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Transformers as a Metaphor

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Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby knightedfeline » Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:17 am

I consider TF a metaphor for the Culture War going on in the US. Autobots stand for liberty, peace, and intelligence where as Decepticons stand for authority rule, obedience, and power. These are the very core elements that are at the heart of Culture War. Can other see this as well? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Are there other elements that make it predominately a story that is just about good and evil or is there another interpretation that can be applied? Is Transformers just mindless violence?

Most of us watch the series or at least keep up with the stories, but do the stories strike on a deeper level and reflect the world around us? If we look at the stories of just one series we see that stories that reflect concerns and events that happen as part of our culture whether it is the search for precious energy or the predatory actions of a killer. Though not all elements of the stories share this aspect are there enough that other people see this as well?

If these were simply stories of good verses evil, then we're looking at an extremely simplified story that shouldn't hold any more fascination for us and shouldn't be as enduring as it is. True the aspects of good versus evil are great parts of fairy tales and it could be argued that Transformers is a science fiction version of those fairy tales, but even fairy tales, as originally written, were meant to contain messages and instructions as a means of helping people learn and live life. Fairy Tales are stories made at a time that reflect the era, in which they're made and which convey messages that are not just about the time, but about values and traits that are admired in the culture. If this franchise were only about that, then what would be the lessons? Is this part of the reason Transformers endures so well? If this is a story of good versus evil then what does that say about the philosophies that we assign to the two factions?

If this toy line were only about mindless violence would it be able to maintain it's popularity for so long? Mindless violence is just that, un-directed, unreasonable, and completely without any redemptive qualities. Yet the writers give the characters something to stand for. The fact that there are things that the Autobots won't do speaks that there are elements to these characters that is beyond just plain violence for violence sake. This would then, at the very least, put this into the realm of fairy tales, which then become stories about life lessons.

We fans know that there is more to this series than just the puzzle box element that comes from changing one form into another. We get absorbed into the characters and come to respect them, and attribute certain characteristics to their personalities. We would even get upset to even see if these characters did anything that was out of their character to do. So, then what does that make these changing robots, if not representation of something that we see around us?
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Dagon » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:02 am

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A problem that exists in your thought is that you've assigned sides, as in the Autobots represent all things good while the Decepticons represent totaliarianism and evil. Throughout the course of the fiction, there have been a number of chances to look at these two factions from different perspectives, such as the Megatron: Origins comic. If we have to relegate this topic to simply the cartoon portrayal, we're doing everyone and everything involved a disservice.
In the Megatron origin comic we get MEgatron as ultimately a leader of a revolution against what many see as an unfair, repressive and out of touch Autobot political regime. Even in the 2007 movie the arguement can be made that Megatron is after the Allspark so as to keep his race from dying out due to inability to create new members, albeit he would have those new members be warriors as opposed to pacifists.
If we want to look at the factions as sides in the Culture War, we have the Decepticons believing that the natural abilities of the Cybertronian race should be used to benefit that race. One could argue that were we to apply that same logic to (used as a default value) American society, it would lead us down the path of using developments and advancements American culture has obtained so as to better ourselves as a nation of people. This could mean jettisoning the weight of religious morality in favor of ideas such as same sex marriages and stem cell research being perfectly allowable. It can be argued that an Autobot regime, which is content to use its abilities to counter the Decepticons or exist as passive assistance, would be more along the lines of a conservative ideology that would force its views and beliefs on others in the attempt to forge a harmonious relationship via the elimination of disention. That way, two men can't be unified in love because it deviates from a poor translation of the world's most popular, best selling, exclusive and highly derivative and unoriginal fictional narrative but it would be more than acceptible to exclude someone or deny them rights set forth in the foundational documents of a land based on ones' own interpretation of that same narrative.
To the point, if freedom really is the right of all sentient beings, then why must the Decepticons be wiped out? Yes, they are impinging on the rights and freedoms of a number of other beings, but that does not translate directly into a need to exterminate them. They could be imprisoned or something, along the lines of the G1 cartoon where Cybertron had a databank type arrangement which contained the personalities and such of prisoners. If crying about not-G1 is more the soup du jor, wasn't The Fallen exiled in ROTF? He was pretty ineffective all by himself in exile until inexplicably Megatron and Starscream were pictured talking to him. So, options exist.

