More than Meets the Eye

To my great delight, has the entire first season of the Transformers on DVD. This was the perfect television show that embodied the 1980s: a wildly popular cartoon whose sole purpose was to support an insanely popular line of toys, and yet there was such a seamless integration between the two that at times it seemed toys were introduced because they had characters in the cartoon (like the Dinobots and Constructicons).

I was a total tool for the Transformers— the toys and the cartoon both. One thing that always bothered me about them, though, was the names of the various factions; in the beginning, there were two: the good guys were the Autobots, and the bad guys were the Decepticons. Simplistic, yet descriptive: the Autobots were robots based on cars, and the Decepticons were deceptive robots that were bad (like cons— as in convicts). If you didn’t look for any real meaning behind the names, fine. But why did they always have new factions or groups with names ending in “bot” (for the good guys) and “con” (for the bad guys)?

That was just plain silly, even to my brainwashed mind. It was the laziness of marketing greed going too far, and destroying the illusory experience of deeper meaning. I mean, really. Right off the top of my head I can recall (aside from the Autobots and Decepticons) Dinobots, Constructicons, Insecticons, Aerialbots, Motorcons, and Predacons.

So then, I have to ask: where do Emoticons fit in? You know, emoticons— those plain-character simulated facial expressions that are an inseparable part of Internet culture (like


to indicate a smile,


to indicate a wink, and


to indicate sticking your tongue out). Are they what they appear? Or are they really a new breed of Decepticon? Or, a clever synergy of ’80s toy culture and post-modern Internet culture?

Perhaps only I know the true answer…

Some Transformers links for the stalwart: