Tuesday, May 22, 2007

‪ה׳ סיון תשס״ז * 22 May 2007: מ״ט בעומר/ערב שבועות/Buy-A-Musical Instrument Day


Today’s news and commentary, some of which Barry is responsible for:Today’s weird thing was delivered by a strange-looking mechanical bird with the added promise that more will be submitted in the upcoming weeks. Since the bird has what appear to be laser guns mounted on its back, I’ve decided not to argue and am posting it in its entirety.

Transformers: Identity Crisis

Week 1: Bumblebee/Loki

Greetings, people of Earth.

Those of you following the news are aware that the Autobots have tarnished their image yet again. As is commonly known, the Autobots are required to follow the same laws as human citizens, which includes respecting others’ right to privacy. There is also an informal rule that Autobots not engaged in authorized police or military work must wear the Autobot symbol to identify themselves. Nevertheless “JJ,” a reporter using an inexpensive electromagnetic scanner, was able to detect not only Autobot surveillance activity, but also the responsible Autobot, specifically the “Autobot Commander” Optimus Prime. Optimus broke cover by transforming, the event being recorded. Not only was Optimus not acting on the behalf of law enforcement, but he also was wearing a paint job that did not identify him as an Autobot. The incriminating video can be seen at http://www.3dblasphemy.com/OPTIMUS/OPTIMUS.html.

Optimus Prime transforming.

There are those who claim this is a fake, but the video itself argues otherwise. Not only are the images incredibly detailed, but Optimus clearly follows the laws of physics. As he transforms, his center of gravity shifts back; thus he must step backwards as his transformation completes to avoid toppling over. Producing fake footage of this quality is beyond most private individuals and would require the resources of a major film studio. And while some might think the “liberal” film studios are interested in defaming the Autobots, the reality is quite different.

As of this writing, Optimus has moved from denying the incident ever occurred to admitting he was there but denying he was doing unauthorized surveillance. Despite the denials and all the talk about how the Autobots are great friends of the humans, many are beginning to ask the important question they should have asked long ago: Are the Autobots truly friendly?

The timing of this event is interesting considering that the upcoming Transformers movie will be released soon. As have popular media before, the movie will focus on the exploits of the heroic Autobots fighting their enemies, the “evil Decepticons.” The pattern has remained constant throughout all such media. Through the years humans have been told about a four-million-year-old “Ark” which crashed on Earth and increasingly fantastic claims such as putting people inside transforming heads, liquid energy in cubes, giant robots made of smaller robots, giant robots the size of cities and planets, and other absurdities; most of these are so outlandish that they do not merit comment. Yet through it all is the idea that the Autobots are the friends of humans, and that they can do no wrong.

Let us examine this movie for a moment. Anyone who looks at the production credits will note the director is Michael Bay, who also made loud, expensive wastes of celluloid such as Armageddon, The Island, The Rock, Bad Boys, and Pearl Harbor, pretentious junk with flash instead of substance, like new siding on a house rotten with termites. Previously released pictures and trailers for the film do not depict typical Transformers, only those who satisfy his vision. Their forms and transformations are very complex, almost baroque, with numerous unnecessary angles and projections. Despite claims to be based on “realistic engineering” and that some of the usual forms look “silly,” what is depicted is nothing more than the same styling for fantasy machines that has dominated the movies in the 1990s and 2000s: unnecessarily complicated, impractical, and frequently ugly. As with every other aspect of Bay’s movies, there is not the slightest realism there. Furthermore, given his previous output, there will almost certainly be the hackneyed stereotyping (such as the “wacky black guy” portrayed by Bernie Mac) and profoundly lame writing rampant in his films. Rather, with an emphasis on special effects, commercialism (particularly with most of the Autobots portrayed as being disguised as cars produced in some way by General Motors), and poor taste (Optimus Prime as a blue truck with red flames), any hope of even a decent, unrealistic story is faint. The probability this movie will have any merit based on Bay’s presence alone approaches zero. (This is confirmed by a Transformers Wrap Poem” written by an insider.) So certain is this prediction that one fan of the propaganda cartoons cobbled together a fairly good guess what some of us think of this movie.

More disturbing than the choice of director is the reason the film was made. Public opinion of the Autobots has been slipping for several years, with outright ridicule where there was once acclaim. (In all fairness to this humor, this appears to be a fairly accurate depiction of Hot Shot.) Despite the staged public appearances and speeches, particularly by Optimus, their public-relations team has not been able to rescue them from the increasing dissatisfaction with their presence on your planet. There should be little surprise then that the “Autobot Communicator” Blaster has been lobbying about Hollywood for a favorable movie depiction, not only offering the services of Autobots as actors, but also other “perks.” (It has been confirmed, for example, that producer Don Murphy received the services of Topper, who transforms into a Rolls-Royce, as a chauffeur, and that “female” Autobots Arcee and Chromia attended a number of private parties.) No doubt the movie presents them in the same, simplistic comic-book terms they always use: the “heroic” Autobots, fighting the “evil Decepticons,” came to Earth to continue their battle for justice and protect innocent humans.