I am in agreement that the Transformers can represent sides in this Cultural War, but I disagree that the good guy characters are necessarily the ones who should represent the good guys in cultural disputes. From my perspective, the Decepticons (barring those god awful movies) are just as likely to represent the right side of the debate as the Autobots are, and they're not entirely evil or villanous. Good and evil are points of view, and while we may not always share the same ones, we can't categorically assign values to sides in what amounts to be an abstract contest. We can't abide gay marriage but we can abide the creeping advance of religious fundamentalism, because homosexuality is frowned upon by a deity of infinite love and good, but that infinite love and good should be forced on people who don't want it, or becuase a culture somehow moves towards 'godlessness'? If anything the Decepticons would be representative of ultimate freedom, because as a revolutionary outfit they represent a freedom from the current regime, which some are just as likely to find oppressive as others would find the 'just' and 'fair' Autobot regime.
I am 100% behind your metaphor idea, just not in the absolutism of assigning good and evil to either side. But, that's just my interpretation.

this could turn into an excellent topic, by the way.
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Shadowman » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:53 am

Motto: "May God have mercy on my enemies, because I sure as hell won't."
You can't really say Transformers is a metaphor of a Culture War without saying every piece of fiction ever made is also a metaphor for Culture War. It's Protagonists vs. Antagonists, same as everything.

Hasbro never, ever put that kind of thought into it. They never put that kind of thought into anything. There is a reason for anything they do, and people seem all to eager to forget what that is. You know why it's the Heroes vs. the Villains? It's a not a metaphor, it's to endear the characters--not the story--to the viewer, who will then go out and purchase or have their parents purchase the toy versions of these characters.

In any case, it's more a combination of various early-80s late-70s conflicts (The Cold War was just winding down, and was still fresh on everyone's minds) as well as the ever-enduring energy crisis.
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Dagon » Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:25 pm

Motto: "Ain't nobody got time fo dat....."
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Shadowman wrote:You can't really say Transformers is a metaphor of a Culture War without saying every piece of fiction ever made is also a metaphor for Culture War. It's Protagonists vs. Antagonists, same as everything.

Hasbro never, ever put that kind of thought into it. They never put that kind of thought into anything. There is a reason for anything they do, and people seem all to eager to forget what that is. You know why it's the Heroes vs. the Villains? It's a not a metaphor, it's to endear the characters--not the story--to the viewer, who will then go out and purchase or have their parents purchase the toy versions of these characters.

In any case, it's more a combination of various early-80s late-70s conflicts (The Cold War was just winding down, and was still fresh on everyone's minds) as well as the ever-enduring energy crisis.


But it can be a metaphor, and in fact, everything can be a metaphor for something else. It's the action of interpretation, not the intention of the creator, that ascribes value. It's Post-structural, Death of the Author stuff, but it's true. You mention the Cold War, and in the case of that interpretation, Transformers can be seen as a metaphor for the Cold War.
That's why, despite what the movie forum may want everyone to believe, we are capable of seeing the same thing but interpreting it in different ways, because fairly everything is accesible to various points of view and readings. As long as it can be supported with corresponding evidence, we have to treat all interpretations as valid. OP's wasn't too full of support, but we can't rule it out as a possiblity.

*edit--I got distracted while typing and hit Submit, but thought I wasn't done. Turns out, I was, but had already hit Edit. So, the preceeding was a recap of my folly.
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Shadowman » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:01 pm

Motto: "May God have mercy on my enemies, because I sure as hell won't."
Dagon wrote:But it can be a metaphor, and in fact, everything can be a metaphor for something else. It's the action of interpretation, not the intention of the creator, that ascribes value. It's Post-structural, Death of the Author stuff, but it's true.


You're interpreting it as such, that doesn't mean it actually is. On the other hand, this is just my opinion. I've always had a huge distaste for trying to find meaning that isn't really there. I much prefer to read the story that was actually written, the story the writers intended for people to see.

Dagon wrote:You mention the Cold War, and in the case of that interpretation, Transformers can be seen as a metaphor for the Cold War.


