Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Transformers as Pro-Communist Propaganda

So I may be reading too much into this, but isn't the Transformers a gigantic piece of pro-communist propaganda?

Transformers is about an intergalactic civil war between two factions of robots from the planet Cybertron-the Autobots and the Decepticons. It's meant to be taken as a basic morality play for children. Each episode is about the evil Decepticons coming up with a nefarious plot, and then the good Autobots thwarting it. Wash, rinse, repeat. But looking a bit deeper into some of the subtext of the show reveals a deeper layer.

The Decepticons are consistently displayed as evil, and yet they display many distinctly capitalistic traits. The Decepticons are made up primarily of the military class of robots from the planet Cybertron. Their culture is based on an extremely hierarchical structure founded upon traditional "survival of the fittest" principals. Megatron leads because he is the strongest of the Decepticons. When he dies, the Decepticons engage in a battle royale to determine who should replace him. Subsequently, Megatron's replacement is himself replaced after be bested in an, albeit extremely brief, confrontation with a stronger Decepticon. Their culture is entirely merit based, with the strong advancing while the weak are cast aside (or literally thrown out of the side of a moving train in one episode).

Decepticon society is colonialistic. The primary source of conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons is the Decepticons' desire to constantly expand the Transformer empire in search of resources. In an extremely capitalistic way, the Decepticons' modus operandi is to seek out a new planet, subjugate the planet's inhabitants, strip away the resources of the planet, and then move on to the next planet. The Decepticon's feel entitled to these resources because they are stronger/smarter/more technologically advanced then the people they are taking the resources from.

Compare this with the Autobots. While the Autobots are portrayed as the consummate heroes, their culture is socialistic enough to make even the most left leaning of American politicians blush.

The Autobots were Cybertron's working class. Prior to the beginning of hostilities with the Decepticons, the Autobots were laborers who seemingly toiled away endlessly expanding Cybertron's infrastructure. During peace time, the Autobots lived in awe of the Decepticons, who Cybertronian culture viewed as being a higher echelon of society (primarily due to the Decepticon's ability to fly). The Autobots, angered by the Decepticon's foreign policy and dictatorial rule, rise up in an attempt to overthrow the cruel capitalistic upper ruling class.

Autobot culture runs almost completely contrary to Decepticon culture. While Optimus Prime is clearly the leader of the group, the Autobots are almost uniformly treated as equals regardless of their inherent worth. Their culture is the complete opposite of a meritocracy. The show frequently beats the viewer over the head with this message, as perennial loser Bumblebee (the show's bungling comic relief character) constantly finds new and creative ways to be captured or otherwise mess things up. While Decepticon culture would likely castigate Bumblebee over these infractions, the Autobots continue to accept him as an equal member of their community. Unlike in a more capitalistic society (or Decepticon-ian?) Bumblebee suffers no real problems due to his almost complete inability to contribute to society in a meaningful way.

So be mindful next time you catch an old episode of Transformers that the good guys you are rooting for are, to quote one of my high school teachers, "dirty rotten pinko commies." Meanwhile, the bad guys, who's presence makes you want to boo and hiss are the one's advancing the virtues of capitalism.

Or I could just be reading way too much into that...


  1. Eh, I've heard that said by others. You make a good point, too.
    Just be aware that not all people who are capitalist, or who favor capitalism, are in favor of military dictatorships, survival of the fittest, rigid hierarchical society, and might makes right mentality.
    But let's be honest. Hollywood is heavily influenced-(some would argue controlled) by the left and a lot of Elite Jews with socialist sympathies. Most everything that comes out of hollywood is gonna have that kind of spin to it-despite the fact that MLP, GI Joe, and Transformers are owned by a huge mega corporation (Hasbro. I would know. Brony after I came back from afghanistan.)
    I could see Autobot society coming from a communist perspective, but I wonder if the show also hints at them slowly moving away from it.
    Kind of like religious people moving away from a theocratic or feudal society, even though they maintain their morals, beliefs, and sympathies they realize that their morality should influence, but not control.
    Maybe the Autobots' time in America help them take their socialist based philosophies and mesh within the realms of country that's capitalist, but not necessarily a society that's capitalist minded to it's core.
    Ya know, it's funny you bring this up. There was a youtube poop I saw before I went into the military that showed 80s and 90s cartoons being conservative. After they threw Megatron down a volcano and said their mandatory "yeah, we WON" speech, Optimus said "Now if we could only bring prayer back into school." LOL, it was funny because it was random. As was the Ninja turtles fighting Shredder's abortion robots and COBRAAA trying to abolish the death penalty.
    Don't take it too seriously.
    This brings up an interesting point, though.....What would you get if you crossed the Optimus that you analyzed as being communist, with the Optimus joked about being a theocrat and wanting prayer back in school.
    And you maybe right about it being communist. One episode has the autobots run into the Mujahadeen in the Soviet Afghan war. After the Muji's pissed them off, the Autobots handed the rebels over to the Soviets. Hmmmmmmmmm......

    If the Autobots represent Communists in Russia, they left out the part where the "autobots" massacred millions of people, more so than the Nazis in the long run. Hell, Russia killed more people than Germany BEFORE the war was over. Personally I think we should have left them to rot, but they did that to themselves. There was a holocaust in Russia. We only heard about the one in Germany. I have no problem paying honor to the victims of the one in Germany, but we should do the same to those who died in Russia. Wonder why that one got looked over.

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  3. Megatron is a brutal revolutionary who doesn't care about individuals, seeks to establish dictatorship where he is the only ruler, eliminates Primes who are authority figures and tears down the old order with catastrophic results just like any communist/nazi dictator. There is hierarchy among Autobots and they respect values like friendship and personal freedom so they clearly are right wing, a lot on libertarian side. Primus represents God and Megatron shows no regard for his authority (just like lefties) and infects his later form (Cybertron) with dark energon.