Autobots losing their moral compass?

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by Mako Crab, Aug 24, 2010.

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  1. Nightrain

    Nightrain Senior Villain

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    This could all be traced back to the lack of mourn for Gears. I'm not so sure they ever had an inherent moral compass.
     
  2. Mako Crab

    Mako Crab Well-Known Member

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    Good call. I recall watching an interview with one of the writers of G1 on the old Rhino dvds and he was saying that all the action movies of the 80s like Rambo, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, etc. that showed how cool and badass their hero was by killing lots of bad guys inspired him to write the episode, "War Dawn" in which a young Orion Pax was enamored with how cool the new Decepticon robots were. They were trying to make a point that killing your enemies doesn't make you cool or more morally right.
    Maybe that's where the Bay movies have gone wrong. The Autobots are portrayed as awesome for killing Decepticons. Sideswipe comes to mind with his, "Damn, I'm good," remark right after killing Sideways, who hadn't been shown doing anything except fleeing for his life while under fire from no less than 6 Autobots (Mudflap, Skids, Arcee trio, and Sideswipe).
    Now while it's entirely possible that Sideways was up to no good, the fact that he wasn't SHOWN doing anything wrong strikes me as a major gaff when trying to establish who your good and bad guys are. David Slack, a producer on the Teen Titans cartoon, said in an interview that they have something called the squint test. It refers to how much explaining needs to be done. He said that when an episode opens and kids see some guy standing on top of a tipped over armored car with money spilling out, they know he's doing something bad. If you do the squint test on Sideways, he was just sitting there doing nothing. That's not good.

    I like Drift's quote. Great line, and I don't care that it's coming from Drift. It really does sum up where the Autobots have been going in recent years. And I think you're dead on about RoTF. The fact that we're even having this conversation about Sideways running for his life and RotF in general speaks to how poorly the heroes were portrayed in that movie.

    Shows like ThunderCats employed a child psychologist to help craft some of the moral lessons in their show. And if you listen to some of the writers of G1 on the Rhino dvds, you'll find there was a lot more thought going into the episodes than you're giving them credit for. But it's not just the old 80s cartoon we're talking about here either. RotF, a movie no more than a year old, was the springboard for this whole discussion.

    And besides, I'm less concerned with the writing process than I am with what actually winds up on the screen. I'm sure it was the intention of the RotF writers that Sideways was an evil Decepticon up to evil stuff. But in the movie all we see on-screen is a Decepticon in hiding that runs for his life while under attack by 6 Autobots. In terms of the squint test, that's just a bad way to establish your heroes and villains.
     
  3. G1Wheeljack

    G1Wheeljack Well-Known Member

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    This concept seems to be explored more in recent fiction like how Animated enters grey areas and Nick Roche's Prowl. You can't win wars with morals and some of the Autobots in the fiction are starting to see that, so they act behind the scenes to ensure victory but keep a mask of morality on. I just hope this concept doesn't get abused or overused as I don't want to be sick of it, it's given us some real good fiction lately.
     
  4. Mako Crab

    Mako Crab Well-Known Member

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    You're saying the Autobots became terrorists. Think about that for a moment.

    The Decepticons spend a lot more time on Earth trying to harvest its seemingly unlimited resources. I wonder why the Autobots don't blow up Earth. For that matter, why didn't the Autobots ever blow up Cybertron over the course of the last few million years? Cybertron was once in a golden age like Paradron, yet they choose to battle day after day endlessly rather than blow up their home or Earth.
    I understand the balance of power would have been tipped dramatically had Paradron been taken by the Decepticons. But what we're SHOWN in the episode is that the Autobots combined with the entire population of Paradron were steadily driving back the Decepticons. And the major defenses that the Decepticons had put in place had already been dealt with. They were well on their way to defeating the Decepticons. Now just imagine how the war would have played out had Paradron become a key ally to the Autobots.

    Lot of people say the same thing about RotF ;) 

    When Sandstorm made that speech, he was still under the impression that they were going to liberate Paradron. Rodimus hadn't told him that they were going to blow it up yet.

    The phrase, "too soon," comes to mind.
     
  5. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP #VernoWasRight

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    These sorts of discussions bother me more than the, *ahem* "lack of moral compass" among Autobots because they seem so silly when you break it down to what we're actually talking about.

    Animated did it on purpose, showing that the higher-up Autobots are much less noble than the core team and more "whatever it takes to survive." Optimus and his crew were all nicey-nice, when Magnus in the past made WMDs to end the war.

    The movies are meant to be a more gritty, realistic and violent depiction because, well, for the sake of having cool action scenes. Besides 'Give me your face' (which really seemed more like he was claiming the "face of the Decepticons" literally, I mean, the 'Con symbol is based on the Fallen) I really don't expect anything less from Prime when dealing with these Decepticons. Yeah, he's gonna kill them. What's he gonna do? Arrest them? Imprison them? That's not gonna happen. I'm also a firm believer that in at least SOME regard Optimus' radical (and very cool-looking) means of dealing with decepticons is in response to how many people called him a "whimp" from the first movie.

    G1, well, it was a cartoon from the 80's. They didn't think about that shit back then so discussing it is pointless.
     
  6. Shockscream

    Shockscream Chairman of Nerd Day

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    I'm reminded of something Worf said in Deep Space Nine: "The only honour in war is winning". All the morality in the world won't help the Autobots win the war. Moral and military victories are different things. Of late, there does appear to be an increase in writers making the Autobots less outright heroic and more borderline immoral. For me, this makes them more believable. War is a terrible thing, sure. But, from the perspective of those fighting in a war, the only thing more terrible than the conflict itself is the possibility of defeat. Some very questionable decisions have been made to ensure the defeat of one's enemies in a war. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for example.

    The engagement in military conflict over a prolonged period of time will, quite naturally, wear away at the stone edifice of one's morality. Suffering defeats and being forced to accept losses are bound to have this profound effect. Good intentions and beliefs will not help you win. As has been mentioned, recent IDW comics have made this point. Even the Decepticons started off fighting for a philosophy they believed in. Do we seriously think they fight now because of some over-arching philosophical belief? No, they have learned to enjoy the fight and the chaos and the destruction and they continue because they do not know what they would be without the war. It defines them. Opposition to the Decepticons has come to define the Autobots. As the Decepticons degenerated, so did the Autobots (albeit by a lesser degree) in order to counter their threat. The morals the Autobots starting off fighting for have slid away over time in an effort to defend against the ever-escalating nature of the Decepticon war machine.

    So, have they lost their moral compass? Not exactly, no. What they fought for still exists, but it is of less import to them now than it was in the beginning. The threat of the Decepticons has become too great and so, to ensure their ability to fight them, they have had to forgo their morality in order to win. Ultimately, if the Autobots continued to remain perfectly true to their morals and ideals, they would be completely useless as a military force and unable to fight the very combat-ready Decepticons. Making the questionable decisions now allows for the creation of a better, more moral Autobot society after the conclusion of the war.
     
  7. Foster

    Foster Haslab Unicron Backer #10 Veteran

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    Baybots are a bunch of jerks, yeah. Doesn't mean there's no precedent of amorality in the fiction.

    What are they supposed to do, commit suicide if they kill innocents in a video game?
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  8. Moonscream

    Moonscream YES, We Exist, and We DON'T Want to Date You

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    AMEN!

    Yeah, the writers had a lot of fun stretching their wings with the new ability to tell tales they wanted to tell, including moral ones, which they do say repeatedly on the DVDs.
    It does occur to me that if the faction symbols were reversed, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. People would be all outraged at the 'cons killing an 'innocent' 'bot who was 'doing nothing/minding his own business/running for his life' instead of questioning the morals of the 'good' 'bots.