Cold War was just an example. (And, in retrospect, not even a correct one; the Cold War was a series of proxy battles, the war between the Autobots and Decepticons was all head-on, not to mention that by the start of the series, the Cold War was pretty much over) There was a lot of turmoil and conflict going on at the time. For instance, the conflict surrounding the terrorist organization Cobra.

(And before anyone says anything, GI Joe is a metaphor for the US Military beating the ever-loving crap out of any evil organization that stands in their way, they've always been up-front about that)
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Dagon » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:09 pm

Motto: "Ain't nobody got time fo dat....."
Weapon: Null-Ray Rifle
Shadowman wrote: You're interpreting it as such, that doesn't mean it actually is. On the other hand, this is just my opinion. I've always had a huge distaste for trying to find meaning that isn't really there. I much prefer to read the story that was actually written, the story the writers intended for people to see.
.


Absolutely I am. And by and large, I agree with you...I'm interested in what the author is saying, and frankly, too much manufactured meaning is absurd to say the least. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, as Freud would say. But at the end of the day, this is my life, not the author's, so the meaning that matters most is what something means to me.
The fact is that if we rely only on what the author intends us to derive from something, we have very short conversations. Interpretation is different from things that have ultimate ending points in that there is no end to interpretations, and off into the future interpretations will continue to change because there is no finite number of possibilities that people can see something as.
Likewise, just because you interpret Transformers as a marketing ploy to sell toys and nothing more does not mean that there isn't any other meaning. If we interpret something as meaning this or that, we're not ascribing an empirical value to it. Interpretations are relative: if I think Transformers is a metaphor and you think it's just about making money, that does not in any way make me wrong. It just means we have different interpretations.

If we are, generally speaking, a collection of adult-ish people who have been hanging on to toy robots for nearly 30 years and see them as nothing more than toys and animation cells, that really does make us pretty pathetic.
If, on the other hand, we are involved in a mythos that has a rich character base and offers points to think about and could be, just like those characters, a variety of different things, then we've really got something of value to work to interpret.
As long as an interpretation can be supported with evidence from what is being interpreted, then it is correct as an interpretation. The fact that any given source material is capable of generating and supporting numerous and varied interpretations is a testament to the quality of the source material.
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Dagon » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:20 pm

Motto: "Ain't nobody got time fo dat....."
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Shadowman wrote:
(And before anyone says anything, GI Joe is a metaphor for the US Military beating the ever-loving crap out of any evil organization that stands in their way, they've always been up-front about that)


Sorry, forgot about this part. I agree with the GI Joe metaphor, but in this day and age, isn't there something added to that metaphor with Cobra being a terrorist organization, now that the US Army almost exclusively engages terrorism rather than fighting nations in more upfront warfare?
What does it say about the military if the Joe's basically win by forcing Cobra to retreat, rather than ever really just tarring them? I'm going with 80s Joe here, so forgive if newer things show more decisive victories. The Joes always just blew up more HISSes than they lost Wombats and then Cobra Commander squealed for retreat.....the Joes never scored decisive victories.....could not one interpret that as that while the military of the US may win and generally have the upper hand, terrorism can never actually be wiped out, but rather scurries off to fight another day, or regroup or develop new technology or form a rock group with subliminal messeges? Perhaps military force solves nothing, and the Joes are a testament to that.....high tech weapons, crack squad of commandos, but a long list of phyrric victories and what seems like a total inability to definatively win over an adversary? Maybe it can be interepreted as meaning that a nation invested in the military industrial complex doesnt actually secure anything but must still live in the constant knowledge that its enemies are still out there and that even its best offensives or defenses are merely delaying actions against which terrorists or adversaries will test themselves. Or, since civilian life always seemed pretty good during the Joe cartoons, maybe the messege is that utopia can be found in a place that futiliy and endlessly fights a war/s, or that war solves/changes nothing, and that we should all just be hippies and stick daises in rifle barrels.
Or maybe, it's just to sell some toys.

None of these things are absolute meanings, but that doesn't mean that they are wrong, or that the crap kicking interpretation is right either.
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby knightedfeline » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:27 am

Every fiction, over every era represents the values and ideas of the era and place it was created. We live in an era which has never existed before in the history of storytelling, an era which our stories are a means of selling merchandise. This however does not devalue the story, if anything it exemplifies the importance of the story, because people won't buy if they don't agree with most of it. However as to what roles Autobot and Decepticons play can not be debated because the cultural war in the US has its roots deep in history and the factions have already been assigned sides.

