Saturday, July 07, 2007

In case you forgot, I hate everyone.

I used to watch Transformers every Saturday when I was a kid. I believe it was the "Second Generation" series, but to be honest I don't remember much of the series. I just really remember 4 characters. Optimus Prime (of course), Starscream (because he was a cool jet), Soundwave (we had the toy), and Arcee.

Arcee was the pink Transformer, and the only girl. I remember being vaguely disappointed she wasn't going to be in the movie, but had hopes she'd show in the sequel. Well, my sister and other sources soon informed me she tested badly so they replaced her with Ironhide. In fact, my sister (an irrational Arcee hater) and I were just arguing about it, and I said I'd find the interview or article that was the source of the rumor that she was dropped and find out exactly why, and then we could come back and argue about Arcee. (In the meantime, we went back to arguing about Jazz in the movie, an experience which felt like pounding my head against a brick wall probably would)

Anyway, I found it. I found the fucking interview, and I am more pissed off than ever.
IGN: Were Soundwave and Arcee the two characters you most would have liked to see in the film? Or who would you have liked to include that you couldn't?

Orci: Those two were kind of the main ones, but a few different Transformers came in at various points to serve the story, but the story dictated certain other things. But those are the two main Transformers. I would have liked to see Arcee, but the idea of a female Transformer needs its own explanation, and there just wasn't going to be enough time. It would have been like, "Oh, that's convenient. They're trying to appease women with a pink Transformer." So rather than having that happen, let it just be a straight shot and speak for itself right now.
What. The. Fuck.

Why is being a girl so fucking special? Why is it that every other fucking robot has a male fucking voice and no one questions why they have gender coding but the fucking second you bring in a female voice and god forbid you put it in a feminine color you have to suddenly explain why everyone has gender?

Oh, I know. We automatically assume everything is male. Male is the default. Male is neutral and being a girl is some sort of freakishness that can only be explained as thrown in there to try and appease the women!

It's not like the entire fucking movie was built to pander to the audience that watched the cartoon and would know who Arcee was anyway.

I hate Hollywood. I hate Fandom. And I hate our fucking stupid society that tells me that my gender is weird and needs to be explained away, because don't you know everything is already male and femininity only exists when there's babies to be made dammit.

They're fucking robots. What the fuck is the harm?! If they were so fucking worried it would have taken two fucking lines for the stupid kid to be surprised to hear a girl and Arcee to explain that they're robots, they don't have gender, she just used a female voice.

And I remember they never gave her a toy until I was a grownup for some reason. Can't imagine why. The whole fucking franchise was a fucking toy commercial, but we had to wait how long for then to paint a robot pink?

(And I still don't have my pink convertible Transformer. Its a little motorcycle now.)


ETA: Hey, didn't Ratchet have a British accent? What the fuck?! They really think they would have needed to explain a girl voice?! And the body? They made her a fucking motorcycle. Why would they need to explain the feminine shape?! Seriously. What. The. Fuck.


  1. I'm pretty sure the reason that an Arcee toy came out much later than the others is because her character wasn't introduced until the original Transformers movie. There was a single pre-movie episode with female 'bots. I forget the backstory on them...

    Its possible that they had female Transformer toys in Japan...

    I do remember that the Go-bots had both female and male 'bots to start...

  2. If you can find me an earlier Arcee toy than this one, I'll concede that. But that one's from a series at least three series after movie.

    A search online reveals a lot of makeshift (and "kitbashed") Arcee toys, which implies to me she's very hard to find.

  3. There's a "Target Exclusive" Arcee figure in the same packaging as the movie toys. She's a blue motorcycle now. I'm not sure if that's an improvement or not.

  4. "A search online reveals a lot of makeshift (and "kitbashed") Arcee toys, which implies to me she's very hard to find."

    David Willis, the guy who does the webcomics Shortpacked and Joyce & Walky is a huge Transformers nerd and mentioned something about that. The marketing types who decide on the numbers for the toy lines always think that "girl" toys will never sell well, so they make fewer. Making them rarer. Meaning they sell out pretty much instantly...

  5. When I was little, I didn't like Arcee, because that meant that none of the other Transformers were girls. I did this in Star Wars, too - no matter what the gender of the robot or alien voices, I decided that some were girls. (Grimlock, Bumblebee, Starscream and Ravage were girls, BTW).

