Discussion in 'Transformers Comics Discussion' started by Focksbot, Aug 2, 2017.
I'm all about that Romance in TF comics.
This is basically how i always saw these things.
cybertronians througout their history have come into contact with numerous civilisations and races across the universe.
I see them like the ancient Romans or... or us: picking up habits and aspects of the culture, biology etc from other races because: "Hey, that looks cool".
A couple a millenia ago Nebulan religion was all the rage, a couple of centuries ago Cybertronians across the universe were raving about the culinary accomplishments of the Roc, now earth is the new fad.
Just the same way, they could have picked up female and male bodytypes, romance, beards, clothes...
It's just the same as how writers seem to think emotionally vulnerable people can only do sadness or psychopaths can only do pleasure, but can't feel pain. It's just: don't put too much effort into it, cliché, one dimensional storytelling.
"Good" people supposedly cannot do evil without regret and "evil" people are incapable of getting hurt according to most writers, so that approach to fiction in general naturally has been reflected in TF fiction in particular.
I agree IDW should be held up to higher scrutiny, but I also think MTMTE/Lost Light has established itself as something that plays very loosely with a lot of sci-fi concepts, even flirting with surreality at times, so I'm not sure a blow-by-blow account of the science behind every conceit is remotely possible or advisable. You could provide a 'fix' for the romance question, but it more urgently needs, for instance, a 'fix' for the question of holomatter, not to mention myriad smaller plot points that affect the basis on which the plot can proceed.
And then a lot depends on what proportion of the audience really feel there's any fix needed, of course.
I don't agree that we're invited to think about gender and sexuality any more than we're invited to think about what, for instance, transformation entails, and what being at war for millions of years entails, and both of these are areas of ambiguity and difficulty as well.
No - it depends what kind of story you're telling. If other alien races aren't the focus, then it's better to use shorthand methods to sketch them, rather than make every aspect of your sci-fi story raise questions about how, what, why.
You're asking for an awful lot here - on the one hand, that every curious feature or conceit be explained *in the story*, and on the other that unfamiliar features or conceits be used at every available juncture, because human-like aliens are boring. Where do you think they're going to get the space to create all these gaps and then fill them in? Is there a single TV, film or comic space opera that manages this? Doorstop novels in 10-book cycles maybe.
None of this *needs* to be acknowledged or sorted out with any immediacy as long as potential explanations can be grasped. I hate to use the word 'subjective', but this is essentially a matter of subjectivity. In a work of speculative fiction - or even straight fiction - there will be a distance between the definitive explanation for something and the room afforded to the viewer to fill in the gaps by themselves. By necessity, this distance is there all the time, because not everything can be explained in absolute detail. Now, as to whether you think the explanation is 'needed', or is something that can be accounted for by various means and therefore isn't 'needed', must be to some extent down to your individual assumptions.
Frankly, there's so much in Transformers that most people find fanciful that most people won't take it seriously *at all*. Among the audience that do, if it's only a relatively thin sliver that feel the issue of romance needs to be definitively resolved, that's not a very compelling reason for the writers to spend time on it.
As to the question of copying kissing - well, it's reasonable to assume that Cybertronians have relatively sensitive mouths for reasons of consumption - it's certainly one way they ingest food. A side effect of that is that kissing would be pleasurable.
It doesn't defeat the entire point of criticism at all. *Serious* criticism is as much the business of explaining why and how something works as it is explaining what doesn't work. Criticism can exist to argue that a negative audience reaction is based on a misunderstanding or lack of imagination, or to actively *create* an interpretation of the work which comes to be seen as the definitive one. Especially since Barthes and Foucault and all the 'death of the author' business, this is going to be true even when you suspect the author wasn't even trying particularly hard.
So if a critic can indeed find a rational explanation in your hypothetical rational drama for the character acquiring superpowers, then there's no reason not to favour that explanation. There's no reason not to seek that explanation. You only conclude that the naysayers have a point when you can't find that explanation (which is why the example you elected here is so extreme - you instinctively lent toward something you felt was close to impossible to explain, rather than something which may have a number of apparent explanations that simply aren't touched on.)