Every era tells stories and the reasons for the stories always differ, but they all hold elements that are inescapable. You cannot write a story of good vs. evil in any culture without examining what is good and evil by that culture's standards. In order to tell children a story in this country we have set standards that severely restrict what can be told and shown, thus further expressing what the culture thinks of children. (Though this last sentence can be further debated due that the people that place the restrictions come from a sub culture and not from the culture itself.) You can not also have compelling stories without compelling characters. These characters must also come from the cultures expectations of the heroic and evil traits. History of that culture also plays a role, but is not a dictator as to the directions the story must unfold, but instead acts as a source for expanding the fiction. After all, fictional history does not have to be based upon actual history for it to be a metaphor. In fact it makes it a lot easier for the story teller to be a metaphor if he can also say, "Oh, this is a fictional story, in a fictional world, with no basis in fact," because censorship has always been an issue for writing and creating fiction has long been a way for writers to avoid censors.

In order to sell merchandise based on stories you have to have stories that are compelling and applicable to the people you're selling to. If we look specifically at the Transformers that were made in the US, for the US market, such as the original G1, Beast Wars and Transformers Prime, we can see the strength of Transformers as a metaphor. Looking at the comics, where censorship is a lot less rampant, we can delve more into the issues that separate the cultures and go further into the perspectives on both sides. (Though the comics are the media for Transformers fiction I am not all that familiar with and would be more interested in learning more from.)

However in order to understand the metaphor, we must understand the root of the cultural war of the US. The cultural war mostly stems from the religious and the secular parts of this society. The religious believes that we must obey a deity and follow its rules and regulations in all matters of life. The secular believes that in order do thrive, life must live in a manner that allows questioning of authority, change and furthering education and human boundaries. These elements have their roots in ancient Greece where a lot of our culture is based. This is a debate that seemingly has no end. The authors of Transformers have already assigned positions to the Transformers and have therefore taken sides in the cultural war by stating what attributes they see as evil and good. To simplify this statement, you have a portion of the society that believes in totalitarianism, and another portion that believes in free thought.

Interpreting a metaphor does not necessarily mean that all elements have to fit. A metaphor is simply a representation of a bigger, more complex idea. It wouldn't even be possible to interpret idea if there wasn't sufficient elements in the source material. Where as yes we can say that we are looking into an element and projecting ideas and philosophies, the overall source material will always stand on its own. Also, whether or not this was the intention of the writers, is a matter that no one will fully understand or realize other than the authors themselves and it's doubtful they will ever fully divulge such information.

What roles the Autobots and Decepticons are assigned is very evident in every story. The Cons represent totalitarianism because sides is focused solely upon what Megatron, the ultimate authority of Decepticons, wants and approves of. Where as he will not always kill to punish, he does not let any contradiction to his authority go without punishment. It is also the purpose of every Decepticon to serve his master or lord, as well as to destroy all who stand against him, whether it is friend or foe. The Autobots however are not so strict. Independent thought is encouraged, even if not always welcome. Capital punishment is not always an option for all contradictions to authority. Forgiveness and greater understanding even have allowed for those who were given up on, the chance to come back. These ideas and differences are at the very heart of the debate between the major philosophies of the cultural differences in the US.

Whether we see eye to eye on the elements of a metaphor and what the stories are for in Transformers, we can not also look at them as simple stories. We can see the importance of stories for any fiction and we know that there are elements that can not be left out due to the cultures influence upon the story. Whether we interpret the story one way or another, it doesn't matter, because in the end, Transformers means something different to each of us. However, we can not say that there isn't more to the series than mindless violence.
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Dagon » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:56 pm

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Of course every culture creates its art with its values and beliefs included. And obviously Transformers is imbued with those values and such of our culture.

What I was saying at first was that the good/bad sides of this particular metaphor can't just be assigned along faction lines because from medium to medium the lines of good and bad start to blur, with the Megatron Origin story as my example. Depending even on how you interpret the individual TF continuities, regardless of what voice over narration there may be, either side can be viewed as being the good guys. Blanket adherence to a "they are good, the other is bad" philosophy is just stupid.

