thoughts on the Beast-era

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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Onslaught Six » Sat Feb 20, 2010 6:58 am

Actually, that's kind of a good point in and of itself (and it's actually well explained without a wall of text!) so I'm going to concede slightly.

However, my end of the debate (and I think Dom's as well, if I may) is that even though BM doesn't exactly succeed in being 'subtle' about its point, it at least *has a point to make,* which is far more than most TF shows can say. Even BW's best episodes mostly revolve around Megatron being a bad guy and the Maximals have to stop him.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby SynjoDeonecros » Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:57 am

Onslaught Six wrote:Actually, that's kind of a good point in and of itself (and it's actually well explained without a wall of text!) so I'm going to concede slightly.

However, my end of the debate (and I think Dom's as well, if I may) is that even though BM doesn't exactly succeed in being 'subtle' about its point, it at least *has a point to make,* which is far more than most TF shows can say. Even BW's best episodes mostly revolve around Megatron being a bad guy and the Maximals have to stop him.


Yeah, but in my opinion, that fails in two regards: 1. Transformers had always been about "Autobots/Maximals fighting to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons/Predacons", without any pretense of WHY they're doing so, so that's what fans come to expect, and putting in a philosophical or moral point to be made kinda ruins the whole giant transforming robot escapism; ie. people want to see robots fighting when they watch Transformers, they don't want to hear a lecture on the existential dilemma of instrumentality vs. free will.

2. I think they chose a poor message to get across, in the show; environmentalism and what it means to really "live" in a technological society, even considering the "pseudo-beast" modes of the Beast Warriors, seemed to be really incompatible with the show's premise, and was shoehorned in with little thought as to how it fit into established continuity, or how it contradicted it; the environmentalism bit, for instance, really jarred people, I think, because it went against everything that had been established in the show, thus far - yes, we could see the Maximals being a bit ridiculed for their new beast modes, but giving Cybertron an organic core when it's long been solidified as being a completely mechanical planet was jarring, and as Nightscream and BW demonstrated, neither group had ANY compunctions with adding organic parts to themselves, so it kinda breaks the aesop that there must be a balance between technology and nature if the Transformers on Cybertron WERE ALREADY LOOKING INTO THAT BALANCE AND INCORPORATING IT INTO THEIR SOCIETY. And, as stated, there's virtually no explanation for why Megatron suddenly felt technological perfection and instrumentality was the best way of ensuring Cybertron's survival, especially considering that - even during the last parts of Beast Wars - he was in love with his Beast mode, because of the power it gave him. BW, I think, actually had the kernels for a really good message in its backstory: the Maximals' supposed "oppression" of the Predacons, and their sealing and forbidding of important historical sites and documents for the sake of "peace" could've been explored more, to explore the limits of what should be done to ensure peace, and the Nietzsche concepts of "he who fights monsters"; exploring the politics of Cybertron that lead up to the events of Beast Wars, and working an aesop around that, would've worked out much better, I think, than some random bullcrap about environmentalism that doesn't fit on a wholly technological planet populated by mechanical lifeforms, especially when they're already gleefully transforming themselves into retroactive cyborgs.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Onslaught Six » Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:17 am

Isn't "TF Has Always Been About That" all the *more* reason for it to try something different--at least once in a while? There are those of us who *don't* necessarily come to TF just for the mundane robots-fighting-each-other stories. I know Dom likely doesn't and he's frowned upon when such stories appear in the past. (IIRC that was one of his big complaints about Furman's IDW run--things happening for the sake of things happening.)

Second off, I can't say I ever necessarily agreed with BM's message either--but it had a message, so bonus points on it.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby SynjoDeonecros » Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:48 am

Onslaught Six wrote:Isn't "TF Has Always Been About That" all the *more* reason for it to try something different--at least once in a while? There are those of us who *don't* necessarily come to TF just for the mundane robots-fighting-each-other stories. I know Dom likely doesn't and he's frowned upon when such stories appear in the past. (IIRC that was one of his big complaints about Furman's IDW run--things happening for the sake of things happening.)

Second off, I can't say I ever necessarily agreed with BM's message either--but it had a message, so bonus points on it.


