Bigotry makes for a great plot theme in most stories. The idea of a sector of humans disliking and attempting to exterminate another sector – or another race, where the Transformers are concerned – has been a prominent factor that leads to a lot of great stories and characters. The X-Men saga is a testament to this concept, with villains like Magneto, William Stryker and Apocalypse seeking to enable the survival and dominance of their own ethnicities. But with Transformers, I’m not sure it works out. The recent TF IDW comics, some 1980s TF Marvel comics and AGE OF EXTINCTION explored with this theme, but I think by now they should drop it. I can’t really speak if these storylines were written well or not, but I would like to explain why such tales don’t really work out well. NEGATIVITY One single question: Why should the Autobots bother to defend the Earth if its denizens are going to hate/fear/exploit and anyway disrespect them? So far, a fair deal of the humans cast in TF – namely the IDW comics and the films - have been portrayed as a bunch of jerkoffs. Are they justified in their actions? That’s debatable. But still, it would be difficult to empathize with these guys in what they do: take our favourite robots into custody, sell them out, even murder them. Doing that to bad robots is more or less acceptable, but doing it to the good robots, the ones risking their lives to protect those of Earth’s, is just plain mean and unfair. The IDW comics had Spike Witwicky, a friend and ally of the Autobots in the G1 cartoon, become an army brat “action hero”-wannabe who cold-bloodedly executed Scrapper and dealt with Swindle to . He later ended up as a Circuit Breaker, an anti-TF superhuman. Where the films are concerned, in DOTM the Autobots were exiled and getting executed, and in AOE they were being hunted down. Even Optimus Prime – and note the optimistic nature of his name – had decided the Autobots were done with Earth after witnessing their comrades being melted down by the race they were protecting. Granted, AOE was a plot carried out by an unofficial government squad and the Autobots received help from an Earth family, but still the fact that they’d be treated this after having saved the world THRICE doesn’t help matters. The above-mentioned features treat the war generally as a matter of public/societal impact upon Earth, and thus brings in the human factor and humanity’s efforts to handle the situation and enable their survival. After all, humans get a major part nowadays in a TF story, it’s our world in the balance after all. The thing is, it’s far less complex than that. Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons - most of the Transformers have had varied and shaded stories/characterizations over the years, but that’s the way it’s always been. Anyone who can’t spot the difference is idiotic or uncaring and anyway it’s Earth on the sidelines, they would do better to keep out of it and let the Autobots take the full brunt. The contemporary viewpoint of war is as a matter of survival – it’s who’s left that counts and not who’s right, rules and ethics are discarded in an effort to obtain victory. But the downside of that view is that it devolves the parties involved into a cynical, animalistic scramble for survival. Causes matter, ethics matter, the ideals of good and evil matter. Even if the franchise is geared towards children, good and evil matter for adults too. Transformers is built on the good vs evil concept, and disregarding that concept through bigotry not only takes a lot away from it, but casts a fairly negative light upon Earth. PREDICTABILITY When bigots get involved, you can be sure they will just make things worse. It’s a foregone conclusion that the actions of racists will not only complicate but also worsen matters; it’s the way they’re written to work out in the plot. And either they don’t understand the consequences of their actions, or they don’t care. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST had the Sentinel robots built to target mutants and preserve humanity... they ended up targeting ALL humanity as they had the potential to create mutants. THE IRON GIANT had a federal agent launch a nuclear missile to obliterate the titular alien... not learning until it was too late that it was almost next to him and so he would also get wiped out in the blast. In AOE, a company was guided by anti-TF human Harold Attinger to construct an army from dead Autobots/Decepticons to protect the Earth and make the Autobots obsolete... only to have them rebel and break out as Decepticons. Their leader Galvatron was in fact built from the body of Megatron, and they didn’t spot his reemergence coming (you’d think that they should have figured out the signs). The army got majorly wiped out in the end anyway, so that wasn’t too serious, but still Attinger was responsible for reviving the Decepticon leader. Bigots do whatever they want to do for their own ends, fine. But we know their actions messes things up for everyone (themselves included most of the time), so that element doesn’t really bring anything new, especially not in TF. THE APPROACH As a storytelling element bigotry works better between divisions of the same society rather than between two different races. Just despising aliens because they’re from a different world/culture is much too easy; despising our own kind is more complex, and ironically more true to the concept of discrimination as finding means to bully people. X-MEN is a premier example of this, with Magneto seeing mutation as the mark of a superior breed of human and Stryker seeing mutation as a threat to normal mankind (obvious examples, but as X-Men is built on this concept it stands firm). The DC story SUPERMAN VS THE ELITE had Superman going up against a bunch of superhuman bigots who assumed that they could take advantage of his code of honour and fight dirty... then when he fought like them they got freaked out and said he’d broken his code. (Great feature btw) And IDW has perhaps had better success with TF conflicts rather than Transformer-human conflicts. The divide of Autobots/Decepticons, the constructed-cold/forged schisms and the rebellions Optimus and Megatron led against the ruling Senate have worked out much better than whatever the Transformers were doing on Earth. For the most part, I would really rather see bigotry used between Transformers, rather than between Transformers and humans. Between humans I find it’s too depressing, and between Transformers I find it’s more fascinating.