If we want to break this culture war down into religious v. secular, the Autobots seem to me to be a lot more on the religious side of things. They have the Matrix, an artifact allegedly once a part of some god figure which entitles its bearer to fairly unquestionable control over the entire race, even those who would reject feilty to it, like the Decepticons. They ostensibly believe in Primus, who is god for them, while fearing his antithesis Unicron.
The Decepticons, while less diplomatic in their might makes right mindset, are not interested in the Autobots' divine right of kings B.S. granted by the Matrix and while they do fear Unicron, they have no real interest it seems in Primus. The Decepticons are trying to cast off the yoke of Autobot mysticism which they do not ascribe to, so as to not be governed by things that they reject. If we apply this same description to an aboriginal tribe and call the Autobots colonialists, then we have just created a wonderful story about the oppressed overcoming their oppression.
Plus, we look at this from our current chronological and political perspective. If we looked at this story from the perspective of the Ancient Greeks, or keeping with the religion v secularism idea, the Hebrews, we would laud the Decepticons for not bowing to an unjust and 'false' god and theocratic system. If we assume that our perspective is the correct lens through which to view all of history we are making a terrible mistake. Like I said, if we tell the story of the Hebrews overcoming oppression and slavery we lose our minds at how their god brought them out of the darkness. Those same Hebrews would have supported the Decepticons not giving in to a belief system that was false to them and the Greeks would have lauded their warrior virtues.

As for the selection of what can be told to children, now you're talking like Althussar. If we restrict what is available for people to be exposed to, then we basically control their thought process. Just because Transformers is a cartoon or comic or toy or whatever in no means means that it's not a way of spreading a messege to children. That's why the good guys always win, right? To teach kids that good is better than bad? It's a higher level thinking process that allows one to consider relative good and relative bad for themselves, regardless of the media via which such ideas are transmitted. Through somethign as simple as a cartoon we can teach kids to always value freedom, and then when they're old enough to vote maybe they'll vote Tea Party because the Teas support freedoms like lower minimum wages, lower taxes on the super rich and outlawing things that are against the socially dominant Judeo-Christian authoritative 'moral' initiaitive. Because that's real freedom, right? Not letting a woman have an abortion if needed because it would sully my delicate sensibilities and personal belief? Cause it's my freedom that matters, damned be yours.
The Autobots can be seen in the same light. They value freedom, but not Decepticon freedom. Because those guys are different and don't conform to what WE like, they don't deserve to live. Not at all saying that the Decepticons aren't tyrants or that they don;t do bad things, because they do. I think it was Decartes that said that god was complete good, but that doesn't mean god can't do bad things, but rather that when god does bad it originates basically from the best of intentions.

Absolutely we have a social metaphor here.
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Shadowman » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:18 pm

Motto: "May God have mercy on my enemies, because I sure as hell won't."
Dagon wrote:What I was saying at first was that the good/bad sides of this particular metaphor can't just be assigned along faction lines because from medium to medium the lines of good and bad start to blur, with the Megatron Origin story as my example. Depending even on how you interpret the individual TF continuities, regardless of what voice over narration there may be, either side can be viewed as being the good guys. Blanket adherence to a "they are good, the other is bad" philosophy is just stupid.


The idea of the lines between good and evil blurred falls flat when you realize the kinds of things Megatron does or has condoned in order to reach his goals. For instance, attempting to wipe out the human race, or rendering his own homeworld uninhabitable simply because he wanted power, or more power, depending on the continuity. If you're going to use Megatron Origin as an example, in the -tion series, he has a specifically laid-out 6-step plan to ensuring global devastation, which involves as much bloodshed as possible.

Even in Exodus and War for Cybertron, where his goal was actually quite noble (Abolishing the caste system, a goal that most Autobots, including Optimus, agreed with) ended up being distorted over time until it was basically a new goal entirely. (Abolishing free will)

So while the lines between good and evil are normally a point of perspective, that sure as hell doesn't apply to Megatron. To use traditional character alignment, he is, at his nicest, Lawful Evil. (He's even directly quoted on that page!)
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Dagon » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:51 pm

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Shadowman wrote:
Dagon wrote:What I was saying at first was that the good/bad sides of this particular metaphor can't just be assigned along faction lines because from medium to medium the lines of good and bad start to blur, with the Megatron Origin story as my example. Depending even on how you interpret the individual TF continuities, regardless of what voice over narration there may be, either side can be viewed as being the good guys. Blanket adherence to a "they are good, the other is bad" philosophy is just stupid.