    It wasn't until I saw Toy Story as an adult that I realised that this was my own imaginative work and "male" really was the default. What's so male about a giant truck, or a piggy bank or Jabba's guards, I can't really say.

  6. The Transformer Wiki has a pretty good entry on Arcee.

  7. The first female Autobot to actually appear in toy form was indeed in Japan only and that was Minerva."

    The next would be the various incarnations of Blackarachnia during the Beast Wars/Beast Machines era. In fact, in the greater scheme of TF fiction she's probably the only female bot that has any real characterization at all. There was also Airrazor from Beast Wars who was a female bot and actually appeared in the show.

    Now there was a non-mass market exclusive for Arcee that was produced for a Botcon and was just a repaint of a later Blackarachnia figure.

    There have been a lot of customs and kitbashes and even statues around for years.

    The first true mass market Arcee figure was indeed Energon Arcee as a motorcycle that you've referenced above.

    Botcon 2005 then just used this mold, the only one that was really designed with something of a non-blocky "male" shape to do one of the other early 80s characters Chromia.

    A new version of Arcee in the movie design aesthetic will be released shortly. She's once again a motorcycle.

    The generally accepted in-continuity explanation for why female transformers don't appear is typically the fact that since Cybertronians do not reproduce via sex, there's really no way to come up with a logical reason for why there is robot with human female characteristics. The same reason could be used to justify not having human male characteristics but the toy line is for boys so they are going to be male.

    The truth is, and Hasbro has readily admitted it, is that the main demographic is 4-10 year-old boys and they do not want girl Transformers. They just sit on the shelf.

    It is the same reason you don't see a whole lot of mass market Commissioner Gordon or Clark Kent figures. The "suits" do not sell. The demographic that would buy those skew towards the adult fan and much like the female transformers, the market dictates everything.

    When it comes down to it, the Transformers brand is meant to sell toys to young boys. It has always been that way and it always will be.

    Wow. This is one of the first times that my plastic crack world has ever spilled over into the comics blog world that I read.

    Damn that movie.


  8. So,exactly WHY would ROBOTS need any gender AT ALL?

  9. Stephanie, I disliked Arcee as a kid for exactly the same reason. Until she came along I had just assumed that all the Transformers were gender neutral and we were just using male pronouns because English didn't have any genderless singular ones. I mean, robots? Even at age eight I was pretty clear on the fact that robots shouldn't need a mommie and a daddy to make more robots. She was illogical and I couldn't forgive her for that.

  10. Exactly right anonymous - they're robots - they shouldn't have a sex because they don't reproduce...

  11. Though if you follow the argument of "They're ROBOTS! They don't need a gender!" you easily get into the territory of, "OK, so then why are they humanoid with human emotions and thoughts in the first place?" and then the whole thing implodes.

    At least, that's what happens to me.

    I don't see why there couldn't be some diversity in voice/shape among things that are already crappy as far as robotic design goes. This isn't speculative fiction, after all, it's a goofy series for kids.

  12. I think honestly it's because they think that if they say there are female robots and male robots, then that means there must be robot sex.

    And robot sex would make uptight religious people FREAK OUT!

  13. Excellent post. I'd noticed this myself (albeit not in Transformers as I've never been a fan).

    I think you might find this article interesting.

  14. Actually I kind of covered the whole "Why would robots need gender?" in my post when I pointed out that for robots it came down to the voices and all they'd have to do with Arcee would be to say that that particular robot preferred the higher, smoother voice to the masculine ones the other Autobots chose.

    Its easy, and it keeps up the "Robots don't have gender" without having the "Genderless" robots all be so obviously male anyway.


    And agree 100% with you.

  16. I'm glad Arcee wasn't in it, and I've always kinda disliked her (I disliked all the G2 Transformers though, since they replaced the ones I liked).

    I guess the other transformers could be considered male, but Caleb aged 7-9 never thought about it because they were just robots. The movie had a stereotypically feminine Arcee--pink, lipstick, boobs, in love with Hot Rod--which introduced sex and gender, and it doesn't make any sense at all.

