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Isn't it human guilt that makes possible the creation and transformation of the Transformers?

Posted by Nick | July 10, 2007 2:43 PM

Sometimes a giant robot from outer space is just a giant robot from outer space.

Posted by supergp | July 10, 2007 2:49 PM

I think Transformers is more like the terminal point of Artificial Intelligence crossed with an Erector Set.

Posted by Diana | July 10, 2007 2:54 PM

"robots in disguise": they are robots performing the roles of other robots. schizophrenics on a walk, the lot of them.

Posted by josh | July 10, 2007 2:55 PM

sometimes a cigar is just a cigar....and sometimes cars turning into giant robots is just a really cool way to make money by selling these robots to kids.

Posted by ddv | July 10, 2007 3:03 PM

But, but... How can we answer the question until Charles tells us how Transformers are evil corporate shills that corrupt children into buying toys?

Posted by torrentprime | July 10, 2007 3:04 PM

Seriously. Kids like fire trucks and hot wheels. Making a fire truck you can talk to? Pure marketing genius. Like KITT on Knight Rider. I ate that shit up by the fistful when I was 10. Add me to the chorus of voices who say "Transformers has no deeper meaning."
But one of the original Transformer designs was lifted pretty directly from a Japanese series (& series of movies) called Macross, and that series may invite deeper analysis. Have at it, chaz.

Posted by christopher | July 10, 2007 3:10 PM

The Japanese love robots. They love them because they reduce the amount of human labor necessary in manufacturing an other tasks, and because if they get good enough robots, they won't have to import foreigners to do the work their labor force is becoming too small to do.

Everyone loves cars.

Put the two together, and you get Transformers.

Take just the first one, and you get a nation that will be the home of the robot insurrection.

Posted by Gitai | July 10, 2007 3:11 PM

The Young Boy's Guide to Toys:

Cars, trucks, planes: cool
Robots: cool
Guns: cool

Robots that turn into cars, trucks, planes, and fight each other with guns: the promised land

Posted by hydrogenguy | July 10, 2007 3:13 PM

Charles, were you ever a kid? Or are you going to continue trying to convince us that you were having super duper thinking thinkity think (aka: non-thinking thinking) thoughts at such a young age as well?

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 10, 2007 3:14 PM

On second thought, one could psychoanalyze the appeal of transformers (and their ilk) to children. I guess you could find something resembling a deeper meaning there.
We love our artifice. A Child can look at a shiny bad-ass machine and know it's cool. But as a social creature, he wants more from hit- wants friendship. Hence the machine-as-person. He must retain his machine status to retain his cool, but he becomes just human enough to be a child's best buddy. Recall one of the main characters of transformers early on was a teenage boy. There you go...

Posted by christopher | July 10, 2007 3:17 PM

Space Niggers! Back from the grave bitches that the NAACP put me in and in outer space now! Ha ha, it's so cool to use that doesn't hurt anyone right?

Posted by Skeletor | July 10, 2007 3:23 PM

Charles, The TRansformers are the result of toy evolution. No romantic explanation behind it.

Mego toys released The Shogun Warriors in the early 70s as a response to the very popular American toy G.I. Joe. They simply wanted a toy that was roughly the same size as G.I. Joe but way more kick ass. The back story for these toys was developed after the fact.

Around the time the firsty Star Wars movie came out, Mego had begun to transition away from the oversized under accessorized robots to a smaller, more intricately designed and accessorized Microman toy. The Microman toys found their way to the states under the name Micronauts and were an unexpected hit. The only thing out selling them were Star Wars toys. No one could understand how these toys with no movie or cartoon tie in and no back story could possibly be seeling nearly as well as the Star Wars toys. The answer was simple. They were just designed better. They were a funner toy.

Soon after Microman had it's run, mego introduced it's newest edition of the same theme they'd been succeeding with. These robots that turn into vehicles we now know as Transformers.

All comic tie ins with each of those Mego products were post introduction into the American market.

So in a nutshell, Mego was guilty of making killer toys and The Transformers are a distant cousin of G.I. Joe.

Posted by Ask Me Anything | July 10, 2007 3:26 PM

I take back what I said. 13 wins.

Posted by christopher | July 10, 2007 3:35 PM

charles was too busy being beat up by other students while his dad stood by idly to play with toys

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 10, 2007 3:41 PM

What's not to like? Lot's of moving parts? Things that remind you of real things, little toy plastic guns. When I was young god did I love those things, I think back on those days with a heavy heart, like an old fling that just doesn't feel the same anymore, but the memmories of the feeling are just so intense.

And come to think of it, it was really well put togethor too (for a cheesy cartoon for children) ... like any fictional universe of good vs. evil. Transformers had an EXCELLENT cast of vilans (Soundwave), and the autobots were always more or less the reluctant heros and the underdogs. Perhaps one of the few toys were the bad guy toys were actually better ...

Posted by Matt | July 10, 2007 3:57 PM

Hey... Let's have a fanboy nostalgia fest instead of a philosophical discussion. That would be rad. I like how Starscream was basically cobra commander as a robot. He was hilarious. And of course, we all loved Optimus Prime as kids the way we love Morgan Freeman as anything now. Hmmm... what else was fun? Soundwave was a weird one. I liked the idea for the toy- wanted one pretty bad, but we didn't have the money for it. Anyone remember "Dare to be Stupid" by Weird Al, in the movie soundtrack? Bitchin' ...

Posted by christopher | July 10, 2007 4:16 PM

Trucks are to transformers what Clark Kent is to Superman.

I was 5 years-old when I discovered the Transformers, and what amazed me was the elaborate way in which an everyday inanimate thing (a truck, a plane, etc) could be hiding a full-fledge hero. And I echo what other people have been saying: it's the toy which got me. I never watched any show whatsoever (my mom was against violent stuff, especially if it was japanese).

As for the connecting stuff... I take the transformers (just like many japanese manga) to be a metaphor of the japanese idea of the human body, which would be capable to attain supernatural powers if all its energies were properly chanelled, by, say meditation and strong ascesis. So is a transformer, a truck that's become a giant robot through genius engineering.

Posted by Mokawi | July 10, 2007 5:54 PM

my first crush was on bumblebee, but i don't know what that means

Posted by erin | July 10, 2007 7:11 PM

I take Transformers to me a transparent marketing bonanza tied to a toy line rebranded for U.S. consumption. The cartoon and comic book series was made up as the creators went along and a pseudo-mythos was developed as it progressed, and then fanboys decided to project a bunch of their own bullshit ideas into it.

As for the new movie, it's a marketing bonanza with big ass special effects and explosions and just a tinge of "America, fuck yeah" nationalism tied to it via Michael Bay.

You really are a Marxist Charles, right?

Posted by Jay | July 10, 2007 7:44 PM

Transformers isn't Japanese. It is Korean. While I loved watching it in the states at 8 yrs old. My friend- whose father was stationed in Japan- hated watching it in Korean to Japanese subtitles. Transformers existed before any American company "discovered" them.
Possibly a Korean reaction to the growing electronic military might neighbor?

Posted by kat | July 10, 2007 8:54 PM

God your a douche bag Charles, and the bullshit post-modern analysis just accentuates it. It's a goddamned toy and cartoon.

Frankly I don't know how you can expect anyone to take you seriously after that bullying post.

Posted by Jack L | July 10, 2007 11:40 PM

The Transformer toy line was definitely Japanese in origin- it was re-branded in the United States (and probably Korea and elsewhere). The cartoons were produced in the States.

Posted by Jay | July 11, 2007 2:08 AM

Do your homework @ 23.

Transformers were a complete Japanese creation.

They were just marketed better in the States to the crack addled Kool-Aid and Kraft generation.

Posted by Gabriel | July 11, 2007 2:28 AM


I have not posted in awhile.

I must be mesmerized by The Transformers.

Or by your Hannah review.

It is indeed wonder ending with speechlessness that inhabits philosophy.

As Derrida has said, philosophy is indeed, divided, between the who and the what. When you love someone, do you love them for the "absolute singularity" of the person, or their attributes.

I now see that both of these have nothing to do with this person, but with language. These attributes are not merely signifiers, but particulars. The singularity is not the particular, but it's still a signifier.

The machine made up of many machines is an engine of signifiers, of language. In this way, it creates an illusion of reality.

We now see that the singularity is speech, the particular is writing. To sing, therefore, and to part, or partake, of the song; language beholds itself.

Posted by Billy | July 11, 2007 5:46 PM

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