The idea of the lines between good and evil blurred falls flat when you realize the kinds of things Megatron does or has condoned in order to reach his goals. For instance, attempting to wipe out the human race, or rendering his own homeworld uninhabitable simply because he wanted power, or more power, depending on the continuity. If you're going to use Megatron Origin as an example, in the -tion series, he has a specifically laid-out 6-step plan to ensuring global devastation, which involves as much bloodshed as possible.

Even in Exodus and War for Cybertron, where his goal was actually quite noble (Abolishing the caste system, a goal that most Autobots, including Optimus, agreed with) ended up being distorted over time until it was basically a new goal entirely. (Abolishing free will)

So while the lines between good and evil are normally a point of perspective, that sure as hell doesn't apply to Megatron. To use traditional character alignment, he is, at his nicest, Lawful Evil. (He's even directly quoted on that page!)



Well, going with the -tion series, if that is (there's no reason to think it isn't) the same Megatron as the Megatron of Origins, then his chosen method of the 6 step plan is a pattern of learned behavior. He has learned that violence ultimately is the only thing that will get people to listen to him; even the 'peace loving' Autobots in Origin were only interested in him because he was perpetrating violent actions.
As for Peace through Tyrany, Megatron isn't saying anything that the Autobots aren't. Freedom is the right of all sentient beings, but Prime can justify killing Decepticons by saying they're barbarians that don't deserve something (life, freedom) that they don't themselves value.
Also, the line doesn't blur or fall based on the actions or things he's condoned, any more than saying that attaining freedom by any means necessary is admirable. What we have is two sides who essentially agree to tolerate certain amounts of "evil" or immoral deeds so long as the ultimate result is something beneficial to the group. If Cybertronians agree to be subjugated under Megatron so as to acchieve what they want or believe in, then it's not evil. Remember, 'evil' is a quality that is applied by others, not self applied. Megatron is evil to Prime and his guys.....I doubt Starscream and company sit back and think that Megatron is evil. If they elect to be ruled through fear and pain, that is their choice, as Megatron also never made people follow him, unless we feel the need to talk about Inferno's reprogramming in Energon. And really, let's not.


It's good debating with you Shadowman. You're a lot of fun! Can we keep doing it?
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Shadowman » Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:12 pm

Motto: "May God have mercy on my enemies, because I sure as hell won't."
Dagon wrote:Well, going with the -tion series, if that is (there's no reason to think it isn't) the same Megatron as the Megatron of Origins, then his chosen method of the 6 step plan is a pattern of learned behavior. He has learned that violence ultimately is the only thing that will get people to listen to him; even the 'peace loving' Autobots in Origin were only interested in him because he was perpetrating violent actions.


That doesn't justify anything. He's not a child, he knows he has a choice in the matter. And destroying entire civilizations for attention is probably worse than doing it for power.

Dagon wrote:As for Peace through Tyrany, Megatron isn't saying anything that the Autobots aren't. Freedom is the right of all sentient beings, but Prime can justify killing Decepticons by saying they're barbarians that don't deserve something (life, freedom) that they don't themselves value.


Um, no. Autobots believe in Peace through Peace. And they justify killing Decepticons as protecting themselves and, in most cases, humanity. To put it in human perspective, all of us have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Until you start committing crimes, then those same rights are null and void for you.

Dagon wrote:Also, the line doesn't blur or fall based on the actions or things he's condoned, any more than saying that attaining freedom by any means necessary is admirable. What we have is two sides who essentially agree to tolerate certain amounts of "evil" or immoral deeds so long as the ultimate result is something beneficial to the group.


And yet it resulted in a massive civil war that destroyed one planet and spilled over onto many more. All because Megatron wanted power.

Dagon wrote:If Cybertronians agree to be subjugated under Megatron so as to acchieve what they want or believe in, then it's not evil.


None of them agreed to it. That's why they're at war.