'Headcanon' is a term that only really exists within fandom - in any field of critical study the concept would be a nonsense because everything is headcanon. The work only exists in the audience's head. You actively speculate all the time in order to fill in gaps - how did that character get from A to B? Oh, they must have taken a shuttle. Again, it isn't required that every point be definitively answered as long as the search for an explanation isn't immediately distracting.
Some people might say that every time Wolverine's healing factor is activated, it begs the question as to how he could possibly burn through that much energy. And then there might be a thread about it on a forum somewhere, like this one, and there may be any number of potential explanations. That doesn't mean that the writers *have* to address it.
Sure they do. Finding something realistic is the default. I get what you're trying to say here about both sides having an emotional attachment to their way of looking at it, but this isn't the way to model that balance of opposition. Both sides read the book and find it realistic enough to invest emotionally in it. What happens then is that one side gets thrown off by content they dislike and use the idea of 'realism' to rationalise their dislike. The other side hasn't been thrown off, so of course they still find it realistic. Some, I grant you, may get thrown off by a perceived lack of realism, but try to rationalise their way around that because they like the content.
They both seem equally emotionally motivated to me, but the anti side are more unpleasant about it. As for those that are genuinely thrown off by a lack of realism, well, that still comes from bringing your own assumptions to the party. Just the fact of your finding something implausible or difficult doesn't automatically prove it is - again, there's a huge amount of subjectivity in it, which is the reason different properties have very different audiences, and why Transformers in particular only has a small one. Is this something where you can adjust your general understanding and henceforth find romance in Transformers as acceptable?
I remember having to do this with the question of Pharma in handcuffs. This immediately threw me off, because all Cybertronians can presumably retract their hands or move them in particular ways in order to transform - so how could handcuffs ever work unless they also induced some kind of stasis lock? After a while, I concluded that it must be the case that Cybertronians (normally) can't transformer unless they can do it all in one go, with every part moving simultaneously, and that seems to be backed up by the way transformation is consistently handled in the book. So I reevaluated and decided that there was nothing at fault in the story itself.
Well, it's already happened, so I'm more interested in it working than not working - although that's somewhat arbitrary, because I enjoy taking things apart as much as I enjoy piecing them together.
An example of a romance I wouldn't have minded seeing is Sideswipe/Arcee, had he stayed around. They had the buildup for it.
And Windblade-Starscream would certainly be entertaining, but I love everything between those two ^^
They could've done something interesting with Hardhead/Arcee or Sideswipe/Arcee but they keep killing them off lol.
You guys know these threads don't usually survive... mostly because of the spam posts and off topic posts as well. Keep the convo sincere in manner and not locker room jargon.
Making off color, sexual posts will either get you banned from the thread or an infraction... or both.
Keep the discussion on topic as it pertains to the mentions of Comic characters and the experiences therein.
Same, anything between Starscrram and Windblade is awesome in my book.
As for romance in TF fiction, I'm all for it. You can't create characters that feel a whole spectrum of emotions(such as grief, anger, hate, compassion, and joy) and not be surprised when love makes an appearance.
The internet ruined me in new ways. I just read:
They have biology, they're very clearly born with a default sex (especially in IDW where they are born a sex independent of a gender identity), they're basically just space people...yeah, I don't see why romance throws it off for people. Particularly since it's been in every version of the franchise bar Marvel.
Like with anything that is written well romance can add to the narrative but done badly it can backfire on the writer. Lug/Anode I feel their romance is the least of the character problems. Sideswipe/Arcee potential romance well made the last all more tragic. Skids/Nautical were tragic because of one of them misinterpreted the other feelings. Nautica is not really coping well.
That's a valid question in universes where the transformers are a manufactured invention--say, Sunbow G1. But Sunbow G1 is a lot less serious and a lot more kitsch. In universes where they have virtually any other origin, it should be fairly obvious if you look at the function of human emotion. Whether naturally evolved or intelligently designed, emotions exist to reinforce survival behavior. So, things that could kill you are scary, so that you'll avoid them. Having friends and family around makes you happy because they increase your chances of survival. You feel empathy for them because your entire social unit survives better if each member can do that. Children and potential mating partners become your whole world because it encourages you to pass on and preserve your genetic information. Losing any of these people through death or a social falling-out feels fucking horrible because that's your encouragement to not let it happen.