In my opinion, they did that with Beast Wars, far more brilliantly than they did with BM; no, it didn't have a message, per se, to it, but it did something that all other Transformers shows before it failed to do: focus on character development. The bad guys actually had REASONS for doing what they did, whereas the Decepticons were just...there. The G1 cartoon, in hindsight, had no soul to it; the heroes and villains were so stock and wooden, Bob Vila would be envious. The Decepticons had no real motivation for anything they did; they just wanted to "conquer the universe". The Predacons, on the other hand, were an oppressed minority, and Megatron and his faction did their evil deeds, so they could rise out of that oppression and restore their faction's name. Not only did they have goals, but they had MOTIVE for those goals; can't say the same for G1 or Beast Machines. Again, WHY was Megatron so hateful of beast modes, and so obsessed with his "technological perfection"? We NEVER get an explanation for what drove him into those philosophies, unlike with Beast Wars, where we DID get an inside look into why he wanted to destroy the Ark and change history.

On the other hand, in all three shows, the heroes' actions and motivations all seemed rather reactionary, focused on taking down the bad guys, but with Beast Wars, at least, they had other concerns that formed a focus to their methods; trying to escape the planet, trying to contact Cybertron and let them know of their situation, exploring the alien ruins dotting the landscape, saving their comrades, etc. Each character had their own goals to achieve, and a motivation for wanting to achieve it, and those were explored at length, giving them serious character development, the likes of which had never been seen before or since in a Transformers show. Beast Machines, on the other hand, as I said, all had the goals of the characters more or less revolve around "the message", and there was very little motivation for them to fulfill those goals, aside from "it is the will of the Oracle/Technological perfection"; yes, Rattrap had that problem with his transformation and robot mode, but once that was settled (and settled fairly unsatisfactory, in my opinion), it virtually vanished with little mention of it, and all his goals were focused on fulfilling Primal's evangelical rambling. Blackarachnia had her search for Silverbolt, but it was very one-note and whiny, the same thing over and over again, and there was virtually no progress to it, even AFTER she got him back, since all that changed was that instead of trying to bring him back from Megatron's clutches, she was...trying to bring him back from the emo guilt he felt from being in Megatron's clutches. And, again, none of the Vehicons had ANY goals or motivations to them, beside "fulfilling Megatron's technological perfection". Yes, they were fighting for a cause, but that cause was stagnant and didn't advance the characters at all; the only exception was Cheetor, and that's only because the writers made him smart enough to see through all this philosophical bullcrap, realize how stupid and dangerous it was, and forced him to take charge to provide damage control. Yes, he was the only one who believably came into his own, in the show, but looking back on it, that was only really out of necessity, and not out of any desire of his to improve himself.

I'm sorry, but Beast Wars is the far superior series, hands-down; the characters, the story, the few glimmers of philosophical issues that it did show, all of them were far and away much better done and handled than Beast Machines, which was a preachy, uncoordinated, plot hole-ridden, character derailing mess. Beast Wars does have its problems, but on all accounts, it's the superior franchise.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Dominic » Sat Feb 20, 2010 12:00 pm

There isn't a Vehicon in the BMac line that I don't like. Deluxe Jetstorm is one of my favorite jet-formers ever.


I like the mold well enough. But, it is a terrible Jetstorm. (A fae character who was stylistically inteded to evoke fae anime bad guys does not work as a chunky bot.) It would have worked as the intended Skybolt, (from the original series concept).

For a show to be "preachy", it has to have an overlying moral lesson or philosophical debate that forms the core of the story being presented TO preach about; no moral lesson or debate, no preaching.


So, being about something other than simply big robots makes a show preachy? Again, if you do not like it, just turn your brain off, or watch G1.

Yes, if the message is being pushed hard enough, it CAN force the villains to become stock and one-dimensional, to present their side as being "wrong" and what they're doing is "bad", but you don't HAVE to go that far for the show to be overly preachy.


For someone so seemingly focused as characters as ends unto themselves, you seem to miss the point that BW has more stock characters than BMac. Along similar lines, the Vehicons as individuals were more nuanced than Megatron's technological unity platform.

Thrust: Loyalty to Megatron the individual.