    --Moony
     
  9. General Magnus

    General Magnus Da Custodes of the Emprah

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    I can´t speak for others, but for me is a simple fact of numbers. By killing bad guys I will make sure they won´t live to kill innocents again. Simple mathematics. Kill 1 to save a thousand sort of speaking. It´s not about being cool, it´s about looking at the grand scheme of things. Let me give you an example:

    Are you familiar with the TV Show Babylon 5? Well in one episode the "heroes" had to decide to send a fleet of warships to a) save Centauri Prime with 2/3 billion lives or Corianna with 6 billion lives or more. Of course the racional choosing would be to save the world named Corianna 6, because it would save more lives in the end. I basically apply the same reasoning to heroes vs villains. It´s the numbers that matter in the end. Like I said morals are good and all, but I think is more evil to inocents die because of your moral code.

    In that aspect, Batman has A LOT of innocent blood on his hands. Just how many people has the Joker killed after getting arrested again and again?
     
  10. jgoss

    jgoss transformers fan 4 life

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    autobots losing their moral compass? my answer hell no! one fact how many fans complained when optimus was a wimp in the first movie? hmmm alot of us i was one of them. when prime totally kicked ass in the second one i was thrilled but people still whined about i guess we can't win.
     
  11. Black Oracle

    Black Oracle Black Convoy's Dark Angel

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    Good topic here, Mako! It's stimulating reading all your well thought-out posts on this matter.

    Mako, totally agree that the level of destruction in the movies is more to do with making the bots 'cool' and 'awesome' on screen rather than considering the moral ramifications of their actions. The Sideswipe killing Sideways example is a good one. We didn't see Sideways doing anything other than fleeing from the Autobots. Although, I suppose he did carelessly crash through that Chinese man's house whilst the Arcee trio were hot on his heels. And Rampage has been said before to have shown no regard for all the innocent human drivers on the street that he rolled through whilst being chased by Ironhide and with Prime on his shoulders.

    And I agree with Split Lip on how Optimus' more badass portrayal in ROTF was a response to all the complaints from the 1st movie on how he was too weak for being kicked around by Megatron and needing the humans' help. ROTF turned up the degree of Optimus' badassery significantly from the 1st movie. And now we all complain for the opposite reason of what we whined about for the 1st movie: Optimus is too violent now we say. It's ironic, we wanted to see a tougher Optimus after the 1st movie. ROTF gave us that in spades and we didn't like that as well. Bay and the writers must be scratching their heads at the fans.

    In the comics, I love Nick Roche's take on Prowl. His behind-the-scenes involvement in the tragic and grimy "Last Stand of the Wreckers" events showed us the questionable moral line he walks. And after all the sacrifices at Garrus-9, he's still thinking of simply disposing of the data that Ironfist and the others died for. This Prowl's tired of the war and is searching for ways to bring about the Autobots' victory. For him, in order to achieve that, he's willing to get his hands muddy and stretch the boundaries of moral acceptability. I think he's working on a 'do what it takes to win and make up for regrettable actions later' mentality.

    It's clear in many examples of fiction that the Autobots (and Maximals) are not always perfect heroes. They can't be in war and battles. They wrestle with how to keep fighting their enemies whilst maintaining their righteous and just principles. Even Optimus Prime's noble ideals must be compromised and stained at times and he has to do things that seem 'wrong' in their immediate aftermath in the interest of longer-term or larger needs and goals. He can't keep unrealistically doing everything right in war where what's right often becomes debatable and blurred.

    Perhaps the only thing that can generally be said to truly distinguish the 'bots from the 'cons is that the 'bots wish for peace whilst the 'cons are out to conquer. All their moral measurements come from their fundamental goals.
     
  12. Foster

    Foster Haslab Unicron Backer #10 Veteran

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    The Decepticons usually say they want peace. Just under their rule.
     
