Transformers examined under another light

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by HighPower, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. HighPower

    HighPower Member

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    I've been wanting to write out some fanfiction for Transformers, and some heavy thought, when looking at the Transformers as a species from a political perspective... the Autobot/Decepticon division doesn't really seem as 50/50 as it is sometimes portrayed. Decepticons are an extremist group that operates solely through despotism, with the control of the despot usually extending only a short distance further than the range of his primary weapon. They produce nothing, establish peaceful relations with no one, and just plain don't seem to do anything but attack other people. Even the Vikings went home and lived lives. And generally, if the bios are anything to be believed, 90% of the Decepticons are brutish thugs who's first recourse in any situation is violence or threat of violence.

    So is it just me, or is it hard to look at the Decepticons as anything other than violent extremists who focus themselves on nothing but combat?
     
  2. AlanGarou

    AlanGarou Well-Known Member

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    That is exactly why the Autobots oppose them. Also, this trait tends to lessen in the better written TF series. Those tend to depict the Decepticons in a less absolutist way.
     
  3. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    Well, many Decepticons can act as architects, engineers, and scientists, and they did make their own cities, so its entirely possible that there's a "Decepticon civilization" we simply haven't seen more than a glimpse of.

    I think it boils down to it being harder to root for the good guys when you "humanize" the bad guys, and that most of the storylines follow the Autobots, not the Decepticons, who are just there as antagonists.

    Who knows? Maybe we're just used to seeing Decepticon raiding parties and the front lines of the war, and there's an entire infrastructure behind the scenes supplying them.
     
  4. Optimus Sledge

    Optimus Sledge Yar har fiddle di dee

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    You know what we need to see? Neutrals. There have to be Cybertronians who don't care which side wins, they just want to be left alone.
     
  5. Coeloptera

    Coeloptera Big, bad beetle-bot

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    Just because it's not on-panel/screen, doesn't mean it's not happening. Decepticons like Soundwave, the Constructicons, Starscream, and others are researchers, builders, scientists and the like. Just because they are also ruthless warriors and ravagers doesn't negate those things at all.

    Normally, the leader's control extends much further than his weapons do. Look at the G1 cartoon. I'm not sure where you got the idea it doesn't. Shockwave carried out Megatron's agenda for four million years and Decepticons retained control of Cybertron all that time. In Animated, there were Decepticons scattered all over the galaxy doing Megatron's work.

    The important thing is, when your entire race has probably less than 1,000 members, it's not that hard to coordinate over distance. It's hard for a faction to break away when you might very well know every single being under your command by sight and name.

    Frankly, the Autobots in no way operate under anything like a representative system either. Optimus Prime gives the orders, and they are carried out. Individual members can raise dissent, give advice, and so on, but in the end, leadership among Cybertronians seems to operate essentially by mass agreement. If enough of them think that you are the leader, then you are.

    The Decepticons very obviously build things, refine energon, and explore the galaxy at the very least. The notion that this race of immortals does literally nothing else but fight is completely ludicrous once examined in any depth at all. They develop and have interpersonal relationships. Numerous friendships among the Decepticons are well-noted. Many of them have clearly defined interests outside of the Great War.

    Frankly, if they were purely focused on war and fighting, there'd be no way to fill the spans of time they exist for. They'd be continually slaughtering entire worlds on a semi-regular basis.

    To hit another point you raised. While it's a rarity, they do trade with other races. Swindle is seen to do this all the time. Cyclonus in the G1 cartoon did business with other races, Octane certainly did as well.

    While the 'cons are indeed, by and large, a brutal, bellicose, and violent lot, they are not, and have never actually been portrayed as, mindless murder machines lacking any culture of their own.

    I think you really need to re-examine the existing fiction in several different media before you start writing any fanfic. It doesn't look like you've examined the setting closely enough to "read between the lines". Or even see some of the more overt stuff.

    - Coeloptera
     
  6. HighPower

    HighPower Member

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    Such as? The only I can think of is one of the Japanese series where the Destrons had families or something? But this was the same series that had bears in business casual.

