icon_uk: Soundwave Matt Moylan Lilformers (Soundwave)
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From next weeks "X-Files Conspiracies"


Love that cover, Fox and Mulder investigating Ghostbusters is too previous an idea not to use!

The IDW Preview for 2014 (which can be downloaded here) also includes this advert


Now, it has to be said, for all its undeniable awesomeness, the IDW Transformers-verse has a slightly unfortunate track record with gender (and if I make a mess of my genders or pronouns in writing this, my apologies).

Whilst ostensibly the Transformers are genderless, they have a sort of defauly male-mess to them, and the only female Transformers is a character who was modified against "his" will and transformed into a female form as an experiment by a mad scientist who just wanted to see what happened. Arcee is NOT happy about this and is more than a little unbalanced as a result. Whilst this is an interesting plot from long, long time Transformers writer Simon Furman, it's hardly what one would call... inclusive.

Mairghread Scott, current writer of the Transformers Prime: Rise of the Dinobots and Beast Hunters comics, wants to redress this in the new Windblade mini and has been posting some interesting discussion on Tumblr about it.

From here

Okay, Internet…please, please know that I am doing all in my power to talk about the gender of non-reproductive alien robots in the most respectful terms possible, but it can get really tough. (ex. Is Arcee a transgendered woman even though she was made female against her will?).

The term “genetically female” seems wrong because they don’t reproduce (so don’t pass on genes) so I chose “biologically female” to convey the same sense in a more accurate way (ie most fans would say TFormers are alive, even though that is also debatable in science).

I have since been informed, by people wiser than I, that the technical term for Windblade would be a cisgender woman so I’m going to go with that unless someone knows a better term, or we can agree to invent one. Regardless, know that I am doing all in my power to make this character and her story something all TF fans can enjoy and celebrate together. My goal is always maximum inclusion, so should I stick my digital foot in my mouth again, please let me know so I can correct myself.

She also comments on the Arceee plot here

In a vacuum, Furman’s story is completely legitimate. The idea that someone is fundamentally changed against their will and struggles/rages against that is a really interesting idea. In fact, I wrote a very similar thing with the Dinobots. It taps into a deep human fear that God exists and is apathetic to/causes our pain.

Also dealing with characters that are literally alien naturally leads writers to play with/explore what aspects of humanity do and do not translate: are they alive? does Primus really equate to God if they have concrete knowledge of his existance? what does it mean to be male/female in a non-reproductive species?

The issues I have with Furman’s choice is that we don’t exist in a vacuum and the suggestion that 1. women only exist in aberration 2. being a women is inherently traumatic 3. being a women has any correlation to mental illness are extremely upsetting. Do I think Furman was trying to make a statement about human women with Arcee’s origins? No. In fact, the largest share of blame lies with the tokenization of women in the brand in general. If Arcee was one of many women transformers and she became female in this manner, it would not be an issue for women writ large (although still troubling for the transgender community). It is because she is the ONLY women (and that this story ensures that she will ALWAYS BE the only woman) that Arcee’s story becomes untenable.

Hopefully John, James and I have come up with a way around this Gordian Knot that will satisfy the fan-base, but satisfying-or-no, the most immediate imperative is to ENSURE this story does not continue to keep women readers, fans and characters at arm’s length from the brand. I’ve often said that everyone should feel that they are allowed to like Transformers and it is my complete and utter privilege to take this next step to make that happen.

TLDR version: Arcee’s origin is offensive because we don’t have any other female origins to balance it. We’re working on it, stay tuned.

PS To fans that still claim Transformers are asexual: Academically, you have legitimate standing, but practically, ask yourself this: Jazz has been voice by actors from three different races over the years. If, in the next video game, Jazz was voiced by a woman, would you feel the character had been changed at all? If so, you do not perceive Transformers to be asexual. If not, you are a rare, rare bird indeed.

'Til All Are One,

I appreciate that she admits up front that she may not get things right the first time, but is prepared to learn (To the extent of reading GLAAD's 47 page document on LGBT terminology!) and accept corrections.

Also, with artist Sarah Stone on board, this will be the first Transformers comic with an all female creative team... which 25 years after the brand started up seems a little overdue.

Date: 2014-01-08 11:17 pm (UTC)
kamino_neko: Kamino Neko's squee icon. (Squee)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
I am really, really looking forward to Windblade. Female Transformers are kind of my 'thing', so I'm always excited to see a new one. (And she's getting a toy! I just hope I have money to spend on it when it comes out.) I'm a little wary of the potential for being Drift 2.0...but after Beast Hunters, I trust Scott to at least make her the awesome late Drift.

And, as awesome as Arcee has become under Barber and Roberts, her origin does have significant unfortunate implications, so it'll be nice to have that balanced a bit.

(I kind of wish Windblade had been a Decepticon, though...)

Date: 2014-01-09 12:35 am (UTC)
drmcninja: (Default)
From: [personal profile] drmcninja
This: Jazz has been voice by actors from three different races over the years. If, in the next video game, Jazz was voiced by a woman, would you feel the character had been changed at all?, this is special. Very eye opening for me. I understood what she was saying and agreed with her most of the way through, but this really drove home the subtlety and importance of the issue for me.

Date: 2014-01-09 01:52 am (UTC)
alexanderlucard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexanderlucard
My reaction would be the same as with every Jazz voice change. "Damn it Scatman Crothers - why are you dead?"

Date: 2014-01-09 01:24 pm (UTC)
monkey12: (Default)
From: [personal profile] monkey12
First I laughed, but now I'm sad.

Date: 2014-01-09 04:08 am (UTC)
rainspirit: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rainspirit
Now I kind of wish things could go in the opposite direction and have ALL the Transformers require female voice actors.

But not enough people would want to watch that. Oh well.

(Including me, I don't even like Transformers.)
Edited Date: 2014-01-09 04:10 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-01-09 01:24 pm (UTC)
the_phantom: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_phantom
Nice, I hope this leads to some of the other TF girls to get some page time.

Date: 2014-01-10 12:40 am (UTC)
v_various: (Default)
From: [personal profile] v_various
Looking forward to this! If we lived in a perfectly balanced society I'd be happy to read about male-only-Transformers forever. As things are, I'm glad they're including women, but my personal head-cannon has always been that TF's don't even have a gendered language/assigned genders. I mean, they *can't* speak English on cybertron, right?

And now I'm picturing the TF's landing in France, and being confused about having to assig genders to *things*.

"It's a Cybertronian aklshf. You don't have aklshf's on earth? Uhhhhh....it's female I guess?? Le aklshf???"


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