  13. 643cade

    643cade Well-Known Member

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    QFT. Especially about Hiroshima and Nagasaki - the U.S. were seen as the good guys during WWII (and still are), but using two atomic bombs against those cities and vaporizing a huge number of Japanese citizens wasn't exactly the most morally right of decisions. But did it win the war against Japan? Yes. It was the right strategic decision to end the war, but it was not the most moral. Strategic decisions to end a war do not always run parallel with what is morally correct and it is really important to remember that in discussions like these.

    No one is perfect. Personally, I like that the Autobots are losing their "moral compass" - because that makes them more believable, realistic and dare I say it, having human traits that fans, like myself, can relate to. "Losing" their moral compass (more like the Autobots being affected by a very long, very violent and very drawn out war) shows that even the good guys have flaws and have to make hard decisions. I don't want the Autobots to be perfect - I want them to have faults, I want them to have "issues", and yes, I want them to have to make some questionable decisions because guess what - that's life. Life is full of questionable decisions, especially in a war. Often, decisions made in a war have the best intentions in mind but the means of achieving those intentions are not exactly morally correct. The end justifies the means. It doesn't make those actions right, but that's what happens in war. Holding on to your morality is absolutely important, but there will be some points in a war where you have to do questionable things and lose some of that morality.

    You can't win a war with sunshine and puppies and avoiding all morally questionable decisions, because there will always be some situations where all of the answers are morally questionable and there is no right "moral high ground" decision to make. That's reality, and I have absolutely no issues with the Autobots having to deal with that - makes the stories more interesting to me, personally, like I said. Eh. Anyway, there's my two cents.
     
  14. Nachtsider

    Nachtsider Banned

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    Your franchise either dies out while you're still a hero in the eyes of your fans, or continues long enough for them to regard you as villains.
     
  15. Black Oracle

    Black Oracle Black Convoy's Dark Angel

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    Well, that complicates it even further.

    Dark-Knight inspired quote! How fitting and true.
     
  16. GreenChick

    GreenChick Well-Known Member

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    Or crappy writers decide to insert their own themes and views because they're a: think deconstructing a hero is pretty nifty and original despite it HAPPENING SINCE THE EIGHTIES b: have no understanding what makes the character heroic and instead writes a fellow THEY think is heroic.

    Professional writers sin as much as the fanfic-ers.

    Repost

    We could be here al night on "right and wrong" and personally trying to say something about "whether the Autobots are justified in loosing their compass or not" says something about our own views and morality. I'm not condemning anyway I'm just asking them to THINK.

    What I think? The Autobots ARE justified in loosing their morality, after centuries of slaughter and trauma you can't expect them to be okay. But it's the fact people want to see them stay in that rotten state that discourages me. What draws me to Autobot vs Decepticons is that it's fundamentally good vs. evil. It's sweet and simple, it WORKS. The franchise isn't about deep philosophical discussions on the ethics of war; most of us are here either a; nostalgia b; blinded by the cool mechas. This franchise is about nerd fantasies and toy lines, but as its audience as matured so has it's portrayal of characters.

    That's why I'll always like Beast Wars the best. The Maximals were pure-white heroes, if down to Earth about it, which made them likable and relatable to me. TFA Autobots... The writers REALLY went out of their way to paint them as "less than perfect" it was kind of painful. I didn't like Prime much after he wanted to use a NEAR END SARI to stop Omega. Blackarachnia kept flinging in his face that his choices, despite being "what I had to do" mentality, was still pretty screwed up but he never seemed to learn. I kept waiting for a "what the hell hero?" but the closest we ever got was Ratchet, who's a character perfect for this discussion. Here is someone of top-notch morality, cheerful and compassionate and courageous in his youth... who made the same sacrifices we're calling for the Autobots to start makin' and left him a shell-shocked shell of a person... Sorry but if I want to watch a show about mentally screwed up people I'll go watch HOUSE.
     