Dagon wrote:Remember, 'evil' is a quality that is applied by others, not self applied. Megatron is evil to Prime and his guys.....I doubt Starscream and company sit back and think that Megatron is evil. If they elect to be ruled through fear and pain, that is their choice, as Megatron also never made people follow him, unless we feel the need to talk about Inferno's reprogramming in Energon. And really, let's not.


Okay. We could talk about the Constructicon's reprogramming, and how Megatron used them to raze and entire city.
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Dagon » Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:58 pm

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Shadowman wrote:
Dagon wrote:Well, going with the -tion series, if that is (there's no reason to think it isn't) the same Megatron as the Megatron of Origins, then his chosen method of the 6 step plan is a pattern of learned behavior. He has learned that violence ultimately is the only thing that will get people to listen to him; even the 'peace loving' Autobots in Origin were only interested in him because he was perpetrating violent actions.


That doesn't justify anything. He's not a child, he knows he has a choice in the matter. And destroying entire civilizations for attention is probably worse than doing it for power.


Right, he's not a child. He chose his methods because he knows they work. I don't recall any Megatron sitting around and asking others to feel sorry for him because he didn't know better, and that he should be let off the hook. Sniveling, 80s super-villian-got-caught stuff really shouldn't count. I'm hoping we avoid the trappings of the form here.

Dagon wrote:As for Peace through Tyrany, Megatron isn't saying anything that the Autobots aren't. Freedom is the right of all sentient beings, but Prime can justify killing Decepticons by saying they're barbarians that don't deserve something (life, freedom) that they don't themselves value.


Um, no. Autobots believe in Peace through Peace. And they justify killing Decepticons as protecting themselves and, in most cases, humanity. To put it in human perspective, all of us have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Until you start committing crimes, then those same rights are null and void for you.


Only if it's justifable. If you execute a shoplifter, then you're the one who's wrong. I'm going to guess we don't need to list an exhaustive list of historical instances in which an other was attacked in the name of maintaining peace. Peace through tyrany also would result in the condition of peace, but in a different vision. If you don't commit crimes because you either fear punishment or are trying to be an upstanding and moral person, both reasons mean you are not committing crimes.
BM Megatron brought peace to Cybertron. That's hard to deny, if peace can be said to be lack of discord and conflict. He doesn't do it through the nicest means, but he does it.
And I know that that's the ends justifying the means, and I know that I'm presenting that part pretty poorly.

Dagon wrote:Also, the line doesn't blur or fall based on the actions or things he's condoned, any more than saying that attaining freedom by any means necessary is admirable. What we have is two sides who essentially agree to tolerate certain amounts of "evil" or immoral deeds so long as the ultimate result is something beneficial to the group.


And yet it resulted in a massive civil war that destroyed one planet and spilled over onto many more. All because Megatron wanted power.


And so, if the Autobots need to wipe out every single Decpticon in order to secure their brand of peace, it'll be ok. Because it's been proven again and again, they can't just sit the Decepticons down and talk this over, so basically, kill or be killed. Or deactive them, and put their personalities or what ever it was in storage, like the Combaticons.
So, it's cool when the 'good' guys do it, but if the 'bad' guys do it, they must be wiped out so as to prevent future problems.

Dagon wrote:If Cybertronians agree to be subjugated under Megatron so as to acchieve what they want or believe in, then it's not evil.


None of them agreed to it. That's why they're at war.


I meant the Decepticons, who follow Megatron. They were the Cybertronians I was refering to. If Cybertronians agree to be subjugated under Megatron, so as to acchieve what they want or believe in, then their being evil is something applied to them via their association.

Dagon wrote:Remember, 'evil' is a quality that is applied by others, not self applied. Megatron is evil to Prime and his guys.....I doubt Starscream and company sit back and think that Megatron is evil. If they elect to be ruled through fear and pain, that is their choice, as Megatron also never made people follow him, unless we feel the need to talk about Inferno's reprogramming in Energon. And really, let's not.