It would be dangerous to give consumer products a strong survival motivation. But if they're the products of evolution or the children of a god, then it makes sense. They need to survive, so they will have an ingrained punishment-and-reward system to encourage their survival: emotion. But their emotions should be different from ours, based on what behaviors help them survive. If pairing off to reproduce isn't something they need to do, then they won't be wired for emotions to encourage that.
This sounds like a step in the right direction. I need to catch up
It doesn't need to be blow-by-blow. It just needs a general nod to point us in the right direction--possibly like what Steelfire mentioned above. I'm not asking for scientific rigor, just a vague science-like framework for plausibility.
Which is funny, because less serious takes on the franchise have handled these two concepts more or less effectively (e.g. they were mostly-dormant for millions of years rather than actively at war, etc.). But as far as gender and sexuality, we wouldn't have dialog dedicated to gendered personal pronouns if we weren't supposed to be thinking about it. Hell, the entire point of Spotlight: Arcee was to make a big, thought-provoking deal out of gender. To say we're not meant to be thinking about these things is to do a disservice to Furman's and Roberts' respective efforts to convey a message in their work.
That would be fine, except that the transformers, who are the focus, are described using those same shorthand methods.
Wherein I specifically cite a need for balance in depicting transformers as similar to or different from humans. Not all (your strawman). Not nothing (primarily IDW's current approach).
And again here.
Wherein I note that IDW has almost met my standards for this topic already--in the very same post you are ostensibly responding to.
^I pointed it out in more detail before that, here.
And this one addresses both of your accusations at once, as well as showing that IDW is perfectly capable of meeting my standards but has simply chosen to stop doing so.
This is all just within the last page or two. If you're not even going to bother reading what I say, then I'm done. I was enjoying this before, but I have no patience for being strawmanned. I had thought better of you.
I protest! Identity theft! Identity theft!
Officer, arrest that man!
No! Not me, the other guy.
Noted. Look, it wasn't my intention at all to strawman you, and I'm slightly confused because the points you use to refute what I said before don't really seem to be in response to my points, and your representation of me misrepresenting you is itself a misrepresentation. (!!)
I didn't say we *weren't* supposed to be thinking about it - I said: "I don't agree that we're invited to think about gender and sexuality any more than we're invited to think about what, for instance, transformation entails, and what being at war for millions of years entails ..."
Emphasis on 'any more'. We're invited to think about all these things, and yet none of them have much in the way of a definitive answer.
I think we're at cross-purposes. I thought you were saying it was "problematic, unimaginative, and boring" to have the other alien races thinly sketched. If you just mean the Cybertronians, then I don't think they are described purely using shorthand methods - there's lots about areas of their culture and biology that differ.
I wasn't suggesting you wanted 'all' or 'everything' to be different, but that your idea of where the balance correctly sits is ultimately somewhat subjective - and by that I mean both the balance of specificity to ambiguity, and the balance of alienness to humanness. You certainly do seem to be suggesting that Cybertronians ought to be more alien, and at the same time that what is alien about them needs more fleshing out, and this does seem to be asking for both fuller answers *and* the creation of more questions, which is all going to take up space.
Different people require different levels of detail (or hints) in order to feel they have enough to go on. I don't agree at the moment that there is 'nothing' differentiating us from them - I think the balance is mostly achieved, taking into account that there is no perfect measure, and certainly no balance that will satisfy everyone. Personally, I would like a bit more alienness and maybe a bit *less* exposition, but I can largely accept where we're at.
Sure - because they may feel your standards aren't the right ones, that there's more to be said for leaving readers to fill in the gaps in the same way we do with many other ambiguous matters raised in the fiction.