Tankor: Loyalty to the Vehicon ideal, but separating that from Megatron.

Jetstorm: Freedom to be sadistic. (Silverbolt even says he kind of liked being Jetstorm.)

Obsidian and Stryka: Loyalty to an institution over loyalty to individuals or ideals. (This is a sort of ideal unto itself. But, setting up an institution as an idea meant they had no principles of their own. In some ways, they were the most mechanical characters on the show.)

The fact that the characters actions were consistent with the premise/theme of the show is a sign of focused writing. How is this a problem? Along similar lines, it looks you are arguing that "Beast Wars" was superior for being vapid.

It is hardly fair to compare "Beast Machines" to "Captain Planet". "Captain Planet" was preachy. And, it had the "good is good because it is not bad, which is bad because it is not good" style. "Beast Machines" was more layered. Characters easily could have been fighting on one side or the other. (Obsidian and Stryke would have fought against Megatron before he took over. But, once he was in power, they acknowledged him as the rightful ruler in purely legalistic terms.)


And if you really going to argue THAT point while trying to backpedal by saying he was going to "bring Megatron down from the inside", then you have less brains than Ian Flynn; you CANNOT argue that he betrayed the Maximals to join up with Megs at a moment of weakness when his facade broke free and showed the truly despicable asshole within, while maintaining that he was going to do the Maximals a service by throwing a monkey wrench into Megs' operations. The two are NOT COMPATIBLE; either he's a cowardly, traitorous asshole, or he's not, THERE IS NO GRAY AREA, HERE.


Onslaught's post is pretty clear. He is posting 2 possible, and mutually exclusive, explanations for Rattrap's actions in "The Weak Component". How is it back-pedaling to say "if not A then B"? I am going to assume you honestly misread it, rather than doing so intentionally.

For the record, I tend to agree with Onslaught's first threory. Rattrap was completely cut off from the tools he once used. The old rules, (that he understood and could succeed with), were no longer valid. He turn was less principled than Dinobot's, but more rational. Given that one of the themes in "Beast Machines" was picking a side, it makes sense for the writers to have Rattrap, (another characters), selecting into their respective factions.

"Beast Wars: was not purely black and white. But, "Beast Machines has more grey areas.


It's the difference between watching an episode and sitting back to WONDER about who was right, in the conflict, and watching an episode, and being TOLD who's right in the conflict; well-done shows do the former, preachy shows do the latter.


At this point, it sounds like you are arguing that "Beast Machines" is better. Both sides were initially wrong. (This changed in season 2, though the Vehicons kept many of their virtues.) "Beast Wars" pretty much told viewers who the bad guys were. As said before, Megatron's troops were little more than lunatics, instead of principled (if flawed) characters.


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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby SynjoDeonecros » Sat Feb 20, 2010 12:13 pm

*sigh* Whatever I'm done arguing this with you. I've explained all of my positions to you THREE TIMES, to the best of my ability, and you still refuse to get it, instead clinging to your stupid, asinine, bullshit theory that preachy = stock evil characters. It doesn't, it never HAS, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why you're so insistent on that, or why you keep on twisting my arguments to make yours sound more plausible. The show sucks, the toys suck, and it's a blight on the greatness that is Beast Wars. Have fun with your robotic Captain Planet rip-off, I'm going to work on my Beast Wars fanfic.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Dominic » Sat Feb 20, 2010 12:41 pm

I get your point. You are saying that a show having some prinicple beyond "giant robots" is preachy by virtue of the fact it is about more than giant robots. I get it.

I was disputing your assertion that the (by your own arguement) more vapid "Beast Wars" characters were more fleshed out than the guys in "Beast Machines".

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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Sparky Prime » Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:17 pm

Dominic wrote:I get your point. You are saying that a show having some prinicple beyond "giant robots" is preachy by virtue of the fact it is about more than giant robots. I get it.

With respect, I don't believe you do get Synjo's point. It's not that BM was preachy because it had a "message" beyond "giant fighting robots", rather it's that the "message" was what everything in the show revolves around that made it preachy. In other words, there was too much of a focus on said "message", to the point that it corrupted other elements of the show, such as the characterization.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby SynjoDeonecros » Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:31 pm

Sparky Prime wrote:
Dominic wrote:I get your point. You are saying that a show having some prinicple beyond "giant robots" is preachy by virtue of the fact it is about more than giant robots. I get it.