Okay. We could talk about the Constructicon's reprogramming, and how Megatron used them to raze and entire city.
[/quote]

Ok, well played. I forgot about that one. We still have to acknowledge that there are those who follow Megatron of their own volition.
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby Shadowman » Thu Sep 29, 2011 7:45 pm

Motto: "May God have mercy on my enemies, because I sure as hell won't."
Dagon wrote:BM Megatron brought peace to Cybertron. That's hard to deny, if peace can be said to be lack of discord and conflict. He doesn't do it through the nicest means, but he does it.
And I know that that's the ends justifying the means, and I know that I'm presenting that part pretty poorly.


Extremely poorly. While Megatron DID bring "peace" to Cybertron, he did so by killing everyone. And anyone he didn't kill ended up being forcibly enslaved. If your utopia requires mass genocide and enslavement, to the point that you're the only one who is neither dead nor enslaved, then it's not a utopia at all.

Dagon wrote:Because it's been proven again and again, they can't just sit the Decepticons down and talk this over, so basically, kill or be killed.


Exactly! That's exactly it! If the Autobots don't fight, they'll be killed by the Decepticons. If the Decepticons don't fight, then the Autobots also don't fight because that's all they really wanted.

Dagon wrote:Ok, well played. I forgot about that one. We still have to acknowledge that there are those who follow Megatron of their own volition.


It's been shown that many Decepticons are afraid of Megatron, so it's more than likely he's leading by intimidation. (I.e. why Starscream's assassination attempts always seem to end when Megatron aims a fusion cannon at him)
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Re: Transformers as a Metaphor

Postby knightedfeline » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:14 pm

It's fascinating that you (Dragon) have come to see the Decepticons as being the noble rebels when in a lot of ways their actions have many times been quite contrary to what a noble being would be. As Shadow has pointed out that, going back to the G1 series, Megatron has repeatedly enslaved many. He enslaved not only Autobots, but as has been mentioned, Decepticons as well. G1 states that he enslaved the Supremes which were guardians of peace, the Constructicons and a few others. Others like Starscream said in G1, "I joined because Megatron is power." Starscream in the original was a scientist and explorer as we find out in the Jetfire/Skyfire episodes. We even see in Beast Wars that the Megatron in that series actually uses the same practice on Rhinox who later, because of the corruption, becomes Tankor.

Beast Wars even brings out that Decepticons and Autobots did make peace, they did reach a treaty, in which that warrior took on the mantle/name of Megatron. It states also in the series that the reason the Predicons started the rebellion was because they thought they should be leaders, but were made "second class citizens" by the Maximals. This is the closest in any series that has come close to ascribing any noble reasons for the Decepticons to rebel.

When we look at the actions, which truly describe anyone's real motives, we see that the only thing Decepticons really want is power and domination.

There are elements mysticism in the Autobots, but it is never defined. The matrix is nothing more than a repository of knowledge and experience of those who have possessed it through time. In that matter it can be looked upon as sacred by the Autobots, and that define what they consider important, which is knowledge and wisdom. If there is more to the matrix I am not aware.

Looking at the differences between Cons and Bots through the perspective I was stating earlier (which seems to fit both sides best) as Totalitarianism vs. Freedom of Choice it's obvious the Autobots are for freedom of choice and Decepticons are Totalitarians. Since these are the roots of the religious and secular aspects of our society, it's easy to see that Autobots are the secularists, and the Decepticons the Totalitarians. I say this because, for the Cons, Megatron is the end all be all. He is to be followed because he is leader. He is leader because he's strongest. He's leader because he has the vision and the plan. For the Bots, Prime becomes leader because he was chosen by Vector Sigma. He was chosen because he showed courage, freedom of thought (because he did originally support Megatron) and changed his mind. The matrix is then passed to Orion Pax.

On the side of Censorship, that's a thread I'll have to make later.

Also I have to admit I'm a little lost when talking about, "-tion." I don't know which series that is? Also I'm not familiar with Megatron Origins. More information on these would be a big help.

Shadowman: Very good points. I have to admit to agreeing with most points. However, Utopia is defined as a "perfect society." The idea of perfection is subjective and as far as Megatron, for Beast Machines, was concerned he had created a perfect society. It was a society completely ruled by him, so as far as he was concerned, that was perfect.

Both: I have to admit I'm having fun with this too. It's the geekiest conversation I've ever had and hope it goes on for a while. I also don't plan on going anywhere any time soon. Thank you both.
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Transformers Podcast: Twincast / Podcast #91 - History Lesson
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