    Such as? All the information I find tells me that they merely *held* the territory after taking it from the Autobots/Neutrals at the start of the Great War. And for all their nonclemanture, the Constructicons only seem to build war machines.

    I've seen them in a few iterations, but they're generally only there for the Decepticons to screw with and the Autobots to defend.


    I always found that "4 million year" thing dodgey, as either things should have changed, or it doesn't really count if they all shut off for a few million years.

    I agree on the warfare part, which is why I'm taking a closer look at it. Nevermind the concept that anyone could be at war for 4 million years. Either they're not actually engaging in combat, there's a gap, or they're just Hatfield-and-McCoy-ing it. And I would ask for examples. Most of the bios I've read for decepticons tell more about how they enjoy causing pain and suffering in specific ways, or they're ugly or smell funny, and I really haven't seen Decepticons as a group building anything not dedicated to warfare, such as weapons or battlements.

    I need to doublecheck on Cyclonus, but Swindle and Octane were not representing the Decepticons as a group, but operating on their own. Octane specifically was persona non grata with the Decepticons at the time.
    Well, thats why I'm here asking questions first.
     
  7. Shockscream

    Shockscream Chairman of Nerd Day

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    There is more to the Decepticons than the initial analysis would suggest. As has been said, they all have outside interests. In IDW's universe, the Decepticons managed to stop killing long enough to agree with the Autobots a set of regulations and rules governing their conflict -- the Tyrest Accords which seem to have institutionalised the war to some extent. The Cybertronian race seems to naturally lean towards despotism of both the benign and malignant variety. Optimus can be seen as a benign despot; his command is absolute and his orders are always for the greater good. Megatron is a malignant despot; his orders are followed because he is powerful and feared, while his orders are designed to amass more power for himself and his faction. There is a Decepticon "sub-race" behind the warriors we routinely see. They would be unable to survive otherwise. Soldiers need supplies, people to build their weapons, and all the rest. There have to be administrators for these people. (I know he's an Autobot, but Wheelie was depicted as a supplier/runner for the frontline Autobots in his IDW Spotlight.)
     
  8. Mako Crab

    Mako Crab Well-Known Member

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    G1: "The Gambler" depicted Ramjet, Dirge and Astrotrain interacting with alien cultures on Megatron's behalf.

    RiD: SkyByte is a poet.

    You have to realize that everything is being utilized for the war effort in G1. So even the most benign inventions (space bridges) are used in the conflict.

    G1: "City of Steel" shows how the Decepticons built a new command tower under New York and rebuilt the rest of the city to serve as their new fortress. Clearly the Decepticons are capable of building their own cities. The Constructicons also built Crystal City on Cybertron (before later destroying it).

    The big shutdown is an invention of the comic universe. Also remember how Cybertron looked in the time of A3 and Beta compared to present day Cybertron. The Autobots/Decepticons had an entire golden age to work with and Cybertron really doesn't look any different.
     
  9. Coeloptera

    Coeloptera Big, bad beetle-bot

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    Well that sounds like you're just deliberately trying to find an "out". Regardless of timeframe, the Decepticons ran Cybertron, albeit in a depleted state, for a long time. They obviously did something with their time and apparently never stopped trying to find out what happened to Megs and crew, considering the faction as a whole pretty much immediately hopped to when they discovered he and the others were online on an energy-rich world.

    Optimus Prime: "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings."
    Autobots: "AHHH! Freedom! Terrible, terrible freedom!"

    Quite true. Cybertronians don't seem to "half-aft" things, do they? They've turned their very considerable resources towards the war almost entirely. Although it does explain a few things we saw in the G1 cartoon. To wit:

    Ratchet: "These 'dinosaur' creatures sure are fascinating!"
    Wheeljack: "I wonder if we can somehow kill Decepticons with them..."

    - Coeloptera
     
  10. Pravus Prime

    Pravus Prime Sorcerer

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    Esmeral, Lyzack, their community and children would like to have a word with you.

