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Old 2014-12-26, 11:04 PM   #38
inflatable dalek
Duke of Kidderminster
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Kidderminster UK

Originally Posted by Warcry View Post
It's actually not a new thing -- you'll find a bit of this if you go back to the original cartoon. The one in particular that stands out to me is Rodimus Prime and Springer, who would occasionally lob a friendly "Rod" or "Spring-o" to one another.
It's an underused idea that goes all the way back to Budiansky as well, IIRC the original profiles for the Autobots had affectionate nick names for most of them ("Cool hand lube" and so on). Which likely never made it into the comics as with such a large cast right from the off getting kids to keep track of which toy was which would be hard enough without throwing pet names in for them as well.

So does Ultra Magnus, though. And nobody wants to argue that he's a girl.
Well, there's no actual reason people couldn't refer to Magnus as "She", but his holo avatar wouldn't be enough to inspire them to do so as he had other reasons for projecting that image.

I've no idea what as I've a complete blind spot when it comes to anyone not being glad to see the back of Verity but they were there.

Come to think of it, a good reason for him staying male is that he's Dominus' "Twin". With Rewind and Chromedome being a perfectly realised analogy for a homosexual relationship that actually works I don't anyone will attempt to make either one of them a female in their minds (well, except for out and out homophobes looking for a way to ease the pain), and that will extend to all of their previous partners and those partners' duplicates as well.

Maybe I'm just super-cynical, but I thought that was pretty textbook pandering to the Tumblr crowd who've inexplicably latched onto a book about giant robots and tried to characterize it as a standard-bearer for their curious ideas about gender. I'd be really surprised to find out he's put much thought into the idea, beyond "they're giving me money, so I shouldn't tell them they're crazy".
I'm too much of an old fuddy duddy for Tumblr (I've only recently thrown myself fully into twitter, much to the delight of my Facebook friends who get to read everything copied over automatically) so I can't speak for the overall character of those on there- though as it and Instagram seem to have picked up the "Look at the weirdos!" jibes twitter used to get before it became really mainstream I suspect it's not as bad as all that- and they might even have a point.

It could be argued that us long standing fans have simply become numbed to how sexist Transformers has generally been overall. Not a new complaint, to cross promote for a moment, as I mention on my site this week as a kid I thought my Mother was a lone mad woman for hating the franchise for sexism until Prime's Rib came along and made me realise Furman must have been ear-bashed by a lot of similar mothers at dinner parties (of course, I used to think that story was ultimately on the side of the feminists and Prime/Hasbro's inability to get their point was the butt of the joke. The faf earlier this year helped dissuade me of that).

New readers coming in, wherever they be from, not used to such a thing are more likely to take offence at dodginess in otherwise very good comics. "Hey, we love this... but what the **** is this bit all about? The one girl is the result of a forced sex change that left her a mad psychopath? Everyone's supposed to be genderless but they're still calling each other "He"? WTF?".

It's understandable that Roberts, Barber and Scott, having been tasked with introducing more girls from above anyway, would actually approach it with care, be prepared to listen to feedback (and the feedback from those who care is going to be more helpful on that score than the folks like you and I who are in the "Who's bothered if they're male or female?" camp) and even correct mistakes they make along the way like the edit to the MTMTE trade.

Of course, just ignoring/properly retconing the massive loadstone that is Spotlight Arcee would have been the best move, but Barber isn't made the the retcon way. Them trying to make sure the female presence isn't deeply stupid and offensive on every level as a hold over from that is, to my mind, a good thing.

(with the mainstream TFs being all 'male' and the Camiens being all 'female')
That can't be right surely? The Cybertron based Transformers aren't male at all, it's just basically how the comic chooses to identify them (in fiction you can rationalise it as a translation conversion because their own neutral pronoun doesn't convey well), the Camiens on the other hand are supposed to be Actually female. Which means there must be some Actual males amongst them otherwise they wouldn't need ladies.

Of course, male Camiens are unlikely to ever appear (even beyond the obvious difficult robot reproduction questions raised by them having boys and girls that is a road I don't think anyone except old Tramp would want to go down) because how on Earth would you portray them that would make them obviously different to the technically genderless but basically always written as a bunch of blokes Cybertronians?

Which is the nub of the whole issue of the idea of them being genderless (which, perhaps oddly as Furman was always more the champion of it, is something I think was first flat out stated by Uncle Bob in that planet of the women story) comes from.

They're supposed to be genderless but writers anthopomorphise them as men. That is, to an extent where Mike Costa's criticism of the franchise was valid, these aren't portrayed as aliens (or at least they only are are very rarely, you have the odd example like Man of Iron- produced by people who thought Transformers was crap and who wanted to do something as unlike it as possible- where they come across as genuinely alien), they're humans in funny suits.

Of course, where Costa went wrong is that, whilst it's perfectly fine to dislike Transformers for it's complete failure as "Proper" science fiction exploring the idea of alien life, that's a conceit that people who enjoy it are happy to make and which especially needs to be made by those writing it or their work is going to be awful.

That's also why the IDW version of Arcee was doomed from the start, there was no convincing way to portray her as an aberration different from the other's when Furman's writing of the characters has never given the impression that they're not gendered except when he's putting the boot into the idea of female ones. Those scenes just die on their arse incredibly badly.

The most sensible approach should have always been "Hey, we know alien robots shouldn't really be this humanised but let's accept it with a wink because we need relatable characters, and there's no reason there shouldn't be characters who are "She" as well as "He" amidst that conceit". Which is basically the approach the more recent cartoons have taken with no issues whatsoever.

Still, from that poor foundations the fact IDW have managed to make the new female toys work as characters is impressive, Windblade could have so easily wound up a complete train wreck so it being good fun (that actually managed to defeat the IDW trend by having it's sag in the middle rather than the end as well. Reads well in trade too) even if not The Greatest Transformers Story Ever Told was something of a miracle.

Oddly I think the first Bay film conveyed the idea of them being very different from humans better than any other media has in decades. Their own language sounds completely strange and different and there's always the feeling that the personalties everyone adopts is as much a disguise to fit in on Earth as their alt modes. Hey, them having got all their knowledge of us from the internet even explains who they're all acting like men, they're bound to have a very strange idea of gender relations after that.

(Personally I think he uses a female avatar because Arcee is the only female he'd ever met at the time he chose it, he respects the fact that she's even more of a bloodthirsty psycho than he is, and he thinks it's a way to underscore how much of a nonconformist loose cannon he is.)
That works too!

Last edited by inflatable dalek; 2014-12-26 at 11:15 PM.
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