The Real Heroes Of The Story
Friday, June 13th, 1997 12:01AM CDTCategory: Site Articles
Posted by: Seibertron Views: 324,213
Written by Raksha, the plumed serpent
You hear a great deal about "heroic Autobots." That label is pushed on the toy boxes, in the comics, and in numerous voice-overs in the cartoon. In other words, someone wants to make absolutely sure you buy into this notion and accept the labeling, without even examining the situation for yourself. Makes it much easier for them to tell their story, if they present half the characters as simpleminded "designated good guys," and the other half as simpleminded "designated bad guys." Never mind that nothing is ever that clear-cut. Let's strip all the labels and the prejudices for a moment, and take a look at what's really going on.
Consider Cybertron, in the so-called "Golden Age" that was shown in "War Dawn." I'll remind you that it was the *Autobots* who labeled the era the Golden Age; something tells me the Decepticons had a very different perception. After having fought off the Quintessons a few million years earlier, in a struggle where the major advancement could only have come from the Decepticon side (being designed as war machines, after all, in contrast to the "domestic" Autobots), the two groups must have settled down to an initial peace, perhaps on originally equal footing. But by the time "War Dawn" rolled around, probably after several cycles of war and peace, the Autobots were clearly in control of the planet, and the Decepticons were in the minority. Probably their talents and warriors' natures were considered something out of Cybertron's barbaric past by the ruling class, and so they were more and more crowded out into being second-class citizens on their own homeworld. Finally a leader arose who wouldn't stand for it anymore, and struck back.
Megatron himself is one of the most heroic individuals I have ever encountered in life or fiction. He stood up against almost insurmountable odds and inspired his followers to rise up against a powerful opposition that felt the Decepticons were somehow morally inferior, and had done their best to keep them suppressed and restrained all these years. He has the ability to make his vision a reality. He cares enough about the future of his species and his planet to go against the status-quo, no matter *how* much his enemies malign him for it, and no matter how much propaganda is spread against him. He never accepts defeat, no matter how many times he faces devastating setbacks -- because he believes in his dream, and he has the strength of character and the dedication to his homeworld and to his Decepticons to bring his goals into existence, no matter the odds.
Much of the Transformer story that we know, is pure propaganda -- all told from the Autobot and human perspective. There's the insidious notion that this perspective is, in some universal sense, the "right" one, forgetting entirely that there are other ways of interpreting the world, that are just as "right." To that end the Autobots among themselves are usually shown when they're being chummy and friendly with each other, and the Decepticons are usually focused on when there's some kind of internal squabble, giving a totally skewed picture of them. It's all designed to suck the viewer's sympathies in with the so-called "good guys" - leaving out entirely that the Autobots are just as much responsible, maybe more so, for the Cybertronian civil wars, and far less "heroic" as individuals or as a group. These guys are cowards and isolationists, happy to cling to their little planet and watch it slowly deplete itself of energy, and perhaps become easy prey for any strong alien fleet that happens to wander by - while the Decepticons were wanting to gather resources and strengthen the defenses, and then go out and spread the empire outward. But the Autobots thought this was "wrong," and as a result painted the Decepticons as these wantonly vicious and greedy beings who were bent on destruction for its own sake. That's the viewpoint that's always shoved across in the "official" work.
But even those biases can't obscure the fact that much of the propaganda simply isn't true. If you watch the Decepticons on the cartoon, see their interactions with one another, see Megatron's leadership and his relationship to his followers, and if you haven't entirely closed your mind with pre-set biases, or at least have ever stopped to consider the opposite perspective, you'll see that the Decepticons are a closely-interacting team, dedicated to a cause that will forge a better future for them and their descendants, loyal to one another and to their leader, and standing together against anyone who labels them "evil" and then feels justified in trying to wipe them out, simply because their outlook on the world differs from some arbitrary, currently-accepted social standard.
It's much easier to stay stagnating in place, than to reach for the stars. It's much easier to bow your head and act as you're "supposed to," according to others, than to stand up and follow your dreams in the face of all opposition. It's much easier to present yourself to the rest of the universe as a "designated good guy" in order to mooch fuel from the gratitude of other species, than to refuse to debase yourself like that and have the courage to be true to your own nature. *That* takes true heroism. (And, I will also say - it's much easier to accept a label without question, than to examine the situation critically and check out the facts for yourself.) And that's what the Decepticons are all about. Courage, loyalty to one another, and *honesty*. They make no pretences about who they are, regardless of who disapproves. They're willing to forge their own path. And they refuse to conform themselves to someone else's demands. Even with all the designated biases in place, if one looks at the situation objectively, their true nature comes through. And it's a far more admirable nature than that of their hypocritical and pretentious opponents. The *real* heroes of the story - are the Decepticons.
Originally published in TRANS-FORUM #6 (May 1997) by the owner of SEIBERTRON.com