    As mentioned, just because you don't see it, doesn't make it so, especially in a series like Transformers where you never really get a slice of life, just action as the story. Heck in the IDWverse, the rest of the universe tries to steer clear of all Transformers, Autobot and Decepticon alike; there is no good side that produces art or culture, just two factions of warmongers. Furthermore there was a faction of Cybertronians who left both sides to get away from the war, viewing both sides as equally guilty. It's all a matter of perspective.

    This is particularly true in BW and Animated. In Animated, it's far more subtle and some of it is only really laid out in other materials, but both series they are fighting for political and/or social equality. Predacons live in near subserviance of the Maximals; Megatrons goal was to change the balance of power in the short run, while the Tripredacus councils was to alter it in the long run. The Animated Decepticons had been treated as the lowest possible class for billions of years to which Megatron was fighting to bring Decepticon equality to Cybertron. (Which didn't go so well and likely has changed over the millenia in exile to reversing the old status quo.) Similarly, we see the Autobots as far from the shining beacons of civilization: Sentinel Prime creates a McCarthy-esque Decepticon Witch-Hunt among other civil liberty atrocities, Autobots gangpress unwilling neutrals into military service (as seen in the flashback for Five Servo's of Doom), create weapons of mass destruction, and experiment on their own. BW Rattrap is a pretty blatant racist.

    In addition from a G1 perspective, the Decepticons share far more in common with pure capitalism, while the Autobots share more in common with communism then any other ideology.
     
  11. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    I would also like to add Polyhex, the various Decepticon-sigil themed buildings and monuments we've seen, and the Smelting Pools, which, though horrifying and a method of torture and execution, serve an important role in the manufacturing of new Decepticons and equipment. Also, the Nemesis, which is a significant engineering triumph, aside from being an imposing and powerful warship. You could also mention Shockwave's lab, I suppose.

    Yes, Decepticon culture and civilization is very militaristic, but that doesn't mean its not a culture. They have amazing technology, the ability to apply it, and the foresight and intellect to improve it through research, if only for the purposes of tactical superiority.

    I find it very unlikely they could conquer an entire planet and maintain a stellar empire without building their own buildings or manufacturing their own supplies, and instead relying on scavenging whatever is left over after they're finished wrecking up the place.
     
  12. Mako Crab

    Mako Crab Well-Known Member

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    Not to mention their famous crashed ship at the bottom of the ocean. They built an entire base around it!

    [​IMG]
     
  13. HighPower

    HighPower Member

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    Alright, I suppose you're right, both sides are focused on the military aspects. It just seems from reading things like Bios, that the Autobots have other things to do. I mean, here. I went to TFwiki.net just now, and hit Random until I came across 3 differen decepticons (which took a LONG time). Now going to TFUinfo.net to examine their Bios...


    Spectro
    Loves to observe things: vegetation, architecture, Earthen topography, and particularly comrades' mistakes. Likes to blackmail his associates and is impressed with his own ability. Has highly-developed infra-red vision that can record images in darkness, through camouflage and at great distances. In camera Mode, can emit powerful flash explosion that leaves enemy blind and disorientated for up to 15 seconds.

    Okay, he likes to watch. He's a 1/3 of Reflector, that stands to reason. Likes to blackmail others.

    Hooligan
    Mischievous practical joker and troublemaker. Attempted to land and disrupt recent shuttle launch from Earth - plan thwarted by Autobot intervention [Aerialbots launched a flak attack chasing him away from Kennedy Space Center]. Likes to fire missile launcher in front of commercial airliners. Sometimes goes too far - was nearly dismantled after putting sugar in Megatron's fuel tank.

    Jokester, likes to be violent. Association with the Aerialbots.

    Hardtop
    Hardtop has been left on Earth to serve as a spy, tracker and ground-based spotter for the aerial team of Starscream and Thundercracker. He uses his impressive array of sensors not only to pinpoint Autobot targets up to 7000 miles away, but also to listen to and record the treasonous whining of Starscream. Though he generally prefers to hang back from the front lines of a fight, he finds a certain pleasure in taking pot shots at Autobot with his super-precise, long-range laser rifle.