    Do they reproduce then? I liked it better when they were genderless. (Hey Starscream's voice was higher pitched than Arcee's...and Soundwave didn't exactly sound "male").

    I saw the toy of Arcee from the movie in Target. She was a blue motorbike, as was stated; watching the Bay movie, I wondered if Mikaela's bike (she rides a blue scooter in once scene) was supposed to be Arcee, or if that was just a coincidence?

  17. Optimus Prime had something like a human face, but a body that would be difficult to classify as either male or female. Same with almost all the rest of the characters.

    Arcee, and the other female Autobots, had breasts and porn star curves. And her main job was taking care of Daniel Witwicky.

    I'll happily concede that Optimus, Ironhide, Grimlock, etc. were all voiced by men and and were nominally "male", but Arcee was hardly what I call a step in the right direction in terms of giving women a fair showing.

  18. But "Starman", if there's the possibility of robot sex and all the robots are MALE, then-- *sound of a thousand homophobic fanboy heads exploding*

  19. Having just sat through that fifteen hour long movie, I'd have to say it would have been a rather nice moment to have included her along with the ensuing awkward discussion of why there were not only male and female robots, but why there were a dozen or so male robots and only one female, and what kind of a horrid society that would imply. But that's just me.

  20. They have one female servicing a large group of males. That implies a species that lays eggs.

  21. Anonymous -- I think you've just come up with Hasbro's next toy line.

  22. The reason there are a hundred male robots and only one female?

    They are actually Smurfs.

    Your Honor, I rest my case.

  23. The movie hasn't been release here yet, but wait... no Soundwave? Surely the coolest transformer ever! Didn't he have a bird and a panther cassette robots?
    Anyway another great post, I still in two minds whether to see this or not, although the thought that they are actually massive massive smurfs is going to make it funnier to sit through the non blowing up bits.

  24. No soundwave, but there are a couple of guys who are soundwavesque.

  25. I disliked Arcee for the reasons stated - her very presence implied all the other robots were male. I never assigned feminity to other Transformers, but I never assumed they were male, either. Arcee's appearance meant they were all males, and from then on I was only allowed to play Arcee because she was the girl. Before that she wasn't and I could be any Transformer I wanted.

    Also, she has primary and sexual characteristics (breasts, waist and for some reason lips) and that makes me cringe, and her name is British slang for something that's rubbish.

  26. I never watched enuf of Transformers to know much but I did like Arcee XD

    But I like pink things >.>

    I hate how whenever there's a female, black, gay, etc character (like the JL animated series that had John Stewart and Hawkgirl) suddenly it's "OMG PANDERING!"

    B/c everything IS default male. :\ And it's just natural for all the heroes to be white and male and straight and if there's any deviation from that then CLEARLY they made it just to "appease" a group. :\

    And therefore it's worthless. :\

  27. >>I hate Hollywood. I hate Fandom. And I hate our fucking stupid society that tells me that my gender is weird and needs to be explained away, because don't you know everything is already male and femininity only exists when there's babies to be made dammit.<<

    I love you.

  28. Female characteristics are easy to identify. If you put a red ribbon on a football, the football becomes "female". If anything, it's the masculinity that's hard to place. Maybe you could attach giant trucker balls on it, or give it a mug or a baseball cap, but in practice the only way to identify an inanimate object (or an alien) as male is to present a female for comparison.

    That's what Arcee does. Before Arcee, all Transformers were just robots with no gender identity. But when Arcee, who is clearly feminine (and anyone who claims otherwise is deluding herself) was introduced, all the other robots stopped being neutral and became male by default. And that just does not make sense, because even when I was 8, I asked myself why the hell would a robot need a gender.

  29. Transformers genderwank should not be started with the addition of female-like Transformers, because the previous characters were already coded as "male", not androgynous.

    The contrary assumption has more to do with cultural views of the male as default/neuter than any distance the Transformers have from traditional human perceptions of gender.

    I accept Transformers with gender, because this is a children's franchise designed to sell toys, not "The Left Hand of Darkness"; the goal is to create relatable, immediately appealing characters, and that includes making them as close to human as possible, without necessarily having to have a sensible reason for those traits inside the series itself.

    There have been several female Transformers over the years, too, who were much cooler than Arcee. It doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.