This is, of course, a lie.

The real story is much more complicated. We “Decepticons” are not perfect, and many times we have made mistakes in our relations with your species. However, we intend no harm to you and do not wish to dominate or use you. Regardless of what the Autobots say, they do not feel the same way as we do. In anticipation of this movie’s release, we shall reveal the true nature of the Autobots and what they have done on your planet. We need not say more; their actions will speak for them. Several Autobots are depicted in this movie; we shall begin with one of the most popular Autobots after Optimus Prime, Bumblebee.

“The least likely can be the most dangerous.”

Bumblebee is known for his friendliness and closeness to humans. Unlike Optimus Prime, he is commonly seen at social and diplomatic functions, at which he is very popular. He has been the perfect public relations agent, the Autobot Communicator. (The alleged Communicator, Blaster, is actually a subordinate.) Few humans even suspect this is his position as he seems the natural friend. He is most commonly known for wearing the form of a yellow Volkswagen Beetle as his vehicular mode, which many have regarded as “cute.” He kept this form until, following the release of the New Beetle in 1998, Volkswagen learned he was going to be reformatted as such and publicly stated that they did not want their products associated with “war machines.” Volkswagen was started by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and originally used slave labor, which they understandably wish to avoid reminding people. Bumblebee’s last officially acknowledged reformatting was as an unspecified “cute” concept car. He was recently seen formatted as a “supercute” New Beetle during an attempt to take him into custody, in which he sustained minor damage driving over Deputy Rumble. Several lies he tells about himself include that he is a small Autobot (he actually stands about 6.3 m [20.5 ft] tall in humanoid mode, whereas most car-formatted Autobots are between about 4 and 5 m [about 13 and 16 ft] tall), that he is weak (no less so than other Autobots), and that he does not carry weapons (he has integrated weapons in his arms). All these are aimed at making him seem “harmless” and even “childlike.”

Bumblebee shortly before driving over Rumble

Like the other Autobots, his presence on Earth was made public in the 1980s, supposedly shortly after he and other Autobots were revived after a long bout of suspended animation. Unknown to most humans, the Autobots have been active on Earth much longer. These photographs were taken in 1938 at a Nazi rally. They show Adolf Hitler himself making an announcement, while in the foreground you can clearly see a familiar Autobot; the paint job is different, but the basic form is virtually identical with the familiar one, even with the split in the front license plate so the feet can come apart. Obviously Bumblebee was not fooling anyone about being a car. A robot truly in disguise would not wear an obvious symbol identifying oneself; this is like children wearing camouflage clothing in a city. Rather, the use of the vehicular form was part of a publicity stunt. The Volkswagen Type 1 (later known as the Beetle) had just been released, and as part of promoting Hitler’s car for the masses, the esteemed Autobot adopted its shape for his vehicular form.

Bumblebee with German Fürher Adolf Hitler at a Nazi rally

The reality is that the Autobots have been on Earth for a long time and became influential during the Third Reich, providing technical information and military support while receiving shelter and materials in return. It was only later, as Nazi Germany faltered, that the Autobots forged a new alliance. Through it all, the spokesperson and propagandist for the Autobots, even more than Optimus Prime, has been Bumblebee. By seeming “cute”, he leads others to think that he is harmless, that he and his companions must be good and honest and their cause just. He helped persuade the Nazis to allow the Autobots to remain in their country, and then later negotiated the deals that had them working for the United States. It is because of this that for years the Autobots have walked or rather rolled among you, truly unknown, until we arrived on Earth in the 1980s, forcing the presence of the Autobots to become public.

Most of what you have been told about our species is a fabrication, of which Bumblebee is the ultimate source; much of it is grossly inaccurate, fictitious, or, in the case of us “Decepticons” and the Quintessons, slander. Only a few facts you have been told are correct. We are robots, and the planet we come from is called (or, more properly, its name may be rendered as) Cybertron. The Autobots originated there, fought against others they called “Decepticons,” and fled to Earth, where their spaceship crashed. Rely on these things, for these are the few things Bumblebee has said which can be relied on to be true.

He is, of course, not really named “Bumblebee,” as bumblebees are native to Earth and unknown to our kind before the Autobots arrived. Like all Autobot “names” made public, it was actually chosen for its associations to portray an image. Like many of these pseudonyms, it belies a deeper meaning; bumblebees are cute, but they still can sting. Through his seeming innocence and friendliness, he has been extremely influential, manipulating Earth’s governments at their highest levels for the benefit of the Autobots only. Because of this, Bumblebee is perhaps one of the most dangerous Autobots on your planet. Indeed, the Nazis nicknamed him “Loki” after their ancient trickster god.

The next installment of this series will focus on Jazz, the Autobot military advisor to the United States. Until then, we wish you well.

Soundwave, Cybertonian Communicator
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