There has been a Decepticon emblem somewhere on my person every day since the election.
Today I saw a post that upset me. It was basically stating that half the fandom is incorrect to see the Decepticons as the ‘real’ good guys, and reiterated all the reasons that they’re terrible and the Autobots are, were, and always will be the only good guys.
I may have growled ‘fuck you’ at the computer, almost reblogged with an angry comment…and then looked at myself with horror, because I make it my policy not to be negative at someone I’ve never met, or their thoughts, on such slim basis. Compassion is more important than anything else; we are all hurting, and it is so easy to do further damage that, especially on a platform such as tumblr, it does well to watch one’s words very, very carefully. Fictional characters are not worth doing real, tangible harm over.
So why the hell was I so upset that I almost broke my own rules?
I have worn a Decepticon emblem somewhere on my person every day since the election. Earrings. My windbreaker. A t-shirt. But mostly the earrings, since they’re subtle and pass mostly unremarked. I’m even contemplating a tattoo, more seriously than ever before.
I’m in agony. I’m a policy student; I specialize in public health policy. A few weeks ago, my mentor quite literally told me to hold off on entering the workforce for the next four years; he feels that me starting a career under the Trump Administration would be a very bad idea. At the same time, I’m significantly changing the course of my immediate future in light of the election; I’m applying to Teach For America, which has an LGBT initiative to recruit LGBT teachers. It’s intended to make up grade and graduation (and survival) differences between LGBT and straight students. I’m going to actively pursue being placed in a red state, where I can do the most good.
It’s not like I don’t understand this is dangerous. There is a large part of me that wants to flee the country (New Zealand being the favorite refuge, right now). But my family didn’t leave China during the Cultural Revolution, though it killed my great-grandparents and led to the torture and humiliation of many of my other family members. My grandmother had to be almost forcefully sent to the US because the rest of the family knew damn well her opinionated nature and total disregard for her own safety would get her dead. But it wasn’t the first time the family had weathered horrors. I know too well that it won’t be the last. And if my great-grandparents could stay in China then, then no incompetent orange baboon’s arse will chase me from the United States.
I’m bi. I’m multiracial. I’m a woman. I’m an intellectual. This is not a good combination in Trump’s America. But I’m not afraid.
Because I think about Megatron every time I start browsing the New Zealand visa site. Megatron, and my family.
We’ve been weaponizing words for generations. Two thousand years, in fact. Megatron, the young miner working in the dark for a better world, shaping words to change sparks, speaks to me on a deep level. This is what we have done for those two thousand years. And like Megatron, we have paid a price. Very often in blood. We’ve never been good at shutting up.
Megatron is both a power fantasy and a cautionary tale for me right now, and right now, what I really need is the power fantasy. I feel incredibly helpless; I am not the only one. Megatron, someone who starts out so utterly helpless, gives me hope that I, too, may yet be powerful one day. That I may be capable of righting the injustices that cause me such pain now.
I do not mean to excuse his atrocities. I am repulsed by them perhaps more than many others, because I understand how easy it might be to slip over the edge to committing them. (Anyone who tells you it is easy not to slip over that edge is a person to be very frightened of; they obviously do not see themselves as capable of horror, and those people are the ones most likely to commit horrors–they do not examine themselves or their motivations, they believe they are utterly in the right, and that is the most dangerous of persons).
In the wake of this election, we all feel helpless. We are suddenly enemies in our own countries. Our neighbors turn on us for our compassion, for our liberal sentiments and our belief that all people are created equal. Does We the People still cover us? We’re not sure. There are so many who would say no. There are so many who believe we’re seeing the rise of another Hitler.
Megatron rebelled against an authoritarian government. The lowest of the low, he shattered the monstrous system that treated him and his fellows as disposable objects. We are facing a future in which we are disposable objects. Is it any wonder we find hope in him? Is it any wonder that, seeing Trump get another pass for a lie, or use a tweet to cover up his nefarious dealings, you are being deceived gains new, immediate meaning? How about rise up?
It’s not Optimus who gives us hope, Optimus who was a cop in IDW, Optimus, the well-meaning supporter of the status quo (that very same status quo that has so failed us!).
It’s Megatron, who may have fallen from grace, but who understands. Who was the miner who toppled an empire.
You may interpret canon as you wish. I would never want to step on someone’s toes for that. But for all you folks wondering why the hell fandom has suddenly decided the Decepticons are more appealing…
…it’s very simple. We’ve just realized we’re in their position.