Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ratbat: Teaching Kids to Conserve

It's no secret that children's entertainment often incorporates education about important values. This is certainly true today, but it was even true of the shows I grew up with. Some shows were more explicit about this than others. No one had to give themselves a headache wondering what values were behind shows like Captain Planet or The Care Bears, but I doubt anyone was truly surprised when a show like GI Joe offered public service announcements at the end of each cartoon, or when He-Man did much the same thing, with the added bonus of having the lesson be an important plot point of the preceding episode itself. Even shows that weren't quite so over-the-top about teaching life lessons would nonetheless routinely work them into the stories.

So it would hardly be a surprise for someone to point out that the Transformers franchise has a particular character who was a staunch conservationist. Waste was absolutely abhorrent to him, and he lectured on the need to save fuel at nearly every opportunity. What is perhaps more surprising is to realize that this proponent of the values of efficiency was, in fact, one of the bad guys! In fact, in the Marvel Transformers comic, Ratbat—who was introduced as the "Decepticon Fuel Auditor" (perhaps a minor deviation from the function of "Fuel Scout" that appears on the toy's Tech Specs, but it's widely understood that both were written by author Bob Budiansky, so I wouldn't worry too much about that)—actually rose to the position of Decepticon leader in his efforts to maximize efficiency among his people. And, almost without argument, Ratbat was the most successful leader the comic-continuity Decepticons ever had! Even Megatron never staged such a successful drubbing against his enemies as Ratbat managed.

Perhaps in this era of rising gas prices, following the example of an evil Decepticon doesn't sound like such a bad idea....

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