    Association with the Seekers, likes to snipe.


    This just doesn't seem to cry out "culture", even "violent militaristic culture". I want to think I'm missing some crucial bit of information just from what you guys are saying, but.. well, lets look at one more.

    Slog
    He has taken sculpture out of the art studio and transplanted it onto the battlefield. In his Pretender guise, he can whittle an Autobot warrior into an abstract wreck within minutes. He considers his carved-up conquests to be renowned masterpieces. His diamond-steel alloy talons can tear through any material known to man or robot. Enclosed creature/robot is armed with a magnetic repellor-attractor which rips iron-bearing opponents into microscopic pieces.

    Violence IS his culture. And on the TFwiki page, in one of the Dreamwave comics... well, lemme just post the excerpt. "The term was first coined to describe the work of the Decepticon Slog, from whom it takes its name, in an underground art show held on Cybertron. Images of the show were later co-opted by the Autobots for use in anti-Decepticon propaganda. For this reason, Slogism is unpopular with the Decepticon leadership... because Megatron cares about what people think of him. "

    I'm guessing that last part was said sarcastically, considering the wiki's focus on humor, acting confused that the Decepticons would care that they were being portrayed as heartless monsters who live for nothing but death.
     
  14. Coeloptera

    Coeloptera Big, bad beetle-bot

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    You'll be equally hard-pressed to find very many Autobots who have hobbies described beyond those levels, too.

    What does Cliffjumper do in his off-time? Ironhide? Sunstreaker?

    Just as much has been said about them as about say, Thundercracker.

    There are a few more Autobots that have hinted-at cultural depths, but then, that's because they're the heroes and were more humanized than the 'cons in the early stuff and face it, the fiction still tends to spend way more time with the Autobots when they aren't fighting.

    In fact, I find it difficult to think of a good example where the rank-and-file 'cons were ever shown not in a fight, getting ready for one, or on a mission. They must have downtime, since the Autobots aren't under constant attack, but we don't get to see it, so we must, to some extent, extrapolate.

    Put it another way. Could you, if pressed, describe a typical day for Rumble? What does he do when not on missions or inside Soundwave? He has to do something besides stare at a wall for days on end. How about Bludgeon? How does he spend his time?

    That doesn't get portrayed very much, which is a shame.

    - Coeloptera
     
  15. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    I always figured Bludgeon spent a lot of time meditating, practicing his martial arts, sharpening his sword, and cackling maniacally. Throw in his research into the forbidden knowledge of the Fallen, and you've got a full day of stuff to do right there.



    As for the tech spec's Highpower posted, you just posted a Decepticon cartographer, practical joker, and artist. Sure, they're all homicidal backstabbing mechanical space monsters, but that's their civilization, and it does qualify as a civilization. And as for Decepticon public image, if the universe sees them as a destructive horde, it could impact trade, alliances, and negotiations, all of which a civilization needs to do with surrounding civilizations. Hence, they care.
     
  16. Coeloptera

    Coeloptera Big, bad beetle-bot

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    You know, I blame (in a good way) the Bay movies for helping bring this element to the fore again.

    Transformers are crazed-up, alien, robot space-monsters.

    And I like it! But yes Aernaroth, I have to agree. Just because their culture is violent doesn't man it still isn't a culture. It says right in those bios that they do other stuff. I'll bet Spectro spends his downtime rather like any other photographer, finding interesting shots.

    Bludgeon, on the other hand, lives like a crazy, evil Shaolin monk.

    - Coeloptera
     
  17. Moonscream

    Moonscream YES, We EXIST!

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    You'd get more about the cultures of the factions by reading and watching the fiction than you ever will in the character bios. The bios are about individuals, not their culture. Its like trying to extrapolate all about American culture from the personalities of a handful of soldiers stuck in a desert.

    --Moony
     
  18. Coeloptera

    Coeloptera Big, bad beetle-bot

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    You know, seeing the whole thing in one image really drives home the size of it. By human standards that's basically a large town down there. In fact, I daresay the base may outmass the ship if you include all of the buildings.

