Barack Obama was elected, and Transformers: The Movie called it. Don’t believe me?
When the film begins, Optimus Prime, the leader of the heroic Autobots, has embroiled his faction in an intractable war with the Decepticons, the Autobots’ evil counterparts. The conflict spans two planets, Cybertron and Earth. Cybertron, the primary front in the war, is in disarray, and there appears to be no good way for the Autobots to wind down their involvement over there and devote more resources to concerns on Earth. Optimus’ loyal lieutenant is Ultra Magnus, the aged soldier who, appropriately, turns into a missile launcher. Among the young Autobots is the charismatic Hot Rod. Unbeknownst to all, the existential threat of Unicron, the planet-devouring robot, is rapidly approaching both Cyberton and Earth.
In a skirmish at Autobot City, Optimus Prime is fatally wounded by Megatron, the Decepticon leader. As he is dying, he gives the Autobot Matrix of Leadership — the literal embodiment of Autobot knowledge and the thing that entitles Optimus to be the leader — to Ultra Magnus. Ultra Magnus proves an incapable leader, is defeated by new Decepticon leader Galvatron, and dismantled. The Matrix of Leadership falls into Decepticon hands.
Unicron arrives and consumes much of Cybertron. The squabbling factions of Transformers are united in their terror, with the exception of Galvatron, whom Unicron enslaves. After Unicron consumes them, Hot Rod and Unicron battle inside his head. Eventually, Hot Rod wrests the Matrix of Leadership from Unicron, is transformed into Rodimus Prime, and defeats Galvatron and Unicron. Peace reigns. Hooray.
Well done, POTUS.
Like Optimus Prime, George Bush embroiled his people in an intractable, distant war. Also like Optimus, Bush chose an old soldier as his successor: John McCain, with the same partisan, militarist approach as his predecessor. Barack Obama is Hot Rod, the young, charismatic upstart who shakes up the establishment and “line jumps” into leadership.
In a stretch akin to Ultra Magnus’s tenure as Autobot leader, John McCain was doing fairly well with his campaign over summer and fall 2008, employing the same campaign tactics Bush had used: pushing cultural hot button issues, promising aggression towards our old foes, you know the drill. But once the economic crisis — this world’s version of Unicron — hit, it became clear that something new moment had arrived, and that partisanship had to yield to cooperation. Just as Hot Rod seized the mantle in the Transformers’ “darkest hour” and united his people, Obama’s promise of moving beyond the culture wars and transgressions of the 60s resonated with Americans and made him President.
By the way, if you thought I was going to compare Barack Obama to Jazz the Autobot, you’re racist. Also Hillary Clinton is Grimlock, leader of the Dinobots.
Like this, but with a pantsuit.
The Decepticons’ insurgency in the post-film episodes of the original animated series neatly predicted Republican intransigence towards the new leader Rodimus. And the hope that marked the onset of Rodimus’s reign gave way to a weary reality that Decepticons would always be an obstacle to his agenda, much like Obama emerged from the 2010 elections. Make sense?
Article by contributor Rob Moore.