University of Wisconsin–Madison

Transformers Highlights our Transforming Society

We live in a transforming society. Issues surrounding women and stereotypes are becoming the forefront of conversation across our nation–whether it be in politics, in sports or in movies. Over spring break, I, probably like many other girls across the nation, went to see the new Beauty and the Beast film in theaters. With all the little girls dressed up in princess dresses and their moms patiently waiting for the movie, I sat there watching the previews for upcoming films being released. With my eyes peeled, I watched the preview for Transformers: The Last Knight. Admittedly, I never really was someone who was into the whole Transformers saga. I don’t really know the plot line of the stories but I could recognize familiar faces of characters from their previous films. But one thing in particular caught my eye—the new protagonist, someone I have never seen. The new protagonist was a girl—a middle school/pre-teenage girl. My immediate reaction was surprised. I fell into the stereotypical thinking that girls don’t really play with cars and watch action movies with car chases and thrilling stunts. But, here I was sitting watching a young girl featured as the protagonist for a movie with exactly those characteristics. As I kept on watching, I noticed that throughout this trailer, the director was hinting at a bigger theme. The director was highlighting the fact that not only is society transforming, the Transformers saga is transforming.  The girl protagonist, through the entire preview, narrates her experience with being overlooked because she was a girl. “You run like a girl…you throw like a girl…you fight like a girl…funny what you can do when your life depends on it…fight like a girl?…yeah I fight like a girl…don’t you?”. In between the segmented sentence, the protagonist is seen fighting right along side the boys and defeating the enemies herself. To her, fighting like a girl is a good thing—a necessary thing. So, here I am sitting here with a theater full of girl either her age, younger, or, in my case, older, watching this trailer promote gender equality and showing the audience that girls are just as good and strong as boys—that we do not need boys to fight our battle for us. This is the type of message that needs to be given to girls starting at a young age. Whether intentional or just a coincidence, playing this trailer before Beauty and the Beast seemed ever so fitting.

As a girl growing up, there were many expectations of how we should act. As we have seen through this class’ literature, theses expectations may be shown through a variety of ways such as the way parents raise the girls to the way society treats us. Tomboy is a description of girlhood that many people in the past tried to move away from—it was seemed unladylike if a girl presented herself as a tomboy. According to Michelle Ann Abate’s essay Tomboy, there are different traits of a “tomboy” such as being outspoken, being adventurous, and being strong. This has been represented in many different stories we have read such as Little Women, with Jo’s character. Jo’s character represented the alternate to the stereotypical gender characteristics. Jo wasn’t a girly girl and she didn’t like doing things that fell into that category. She wanted to do “manly” things like fight in the war. Because of those desires, she was considered a tomboy.Being a tomboy is ultimately how a society presents a gender. Gender roles and how we portray genders is where girls end up getting the short stick. In Erica Hately’s essay Gender, she discusses how boys are usually presented as intelligent, dominant, and leaders while girls are presented as followers and subordinate in children’s literature. However, by presenting this young female protagonist as strong, fearless and victorious, the Transformer movie is trying to defying these aspects of gender. With books like Little Women and movies like Transformers, young girls are shown characteristics that were historically male as female characteristics.

We are living in a transforming society and I am glad that there are companies and organizations that are helping our society transform into a better society.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Transformers Highlights our Transforming Society”

  1. I like the route this movie series has taken with empowering girls. I think it’s important to show both girls and boy in adolescence that they are equal and that one is not better than the other, which I think this concept does a good job of. I also like that this trailer was shown during Beauty and the Beast because it markets a different genre of movie to little girls

  2. I’ve been a complete “girly girl” my entire life, but I’ve often been judged for liking typical “boy activities” like soccer, fishing, hiking, etc. I think it is becoming more normal for girls to have the best of both worlds (ex: we can wear pants and skirts, we can play football or cheerlead, etc.). However, it is still not very acceptable for boys to have both masculine and feminine qualities. Gender norms will most likely forever be implemented in society, but the gap is shortening more and more as time goes on.

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