    Now I really wonder what they're all for. We'd have quarters, labs, repair bays, refineries for raw materials and energon, storage rooms, surveillance and comm equipment (we saw that get used a lot)...so I think this puts paid to the notion that Decepticons cannot or do not create. They basically built a temporary little home down there. I really wonder what the structure way in the back on the left (my guess would be mining and ore refining) and the apparently detached building on the right are.

    Oh, I did forgot to mention one issue of the Marvel comic wherein, while being stalked by Carnivac in revenge for Catilla's death, some Mayhem Attack Squad members were playing like a card game or something.

    It's night, so TFwiki sucks and won't load, as is often the case.

    - Coeloptera
     
  19. Malikon

    Malikon Well-Known Member

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    you say that like it's a bad thing.
     
  20. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    Agreed... the Autobot/Decepticon binary is sort of meaningless without the "unaffiliated"... though reports vary on just how many Cybertronians are left... is there a viable species there, or are they just the last 1000 or so remnants of a long-lived species that has only focused on killing each other off (apparently unsuccessfully) for the last several millennia?

    Well, despite his "divine mandate" as Matrix bearer, I'm not sure if it's totally a "benevolent dictator" (or "philosopher king"?) scenario. Autobots seem to have a choice to follow Optimus as their leader. If they grew dissatisfied with his leadership, it doesn't seem like he would refuse to step down. There are only isolated Bots that oppose him (Grimlock, notably). On the other hand, they look to him for guidance with an almost religious fervor, so who's to say the Autobots aren't fanatics? :) 

    Again, the depiction varies... sometimes the Autobots are shown to be a regimented, organized military structure with their own cities, culture and "galactic laws", while in other media, they are a rag-tag group of idealistic freedom fighters. Old Marvel showed the Bots to be in decline, with Cybertron in the hands of Decepticon tyrants, while IDW and TFA seems to paint them as a decadent apathetic culture that was shaken up by the Decepticon deviants who sought to upset the status quo. Just who represents the established order here anyway?

    :lol  :lol  :lol 

    I think one way of interpreting the Decepticon "culture" is not to compare them to a whole ethnic group or national character, but rather a group of marauders, who only really live to rape and pillage (proverbially, of course). Like raider armies and warlords through history, they live and fight on the run, and mainly just consume resources, never really stopping to produce or plant seeds for the future, preying off the fruits of others' labour.

    Of course, Transformers are long-lived, so Decepticon methods may operate on a slower timeline... rather than slashing and burning outright, they infiltrate, undermine, invade, reap, and then move on. It's essentially the same thing stretched over a few years, rather than a few hours of ransack. Being that TFs have no real need of familial groups, home life, mates or children, this removes one reason for more sedentary lifestyle. They also are hard to kill, so one group can go on killing and raiding for a long, long time, while not really feeling the need to set down roots or leave anything lasting in their wake. Why plan for future generations, when chances are a million years down the road, you're still going to be freebooting across the universe with the same 2 dozen psychos? :) 

    In this sense, Decepticons CAN just be a warrior race, with a very macho outlook. They need no real hobbies or interests besides conquest... that is a fallacy that we have come to expect and project on them due to our decadent modern lifestyles, with relative peace, plenty and leisure.

    Lending credence to this, in many of the fictions, this has been described as Megatron's ultimate aim... converting Cybertron into an ambulatory fortress to allow the Cons to roam the universe, conquering all in their path.

    On a final note... IDW's ALL HAIL MEGATRON recently tried to explain some of Megatron's big plan. He knows that his current crop of Decepticons are monsters... violent scum with aberrant personalities. He considers them imperfect, unworthy of his grand vision... but necessary in order to take power. After that, he feels he can mold them into something new, or discard those who can't change. In other words, they are a tool for him, nothing more.

    Reminds me of Stalin... who worked with revolutionaries and radical thinkers to get to the top, and once there, was all too happy to get rid of them because they were too dangerous to have around in peacetime.

    zmog
     

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