WASHINGTON (TND) — A children's cartoon set in the popular "Transformers" universe is receiving a fresh wave of criticism after critics shared clips of the show with their social media followers that features two non-binary characters sharing a moment over their gender identities.
"Transformers: Earthspark" is a computer-generated animation show that debuted on Paramount+ in Nov. 2022 with ten episodes. In March of 2023, eight more episodes were added. As the name suggests, it stars popular characters from the iconic Hasbro line of toys with the same name. The show is certified as "TV-Y7" and is therefore rated acceptable for children to watch.
Clips of the show have been shared around before, but on Thursday the popular conservative Twitter account @LibsofTikTok shared its own post, receiving millions of views and tens of thousands of likes in just under a day.
Recent episode from the kid’s show Transformers: EarthSpark," @LibsofTikTok said in its caption of the tweet before adding a warning that "They’re after your kids."
It's worth noting that, by "they," @LibsofTikTok almost certainly means LGBT advocates, as the account is outspoken against what it claims is "grooming" or sexual exploitation of children. Those against the rhetoric that @LibsofTikTok shares usually accuse the account of being homophobic or transphobic, and consider the "grooming" concerns to be an insincere smokescreen the account uses to hide its own bias and agenda.
In the clip that went viral, the robot Transformer "Nightshade" introduces themself to another character named Sam. Sam says they have she/they pronouns and Nightshade says they have they/them pronouns. The two share a moment over their similarities.
Sometimes the world can be a scary place. It’s hard to know who’s dangerous or not," Sam tells Nightshade. "I know I’m safe when I’m with my friends or other non-binary people."
Nightshade questions Sam about "non-binary" and what the term means. Sam explains that they are "people who aren’t female or male."
I always knew my pronouns felt right but... what a wonderful word for a wonderful experience," Nightshade responds.
However, it is that affirmation of non-gender or non-binary sexuality in a children's cartoon show that apparently has critics upset. Twitter user @VocabMalone, whose video was the one reposted by @LibsofTikTok, asks their followers if the show was "something you would want your children to watch?"
American conservative journalist and media personality/podcast host Megyn Kelly received over 13,000 likes on her quote Tweet of @Libsof TikTok's video in which she said "This is DISGUSTING" in response.
I don’t have children, but I’m thinking if I did, they would have no unsupervised access to tv or internet at least until the age of 12-14," one Twitter user said in their reply to Kelly's tweet. "Too much too soon is so harmful based on what we are seeing todaythe innocence of being a child is taken away."
The Transformers legacy is forever trashed now," said yet another reply to Kelly's tweet.
Not everyone was so alarmed by the clip, however.
It's not that big of a deal. It's weird. It's a reflection of the current phase we're in," one Twitter user told Kelly. "We'll be looking back on this like we look back on Seinfeld and Friends. Just keep being your genuine self and this too shall pass."
There have been many iterations of Transformers media since the original cartoon show aired in Sept. 1984. There have been cartoon movies, comic books, video games, and of course the live-action films directed by Michael Bay. In those many iterations of the popular franchise, LGBT and "non-binary" Transformers have already existed.
Mostly in the IDW comics, there are canonical Transformers robots who are either "gay" or "transgender" according to fans. Again, the characters are fictional robots, but they do usually present as either male or female. Most classic main characters, such as the villainous Megatron and series hero Optinmus Prime, are voiced by men and are thought of to be male.
The newest live-action Transformers movie, "Rise of the Beasts," stars a character said to be "quite possibly the first-ever transgender character in the Transformers cinematic universe:" Arcee. In the comics, Arcee recently revealed that she was originally "forged male" but later recognized her true self was female and so she has transitioned to present herself as "[she] was always meant to be." That this will be included or even recognized in the new movie remains to be seen, however.
Also, "Transformers" can experience love and attraction, but have never been revealed to engage in sexual reproduction. They are robots, who originally could be built, that later canonically became sentient beings who either need to be "forged" or infused with a "spark" to be "born."
They're giant robots that transform into vehicles, animals like gorillas or dinosaurs and also sometimes just giant genocidal planets. They're part of fictional works that often target children, so fans say it's understandable that the topic of reproduction isn't heavily explored outside of implied familial relationships or heritage.
"Transformers: Rise of the Beasts" hits theaters on June 9. "Transformers: Earthspark" is currently streaming on Paramount+.
The National Desk has reached out to Paramount+ for comment but has yet to hear back. If a statement is received, it will be added to this article.