With respect, I don't believe you do get Synjo's point. It's not that BM was preachy because it had a "message" beyond "giant fighting robots", rather it's that the "message" was what everything in the show revolves around that made it preachy. In other words, there was too much of a focus on said "message", to the point that it corrupted other elements of the show, such as the characterization.


PRECISELY! As I keep on saying, how evil the villains are has NO BEARING on how preachy a show is, but how the message in it is incorporated into the show and how it's presented to the viewers; I have no problem with a show having a moral, or trying to incorporate that moral into their episodes, but it gets into preachy territory when a) the message being presented is given too much focus, drowning out any character development or other minor dilemmas the arc was dealing with in lieu of a big conflict tailor-made for telling the message, b) the characters spend too much time harping on the message and trying to convince each other, their enemies, and the viewer that their viewpoint is right, and c) the actions of the characters are dictated by the message to the point where they really can't do ANYTHING without it being used to further the goals of the message. Instead of incorporating the message into the storyline, the message BECOMES the storyline, and it doesn't matter how the CHARACTERS are portrayed, just as long as all of the focus, all of the story elements, and all of the effort in the show is put into getting the message out, and making sure everyone got it.

Now that I think about it, Beast Wars dabbled in quite a few morals, of its own; it explored the concepts of loyalty and whether "the greater good" can be achieved through atrocious acts, it dealt with political corruption and prejudice, and it itself delved a little into environmentalism and whether we have the right to experiment in the natural order of things. Unlike Beast Machines, though, these were dealt with SUBTLY, using the inner struggles of individual characters to portray these messages, and deconstructing them through character development; "Law of the Jungle" was actually, in my opinion, a great look into the environmentalism aesop, using Tigatron's loss of Snowstalker and his connection to the wild to explore the damage to nature and innocence war can bring, and whether the defeat of the enemy is worth it. It uses these messages as a way of giving the characters development in their personalities and purpose, and thus you could understand and relate to them, better, as a result.

With Beast Machines, though, the message isn't used to advance ANY character's development; it's just there to cause conflict. We can't relate to the message, because the message isn't being associated with any character - it's just there, and it's being spoonfed to us forcefully by pointless diatribes by the faction leaders. The message does not supplement the story or the characters, it IS the story, and all the events and characters in the show are forced to conform to it, not the other way around; as you said yourself, the Vehicons' only real defining trait, other than Jetstorm (who, by your own admission, is little more than a sadistic psychopath, PRECISELY THE SAME CHARACTER TYPE YOU ACCUSE THE PREDACONS OF BEING, AND PRECISELY THE CHARACTER TYPE YOU CLAIM TO HATE AND MAKE THE SHOW PREACHY) is their blind loyalty: loyalty to Megatron himself, loyalty to his ideals, and loyalty to his claim to Cybertron. Not only are they DEFINED by this loyalty, but that loyalty is revolved around Megatron and his ideals; in anyone's book, that makes them more vapid than the Predacons, as you're comparing a bunch of unambitious, droning yes-men to a group of outlaws who scheme, betray, and feud between each other, to achieve their own personal goals and ambitions. I don't see anyone clamoring over Thrust and his monotonic blind loyalty that's his only character trait more than they are Waspinator, a woobie who only wants a little respect and breathing space between being blown up, and having the worst luck imaginable getting either.

Hell, again, WHY was Megatron so keen on having "technological perfection"? What was his motivation for achieving that goal? We know what his motivation was for stealing the Golden Disk and trying to change history in Beast Wars - he agreed with his fellow Predacons that they're getting a bad deal out of the peace Cyberton had achieved under their Maximal "overlords", but was too impatient to wait for the opportune moment to strike and build up the Preds' resources for that strike, in the meantime. BM Megs? No clue why he suddenly hated his beast mode and all organics, or why he felt free will was stupid and against the nature of a mechanical society. That's part of the reason why I compare BM with Captain Planet; we don't know why the eco-villains pollute other than for the sake of polluting, we don't know any motivations they have for doing that; we're never told what their motives are, for their penchant for polluting, just as we're never told why Megatron wants to achieve his "technological perfection".