  17. Superquad7

    Superquad7 OCP Police Crime Prevention Unit 001 Super Content Contributor

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    While I can't totally disagree with you, I can't totally agree with you either. From what I've seen, read, and heard, a lot of the folks who were writing the G1 episodes were having to crank them out so fast (along with the rest of their workload), that it's pretty shocking to me that things are messed up in G1 more than they are from a cannon perspective as well as from each episode. Despite the criticism of a "kid's show", there are several G1 episodes that are pretty well-written.

    Also, I've always thought each of the tech specs were very well written, especially given their conciseness.

    Another aspect of this discussion is that this topic finds itself at different places in each universe, as some have mentioned. Beast Wars/Beast Machines, Robots in Disguise, "The Unicron Triology", "Bayverse" . . . they each find themselves at different degrees on this compass.
     
  18. nemisispringer

    nemisispringer Well-Known Member

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    and so what when your forces are outnumbered its not immoral to sneak into somewhere in fact its probably the only way to win. It makes the enemy think theres many more soldiers than there is. Im sure youll find your militiary does it all the time except its probably called special ops. I mean the Paradron people are taking back paradron it may be the right thing to do but its still a small group trying to change the politics of the planet. Mabe its not technically terrorism at all as some define it as a threat of violenece against civilians and by rights all the decepticons are soldiers but terrorism is notoriously hard to define.


    Paradron blatantly had even more resources than earth with its energon fountains and core etc and although they had driven back the decepticons most of that was just a temporary set back IMO and the decepticons would have soon recovered, also it seemed like the writers where suggesting there where many more defense outposts that were not shown on screen. Hell bruticus didnt even get to fight and we saw the mega cannon that got weeled out and destroyed those asteroids perhaps the decepticons had more of them.

    Well he wasnt going to say it after the episode was finished. :lol 

    I think overall this episode shows more about amorality than immorality sure it was an entire planet that meant a lot to its people and it seems wrong just to destory it but it is better to think above and beyond yourself and think about evreyone else in the galaxy and how they would have been effected by paradron being taken over. At least thats what they meant to employ not like the mindless rascist decepticon hunting in ROTF.

    Shocksream puts it perfectly
     
  19. Moriarty

    Moriarty = ♀

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    ^ Ding ding. It also stretches belief to have a race of goody-two-shoeses who have been embroiled in a bitter and bloodthirsty war for that amount of time. You wouldn't sit and watch your friends and comrades die/be critically injured for millions of years and still think "oh well can't be helped let's show mercy to these beings who have ruined my life smile smile". It is simply not credible.

    And if the G1 cartoon showed anything, the Autobots themselves weren't all happy-go-lucky "gosh aren't we nice" people anyway. Brawn mercilessly ribbed Perceptor over his cowardice and even ignored Prime's orders to cease and desist in doing so (Minibots); they left Skyfire buried in the ice until he was next needed rather than rescuing him immediately (Fire in the Sky/Fire On The Mountain); they showed zero compassion towards Spike when he was trapped in his hybrid body (Autobot Spike); they looked down their noses at human robots in an extremely "holier than thou" way (Enter the Nightbird); Tracks made it clear he would rather hang out with humans than his fellow 'Bots (Make Tracks); and in "A Prime Problem" Ironhide has a real inability to tell his best friend apart from a soulless clone when said clone has already proved unable to access Teletraan One and mistaken him with Bumblebee. IIRC Hound and Mirage (?) also tormented/bullied Ravage when they had him caught in a cage in MTMTE. They're all small examples compared with Prime and his GIVE ME UR FAEC attitude in ROTF, but they do showcase that the Autobots weren't all fantastic saints to begin with.
     
  20. boxerperson

    boxerperson a ringer...

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    Hollywood and our culture in general (of which hollywood is a mirror....sadly) has a very stylized and unrealistic view of violence, as well as right and wrong.

    The person who is right is not necessarily going to be nice. And nobody delivers one liners whilst fighting for their life. If Prime were shown gouging out The Fallen's eyes and then repeatedly shooting him in the face until he calmed down enough to stop, that would have been more realistic in terms of what a "good guy" would probably do if he really were fighting for his life.
     
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