"Because it's 2015"

W środę pojawił się nowy zeszyt mojego ukochanego MTMTE, który dosyć mocno skrytykowałam na tumblrze, mojej defaultowej platformie do rantów o wielkich robotach. Ale po gruntownym przemyśleniu sprawy przy wczorajszym myciu podłóg doszłam do wniosku, że się mylę i powinnam wyłuszczyć moje stanowisko ponownie. Co też zrobiłam, w lengłydżu, po czym uznałam, że tekst jest zbyt dobry, by zaginął w otchłani tumblra. W związku z tym proszę, oto premiera na FGttG, tekst po angielsku, o wielkich robotach, romansach oraz fanfikach. I o "goldfinchingu".

Earlier this week I wrote down my initial thoughts on issue #47 of MTMTE (here, and it's rather spoilerish) and I thought that was it: the fandom loved it, I didn't, end of story. But I couldn't stop thinking about it somehow, how I felt cheated by the ending, and how I should have enjoyed it. It was like a very persistent toothache, not really enjoyable experience, and probably can be written down as a beginnings of maniacal episode, but whatever, I finally figured it out.

It's not the quality of the story, which was superb as always, that was a problem for me, it was just me. But not the cynicism, or lack of emotional investment, but the way I was taught to think about culture. Those ingrained ideas prevented me from jumping on the fandom bandwagon. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, though, as it made me question my judgement and adjust it to Canadian standards. Because it's 2015 and things need to change.

My intertextual connotations about #47 were all romantic. It's "Sailor Moon" (transformation, pun not intended, of Usagi Tsukino into Princess Serenity, see the video above), "City of Angels" (he dies when things start to look bright), "Daddy Longlegs" (grooming, pun much intended, of a younger bride), even bits of "Jane Eyre" and "Emma". Chris McFeely feels Cyclonus and Tailgate's relation is open to interpretation and I respect his opinion but at the same time I strongly disagree. Everything about those final panels, from Tailgate's realisation about conjunx rites (which are essentially courting before marriage, for fuck's sake) to Cyclonus shielding him with his own body screams romance to me and I'm convinced the author meant it that way. 

OK, so maybe Roberts didn't meant to rip off a very popular anime from 1992 about a bunch of middle-schoolers who are in fact cosmic warriors, but my point is valid. No work of fiction exists in a vacuum. Everything refers other works, sometimes in a very self-concious way, sometimes it's accidental. What's more, every reader brings their own experience to the table. It's especially tricky in fandoms where the fans are very vocal, like in MTMTE. I saw many intertextual connections in #47 and they made me question things, important things, like what is my attitude towards romance novels and movies, and who the hell is the intended target of MTMTE. Because after this week's issue I'm pretty sure it's not the adolescent boys.

Which shouldn't surprise me, really, as just last month I wrote a lenghty blog post about progressiveness of Transformers as an entertainment brand, which now includes gays, fembots and treats the matters of representation very seriously. But #47 officially marks 2015 as the year when Transformers stopped being aimed at boys.

Why, you ask? Well, of those romantic tropes are traditionally part of the narrative aimed at female readers. Love triangles, angsting, not feeling good enough for a partner, douchebag boyfriends, broody love interests (Mr Darcy, Rochester, Heathcliff, Mamoru), death, the power of love, you name it, it's probably in issue #47, used to make you cry yours eyes out. And that explains why I couldn't enjoy it (you thought this post was about MTMTE? No, silly, it's all about me).

It all boils down to this trendy new concept of "goldfinching", which isn't really new, it's just got a shiny new name. Because it was long established that romance novels and movies are rubbish and generally pulp for mass enjoyment. It's not real cinema and literature, is it, when it pampers to romantic feelings? We, women, were taught it's not OK to enjoy it. It's shameful and below us, something to hide. Of course, in recent years, with the increasing popularity of YA paranormal novels it has changed a lot, but I'm from a Livejournal generation. In my mind it's OK to enjoy these tropes - but only in fanfiction. Fanfiction is like a fight club: we don't talk about it and what happens there stays there. That was my default mindset for ages.

But on Wednesday it changed. On Wednesday I read a canon work that used every tool of a romance writer to evoke feels and this canon work belongs to Transformers franchise. So kudos to James Roberts for that. I'm going to re-read #47 and this time I'm going to enjoy it. Ha!