least until they f’ their best friend’s boyfriend, but they only do the romantic stuff after five or six lemon drop shots, and then it’s really just to tease the frat boys egging them on.


    Exceptionally close, trusting relationships exist between all sorts of people, relationships where you’d share and sacrifice anything for them, but with incredibly few exceptions (and incredibly few is an understatement), they only get romantic when there’s a physical attraction involved. Now, once that romantic relationship has started (or at least after a physical attraction has come into existence), that physical attraction can wane but the romantic relationship continues. Situations like that actually aren’t that rare, but in virtually all of those cases there was some sort of attraction at the outset of the relationship.


    This is not a new debate, it’s had many threads dedicated to it on this forum. One I participated in some time back had a poster point out that he and his girlfriend no longer had physical longings for one another, but still were as romantic as ever. What that poster never answered, whether by choice or not seeing the question, was whether there ever was physical desire between them. Of course, he did refer to his girlfriend as ‘cute’, which tells me that even if he had a low libido at that time, he was drawn to her physically at first.


    Ultimately, I’m thinking that any need for interactions that fall outside of friendship in a species with no sexual or physical desires would exist, but they’d exist in a tiny few. And I think IDW may be of the same opinion. Romance isn’t the norm. And even within the realm of conjuxes, how ‘romantic’ they are varies drastically. Rewind and Chromedome, clearly a married couple. Anode and Lug, clearly Laverne and Shirley. I like that they exist, I do think it adds something to the mythos, but it needs to be rare. One cool thing about good TF fiction is showing how they have similarities with us, but due to their traits, those similarities are different. Romantic TF’s should be the exception, not the rule.
     
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  15. lordcryotek

    lordcryotek Well-Known Member

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    Chromedome and Rewind were well-done, Springer and Verity (?) were well done, everything else has felt forced or uncomfortable.
     
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  16. Danny-Boy

    Danny-Boy Centurion

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    God, I can already tell this thread is gonna be cringy. But hey, I'll toss my two-cents in.

    Personally, as an asexual man who has been in several romantic relationships, it is possible for people to have romantic feelings without experiencing sexual attraction. Sorry, @peteynorth, but my own experience leads me to conclude you're wrong on that front.

    As someone who grew up watching Beast Wars, romance has been in Transformers since the very beginning for me, so I'm perfectly fine with it (BAxSB OTP!)

    Compare Transformers to superheroes. Sure, people come to a Spider-Man movie to watch Spidey fight villains, but then there's the scenes between Peter Parker and Mary Jane. Their romance doesn't take away anything from the superhero action. In fact, it often enhances it.

    Ultimately, I think we're all missing the point about trying to theorize what Cybertronian biology/psychology would be like. Transformers are fictional characters. And all fictional characters, from Odysseus to the Muppets, are reflections of humanity. As such, it only makes sense that they would mirror humans in all the important ways. Transformers get tired and replenish their bodies with energy. They form friendships and have enemies. They fight wars and they fall in love.

    And that's beautiful.
     
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  17. scubaboy31

    scubaboy31 Digital Gypsy

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    In a franchise that's rarely even shown any ability to portray friendship between characters I find the attempts to show romance quite a poor fit at the moment. Especially as it seems to be the only relationship characters have in the comics outside of trying to murder each other.
     
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  18. AutobotAvalanche

    AutobotAvalanche Wanna touch things I don't feel

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    All for romance as long as it takes a backseat to everything else.
     
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  19. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP AKA Beve Stuscemi

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    I assume you just mean the comics, right? Because there's numerous examples of friendship among the brand. Hell, even in the comics there's plenty of friends.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
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  20. Diamondback

    Diamondback Fights Like A Fat Ballerina

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    G1 had "The Girl Who Loved Powerglide," which appeared to be reciprocated--strange tastes, dating a robot who turns into an ugly ol' A-10 Warthog... then again, I can't wear gray because it makes me look like a Death Star with limbs and the girlfriend keeps my ugly ass anyway, so...

    There's no accounting for individual taste--you imagine it, there's somebody out there into it. LOL
     
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