Transformers and the Absence of Peril
I’m so glad that our local public library now carries DVDs of the old 80s Transformers cartoon; the newer versions feature the nauseating combination of whiny robots and even whinier humans. And I just can’t get into the Mini-Cons mythology. The original series, however, is pretty cool. It has a lot more humor than I remember catching as a child. Lots of automotive jokes. And who can’t help but smile when Megatron gets sassy?
My son, who’s six, simply loves the shows, the toys, and showing me how he can build transforming machines out of his ol’ Duplo blocks. Transforming robots–what’s not to love, right?–but there may be more to the boy’s obsessive fascination. He’s the type who wants to know what’s going to happen, especially if anyone is in danger.
When we watch movies as a family, he continually interrupts with questions the film will answer in two minutes. He doesn’t want to wait; he wants to know now. I’m currently reading The Hobbit to him, and there’s no shortage or menace or his asking, “Is this the person who will kill the dragon?”
When watching Transformers, he never asks questions or acts anxious, but then, every episode is pretty much the same. Autobots fight Decepticons, the good guys win, and no one gets deathly hurt or killed. Their laser guns may as well be water guns. Once you get the formula, there’s really no peril and no real drama.
I don’t wish my son to feel overly fretful or anxious, but I find myself wondering if these Transformers stories could use a little more peril. On the flip side, the boy knows from personal experience how unfair and harsh life can be, so I’m not worried that he’s going to develop a cartoonish perspective on the world, and maybe his fixation on the “nothing ever really happens” formula of Transformers functions as a needed comfort.
What say you, Internet?