That's the only explanation I can think of for why you're so insistent that evil villain = preachy show; villains that are evil for no reason or personal motivation is a mark of a preachy show. What you're not getting is that that ONLY works if the show has a message that forms the basis of the show, and the villains are meant to represent the opposing side of the message; a show with no moral message that has a stock villain that kills randomly for no other reason but to kill, isn't preachy because there's no message being presented for the villain to represent. The villains of Captain Planet weren't preachy, because they polluted for the sake of polluting, but because they represented the "pollution is bad" side of the environmental message Captain Planet was based on, and needed to pollute for the sake of polluting to show how evil pollution itself was; in other words, it's not "the show is preachy, because the villains are being evil to be evil", it's "the show is preachy, because the evil act the villains are performing are evil because the villains are doing it". And with Beast Machines, Megs and the Vehicons not having any motive for wanting to purge organics and free will from Cybertron and touting about it on and on nearly every time they open their mouths falls into that category: their side is wrong, and we need them to do bad things to show how wrong their side is. Even if we DID get a reason for why he wanted to do that, it would make little difference; we'd be able to UNDERSTAND his position, but he's STILL being forced to do evil things to show how wrong and abhorrent his position in the debate is, and that makes the show preachy.

For the "tl;dr" crowd, here's the summary: a message in a show is fine with me, but ONLY if it's used as a supplement to the story, and not the focus; the moment the message becomes the driving force of the show and starts conforming the actions, motivations, and dialog of the characters to pushing it on viewers, it becomes preachy, and I hate it. It doesn't matter how "evil" the characters are, or what their personalities are, if what they're doing is being dictated by the message of the show, if they keep on touting about the message and performing deeds that are meant to show how good or evil their position in the message is, regardless of the reason or IF there's a reason, it's preachy. And that's what Beast Machines does: it takes the debate over technology vs. nature and instrumentality vs. free will, puts it as the main focus of the show, and forces both heroes and villains alike to do everything in their power to convince the viewers their position in the debate is right and the other side is wrong.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Dominic » Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:10 am

This is getting into the idea that characters need to be the priority in a story. I have said before, and will likely say again, that this idea is absurd. I do not care that much about most *real* people. And, I can see even less reason to put character before ideas. Character need to be defined in order to be useful. But, there is a difference between making characters useful and fetishing them.


Now that I think about it, Beast Wars dabbled in quite a few morals, of its own; it explored the concepts of loyalty and whether "the greater good" can be achieved through atrocious acts, it dealt with political corruption and prejudice, and it itself delved a little into environmentalism and whether we have the right to experiment in the natural order of things. Unlike Beast Machines, though, these were dealt with SUBTLY, using the inner struggles of individual characters to portray these messages, and deconstructing them through character development; "Law of the Jungle" was actually, in my opinion, a great look into the environmentalism aesop, using Tigatron's loss of Snowstalker and his connection to the wild to explore the damage to nature and innocence war can bring, and whether the defeat of the enemy is worth it. It uses these messages as a way of giving the characters development in their personalities and purpose, and thus you could understand and relate to them, better, as a result.




I remember enough of the nineties that I can understand anti-green backlash. But, you are decrying an environmentalist message where there is non.

"Beast Machines" was more about political philosophies and ideologies than it was about anything. "Law of the Jungle" was about the ethics of war and using force. You will notice that Dinobot was not arguing that war would protect the environment. He argued that violence was needed to stop Megatron before he did more damage to everyone.


I did not see much in the way of political corruption, unless one is going to stretch the idea of the Maximals hiding documents, (which any sensible regime would do in some cases), to be a sign of curruption. Even creating Rampage is not that bad. Weapons development is a necessary thing, and the technology behind it is kept classified.

Corruption is funneling money toward pet projects and contractors, regardless of the necessity of the project or the abilities of the contractor. Corruptions is the soliciting and taking of bribes, especially when those bribes secure actions that are contrary to the interests of one's constituents.

Keeping documents and sensitive programs quiet is only corruption is one is a conspiracy nut.

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