I think this gets to the the heart of why i've felt this hasn't really worked in idw with the sole exceptions of chromedome/rewind and cyclonus/tailgate. Both of those had build up and were actually folded into the narrative. Rewind's death was poignant because it was both a scene that both showed their feelings as well as being a natural part of the overlord plotline. Cyclonus' feelings for tailgate was well melded with the issue of his emotional stuntedness and his resulting contempt for tailgate's naivity and innoncence. Those were facets of the larger intwined narratives and the development of three dimensional characters.
But other than that none of the romances or pairings have really felt like they contributed to the story or characterization. I in know way ever felt Blastoff's motivations in TAAO were romantic until the shoehorned fantasy scene that was a very abrupt change in tone. It didn't feel like a deepening of their characters or an integrated part of the plot, but rather simply an excuse to show two (non-romantic) characters kissing in a franchise that has had almost zero history with those types of stories. It was more jarring than interesting.
Had it been two characters who had any sort of intimate bonding or feasible sexual tension it could have been expanding the scope transformers fiction, but instead it was two combaticons, one of the least intimate or romantic groups that could have been chosen. They're mercenaries and killers and that's really the only development they've had in ten years.
Among the warring factions intimite relationships have explicitly been stated as being rare, including deep friendships, with the exception of spark bonds and combiners (aka sibling kinship archatypes). Since the Camiens have been the only group shown to have intimacy as a culturally important aspect it would have been far more natural to explore those characters if the only reason for doing so seemed to be showing intimacy among transformers.
Good point. First time anyone has given what imo is a logical and believable explanation for making potential 'romance' (my definition as opposed to love -see my personal opinion on definition in my first post in this thread) between TFs a possible realistic idea. I guess a big part of TFs reason for transforming is to be able to hide themselves whilst on other worlds - robots in disguise (I know there's a Lot more to it than that too). For example there would be much more to getting away with being taken for a car than just looking like one. Being able to take on traits from other species and worlds would be a naturally valued and advantageous skill for TFs as beings. Picking up behaviours from these surroundings would also be advantageous and seeing as they have emotions and most everyone agrees they can feel love etc your point becomes more valid.
I think there's still some explaining needed to get away with the overly human aspects of it we've seen in idw but perhaps in the same manner we say the writer is translating their conversations for us, the artist and writer are also doing the same with their actions (kissing etc?). Like i say, im still not totally convinced but this makes it easier for me to accept and suspend disbelief.
My take is this...there is one thing to introduce sexual relationships and another to introduce loving relationships...sex and love are different...transformers don't procreate so the need for "sexual" seeming types of relationships makes no sense...but saying that sideswipe loves sunstreaker more than he loves say powerglide...I'm ok with that...now love, love is basically sacrificing ones resources for another with no expectation of return of those resources...that's love...love amongst transformers is fine...sex among transformers and seemingly sexual relationships is what's bad...because sex is used by species who need to procreate...love should exist in all species...gender in TFs, nothing wrong with that...they aren't male or female...she or he in transformers is just a representation of how they identify themselves...meaning Arcee may identify as a she because she likes the female way of living and thinking...and vice versa...it's like Prime...in most species the males are the dominate strong types...meaning that Prime isn't a male...he just represents himself and recognizes himself as male because the male is the strong and dominate gender in a species. So nothing wrong with love or gender...just sex doesn't make sense...unless you introduce it like circuit speeders, which bacially equals TF drugs...introduce sex in a way that it's all about the pleasure and has nothing to do with procreation...maybe that could work...maybe
Agreed. Where it has worked has been about love, and where it's been bad writing has been about sexuality. Not that it has to be that way necessarily, but one is definitely an uphill battle to fit into the the established franchise and with the core fanbase.
I wish more people recognized this.
I don't think anyone fails to recognize this...hell, this is a motto of most guys. It seems to me that what people fail to realize is that love and romance are not one and the same. Nobody is questioning that intelligent, emotion-bearing living asexual mechanicals feel love for one another, they're just not sure of the benefits or reasons for the monogamous pair bonding involving hand holding, gentle carressing, kissing, flowers, candy, potential possessiveness and jealousy, etc. Frankly, take away physical desire and a sibling relationship is about as close as I can see anyone wanting to get.
Separate names with a comma.